July 20, 2009

, ,   |  

Model Volume 1

Written by Lee So-Young
Illustrated by Lee So-Young
Tokyopop

It took me a long time to get into manga, and when I finally did at the recommendation of my friend Noah (if I remember correctly, it may have been someone else I knew, now forgotten), I had a bit of trouble getting used to reading panels backwards. Whenever there was a page of many panels, I had trouble following the action.

Now, I've come so far that reading a left-to-right manga feels horribly wrong and I actually almost spoiled the hell out of this one because I started at the back of the book by force of habit.

I only bring it up because five years or so of manga reading has made me a bit more critical in my taste and I admit that a series printed left-to-right already has me a bit concerned about its quality before I even begin.

In this case, the story is good enough to overcome the fact that Tokyopop flipped the art, but it's definitely not as good as some of the other manga I've been reading lately. In this series, Jae, an artist trying to stay in Europe despite not finding any success, starts off partnered with a slutty girl who leaves a boy at the house. This dynamic doesn't last long, however, as Jae soon finds that the man on the floor is nothing other than a real, "live" vampire.

And is that dark lord of the night a hottie, or what? So-Young draws in the thin angular manga style that's also featured in Mars, and it's clear that our vampire is supposed to be a fine figure of manhood. He's also a bit more complicated than your average vampire, with an eye for artistic beauty and the smbolism of crosses. But he needs blood, and pure artistic blood is the best kind of all...

Against her better judgement, Jae makes a deal with the devil and tries to get a painting of Michael the vampire in order to start her career. One we get to this point, things pick up as the stereotypical roommate falls out of the picture and Jae is taken into a neo-gothic world with two mysterious associates of Michael, gorgeous crypts, and increasingly complicated relationships.

Does Michael want her just for the type A in her veins? Or is he seeking more from a kindred spirit? What link do Ken and Eva have to him? Does it hurt when they pose on almost every page?

I mention the last one because if there is one problem with Model, it's that everyone looks like they're, well, modelling. Which is fine in small doses, but every page looks like it was set for a glamour shot, with characters striking poses when they talk and not interacting in a natural manner. Part of this is a result of the angular style, I'm sure, but some of it comes from the drawing style of So-Young because Mars feels a lot less stiff than this book.

Still, I find the mystery behind Michael's plans for Jae intereresting, and I definitely prefer the idea of an artist taking the risk of death for fame rather than just going home (see "Paris" by Andi Watson as an example of the latter). I'll stick with this a bit longer and see how it goes. If you're looking for a manga you may have missed, this is worth taking a flyer on, at least so far.