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Fleen Guest Review: Scott Thornton on Daniel Kim’s Clone Manga

Editor’s note: This is the first of the Fleen Guest Reviews; this came about because Scott Thornton suggested that we review some particular comics in under-represented genres, and he seemed enthusiastic enough about it that we suggested that he write ’em up himself.

Scott, by the way, is an Australian malcontent living in Melbourne. Aged 25, he began his interest in sequential art via TinTin and illustrated zines and likes to focus on genre fiction webcomics. He is currently working on the weekly webcomic blog, Zhi, which is some good reading. Want to join in the fun? Throw us a suggestion, we’ll ask you to send us some copy; just like the Op-Ed page, if it doesn’t require too much fixin’ we’ll run it.

Webmanga has traditionally gotten a bad rap from the mainstream webcomic community (case in point: look at Combustible Orange‘s characterisation of Fred Gallagher as a sex-crazed pervoid). If all you read is slice of life webcomics, every otaku is a possible bishie-obsessed stalker. If you’re unsure about manga then Daniel Kim’s Clone Manga is an expose of his talent, it comprises a smorgasbord of his short stories. Most of them have a bent towards the supernatural and fantastical and from the site the reader can slowly digest them at their leisure.

Kim’s art isn’t ultra smooth or slick and it’s more ma! ngaesque or manga influenced with a more realistic use of scale and softer linework. It’s a haze of black and white, and likewise the various narratives within the confines of Clone Manga are fantastical shadowy meanderings of the human condition. Thus, it’s a westernised translation of manga and for the beginner this makes it an informative entry point into what looks like esoteric madness.

If you’re looking for standout stories then, frankly, Paper Eleven is the centrepiece of Kim’s website; it’s a convoluted and lovely exposition of a classic fairytale that pieces together slowly. Likewise, Penny Tribute is another example of Kim’s reissuing of the western fantastical within Clone Manga’s mangaesque atmosphere; it takes place in a menagerie of characters in a forbidding castle. However, if you’re tired of all the emo, here’s a lighter touch in Tomoyo42’s Room, both in artwork and doujinshi style silliness.

Still, if all you’re after is a quick gag during your lunch break or you speak L33T as a second language then you won’t find what you want here. If you’re after new visions of sequential art, then this is a good place to start your examination of the art that dare not speak its name within the webcomic pixelsphere.

Fleen thanks Scott Thornton for his contribution. Read his blog!

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