25 June 2007

Passing On Re-Gifters

For reasons as untraceable as a mistake in a sodoku puzzle, I find myself on the mailing list for Minx, DC Comics's imprint for graphic novels aimed at adolescent girls. Not being an adolescent girl, I haven't known quite what to do with these advanced copies. Every so often I would peek inside one and then tiptoe away, as if I'd accidentally started to push open the door of the wrong restroom.

Then one volume caught my eye for the wrong reason (maybe tomorrow), and it contained an appealing sneak peek at another book, and I found I had a copy of that, too, so I read it.

And enjoyed it. That comic is Re-Gifters, by Mike Carey, Sonny Liew, and Marc Hempel. The story involves a martial-arts tournament in a multiethnic, working-class Los Angeles neighborhood. Heroine Jen (Dixie) Dik Seong is a black belt with an unrequited crush on a boy in her dojo and a dose of attitude for everyone else.

I didn't care for a similarly grumpy adolescent in Abadazad, but the preview that caught me up included a healthy dose of wisecracking best friend for perspective. The illustration style also intrigued me. It wasn't big-eyed manga wannabe, nor jaded realism, nor deliberately distorted underground, nor musclebound superhero, nor any other style I could easily classify.

One provocative aspect of Re-Gifters is that none of its creators is from Los Angeles. In fact, two aren't even American. Writer Mike Carey is a Londoner. Penciler Sonny Liew is a Malaysian with English and New English education who now lives in Singapore, and inker Marc Hempel is in Baltimore. And Carey told Newsarama last week, "I’m so far from being an expert on any of the martial arts stuff that it isn’t even funny. . . . As a Brit writing about Southern California, I’m never going to get all the details right. Can I capture the Korean-American experience? Of course not! I couldn’t even make a decent fist of the Korean-British experience."

And as to Liew and Hempel's graphics, Carey said:

Sonny was reluctant to let anyone else ink his stuff on [previous collaboration My Faith in] Frankie, but when he saw Marc’s sample pages he was really pleased with how it worked. He does very detailed pencils, and to some extent Marc abridges some of that detail, but he captures the essence and the essence is absolutely beautiful. It’s one of these fortuitous pairings that seems inevitable in retrospect.
Now my real challenge: figuring out whom to pass Re-Gifters on to. Because with that title I really shouldn't keep it on my shelf.

(From that first batch of Minx comics, I later read The PLAIN Janes, written by Cecil Castellucci and illustrated by Jim Rugg. It was fine, but I didn't feel it added up to a full meal--more a graphic short story than a graphic novel. Here's the Tea Cozy Interview with Castellucci.)


david elzey said...

If you ever figure out how you got on the mailing list for Minx please feel free to let me know how to go about it.

J. L. Bell said...

I actually tried to trace back the history yesterday, and found I couldn't.

Meanwhile, I see Scholastic sent you its new book about Paul Revere but hasn't sent a review copy to Boston 1775.

So things are tough all over.

david elzey said...

Ah, yes. The Paul revere book. That was... er... intercepted by me. Totally by accident, you understand.

J. L. Bell said...

Ah, much as with British officers on the road between Lexington and Concord. Quite, quite.

Lee said...

Enjoyed this post, corned beef hash indeed.