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Shoplifter (Pantheon Graphic Novels) Hardcover – September 2, 2014
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“In fewer than 100 pages, Cho crafts a complicated and sympathetic protagonist whose plight rings true for any who have experienced the abiding loneliness that is living alone in the big city as a twenty-something. This is quite an achievement. . . . Magnificent.” —Graphic Novel Reporter
“With his debut book Shoplifter, Michael Cho joins the likes of Anya Ulinich (who's been credited for sketching a sort of Girls for divorcees), Jillian Tamaki (whose This One Summer follows an overweight teen), and Marjane Satrapi, the genius behind Persepolis.” —Huffington Post
“A beautifully illustrated character piece about a young woman in an unnamed city at a crossroads in her life, coming to terms with her unhappiness and destructive impulses.” —Comic Book Resources
“Shoplifter’s a short book—90 pages or so, and the concise length serves it well—there’s no flab here, no room for distracted interjections, no complaints. It may be slight, but it’s elegantly executed . . . assured and cogent. Visually, it’s as attractive as you’d expect from Cho, alternatively surrounding Corinna with beautiful rendered city and then leaving her swathes of space; she’s as lost in one as the other. The rose and black color scheme is a gorgeous combination that does much to imbue the narrative with a sense of warmth and closeness, and also to dispel any notions of otherwise suggested tone. It’s rare that you read something so evenly handled yet characterful and uplifting, but Shoplifter manages it.” —ComicsAlliance
“Cho’s illustrations are the real draw, with dense, rose-tinted cityscapes that perfectly convey the loneliness of urban life. It’s a notable debut.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Cho is a subtle storyteller, setting Shoplifter in a city reminiscent of Toronto, although it remains unnamed. As in his previous book, Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes, the city becomes something of a character, lonely but also full of possibility. This, along with his at times sparing use of language, gives the graphic novel an air of quiet desperation, of a decision about to be made.” —Los Angeles Times
“Shoplifter exists as a ‘slice of life’ story. . . . Where it stands above other works is in its execution and especially in Cho’s terrific and illustrative artwork. . . . His first graphic novel effort knocks it out of the park . . . with its humor, sense of style, and near flawless execution of its simple narrative.” —Examiner.com
“A funny and touching portrait of urban angst. What’s exceptional is the eye-catching art in two colors, black and rose. The adept use of black ink delineates but does not complete the outlines of people and buildings; the rose tones shadow and spotlight, subtly drawing attention. Large swatches of rose or black physically define Corinna’s distance, both enforced and self-imposed, from her world. The delicate ink line articulates the facial expressions, and the intricate background and character details tie the narrative together. With its appealing story and quirky heroine, Cho’s debut is a visually electrifying, if minor, tale.” —Publishers Weekly
“Where has Michael Cho been hiding himself? . . . His art is lovely with an art deco, Darwyn Cooke-style approach to the page, detailed with shaded images and dense backgrounds that seem full of people and buildings that nearly seem to jump off his page. There’s a tremendous feeling of life and realism in Cho’s characters; in their small sideways glances and bright eyes, Cho captures the essence of humanity in even the most random of background strangers . . . A memorable tale.” —Comics Bulletin
“Michael Cho’s Shoplifter is the most modern, of-its-time graphic novel I’ve read in a long while.” —Comicsworthreading.com
“Michael Cho’s Shoplifter, his first graphic novel, is a joy to behold—so beautiful it will make all other cartoonists weep with envy.” —Seth, author of Palookaville
About the Author
MICHAEL CHO is an illustrator, cartoonist, and writer whose previously published work includes Back Alleys and Urban Landscapes, a collection of sketches depicting Toronto’s cityscape. Born in South Korea, he has lived in Canada since he was six.
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Top Customer Reviews
Like so many young people, Corinna has been taught to follow her dreams, which included an English degree and fantasies of being a novelist. In the meantime, to afford her condo, she’s working at an advertising agency, where she writes copy for potentially disturbing products, such as perfume for nine-year-olds. She took the job to pay the bills, but it’s worn her down to the point where she no longer does anything creative. She’s existing, not living.
Although she dislikes her workplace, Corinna doesn’t have much else in her life, with her socializing involving co-workers and sponsored parties. The interactions there ring true to anyone who’s been part of that corporate world. Other than that, she has an angry cat, well-drawn, as are the incredible cityscapes that punctuate the scenes.
The title comes from Corinna’s habit, a tic to release the pressure on her. She shoplifts magazines from the local convenience store, a tiny bit of rebellion that ultimately reinforces her privilege. She thinks her action affects no one but her. Although she bemoans her solitude, in this action, she reinforces it — and she’s wrong about the lack of connection.
For a first graphic novel, Shoplifter is quite accomplished. In his portrait of Corinna, Cho uses one character to symbolize universal feelings of unfocused confusion, disconnection, and ennui. The ending, while hopeful, is equally uncertain. I disagree with the way Cho buys into the artistic/professional divide, when it seems more practical to find ways to fund yourself while working on your personal projects, but I couldn’t help rooting for Corinna. (The publisher provided an advance review copy.) (Review originally posted at ComicsWorthReading.com.)
The use of only two colors, pink and black, heightens the sense of anonymity. It looks like there’s absolutely nothing going on, kind of like Chris Ware’s Building Stories. The characters seem to exist inside a machine, with absolutely nothing to amuse themselves. The ending is happy without being sentimental or simply, but I would like to see a sequel. Corrina toys with the idea of waiting tables to support her creative efforts, so that would be a good premise for the next installment.
A bored copywriter makes for a boring story, but struggling artist or writer always has an interesting one.
This is the kind of book that should be read, and then read again this time taking full measure of the artwork which is beautiful and clean presenting a story far too many of us have experienced but few actually do something about-- actually follow your dreams.
The power of graphic novels is their ability to tell a lot of story in just a few pages because we can see the expressions and body language of the characters, we can see the environments they exist in and walk in their world.
Cho's art is especially effective, evoking something deceptively simple while masterfully composed. A stellar first effort from a major talent.
Also I thought the art was really beautiful specifically the drawings of the city itself or the city scenes. It really did a wonderful job of setting the tone. I could actually feel how lost the character might be through the art if not the story itself.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The tone that michael cho's brought in this book was conformable with the emotion he want to tell..Read more