Thursday, September 17, 2009

Graphic Novels: The Color of Heaven by Kim Dong Hwa

The Color of Heaven (First Second) is the third book in a coming of age trilogy by celebrated Korean manhwa artist, Kim Dong Hwa. In an interview with Newsarama earlier this year, Hwa said that he was deeply influenced to tell the mother-daughter story in his Color of Earth trilogy by the aging of his own mother:

Since I was very young, I’ve been interested expressing the growth and change (mentally and physically) of a girl in manhwa form. I consider the process of a girl becoming a woman one of the biggest mysteries and wonders of life. And one day when my mother was sleeping in her sickbed, I looked down at her wrinkled face and suddenly realized that she must had been young and beautiful once. Then I started imagining her childhood and youth. What would she have looked like in her 60s, 50s, 40s and etc.? These thoughts inspired me to put my hand to the plow. Ehwa is the result of tracing back my mother’s youth.
Delicate, poetic and sometimes deeply -- though obliquely -- sensual, The Color of Heaven concludes the story of young Ehwa and her own mother. Older in this third book -- she’s a young woman now -- Ehwa is anticipating a love of her own and softly rebelling against the boundaries and realities her mother is trying to set.

Reading, one understands the thorough esteem with which this artist is regarded in his own country. It’s a delight to be able to all three books in the 2003-published trilogy -- The Color of Earth, The Color of Water and The Color of Heaven -- in their English translation.

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