The Other Side of the Mirror Vol. 1 (Tokyopop)

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otherside-header.gifAll-too-rare interior artwork from Jo Chen, the artist behind the gorgeous painted covers for Runaways and Buffy: Season 8.

 

 

202 pgs. B&W; $9.99

(W / A: Jo Chen)

 

The Other Side of the Mirror, Jo Chen's most recent English language manga title, will doubtlessly intrigue fans of the lush, photorealistic painted covers that Chen has been creating for Marvel Comics' Runaways or Dark Horse's Buffy Season 8 series. And rightfully so-Chen is a gifted artist, capable of rendering realistic movement through her precise, fluid lines. The two painted images that preface this volume are a treat for the eyes, as is the slick, foil-embellished cover. Naturally, Chen's pen-and-ink style differs considerably from her painted works, and ultimately seems weaker by comparison-but weak for Chen is still miles above the rest of the pack in terms of style, artistry, and storytelling ability.

The cover to The Other Side of the Mirror. Click for a larger image.Unfortunately, though her images are extremely well-suited to narrative, the tale at the heart of The Other Side of the Mirror could use some work. Though it's firmly centered around the misadventures of Lou Schultz, a no-good post-college drifter who gambles for a living in New York City, and his eventual sidekick Sunny Corrigan, a Southern belle-turned-prostitute who's down on her luck, the story here feels just as rootless as its protagonists. Part road movie, part New York story, The Other Side of the Mirror never quite finds its feet, despite a subtle romantic attraction between its protagonists, and an apparent urge to uncover the truth about the city's drifters and dreamers. Still, Chen's gorgeous art is compelling enough to keep an eye on this title-and the attendant extras, which include a short Victorian tale of romance, an interview with Chen, and sketchbook materials, make for a nice overall package. Fans of Buffy will definitely want to at least give this a try, with the hope that Chen's compelling characters will find something equally as compelling to do with themselves in future volumes. | J. Bowers

 

Click here to check out a dozen sample pages from The Other Side of the Mirror, courtesy of Jo Chen!

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