Stories about middle-aged women, especially in Korean families, don’t usually look like this ... Based on the experiences of the author’s mother, this is a wonderfully engaging yarn about a group of women in their 50s who have a ton of problems and are also sick and tired of everything thrown at them all their lives. There are sexual adventures, labour disputes, feckless children, financial woes and more ... It’s extremely relatable, because the character work is so strong. All their hopes and flaws keep the narrative running, and its power increases when we see how badly people can treat each other ... D&Q keeps bringing treasures from around the world to Canada. Long may that continue.
Yeonsun and co are the stars of Moms, a graphic novel by Yeong-shin Ma that was published in his native Korea in 2015 – and when I say 'stars', I mean it. What a remarkable, joyous book. Our culture, like his, is hell-bent on rendering middle-aged women invisible, and yet here are four of them, their lives not only filling every single page of this comic, but brought to us with such intimacy.
...raucous ... Moms is valuable, amusing and absorbing but, most of all, unapologetically honest ... Soyeon and her fellow women support each other and though they may be flawed, their strength and unstoppable drive to take life into their own hands elevates Moms beyond seedy melodrama ... Ma’s cartooning style is raw and unadorned, but clearly focused ... His drawings and attention to details capture subtle nuances that suck you into the interior lives of the characters ... This is a brave and unique collaboration between a mother and son that breaks new ground for the kinds of stories that can be told not just in comics but any visual medium.
Yeong-shin Ma writes with great sympathy of the struggles of these middle-aged women, portrayed as humans and not caricatures ... Graphic novels, which can have serious literary cred in both France and East Asia, have been somewhat slow to enter the English-language mainstream. A Korean work rendered into English by an established translator is therefore a development of some note.
...while Moms is not directly autobiographical, it carries the authentic observations of an autobiographical comic, particularly in the stripped-down and quotidian presentation ... The sexuality of older women is often ignored, but Moms details the gossip and romance of Soyeon and her friends – even if ‘romance’ is a generous term ... Moms weaves some humor around these pathetic observations, but on the level of a familiar chuckle at the absurdity of such struggles. Yeong-shin’s artwork is simple and blocky, rendering the figures dowdy with some moments of heightened expression. It parallels the occasional outbursts normally stuck within aging bodies and poor situations ... Moms' greatest strengths are also its weaknesses ... a mundane and unflinching portrayal of those who often go unconsidered.
Ma molded a story to showcase the drama of women of a certain age ... poignant ... Ma’s art in Moms helps bring the realism to life. The crisp line-work and bold inks in a broad range of grayscale combine with rich texturing to create a world that is not at all cartoony yet full of emotions. It highlights the original point of the graphic novel, taking a world that is so recognizable and exploring it to find the life within.
...hilarious ... Moms is a refreshing look at the lives of a group of gutsy middle-aged women who, in the face of adversity, hold fast to their hopes and dreams. The character of Soyeon is an enjoyable straight shooter who has no patience for other people’s bluster. Some of her brash replies are so direct and unexpected that I laughed out loud ... Readers will definitely warm to these fun women, who, like everyone else, are just looking for love.
Presented in stark black-and-white panels, these aging moms have nothing to hide: they’re raucous, demanding, and sexual middle-aged women finding enjoyment despite useless partners, disappointing careers, unfulfilled dreams. They text at all hours, use dating apps, swear indiscriminately, steal other women’s boyfriends, occasionally pummel one another with bare fists. Their greatest challenge, like people everywhere at every age, is loneliness—but even that can’t stop Ma’s fearsome mothers from living their best possible lives.
Drawn in a bare-bones style reminiscent of a manhwa-ized Chester Brown, this deadpan ensemble dramedy follows a group of middle-aged Korean women who toil at menial jobs while texting, trysting, and fussing over their shiftless lovers with the energetic abandon normally associated with people their own grown children’s age ...
When the characters show occasional glimpses of depth—such as when Soyeon and a friend attempt to unionize their fellow janitors—readers will root for them. Ma is a master of drawing faces, expressing subtle mood shifts and unspoken thoughts with a single, well-placed pen line ... Offering a unique account of contemporary Korea and the world from the perspective of women who might otherwise be overlooked, this is a fresh entry that would be a solid addition to any adult collection.