Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Queens, v.1

by Sung-Hyen Ha
Published in the U.S. by Tokyopop

Slugline: Pil-Hyun desperately wants to be more "manly" and apprentices himself to a manga artist to do so.

...because they are such paragons of manhood. Especially the female ones. Yes, the kid is doomed.

This is, in fact, an interestingly different look at the "femmy" boy character type. I'm not saying that all guys who like teddy bears or wearing dresses should aspire to be more "manly" -- I think you should be yourself and hold out for the people who will understand you, but at the same time I know how hopeless that can seem when you're a teenager.

Overly "feminine" boys turn up frequently in manga (this is a manhwa, though) and they don't seem to face the same problems that such a guy would in the U.S. Pil-Hyun's quest for "manliness" gives the reader a window on how masculinity is defined in Asia -- where it's obviously both similar and different from the American definition.

Along the way, I'm sure there will be a look at the less glamorous side of being a professional artist, which is also worth seeing.

If it weren't for that, Queens would be a moderately amusing comedy of failures, mistakes and bad luck. Those aren't exactly uncommon, though this one puts a bit more effort into developing the characters. The art is competent but unexceptional. I'm a bit surprised to be recommending this title and looking forward to volume 2.

- Miranda

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