Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Koko Be Good

What does it mean to be "good?" How does one know when they have "grown up?" These are two of the major concerns in this graphic novel. The majority of the plot centers on Jon, a 20-something who is drifting about after college. He has lost touch with his friends, set aside his aspirations as a musician, and is gearing up to join his girlfriend in Peru to live charitably. Koko, a tempestuous and energetic woman bursts onto the scene, causing havoc while striving to make her impression on the world. Accompanying her much of the time is Faron, an acrobatic Latino teenager who is troubled by his family situation and his secret love of musicals. All three of the characters are having a hard time figuring out their places in the world.

This beautifully illustrated graphic novel debut was created by Jen Wang. She graduated with a Sociology degree from SFSU and has worked various jobs before her graphic novel work. Koko Be Good started out in different form as an online comic, and Wang has a number of shorter works online. This interview sheds more light on her work and inspiration for this book.

Reviews have been largely positive. Kristin Fletcher-Spear was impressed by the art and the characterization, particularly of Faron. Greg McElhatton wrote that Wang has "taken her talent to a new level with this book." Comicsgirl commented on all the intricate details in the art and story that make the book work. It seems that Jen Wang's graphic novel career is off to a great start.

A preview, a reading group guide, and some reviews are available here from the book's publisher First Second. A video preview is available here from the author.

Thanks to Gina for the review copy!

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