Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mangaman by Barry Lyga and Colleen Doran

Great conceits don't come around everyday, and Barry Lyga has a doozy here in Mangaman, the graphic novel he recently wrote. Ryoko Kiyama was an average manga protagonist -- fighting monsters, turning chibi at odd moments, all of that -- but then he fell through "the Rift" into a more standard Western comic, where he falls in love with high school beauty Marissa Montaigne.

Colleen Doran's art tends more to the shojo-lush than shonen, which causes a bit of disconnect with Riyoko's description of his original world. (Though there are, I suppose, also boy monster-fighters even in shojo.) And the Western side of the equation is not any specific kind of actual comic being currently published -- it's more like a TV teen drama, or what the old romance comics could have turned into if they'd been allowed to grow up and progress.

Still, those are quibbles, since Mangaman is a fun and fast-paced story of culture shock, varying speed-line styles, and the horrors that lurk between panel borders. Riyoko battles the invading Kaiju -- and Marissa's ex-boyfriend Chaz, who hates "the freak" in precisely the way that you'd expect a jock to hate him -- teaches Marissa a bit about his kind of stories and art, and has a solid ending. Mangaman is a neat comic, particularly for those who read and enjoy both Japanese and American comics styles. But I still have a nagging feeling that Riyoko should have been more shonen-esque and that he should have landed in something more obviously an American comic -- probably with those long-underwear types.

No comments:

Post a Comment