Love as a Foreign Language Book 1

Love as a Foreign Language cover
Love as a Foreign
Language Book 1
Buy this book

The most unusual thing about this graphic novel is its format. It’s the independent equivalent of what the superhero publishers call prestige format — each installment of the continuing story is 72 pages in a slim volume with a square spine.

Joel, an American, is teaching English in Korea, but he’s quickly grown sick of the country, with numerous scenes showing culture clash between his wants and expectations and his reality. The book is billed as a romance, where Joel becomes torn between going home and a burgeoning love, but in this installment, he’s barely even met the girl.

Torres and Kim do a terrific job making the reader feel immersed in an unfamiliar (to most) country. The Korean dialogue is translated in endnotes, so the reader can find out what’s being said, but not immediately. Much attention is paid to establishing the setting artistically, with sequences of wordless pages showing Joel’s day-to-day life while emphasizing his isolation. It’s all played lightly, with good amounts of humor.

The pacing is leisurely. The reader may conclude the issue thinking “I wish more had happened”, but I suspect that’s meant to bring them back for the next installment. There are preview pages available at the Oni Press website.

9 Responses to “Love as a Foreign Language Book 1”

  1. Michael Denton Says:

    I like LAAFL – I suppose it’s the only manga I read (although I didn’t think it really qualified) – but you’re right, the pacing is a little slow. Still, I’ve liked it more and more as the book has gone on – just with its publishing schedule being not so frequent (I think it may be quarterly), I’d like more to happen. If it were published more frequently, I think it would be okay.

  2. Johanna Says:

    Depends on how you define “manga” — it’s true, this could be classed also as a graphic novel (although on the very slim side). I hope they eventually put out one big collected volume, which would make for a more satisfying read.

  3. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] As with Volume 1, the pacing in Book 2 is slower than I’d like. The first chapter is a dream sequence, with a series of jokes played on Joel, our protagonist, that express his insecurities about whether Hana, his crush, will ever notice him. […]

  4. Lyle Says:

    I’m hoping for a larger collection, as well. These smaller parts just aren’t adding up to a very satisfying read.

    I wonder, too, if my reaction to the first volume with a different cover. Knowing that Hana is a major character from the beginning made the set-up for her introduction feel less compelling.

  5. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Oni Press continues as my favorite publisher by offering two anticipated books this month: a sequel to Wet Moon and a new romance series. Ross Campbell’s Wet Moon: Unseen Feet ($14.95, APR06 3295) continues the story of Cleo and her college friends in his unique style, while Love the Way You Love ($5.95, APR06 3293), by Jamie S. Rich and Marc Ellerby in the format used for Love as a Foreign Language and Northwest Passage, looks at romance among the rock’n’roll set. […]

  6. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Overall, the book is about growing up, looking back, and reaching forward towards a dream. It sums up the development of many comic readers as they grow up. The whole thing takes on an extra level of meaning considering that Tim Levins went on to draw issues of Batman: Gotham Adventures, while J. Torres has written Teen Titans Go!, Sidekicks, Love as a Foreign Language, Scandalous, and Degrassi: Extra Credit. Recommended for fans of Teenagers from Mars, especially if you think that story would have been better with less violence and more comedy. […]

  7. Comics Worth Reading » Love as a Foreign Language Book 6 Says:

    […] My complaint since the beginning of this series has been how draggy it felt at times. This volume, the last, remedies that but goes much too far the other direction, creating an extremely rushed conclusion. […]

  8. Love as a Foreign Language Book 3 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] There are preview pages available at the Oni Press website, and I’ve previously commented on Volume 1 and Volume 2. […]

  9. Eric Kim Launches Nitro Battlers » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Kim, artist on Love as a Foreign Language (among other titles), is launching Nitro Battlers today. It’s basically “what happened […]




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