Comic 1-6 by Ha SiHyun: B

comic1When a friend of amateur manhwa-ga Alice Song enters Alice’s story in a contest, she ends up taking third prize. Upon meeting with the publisher, she runs into an old student teacher (now working as an editor) who takes her to meet one of her favorite creators, Saturn Kang. Saturn turns out to be a rather arrogant high school boy who wants none of Alice’s help, even though he’s cutting it close for his deadline. They butt heads a lot, and this relationship extends into the high school realm because, of course, Saturn (whose real name is Patrick) is the studliest guy at his all-male school and all the girls at Alice’s neighboring all-female school are crazy for him.

comic2Alice has talent, but her work is unrefined, and after realizing just how much she doesn’t know, she decides to formally apply to be Patrick’s assistant. He’s reluctant at first, but her passion and willingness to perform menial chores wins him over and he begins teaching her in earnest. When the corporation funding Alice’s school goes bankrupt, the two schools merge and Alice and Patrick begin to see each other more often. With the merger, Patrick also comes to the attention of Daria, a scheming frenemy of Alice’s, who soon resolves to make him hers and generally causes a lot of strife for our protagonists. Though Patrick has been nursing feelings for Alice for a while, it’s the situation with Daria that prompts Alice to finally realize that she likes him, too. They both resolve to confess their feelings at Daria’s upcoming birthday party.

comic3Matters come to a head in volume five which, despite employing a pretty massive misunderstanding plot, is still the best of the series so far. Both leads have been duped by Daria in different ways, but seem to’ve finally made their feelings for each other clear, only for Daria’s scheming to intrude again. By the end of volume six, each is stubbornly sticking to his/her guns, with Alice demanding an apology for something she witnessed and Patrick demanding that, just this once, she actually believe him that he hasn’t done anything wrong. Meanwhile, Patrick’s best friend, Neil, returns from a long convalescence and develops an interest in Alice without knowing she’s the girl Patrick likes. There’s a great scene where each boy describes her in completely different ways, and swear that no girl could ever come between them.

comic5Comic is an entertainingly addictive series, but I stop short of calling it a truly good one. It begins well, with Alice declaring that she doesn’t want a normal life and with some fascinating excursions to manhwa specialty stores and details on the craft of comic-making. There are signs, though, that reader desires might’ve nudged the series in another direction. The character of Mr. Hwang, for example, Alice’s old student teacher and original love interest, is suddenly shipped off to Taiwan with very little fanfare. Then when the school merger occurs, the cast of students expands to include attractive obstacles in the path of Alice and Patrick’s relationship. Gradually, manhwa is mentioned less and less frequently until volume six, where it doesn’t come up at all. The series seems to’ve completed its metamorphosis into your standard angsty high school romance drama. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that, but one wonders where all of Alice’s passion and drive went.

comic6Though I grumble a little about the evolution of the series, it nonetheless provides some good moments and memorable characters. Early on, Patrick shows a surprisingly sensitive side when he doesn’t let on how abysmal Alice’s “help” has been and listens when she expresses her sorrow that her old school building, site of so many memories, will likely be condemned. And while Alice has a tendency to be hot-headed and run away from arguments, I like that there’s sometimes no clear right and wrong in their fights. Their conflict in volume six is a great example, as each has a valid point that they won’t back away from. Unfortunately, it seems much could be solved if they would only communicate better; a story that relies so much on misunderstandings is always a frustrating reading experience for me.

Ultimately, Comic is a fun and quick read that would be perfect for a romance fix. As long as you don’t go into it expecting the insights about manhwa to last, it should be a sufficiently enjoyable experience.

Review copies for volumes four and five provided by the publisher.

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