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Comic Reviews - Oct 2016

Comic Reviews - Oct 2016

Ratings out of 5 stars.


The Mighty Skullboy Army Vol 1

Story/Art: Jacob Chabot

Dark Horse Books

The great thing about visiting cons or festivals is that it gives you a chance to browse through new (or old) works that you have not encountered before. Jacob Chabot, an invited guest of this year’s STGCC, is someone I have not known about. Picked up the first volume of The Mighty Skullboy Army and was surprised to find out it’s been around since 2000. This volume one collects the self-published mini-comics from 2000 to 2006 and was originally published in 2007. This reformatted second edition came out in 2015, which boasts a new cover and over 30 revised story pages.

The premise is hilarious. What if your villainous CEO of an evil MNC (Skullboy) needs to go to a primary school because he is, well, too young to be that evil and to run a corrupt MNC? Still, he has two sidekicks, Unit 1 (a robot) and Unit 2 (a monkey) to make sure he is the top dog in playground. But it’s still a dog’s life. Check out the story when the trio had to sell lemonade to raise funds. Or when Skullboy, despite his wealth, is being plagued by bullies in school. Inspired moments.

Having read this, I could see how Chabot’s style and humour has influenced others – possibly Skottie Young and Chris Giarrusso. And also similar styled Southeast Asian comic artists like Elbert Or from the Philippines.

Chabot has also drawn SpongeBob Comics, X-Babies and Hello Kitty. And he is a real nice chap too.

(4 stars)

Eva Goes Solo

Story/Art: Evangeline Neo

MPH Publishing

The gag cartoon is under-rated these days. Critics might find longer narratives to be more weighty and worthy of analysis, but the seemingly simple gag cartoon can still pack a punch and when done well, it can be better than your ‘serious’ graphic novel. 

A case in point is Evangeline Neo’s second book of gag cartoons, Eva Goes Solo. Eva made a name for herself a few years ago when she released the bestselling Eva, Kopi and Matcha, which is a humourous look at the differences between Singapore and Japan. It was well received and it was an interesting study of the cultural distance and difference between the two societies, which admire each other.

Such observations were based on Eva’s real-life experience as a postgraduate student in Japan. In Eva Goes Solo, she goes back to those eventful years and has produced a … graphic memoir! Maybe Eva has decided to go ‘serious’ after all.

Thankfully, humour is still her choice of weapon to engage the readers, getting them to empathize with her whenever she gets into trouble. The story starts with Eva winning a scholarship to study in Japan, only to discover the land of manga and anime is not what it seems. Eva encounters bureaucracy at the highest level, inefficiency and even the 3/11 earthquake. Especially memorable are her house hunting episodes and her cat and mouse routines with persistent NHK officers who were trying to collect TV tax from her. There are also tender moments like when Eva experienced her first homestay and summer hanabi (fireworks). It is a love-hate relationship (like any other relationships) but as Eva relates at the end of the book, Japan is a country she will always go back to.

The book is useful for first time visitors to Japan as there is a travel guide section – some simple Japanese words, where to go, what to eat and what to do in an earthquake. It is packaged like one of those Japanese travel guide book in terms of size.

Eva also studied in the States before, so maybe the next book could be a comparison between life and norms in Singapore, America and Japan.

(4 stars)

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Comic Reviews - Oct 2016 pt II
Monthly Comic Reviews - August 2016

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Lim Cheng Tju is the co-editor of Liquid City Vol. 2, an anthology of Southeast Asian comics publish ...

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