The Color of Earth
Kim Dong Hwa
My experience with graphic novels is limited. And it seems each one I read is distinctly different in style and writing. This coming-of-age story by far is my favorite. Written by celebrated Korean artist, Hwa is a feminist and a man. I start with this because as someone who is very vocal about women telling their stories, this is a man telling it. Like another reader, while there were a few times I questioned if the voice rings true, I am undecided if it is more of a cultural difference that is affecting how I hear this mother and daughter convey their feelings. Most times, the voice seems consistent with the style of writing and I believe the style reflects a culture where in many ways women are restricted in how they communicate and behave.
This artwork is stunning. I took my time with this work in part simply so I could linger over the images. Not only are the images breathtaking but the construction of the volume itself is pure craftsmanship. Heavy paper and rich colors and a glossed cover compliment this classic story about first love, crossing the threshold of childhood and finding love again.
The writing is poetic, simple in construction but rich with metaphor, and there is a tenderness that can only really be appreciated with a deliberate, unhurried reading. The is best way to experience this work is to approach it the same way you share a bedtime story with a child: a few pages each night over a course of several nights.
Gaining an intimate view of another culture is always a treat but here, not only did I learn a great deal about pastoral Korea of a generation or so removed but here is a mother/daughter relationship that is close and nurturing. The estranged relationship between mothers and daughters is well documented but rarely do we see a mother and daughter celebrated in this way. It is a welcome departure.
By the end of this first volume, I felt sated with a fine story and hungry for the next installment. At Chasing Ray, Colleen is spotlighting works written by writers from or about southeast Asia. I thought I would have finished a work that qualifies but I didn't. Join me in finding my next read at Colleen's.