Saturday, October 25, 2014

Michael Cho’s Shoplifter is more than just chick-lit

Michael Cho’s Shoplifter is more than just chick-lit
by rick olivares

I just had a 'why do you do this?' Moment, you know?

Michael Cho's 'Shoplifter' might be chick-lit but like The Devil Wears Prada or even Persepolis, the message is for everyone.

The danger of walking into the trap of boredom or a routine is the capacity for stupidity. After six years working as a copywriter for an unnamed ad agency, Corinna Park is bored and burned out. She deals with life in the rat race by waxing toxic during a brainstorming session. She turns anti-social and shoplifts magazines just for kicks.

She becomes her own worst enemy. But interestingly, her misdeeds also provide the path to coming to terms with who she is. By disengaging from what is causing her unhappiness and getting on with what she believes she needs to do with her life -- and that’s to write her own books – she finds freedom and happiness. Thus, bringing a smile to her lips that had all but evaporated.

While it isn't a complex storyline as Prada, the road to ruin is the same. And yet amid all the loneliness, there’s a glimmer of hope and a window of opportunity.

There’s a part of me that wonders of Cho should have extrapolated a little more on Corinna’s week from hell but why belabor the obvious?

Drawn in two colors – the pink color is daring in itself -- this 96-page graphic novel is a beautiful story that reminds us while pursuing our own dreams is important, the grind of corporate life is a necessary part of the journey for there are lessons and experiences to be learned.

Though limited to a more minor role, the cashier at the mini-mart where Corinna shoplifts magazines, has that impact of that copier store clerk (played by Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell) in Jerry Maguire who said, “That’s how you become great, man. Hang your balls out there.”

The cashier lets on to Corinna that he has known all along that she has been shoplifting. But he knows she is a good person who is doing something stupid. Sometimes, when things grow dark around you, it’s that gentle nudge that works. And that’s the turning point for Corinna.

And the cool thing about Shoplifter is Cho doesn’t present any villains you’ll want to hate like Miranda Priestly of Prada or Bob Sugar of Jerry Maguire. The characters are believable, real, and even sympathetic.

And that’s the triumph of Michael Cho’s stellar first effort.


I purchased my copy of SHOPLIFTER from Gosh Comics in London. I am sure you can order this from FullyBooked or even Comic Odyssey. It is published by Pantheon Books. 

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