Rating: 5/5 – A Story That Will Steal Your Attention and Your Heart.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
Shoplifter is an original graphic novel by Michael Cho that tells the realistic story of a young woman who’s struggling in the self-made routine of her everyday life. It’s a slice of life tale that reads and feels real, with a grounded art style that’s reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke, but still unique to Cho. There aren’t any crazy twists or turns to this story and that’s what makes it so charming and compelling. It’s a story that we can all imagine and a story that’s probably taking place in numerous places all around the world. Like the title implies, shoplifting does take place within the book, but it’s a minor part of the overall story.
Corrina Park is the main character of the story and she’s just not that happy. She’s a literature grad who dreamed of being and doing something more, but instead finds herself working at an ad agency in the city. The opening scene provides the perfect introduction to just who Corrina is and the mindset that she’s in. As Corrina and her colleagues discuss a new perfume targeted at 8-12 year olds, you hear them throwing out slogans and ideas that leave Corrina agitated and questioning her commitment until she blurts out a tagline that leaves the group speechless. It’s fantastically written and it captures the awkwardness and uncomfortableness of the scene, setting the tone for the rest of the book. From there, we see just why Corrina decides to shoplift the items that she does, as it parallels the choices she’s made for herself and her life.
The story is beautifully drawn by Cho who uses a three-color palette of white, black and pink. His rendering of the city Corrina lives in feels just as realistic as the story he’s telling. The city feels alive and there are multiple pages where Cho shows off his skills with single and double page spreads that show the busy and at times overwhelming feel of the city and all it has to offer, or in Corrina’s case, how it can feel so overwhelming. Corrina herself is drawn as an every-woman which is exactly how it should be. She fits perfectly into the world, but Cho somehow finds a way for her to always stand out. Considering that this is Cho’s first original graphic novel, I hope it’s a format that he uses again.
Shoplifter does what it sets out to do. It provides a great slice-of-life story that’s both sad and uplifting, but always real. Cho chooses to tell his story in a slightly “smaller than a comic” hardcover that’s a perfect size to showcase the art. It’s a quick read, but I spent lots of time pouring over the beautifully simple artwork. Cho has created something special with Shoplifter and it’s a story that should appeal to both a male and female audience. If you’re in the mood for something different, yet something that’s also authentic and accessible, read Michael Cho’s Shoplifter. It should ultimately steal your attention and your heart.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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