Wang, the: Who's Your Daddy?
Posted: Tuesday, March 28, 2006
By: Steve Saville
Creator(s): Stan Yan
Publishers: Self Published Under Squid Work, a self-publisher's Cooperative Imprint
The cover of Stan Yan’s latest graphic novel proclaims that it suitable for "immature adult reader." Oh yeah and aren’t we all in that category. The Wang is the second instalment in the coming–of–age tale of one Eugene Wang and the very few people in his lonely life. It is funny, provocative and disturbing. It is a murder mystery. It is well drawn. It is well worth ten bucks of anyone’s money.
The tone is set by the 19 frame strip that dominates the inside covers. It is a very funny look at gullibility and the very human desire to get rich quick. The Wang: Who’s Your Daddy is divided into six chapters, there is a continuity that overrides all but each chapter concentrates on a different aspect of Eugene’s sad little life.
Chapter One is set in a café where Eugene is the attentive and bemused listener to the socio political rantings of a old school mate. The fact that the ranter gained all his knowledge from the various woman he bedded whist at College is a delightful touch, unfortunately Eugene fails to see the irony of this and the chapter ends with the poor guys paranoia going into overdrive. It is a well-controlled and compelling opening. The art work here [and throughout] is bold and confident, a reliance on black backgrounds adds to this boldness. The fact that Yan rarely goes beyond seven frames per page adds visual boldness and creates an expansive feel that prevails throughout the comic.
It is with Chapter two though that we realise that this comic is giving us something very special. The subject matter here is fairly degenerate as Eugene gets involved in a ménage et trios with his ex girlfriend, without realising that the third party is his aged mother. We realise this disturbing fact long before Eugene does and this dramatic irony just adds to the grossness of the situation. This is sick material but Yan gets away with it. Somehow he knows how far to push [I can’t believe I just said that] and so he stops just short of presenting us with something truly repugnant but still unsettles and disturbs. That takes real skill and it reveals a creator who wants to do more than just shock. His Oedipal foray stops just short of compelling the reader to dig out his own eyes.
And so the tale continues, in the following chapters the ranter returns as a successful motivational speaker, Eugene struggles in his mundane job and his love life is a mess. Eugene is a classic victim.
Then just when I thought that this comic had found its rut and would amble along in a similar vein until the end Yan decides to up the ante to a whole new level. In chapter Five things take a serious turn. Think car crashes, serious injuries and dying requests and you start to get the picture. Throw a vibrator into the equation and you get true black humour. The tension builds as the woeful Eugene struggles to perform a role that he is just not big enough to carry off. We feel for him whilst at the same time laughing at him.
If this wasn’t enough Chapter Six raises the tempo to an even higher level centred as it is around Eugene trying to track down his long lost father whom he suspects was murdered by his mother.
This is s great comic. It is well paced and carefully structured. Yan draws the reader in and then takes us on a helter skelter ride as the main characters life unravels. It is a clever combination of the sad and the funny the banal and the ridiculous. Most importantly, it works. Buy it.
In a Word: Sharp.
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