Author: KwangHyn Seo
Manhwa-ga: JinHo Ko
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: June 2008
Synopsis: “Da-Il has a new job working for a famous comic creator. Not that Da-Il has any artistic ability. At least that’s what he thinks until he meets Mu-Huk, a ghost whose appearance Da-Il’s creativity gives shape. The budding artist soon learns that he has the skills of a “Croquer”, someone whose talent gives form to ghosts – ghosts it is Mu-Huk’s job to dispatch.”
Da-Il is the newest assistant to famous manhwa-ga, Ho-Go. He’s a boy with no knowledge or talent for drawing, but his passion for reading the man’s comics gets him hired none-the-less. When moving in to his new home, simple images drawn in the floor’s dust bring forth violent doodles that attack! Suddenly a strange guy named Mu-Huk shows up, saving Da-Il and telling him that’s he a Croquer, someone who can draw fast and give ghosts physical forms through his creativity. Wait… what? Croquis Pop takes an interesting spin on the common-manga archetype of sports manga, replacing the sport with art and the equipment with pencils and erasers!
I had a little trouble getting used to the pacing used in the storytelling of Croquis Pop, and it took a little more time to wrap my head around the plot. It’s weird, that’s for sure, but I found pretty interesting once I finished. It feels painfully stereotypical at times, with sudden on-set of powers and a sprinkling of angsty back story for the unexplainably energetic lead character, and yet, at the same time, like a spoof of those kinds of stereotypes. For better or worse, I laughed more at the absurdity of moments than the actual intended humour throughout my first reading. On a positive note, I thought the round about effect used was really neat, having the manhwa-ga in the story writing the very manga he’s a part of.
JinHo Ko’s artwork is pleasantly solid and I like their inking style, though at times I found the artwork felt very flat. My biggest qualm was the female character, Hang-Chu, whose eyes were entirely soulless and lacking in any sort of personality.
Yen Press put out a really high quality book with this release so it’s a shame that I ran into numerous problems with the printing while reading it. Throughout the entire book, be by editor or printer error, the pages were cut off on the bottom and the inner edges printed into the spine to the extent where entire words were cut off. In a few instances there were things being said I couldn’t read and panels almost entirely cut off on the bottom of pages. It was never enough to impede understanding the story but it was disappointing none the less.
Past that however, I came across no problems in the translation, which was smooth and placed really well in the interior. The front cover and spine are sporting some really nice, simple design work. There’s even a few full colour, glossy pages included in the middle of the book, something I haven’t come across before. I was impressed on how not only did Yen Press make the choice to include them, but also how their paper choice allowed the pages to lay seamlessly with the others instead of being too thick and bulking the spine.
Honestly, by the time I was finished, I didn’t know what I thought of this first volume and even now I’m still not entirely sure. While I certainly wouldn’t call it an exceptional book, I also don’t feel it’s deserving of a full out dismissal. The artwork was all right and the story was certainly unique, even if it was presented in less than unique ways. I think Croquis Pop is going to need another volume to prove itself so I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt for now.