Sunday, January 18, 2015

In the First Ten Pages - Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

I remember in College reading Syd Field (or more accurately reading about Syd Field) and how he believed that you could tell whether you would like a movie within the first ten minutes. In those first ten minutes you will have seen enough to know. You'll have seen the cinematography, heard some dialogue, gotten an idea of what the story will be about. You could still be disappointed by the ending, but basically you'll know whether this movie is for you or not. I think the same thing is true for comics, and with Skim I knew within the first few pages that it was a book I liked.



It's presented in a diary format and the third page serves as a quick self-definition by the character, and what caught me is that favorite color. Immediately, I think it's funny, the scribbled out black, but I also think it captures being a teenager as well. As a child, favorite colors are a subject of some deliberation. For me, it was always a debate between green and blue. Or blue gray like the ocean. Or aquamarine which is kind of halfway between blue and green. As an adult, you may have a favorite color, and you may not, but it probably isn't something that you spend much time thinking about. Teenagers are in between, and so it seems as if that favorite color is written in somewhat ironically, Skim thinking it's kind of a silly thing to include, but still the answer is taken with some seriousness.

And scribbling out black and choosing red. It makes you think about what these colors mean and what they mean to a teenager. Black is dark and mysterious. Red... passion, energy, blood. Which one represents you? Which one do you want to represent you?

It's a small thing, but it suggests so much. It creates depth.

And that's strengthened by the drawing as well. The body language captures this self-consciousness. The way Skim is looking out almost feels as if she is looking to see if someone is looking at her. There's a cigarette in the other girl's hand. Is she checking to make sure they won't get caught? It's a look that has the worry of getting caught but also the hope of being seen.

And it's almost as if she's looking at the reader.

This is the third page of the book, and I've decided I like it. The story hasn't even kicked it in yet, but I've seen enough to know.

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