Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I stumbled upon a super cool manga/graphic novel for young readers today. And guess what? It's completely wordless! Wordless books don't mean that you don't have to pay attention though (if that's what you may be thinking). I'm saying this from experience. I have major problems paying attention so looking at detailed pictures inside of boxes can be more of a challenge sometimes than reading text. 

Anyway, appantly the store only has Volume 5. No matter. I bought it anyway. It's called GON. 

This is a photo I found of the illustrator/author:

I looked for other books that he might have authored or illustrated but couldn't find any. These books were originally published in Tokyo, I believe. Please correct me if I'm wrong!

This is the product detail posted on Amazon for GON Vol 5: "Story and art by Masashi Tanaka. Gon goes underground in this book length adventure. Things start out small, as Gon fixates on an anthill. From there, he defends a colony of prairie dogs from a mother coyote and her cub. Enemies become allies when an earthquake opens up a huge fissure, sending Gon and his companions into a mysterious, underground world filled with strange creatures. Will a giant spider prove to be Gon's match?"

As I was looking for images from GON I stumbled upon Goodreads. The first review of the book that I saw went like this: 

"The artwork was only black and white and the detailed lined drawings were so busy I had trouble focusing on the images. Generally I like wordless books to be extremely expressive, but the creatures of Gon were too realistic to express much emotion and I felt the story suffered as a result."

Oh my god, what??? This is why I don't go on there. The ONLY reason I picked up the book was because of the art. I don't really care what the plot or story line is about.  This may be obvious since the bookstore only had number 5 in stock and it starts with chapter 16. I just don't care. The artwork is too cool not to buy! First of all, the animals all express much emotion. There are cute critters and mean looking critters... and as I am now flipping through the book I can see the agony on the furry cute little critter's faces as they are being chased by large predators... and boy, do those things look angry! So, emotion? Yes. The beauty of this art is how detailed it is. The pen and ink cross hatching is really well done. Where to use a heavy line and where to use a light line is chosen with care. I can FEEL things TEAR and EXPLODE and BREAK and RIP. This is a testament to good craftsmanship. And I love this all the more because I've seen it done poorly lately or seen it replicated by the use of computer (this seems to be the recent trend). My only wish is that the art could be printed on nice white paper instead of the cheap manilla that's standard for a mass paperback. It should be treated more as a graphic novel than a cheap manga book. Then the art would really shine. 

I think kids will enjoy this. It's eye candy for sure... even though Mr. or Ms. Goodreads thinks otherwise.

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