The Shoplifting Existentialist


shoplifter book coverHello again! It’s been awhile since I’ve done an actual post, but here goes! This time I will be telling you guys about the graphic novel I chose to read for my #ReadHarder challenge. The graphic novel I chose was Shoplifter by Micheal Cho. I don’t remember how I found this book, I think it may have been in an Read It Forward email that I received some time last year and for some reason it stuck with me. Before I review what this, I would like to say that I have never reviewed a graphic novel before and literally googled “criteria on reviewing a graphic novel” and the results were…what you would expect from the internet. It gave me a varied amount of information, some helpful, some not, some strange, but here  goes from what I gathered.

So, per my googling, I am supposed to take into consideration the artwork, as well as the characters, storyline, etc. (Duh! Why would I not consider the artwork in a book full of pictures?) Let’s begin. The graphic novel is about Corrina Park, who works at an ad agency, and after a brain fart at work, starts to re think everything. She has a B.A. in English and had dreams of writing novels, but student loans had to be repaid, so she ended up at the agency. Shoplifter- guide to shopliftingShe is single going through the whole internet dating scene and has a cat at home and is just emo. So emo. The only thrill she gets in life is the brief rush when she shoplifts magazine from a convenience store on her way home. Corinna is a lot like people I could know and a realistic person to an extent. I didn’t like her self pitying tone she takes. I can be the queen of self deprecation, but no one wants to hear about it. Her cat hates her, she hates her job, she hates being single and is stuck getting creepers online and it’s just a sad scene as she watched tv alone, without a friend in the world, in the condo that she realizes she doesn’t even like. On her subway ride home she re thinks her life and the plan she had and where she wanted to be by now. This is actually extremely human and thoughtful for a graphic novel.  She poses valid questions of her life and where she went wrong. This is where it gets really exetential and at the same tie you learn the most about Corrina and I think it was clever way of giving you the character’s Corrina's aptbackground with a limited amount of space.  Some may find it to ramble, and I can see that, but I liked being “inside her head” instead of guessing what’s going on. Beyond that, the story was meh.  After I get all this great information and she thinks about her life, it speeds to a conclusion, that leaves me wanting more information. This want is not a “gimme more” want that comes from a  “I can’t wait a year for the sequel” type of situation, but a “how the hell did we get here?” type of situation. Given all the information about Corinna, I could have predicted the ending, yet the it seemed like a transition from A to C, and B got lost somewhere at the party scene. Despite that, I would like to add that at the party scene there is a great conversation about advertising, social media and human connection. With that expectation, the sequence of events don’t directly lead or explain the outcome. Also, we only see her shoplift once. I thought it might be a compulsive thing and it was kind of eluded to in “Guide to shoplifting” panels that it was, but it gave zero background information as to why magazines, how many times she has done it and how or why she started shoplifting in the first place.

shoplifter- bosses windowThe artwork. The artwork was really compelling. I have read other graphic novels and this minimal coloring intrigued me. The whole graphic novel is done in white, pink and black. That’s it. Seriously. Yet, those three colors make such a beautiful eye catching panel for every page. Somewhere on this page are going be pictures and you can see for yourself. I especially like the way they fixed a black background with the bright panels above

Shoplifter- subway sceneit. The picture, hopefully, near this sentence shows Corrina’s ride home. I like the panel of the subway from the exterior in the day time and then at the bottom the all black view of her subway car, as if you were in the tunnel looking in. You still get a full picture with just the 3 colors and the contrast drew my eye instantly. I adored the artwork and coloring. Very innovative.

Overall Shoplifter was just okay. I’m not sure if I would buy it,( I checked it out from the library) just for the art, but I do like that I was exposed to a different artistic sholifter- cityscapestyling that I had not seen before. The first about 1/3-ish is thoughtful and makes you wander along with Corrina as she contemplates about life and plans and “where you wanted to be vs. where you are” and the “making a living vs. actually living” soul searching introspective existential view on life, that most graphic novels will not touch upon. After that it fast forwards and leaves me feeling like it’s incomplete, like there were important pages left on the drawing room floor. The art is worth taking a look at, for sure. I would recommend giving it a glance, but I wouldn’t set expectations extremely high for it. That said, I would like to see more from Michael Cho, because I do feel that there is a lot of potential there. (As if my “professional opinion” matters to him. Haha.) Have you read this graphic novel? Any thoughts, comments, concerns, questions? Leave a comment! 🙂

P.S. Sorry for the picture quality, I had to take a picture of the book, as there aren’t a lot of pictures of the pages on the interwebs. With that said, I do not own any of the artwork shown, all are courtesy of the actual Shoplifter graphic novel by Michael Cho. All rights reserved, etc, etc.


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