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Mail Order Bride Paperback – Bargain Price, May 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics (May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560974109
  • ASIN: B00F6I9TLC
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 7.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,720,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kalesniko's latest work examines contemporary Korean mail-order brides, a provocative and real phenomenon that matches women looking for a better life with lonely, foreign men. Monty Wheeler, a 39-year-old comic bookstore owner (and virgin) lives in Canada and is surrounded by an ever-expanding inventory of collectibles, including a secret collection of "oriental" porn, a cache of erotic Asian stereotypes that will later haunt him. Monty represents a certain type of obsessive, self-indulgent collector, and his loneliness, immaturity and utter geekiness drive the plot. But it's Kyung Seo, his Korean bride (who speaks English perfectly, to Monty's disappointment), whose evolving sense of independence forms the book's core. Impatient with the circumscribed life of her meek, emotionally stunted husband, Kyung takes surreptitious lessons in attitude and personal freedom from Chinese-Canadian photographer Eve Wong. The women become friends when Kyung agrees to pose nude for Eve (to Monty's horror), a bid for free thinking that eventually leads to other social intoxications like smoking pot and talking about art. As Kyung and Monty's relationship deteriorates, the sexual objectification and power imbalances at the heart of their "marriage" are pulled into stark focus. Kalesniko (Why Did Pete Duel Kill Himself?) is an expert at sophisticated, visually efficient narrative renderings of complex emotions. His drawings are spare and cinematic, and each panel underscores the characters' psychological isolation or another revealing detail. This is a sensitive and intelligent look at the contradictory human impulses that lurk behind cultural stereotypes.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

“A dense, rewarding read.” (NPR)

“This is a sensitive and intelligent look at the contradictory human impulses that lurk behind cultural stereotypes.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Kalesniko doesn't mince words as he explores issues of race, morality, passion and identity.” (The Arizona Republic)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Todd Morman on August 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
Complex, believable characters and an unusual, well-conceived plot make this one of my favorite graphic novels. The conflict between the comic book store owner with an Asian fetish and his new Korean mail-order bride is beautifully told in a series of small, telling vignettes, developing slowly as it takes a series of unpredictable turns. Kalesniko's art is, as always, both incisive and gorgeous, and his use of panels and pacing are just brilliant. He obviously has a lot to teach others in the medium of comics. He apparently did work on The Lion King and Mulan, but his wonderfully cinematic storytelling skills have been evident since long before that. I'll admit the ending of the story goes a bit over the top for my taste, but what remains is a dense and fascinating look at a very poignant, very real relationship. I've read it 3 times now and continue to linger over the captivating way Kalesniko tells the story. If you're looking for a graphic novel for people who say they'll never like "comic books," this is one to buy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By claire on July 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
I loved every page of this book up to the great climax, which in my opinion strikes a false note to say the least. the character development is carefully done and plausible up to that point, where two genres seem to collide to the benefit of neither; I'm not familiar with Mark Kalesniko's previous work, but can imagine it to be in a more traditional "comic" style, where such scenes are somewhat more commonplace.
After reading this through I hasten to add that I was deeply impressed and moved by the rest of the book, the artwork as well as the story, and wouldn't want to put anyone off buying it; on the contrary, I seldom got such good value (in terms of time spent reading and re-reading) out of a graphic novel. Great book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Greg on November 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
'Mail order bride' is a graphic novel focusing on the story of 39 year old comic book store owner Morris Wheeler, and a young Korean woman called Kyung who desires to move to Canada for a freer life, but the only way to do so is to marry a native man in a so called 'greencard' marriage.

Wheeler is a awkward and shy man, and lacks the self-confidence to ask women to date him. As a result, he is desperately lonely and sexually frustrated, and spends much of his time using pornographic movies and magazines, especially those of Asian women.

Wheeler seems to get the image Asian women are more docile, compliant, and obedient than native Canadian women, and less likely to reject him as inadequate. Seizing the opportunity, Wheeler takes the plunge and meets up with Kyung. The two soon marry, and their relationship begins.

It is soon obvious the marriage is a bad one. Loveless, and badly marred by Wheeler's severe lack of self esteem (even on his wedding night he can't consumate the marriage without the initiative of Kyung) and Kyung's growing desire for freedom, the couple soon start to drift apart. Kyung meets a native Chinese Canadian photographer, Ms Wong, who introduces her to a more liberal and relaxed attitude to life than she finds at home with Wheeler. Wong takes a number of nude photos of Kyung and introduces her to a Art history teacher and photographer, who encourages Kyung to develop her natural artistic gifts and to study. This Kyung all does, much to Wheeler's rage, which erupts into poisonous jealousy, envy, and irrational suspicion which destroys his fragile trust in Kyung, leading him to falsely accuse her of having affairs.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brendan Barnwell on June 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
I had hopes when I ordered this comic from Amazon --- it had a lot of positive reviews, and the premise seemed like the sort of thing that would make a good story.

I was, however, sorely disappointed by Mail Order Bride. Its premise is certainly interesting, but the treatment is crude, stilted, and heavy-handed. There are long sequences of panels with no dialogue, just showing static scenes of the characters doing things. I've never been a fan of this technique, and it's especially bothersome here, where the panels are often small and the actions unremarkable. Plus, even when there is dialogue, it's often laboriously stretched over a bunch of tiny panels, so that a whole page can pass with almost nothing happening.

The dialogue itself is melodramatic, and the characters overall are irritatingly one-dimensional.

I should note here that, in general, I LIKE one-dimensional characters, when they're done right. Done right means that the characters have a single dimension which is parallel to the direction in which the stories moves; they are thin slices of people, revealing only what is relevant to the story. This leads to efficient, satisfying, writing.

Not so in Mail Order Bride. The characters are established quickly, and characteristics which were obvious to begin with are hammered home through dozens and dozens of pages. When the characters do change, the changes too are delivered with all the subtlety of an artillery bombardment.

And, as I've alluded to above, the book is simply too long. There isn't enough story to fill 261 pages, and large sections are boring, overextended, and predictable.

The book is not a total loss -- that's why I'm giving it 2 stars instead of 1.
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