Graphic Novel Review: nineteen by ancco

nineteen by ancco. Drawn & Quarterly, 2020. 9781770464100. 176pp. with a touching introduction about how these stories take her back in time, especially the stories that make her feel like she’s seeing her healthy grandmother again.

This book is full of older, shorter work by South Korean comics creator, ancco shows the development of her artistic style. There’s a lot of test anxiety in the first two stories, the first of which involves visiting the main character’s injured mother in the hospital, while the second is about watching a grandmother age and, I think, being adult enough to start seeing her as a person. In the title story, drunk high school girls fear getting in trouble, then one gets caught drawing a BDSM scene starring her teacher. (Content warning: the student is beaten quite a bit, and there’s a creepy taxi driver who tries to take advantage of her.)

The thing that unites many of these stories is a sense that the characters have to work hard even though they’re never going to be part of some glossy Korean success story. My favorites are the shorter interludes; they’re panel-less, feel biographical, and, like “nineteen,” are closer in style to ancco’s previous book, Bad Friends (which I can’t recommend highly enough).


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