Today I begin a new weekly feature here at Manga Bookshelf: Manhwa Monday! Each week, I’ll feature a particular review or other manhwa-related post discovered online (sometimes mine, sometimes not) as well as rounding up links to all things manhwa from the previous week. I’m doing this partly to put a regular spotlight on manhwa in hopes of drawing in new readers, and partly to try to help create a sense of community around manhwa specifically–something I think is currently lacking, at least in the circles I frequent.
So, welcome to the first installment of Manhwa Monday here at Manga Bookshelf! Today I’m going to feature two reviews from the previous week–one of them mine, one not. Both are collections of short manhwa by a single artist, though they are completely different from each other. The first is Byun Byung-Jun’s Mijeong, published by NBM/Comics Lit and reviewed by me last week at Manga Recon. The second is Hee Jung Park’s Too Long, published by TOKYOPOP and reviewed by Connie at Slightly Biased Manga.
Mijeong is a decidedly melancholy collection of stories featuring mainly broken or lost characters, mired in the sorrow of their pasts. “For me, only my past has any meaning,” one character says early on, setting the tone for much of the volume. This tone, however, is not exactly sad, or at least not exclusively so. From my review: “Byun Byung-Jun’s characters are both burdened and enriched by their histories, an insight that rings inescapably true. Even when longing for the past leaves characters bleeding to death in the grass … there is an unmistakable sense of hope lingering around the edges of most of these stories—a haunting paradox that helps maintain the volume’s momentum.”
Though the collection is definitely flawed, maybe even greatly so in some places, it is filled with tangible emotion and a sense of restlessness that keeps the reader on edge throughout–characteristics I find extremely compelling in any work of fiction. Ultimately, this is a book I can enthusiastically recommend. Full review here.
On an equally enthusiastic note, Connie, who admits she is often wary of short story collections, says this about Hee Jung Park’s anthology, Too Long: “Most of the volume is quite excellent, and this is probably among the best female-oriented comic short story collection that I’ve seen … Hee Jung Park comes through once again, and once again, I’m going to lament the fact that none of her stories are coming out in English anymore. She really does seem to be one of the greats, and I would love to read more than a volume or two of her best work.”
Please read the rest of Connie’s thoughtful review over at Slightly Biased Manga. Connie reviews more manhwa than many manga-focused blogs I’ve seen, and she frequently has very good things to say about the manhwa she reads.
Last week saw two reviews of Yen Press’ series, Sugarholic, from Jennifer Dunbar at Manga Recon (vols. 1 & 2) and from me here (vol. 1). I also reviewed volume 1 of Full House from NETCOMICS’ online catalogue.
Manga Recon’s Mini column last week offered up three manhwa reviews, Ken Haley on volume 2 of Jack Frost, Connie C. on volume 2 of 13th Boy (a personal favorite of mine), and Jennifer Dunbar on volume 4 of Bride of the Water God.
Danica Davidson at The Comics Reporter took a look at Bride of the Water God as well, this time volumes 1-4; Tiamat’s Disciple checked out the final volume of Croquis Pop; and Lissa Patillo looked at volume 9 of The Antique Gift Shop over at Kuriousity.
Is there something I’ve missed? Leave your manhwa-related links in comments!
Jan klump saysNovember 2, 2009 at 9:05 am
Grand new weekly feature. Good idea.
Melinda Beasi saysNovember 2, 2009 at 11:32 am
Lissa saysNovember 2, 2009 at 11:16 am
Really great idea for a feature – manhwa needs more love, especially with so many high quality stories out there right now :)
Melinda Beasi saysNovember 2, 2009 at 11:38 am
Thank you, Lissa! I very much agree that manhwa needs more love, and I think even more so, a clear identity within the manga-reading community. Though I think manga readers are a good target audience (not the only audience, but a good one), I think manhwa ends up just getting lumped in with manga all the time instead of being recognized for its own strengths and cultural heritage. I want to help change that, if possible. I have no delusions about my influence as one blogger in the great sea of the internet, but I’ll do what I can! :)
Connie saysNovember 3, 2009 at 3:37 am
This is such a good idea! I’m a big fan of manhwa, but there’s so little information on it in English compared to manga, and I always find it hard to research outside of reviews. I think this will definitely help raise awareness and gather the information all in one place. And there really is an awful lot of good manhwa out there.
And I’m very flattered you featured my review in the first column. Thank you!
Melinda Beasi saysNovember 3, 2009 at 8:44 am
Thank you! I really hope you’re right! I want so much to help bring some much-needed attention to manhwa.
And you’re welcome! You review more manhwa than most, so expect to see it happen again! :D