Opulent and romanticized portrays – Judith Park

Judith ParkJudith Park In Germany Japanese comics, Manga, are experiencing a boom amongst young people and have become an important component of the comic culture. Adolescent readers in particular are flocking to Japanese comics as they can identify with their themes. While western comics have almost lost sight of the problems of growing up, school, relationships, sexuality, friendship and family, this is just what the group-targeting Manga stories focus on. In addition the standardised narrative and drawing styles allow fans to copy the comics of their idols and thus Manga is not only consumed but also widely emulated.
Copyright: Judith Park

Comics by Judith Park

Numerous Manga drawing competitions have led to the discovery of some German talents already, such as Mangaka Judith Park. In 2002 she won first prize in drawing contests in Cologne and at the Leipzig Book Fair and was signed up by a publishing house. Park’s first Manga story Dystopia (2004) was published in a Manga magazine, acting as a springboard for new talent. The positive response of the readership led to the collected episodes being published as a paperback. Dystopia is the story of an unfulfilled love between siblings and is influenced both in drawing and narrative style by the female-Manga, the Shojo-Manga. Both male and female protagonists are opulently and romantically portrayed with the obligatory large eyes, flowing locks and androgynous features.

It tells the story of Dionne’s clandestine love for her brother Lyon, who in turn is in a relationship with her best friend Shikku. The complicated brother-sister relationship is accentuated by their parents who favour their son over their daughter. Dionne feels alone and rejected. When her brother is suddenly killed in an accident Dionne has lost the one person she could relate to and retreats entirely from her family. Through her friendship with Shikku she finds the strength to gradually open up to the world around her. Judith Park’s next Manga Y-Square also deals with the emotional world of young people. Yoshitaka is jealous of his fellow student Yagate who is a hit with the girls. Jealousy turns to friendship and Yagate, understanding women as he does, vows to help Yoshitaka. Although what he really hopes is that Yoshikata will fall in love with him for he is gay.

Luxus (2007) on the other hand is about fashion-mad Scarlette, who is young, very beautiful and very rich. She is a glamorous girl for whom every a credit card fulfils every desire. But when someone slips her a secretive little figurine, huge problems suddenly appear in her apparently beautiful life. From then on she starts looking for “true happiness”.

The protaganist in Kimchi (2009) is a 16-year Korean girl who has been living with her uncle in Hamburg since early childhood. Regularly laughed at and bullied at school, the introverted young girl increasingly takes refuge in day dreams, over which she begins to lose control. In her illustrations for the mysterious manga adventure comic Kimchi, Park lets loose the occultism and shamanism of her Korean homeland.

While Judith Park excuses herself in an after-word full of modesty for probable beginner’s mistakes and weak dialogue, she is without doubt one of the most talented of Manga artists in Germany. With a pinch of self-mockery she lightens her melodramatic narratives with humour and slap-stick while never neglecting the real story.

Matthias Schneider
is a cultural researcher and freelance cultural journalist.
He also designs film programmes and exhibitions on the theme of comics.

Copyright: Goethe-Institut Stockholm
April 2007