Shoplifter by Michael Cho
Aaarrrggghhh! These days, I seem to be in the wrong place all the time. Lucky DC-area folks: Do NOT NOT NOT miss Canadian Korean graphic artist Michael Cho at SPX 2014: Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland, tomorrow and Sunday, September 13 and 14, 2014. Make your plans NOW. This can wait.
For those of you who became Cho-groupies with his 2012 debut title, back alleys and urban landscapes – a memoir/homage of sorts to his Toronto hometown – Shoplifter, his first graphic novel, will make you swoon. Newbie Cho-readers will keel over right alongside.
Meet Corinna Park. She’s “fallen into the classic trap.” What she thought would be a job that would last just long enough to pay off her student loans, has trapped her in a five-year career she doesn’t really want. In college, she expected to be a writer, but so far, she’s only managed to produce advertising copy.
To escape her feelings of being “pinned down with a rock on my chest,” Corrina shoplifts. Yup – on her way home from work, still in her business duds, only magazines, and only at “big franchise places” because, she reasons, “They have budgets for this.” She offers her “Corrina Park’s Guide to (Small Time) Shoplifting” in six easy steps. “I know I’m a privileged first world whatever,” she explains. “It’s just a matter of what we choose to ignore to get through the day.”
Those days can be long and tedious, from oversleeping (again), grabbing a bottle of dressing rather than something more drinkable, listening to your boss spew on about “giving something vulnerable and precious of ourselves” to sell perfume to little girls, surviving sneak attacks from your bored-to-the-point-of-feral feline, and the predictable-but-unavoidable pitfalls of online dating. Something’s gotta give …
At under 100 pages, Shoplifter is a distilled gem, the perfect example of a familiar story uniquely, freshly, exceptionally told. Printed in black-and-white that’s been strategically pink-washed (don’t even make any assumptions about that pink!), Cho’s version of ‘follow-your-dreams’ is both gritty and hopeful, disgruntled and uplifting, too. After years of successfully creating art for others, Cho’s finally putting his name on his own covers … all you wannabe writers: get Shoplifter, and someday (soon), perhaps you’ll be inspired to do the same.