Have you ever had a friend buy you a comic or a book because a detail of the plot revolved around a genuine interest of yours? Was that same title not a good read despite its topical interest? You have been the subject of some bad (comic)book matching. I firmly believe that the details of a plot, while important in making a good story, do little to tell you, a potential reader, if you will enjoy a comic or not. I have recently come across an example which illustrates this concept perfectly.
First we have to get rid of all of the men. Sorry boys but in both these comics the male gender is struck with high mortality rate, nearly all men die in a single moment in a single day in Y the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn, and only about an eighth of the male population survive to maturity in Ooku by Fumi Yoshinaga. This is a fascinating Thought Experiment (our term for a story element that is a what if that allows us to examine society and humanity through fiction) and it may bring up similar issues of gender roles in both series, but despite this plot detail, readers moving from one series to the next will find a very different experience in each comic. From ambiance of the the world they are set in, the kinds of characters that fill the story and the affect the story has on the reader.
I think in this case it is the affect that makes the biggest difference between these two reading experiences. Where Y: The Last Man has an affect on the reader that induces adrenalin, designed in part to scare us, Ooku has a reflective effect on the reader. With a slower pace a more generous captions and atmospheric images Ooku takes its time and asks the reader to think both about the subtleties of the relations and machinations of its characters and the larger social questions it brings up. Readers who love Ooku might enjoy more contemplative comics who’s drama comes from social relationships like Habibi or works with a wide scope like Buddah by Osamu Tezuka. Both of these comics carry the same contemplative feel that Ooku brings the reader.
Y: The Last Man has the action and adventure of a superhero comic with a dark side. Its ‘what if’ question still gives the reader some space outside the comic to consider gender and society, but this story has action, faster pacing and a greater emphasis on the plot. Readers who love Y: The Last Man may want to pick up Guerillas by Brahm Revel or Chew by John Layman & Rob Guillory for stories with some thought behind them but a fast moving, dark plot line.
Can you enjoy both titles? Why yes, I do but these series each work on a different part of the bibliographic palette, so don’t let the details of a plot have you using sugar on your fries and salt on your strawberries.
Check out how our thesaurus terms describe the similarities and differences between these two series.
Ooku by Fumi Yoshinaga
- Super Normal
- Real Unless Noted
- White and Gray Morality
- Dysfunction Junction