WILD STRAWBERRIES AT THE WORLD'S END
Writer: Bruce Kim
Illustrator: Katia Vecchio
Publisher: Comics Experience/Source Point Press
WHAT IS IT?
A melancholy supernatural murder mystery that's heavy on visual symbolism and graphic weirdness.
Think David Lynch with even more visual symbolism, and you're on the right track.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Te-Su returns home to the town where he grew up to attend the funeral of his childhood love, Ji-Ah. As he struggles to make sense of her death, he uncovers a deeper mystery that strikes at the very heart of his town, his identity and the specter of violence inherent to all human civilization.
Sound heavy? Good. It is, and in the best possible way. If you're into the kind of small sorrow that transforms into incandescent horror, this book's a must-read for you.
First and foremost, the art is phenomenal. Vecchio's line is economical and crisp, and she's as adept at subtle facial expressions as compelling backgrounds. No spoilers here, but there are some expertly paced horror layouts later on that dazzle in terms of panel structure and phenomenal use of color. Vecchio understands what kind of horror Kim is going for in this book, and their work together makes this graphic novel a stand-out in its field.
Did I mention the colors? Te-Su's musings on his failures are done in escalating, luxurious nightlife tones that bleed out into the cold, blue light of day. The palette is just this side of neon in that scene, but Vecchio uses sunny beach tones for the happier moments and bold primary blues and reds when the action gets a little creepier. Special shout-out to that red, because it's just the kind you'd see in a certain Lodge...
Kim's storytelling is paced well, and the team's not afraid to leave you wondering about certain visual symbols or plot notes. The whole book hangs together by tenuous emotional threads, and that's exactly what you want out of a graphic novel like this one. It's the feeling that matters here, but Kim also knows how to shock and which moments to capture for maximum impact.
Dream team alert. Kim and Vecchio work incredibly well together - so much so that it's hard to tell where one stops and the other begins. Kim keeps the dialogue spare and Vecchio goes for the jugular as Te-Su digs deeper into the mystery. The denouement is devastating precisely because it's been built with such a steady pace. When art and writing support each other on the comic page, it's a lovely reading experience.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Very little, frankly, but if you're not into head trips, this book might be a little obtuse for you. I'd encourage you to try anyway because of its penchant for visual symbolism. Put your mind at ease, put your questions on the back burner and sit back and enjoy the ride.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
If you're at all interested in visually driven horror, this is a book for you. It's refreshing to read a comic that relies heavily on the art for mood and tone, because that's exactly what a good comic should do.
If you like coming-of-age narratives that kind of go horribly wrong, this is also a great read. It's not all rosy and fine, folks. The road of life is unique to all of us, and that often means it's untested. Kim and Vecchio play with this concept, and it pays off.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Road of Bones, by Rich Douek & Alex Cormack
Come Into Me, by Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler
Grendel, by Matt Wagner
If you like the art:
Warpaint, by Kev Sherry & Katia Vecchio
Skim, by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
Life on Earth trilogy, by Mari Naomi
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Bruce Kim - Writer
New Face: This is his first comic!
He's active on Twitter, so give him a follow.
Katia Vecchio - Artist & Letterer
Outlander: She hails from Italy.
Runs a blog where she posts works in progress, character studies, etc.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
From your Local Comics Shop on October 30
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