Thursday, January 14, 2010


by Lars Martinson

I didn't know what to expect with this book, as it appeared to be part of the autobiographical stream of indie comics that often doesn't appeal much to me, but at the same time, it's about teaching in Japan, something I've always felt tempted to try.

Daniel Wells is a young American who has taken a job as an Assistant English Teacher (AET) in a small town in rural Japan. He's just about the only foreigner around, excepting some eccentric Europeans who keep to themselves and an American girl half an hour away who has little to no interest in spending time with him. The book is an examination of his isolation and boredom, punctuated with examples of Japan's extreme levels of cultural difference from North America.

The book is quite wry in its humour. I like the way in which Martinson builds up his portraits of Daniel's teaching colleagues - they never quite become characters in the full sense of the word, and we are left with only impressions of them, but they each stand out.

The book, with its four panel grid, is a quick read, which is disappointing, as I found I was just beginning to become invested in it when it ended. I realize this is only the first part, but I was hoping for a little more. I do like Martinson's art style, and his depiction of the Americans worrying about their introductory lessons rang quite true for someone who has worked with many student- and beginning teachers.

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