Shiny Shelf

Rock and Roll Love

By Mags L Halliday on 19 May 2008

‘Rock and Roll Love’ is the classic high school comic book story: a girl arrives at a small town school, makes friends, fancies impossibly cute boys and loves rock music. It’s the atypical school comic, increasingly aimed at a female comic readership by using kawaii art and the digest format. So far, so ‘Blue Monday’, but the difference comes from a Japanese perspective on high school life. This is the autobiographical story of Misako, aka Misako Rocks!, who arrives in nowhere, Missouri, from Tokyo on an exchange. Misako perceives the American girls of her age as so much more mature than her friends back home, and struggles to relax talking to boys. It manages to convey some of the brain-freezing embarassment of the boy you fancy suddenly talking to you, as well as the sheer excitement of being a teenager.

The art is indeed in cute Manga style, with a bold brush line animating the characters and lots of wash patterns. The boys are impossibly tall, skinny and cute. Unlike American writer/artists working with the Manga style, the page are kept very clean. There aren’t notes in the margin suggesting songs, or doodles around the edges. At the Bristol Comics Expo this year, Misako talked about growing up reading girls comics in Tokyo, and it’s clear that her work is exporting Japanese storytelling and style to an American subject instead of adopting it. It’s also clear, comparing it to her first book, ‘Biker Girl’, that her artwork has really developed into a clean, defined style. Although there are still a couple of hiccups with frame reading order, she’s also much more confident with page layout.

Misako’s other work includes designing a character for ‘Archie’, and a strip in the much anticipated new weekly ‘The DFC’. Most exciting of all is a three volume book, which starts publishing this autumn, called ‘The Detective Jermain’, which mixes not only kawaii high school fun with detective fiction but also has some wonderful Victoriana elements to the art.

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