cover image Mijeong


Byun Byung-Jun, . . NBM, $19.95 (237pp) ISBN 978-1-56163-554-2

The short story collection Mijeong handsomely showcases young manhwa artist Byung's relatively accomplished illustrative style, while his stories reveal a still-germinal narrative voice. These short tales trade in the gothic melodrama of urban malaise, with murder, assault, rape and suicide frequently present as plot points for youthful characters to repress, enact or unexpectedly react to. Byung sometimes succeeds in wringing moments of genuine pathos from his sensitive, affectless teens' responses to outsized traumas, as in the final moments of the delicately full-color “Song for You.” But the narratives work best when linking youth's behavior to specific urban landscapes and mores, which he accomplishes almost entirely visually in the semihumorous “Utility.” This collection emphasizes the artist's diverse visual treatments of his observant settings and stylized figures, though his characters are sometimes difficult to tell apart, and his visual storytelling is occasionally unclear, but Byung is clearly a talented draftsman with narrative ambitions. Byung's artwork may already earn him some fans, and Mijeong may yet go down as a somewhat interesting early work by a developing storyteller. (July)