Thursday, April 15, 2004


If you're curious about Korean comics, or manhwa, apart from the few that Tokyopop have translated, and you live in (or plan to visit) the Chicago area, you're in luck. At 4336 1/2 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, there's a store called Korean Books (that's the name given in the yellow pages, though the sign says "Korean Book.Comics"). It's a small shop, but it's loaded with paperback collections of Korean-language comics, both manhwa and translated manga. Unfortunately, most of the volumes can't be bought individually, but only as part of a complete series. And since the average series seems to have ten or more volumes, this discourages exploration. Also, the books don't have written prices: you bring what you want to the man at the counter, and he tells you what it costs. (The two books I brought up were nine and ten dollars respectively, though I have no idea whether those prices are typical.) On the plus side, the books aren't shrink-wrapped, so you can browse, even in the complete series. There's also a "Korean Books" at 5773 N. Lincoln, but I don't know whether this is a branch of the same store, or whether it carries comics.

To be honest, I didn't see anything in my browsing that would impel me to learn Korean. I did buy one volume of comics, Ero p'ok'osu (there should be diacritical marks over the last two vowels) by I Ro-ma (I hope that's the correct way to transcribe it). It's a collection of humorous short pieces, mainly revolving around sex. The style of cartooning reminds me a bit of Viz magazine (the British humor magazine, not to be confused with the manga publisher), and it looks like it might be pretty funny if I could read it.

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