Author/Artist: June Kim
Date Published: 2006
Volume/s: 1 Only
When Jackie’s ex-lover Noah dies, she decides the best and quickest way to get over the love of her life is to hold a personal ritual with Noah’s ashes. Jackie consumes the ashes in the form of smoothies for 12 days – hoping the pain will subside with her profound reaction to Noah’s death.
’12 Days’ begins after Noah’s death, when Jackie receives her ashes from Nick (Noah’s brother). The plot revolves around the very odd ritual of consuming her ashes, with flashbacks and conversations fleshing out the backstory between Jackie and Noah. The awkward kinship that forms between Nick and Jackie is the centerpiece of ’12 Days’ – two people who were heavily involved in Noah’s life, yet due to the secret nature of the Noah/Jackie’s lesbian relationship, were hardly, if ever, able to meet.
Yet again, (and you may read this in future reviews) I acquired this book through my sister’s rabid search for quality lesbian fiction (and trust me, quality is few and far between, so she buys a lot of duds that she screens first before I read them. Lesbian fiction tends to be comprised of three main groups; Group A – wishful thinking plots that are akin to straight rom coms in their simplified cliched characters and unrealistic conclusions, Group B – the infamous depressing lesbian tragedies, where lesbian characters suffers lots and usually die by the end, and Group C – fiction that was actually written with men in mind eg smut).
Although ’12 Days’ does walk dangerously close to the above mentioned Group B, it delivers itself with emotional poignancy, a lack of unnecessary drama and a light sense of humour that separates it from most fiction in that category. The scenes between Jackie and Noah are full on without being exploitative and their break up is presented as a fundamental (and tragic) lack of communication between two people who are passionately in love with one another. However, the story between Nick and Jackie creates more emotional ties with the reader then the flashbacks to Jackie/Noah – the intended point of drama in the story. It is the strange, uneasy relationship (and eventual friendship) between these two characters that holds ’12 Days’ together. (I’m still unsure of whether June Kim wrote Nick/Jackie’s friendship and grief to actually be the main emotional aspect of ’12 Days’, or if it stole the limelight unintentionally)
’12 Days’ suffers from some basic layout related problems. At times the conversations can be a little hard to follow (as in, who is responsible for which speech bubble), as well as the internal monologue. Though the reader catches the drift, it does take the second read to flesh out the sequence of events. The cover art is beautiful, simple and powerful. Though the inside work is good, it isn’t quite crisp as the cover. There are strange little inadequacies that irritated me – for instance despite having a cast of mostly white characters, with a family of Asian decent at its center, most Caucasian characters are drawn with somewhat Asian features. This would have certainly been unintentional, yet was there none the less.
Strangely enough, it struck me upon finishing that ’12 Days’ would be better as a short film rather than a comic (this is extremely rare for me, as I’m not one of the crowd that sees the future film adaption of comic books as being a better rendering of the storylines, nor a goal for the comic book industry. I like comics as they are, they are a unique medium that can’t be replicated). It’s almost as if ’12 Days’ has been deliberately drawn as a storyboard for a future movie project. This could be due to the influence of films and their pacing on the illustrator and perhaps she subconsciously framed the comic in a similar style to a film – who knows. Either way, by the end of the book I felt that it was too quiet, too muted, and that the sound of city life outside Jackie’s window could have more acutely brought the silence in her flat to contrast.
’12 Days’ is an interesting, well written and pleasurable read for gay and straight audiences alike. The author June Kim, of South Korean decent and responsible for the CD cover art for Australian band Jet, has created a mature and worthy work for ‘the girl who told me a sad story about her ex girlfried 10 years ago’ – all within one neat, little volume.
♥♥♥½ – 3½/5