Tag – You’re It! Volume 1
Story: Sook Kim
Publisher: Central Park Media
Reviewed by Jon Minners
Japanese Manga may have taken America by storm, overtaking the comic book industry with dozens and dozens of new titles released every month, but Korean Manhwa is about to give the new standard in comic book fun a run for its money. Manhwa is the Korean pronunciation of the Chinese characters used for the word comics in Japan, Korea and China and its styles are very much like the schoolgirl fantasies and epic adventures often associated with the Japanese style of comics, but Manhwa provides a different setting and culture and bringing that culture to America is Central Park Media.
One Manhwa the company has released to the American masses is Tag - You're It!, a series of short stories from Sook Kim, which focus on love and humor. In fact, you can tell just how zany the tales are by reading the tag line meant to attract people to pick up the first volume: Five Fast-Paced Fables Featuring Feeble-Minded Folks in Frivolous Farces. Try saying that three times fast. Central Park Media even claims this to be an unprecedented collection of outrageous tales, scientifically designed not to just tickle your funny bone, but to snap it right in half! I don’t know all about that, but I will say that the tales are indeed funny, often times hysterical and all in all, innocent and very heartwarming looks at love and romance.
The volume begins with First Kiss, a story about Jungha Lee, a boy with blackened teeth who is going to have to endure the pain of the dentist chair if he is going to get that first kiss from the girl he loves. This was a great way to introduce the reader to the series. What this kid must go through to achieve his goal is something we can all empathize with; at least those that truly care about someone. The end is so sad. Poor kid. You have to read it to believe it. I loved it; just the perfect way to end the story, but at the same time, I hope to read more about Jungha Lee in the future.
The quality storytelling continues in Taming a Girlfriend, a story about a young boy who loves a girl, but believes she doesn’t care about him in that way even though she actually does. Both seek advice from the self proclaimed Doctor of Dating. Both get similar advice leading to a calamity of errors that end up driving them further apart. While the conclusion was obvious, it was just a fun read and full of warmth.
The third tale, Ms. Lemonade, was a little less believable as Serang searches for a job and then tries to play matchmaker for her boss, who's in love with a girl that has a very strange secret concerning his identity. While I couldn’t possibly believe something like this would transpire, the writing in this story keeps the reader interested and anxious to discover what will transpire with the turn of each page.
The fourth story, The Cleaning Man, actually picks up from the third, featuring Serang and the very person her boss loved who work together to make ends meet, as house cleaners and run into a woman with a very strong work ethic, who believes they were sent, not to clean her home, but meet the deadline for the release of her Manhwa. While not as good as the other three stories, I found the tale to end with a Twilight Zone twist that was very much appreciated.
The fifth story, The Bachelor/Bacherolette Marriage Committee, was too quick to judge, as it was designed to continue into the second volume and to entice readers to continue with the series; a very good marketing strategy and it worked. I would definitely like to continue reading the diverse tales of love, friendship and everyday life. The artwork is clear, the storytelling is fun and lively and the characters are very likeable. And as it says on the back of the book, if you read only one graphic novel starring a cast of maladapted, myopic, melodramatic megalomaniacs, this is the one! I couldn’t have said that better myself; actually I really couldn’t. Who thinks these things up? Oh well. I read it. Now, it’s your turn. Tag – You’re It!