Pop Culture Gadabout
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
      ( 2/09/2011 06:48:00 AM ) Bill S.  


“YOU KNOW THAT WORD, ‘DODGY’?” Scripted by the editor of the alternative manga collection, Axe, Sean Michael Wilson and Chie Kusuwada’s The Story of Lee (NBM/ComicsLit) is a somewhat familiar tale of young love in a world of a generational/cultural divide. Set in modern Hong Kong, the manga series follows Lee Chen, a young girl with dreams of going to England and becoming a writer, and Matt MacDonald, a young English teacher from the British Isles. The two meet at the shop where Lee has been working to help out her traditional-minded father, who warns her after seeing their first flirty interactions, “Don’t get too friendly with the male foreigners that come into the shop -- you might get a bad name.”

Of course, our girl ignores her reactionary old man, and the couple strike up a bond, initially over Lee’s love of sixties British rock. Because her Anglophilia is steeped in sixties pop songs, our heroine’s naiveté occasionally leads to some rocky relational moments, but we never doubt that these two will ultimately get together. To counter her conservative father’s pronouncements, Wilson also shows us a more open-minded uncle and an elderly poetry-loving grandma who regularly chides her son for his “petty complaining.”

Author Wilson and artist Kusuwada capture the contemporary Hong Kong setting effectively, and the writer displays a commendable willingness to let his artist tell their story in extended wordless sequences. In one four-page scene, for instance, we see Matt’s would-be rival Wang as he watches Lee from afar then sadly returns to his apartment, observing a happy couple along the way. The moment proves more empathetic than we at first might have expected. If it doesn’t break any more new storytelling ground, Story of Lee handles its appealing cross-cultural love story with a deft sweetness.

(First published on Blogcritics.)

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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).



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