The Color Trilogy (First Second)

Revisiting Sarah Boslaugh’s reviews of Kim Dong Hwa’s tale of a young girl’s coming of age in a rural Korean town to celebrate June’s Manhwa Movable Feast.


The Color of Earth (First Second)
The Color of Water (First Second)
The Color of Heaven (First Second)
320 pgs. ea., B&W; $16.95 ea.
(W / A: Kim Dong Hwa)
Hi all, Comics Editor Jason Green here. Those of you who checked out my review of Keiko Takemiya’s To Terra… a few weeks back learned that I checked out that series as part of the “Manga Movable Feast,” a monthly event that seeks to foster a sense of community among manga bloggers, critics, and fans by encouraging willing participants to provide their own in-depth analysis of a different manga title each month. This month, the Feast is trying something different, focusing instead on a manhwa (or Korean comic book), Kim Dong Hwa’s “The Color Trilogy”—The Color of Earth, The Color of Water, and The Color of Heaven. Released last year in English by First Second, the series follows Ehwa, a young girl living with her widowed mother in a rural Korean village, as she journeys from girlhood to maturity.
Conveniently enough, PLAYBACK:stl’s own Sarah Boslaugh checked in with a review of each volume of “The Color Trilogy” as they were released, so we’d like to take this opportunity to spotlight Sarah’s critiques of the series, a series she saystells a simple story with a delicacy and sensitivity which avoids the cartoonish conventions familiar from many popular manga series.” Read on below for a brief excerpt of each review and a link to read the rest. For an introduction to the series by Manga Bookshelf’s Melinda Beasi, click here. For an in-progress archive of other contributions to this month’s Manhwa Movable Feast, click here.
The Color of Earth (originally published 04.30.09)
The dialogue in The Color of Earth is often poetic, as even the humblest characters use richly descriptive language to express their feelings. […] The evocative line art of Kim Dong Hwa mirrors the language of his characters: they may be peasants from a world long vanished but their emotional lives are as complex as those of anyone living today. He draws human characters in a stylized but not cartoonish manner, emphasizing the universal nature of their experiences and concerns while placing them within detailed and realistic surroundings. […] If I have a criticism of The Color of Earth, it’s that once again a man is telling us what women think and feel. The story doesn’t always ring true for me, but that could be due to cultural differences: I’d be interested to hear what Korean women have to say on the subject.  [Click here to read more.]
The Color of Water (originally published 08.13.09)
The graphic and verbal elements in The Color of Water together create a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. Kim Dong Hwa’s exquisitely detailed art places the story firmly in the Korean countryside, where the characters are so often dwarfed by fields and trees that they seem to be just another part of nature. But he also creates rich portraits of people who may be lacking in formal education but have the same hopes and dreams as do people living today and can express those desires poetically. [Click here to read more.]
The Color of Heaven (originally published 10.08.09)
Kim Dong Hwa draws in a detailed yet uncluttered style with great feel for the natural setting of his stories. His style of storytelling is unhurried and poetic while also strongly influenced by the cinema:  you can almost see the camera setups as his frames shift between objective and subjective points of view and from long shots to close-ups to inserts. It’s worth checking out the series just for his accomplished art. [Click here to read more.]
For more information on Kim Dong Hwa, click here, and follow the links in the “Works” section to access a brief excerpt from each book in The Color Trilogy.

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