Book Review

Sun Dragon’s Song – Joyce Chng

Book Title: Sun Dragon’s Song

Series: ongoing manga/comic

Author: Joyce Chng

Goodreads Link: Click here

sun-dragon

Star Rating: gold stargold starempty starempty starempty star – Not bad, but not my cup of tea.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in return for an un-biased review.

The cover art appealed to me and I’ve felt like reading more manga/comics lately, so I decided to try this.  Joyce Chng is a Singaporean author, and her book has a lot of detail of Chinese culture, food and aesthetic.  I love asian culture and so I was looking forward to this book.

Unfortunately, this book just wasn’t for me.  The artwork was extremely sketchy, to the point of looking sloppy.  I’m not opposed to a raw or unfinished look, but this took it a little too far and the figures and expressions were unattractive.  I appreciated the level of detail she supplies to this scene with all the different foods presented.  I also understood attempt to show the boy’s parents from his perspective through the steam rising from the soup.  Nice touch, but it looks incomplete, the color choices are odd and haphazard.

sun-dragon-2

I’m sorry to say I felt the same way about the story. A young boy, whose parents are away at war, is left to fend for himself.  Although he is disabled he dreams of being a dragon fighter.  It’s a promising story.  But the follow through was choppy and disjointed.  I can understand where the author was going with this, and she did lay a little groundwork for a deeper mythology but there was no finesse.  Scenes either ground to a halt, or jumped away from the reader mid-page.  For instance…

sun-dragon-1

What exactly is going on here?  A flood strikes in the first panels, and I can see that the rain is continuing when the boy stands in the hallway, but then what the heck is on the bully’s face?  Is that a bandage? What happens next? Does the bully come after him?  I’m guessing not because suddenly, the boy is carrying plates in a sunny courtyard. Ok now I know what’s going on. Nope, next panel the plates are gone and people are gossiping about him.

A number of years ago I went to a lecture by Art Spiegelman, the creator of Maus, and he talked about the way comics are structured. Story does not just happen in the panel, there are things happening in that thin black line between panels. Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics calls that the gutter, where your imagination takes those two panes of artwork and then in between supplies details that allow the story to progress. A good artist uses that blank space in a way that moves the plot forward, creates tension, or reveals character. There is too much left in the gutter on this page. Your mind stutters between the panels, trying to make sense of them. In turn, that takes you out of the story and it’s hard to connect to what is happening.

I would hope that things will be different in future volumes.  I’m sorry to say I didn’t enjoy it.

 

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