The Fox Sister (Book/Comic) Review
Created by web comic designers Christina Strain (writer, artist) and Jayd Alt-Kaci (artist), The Fox Sister is a weekly supernatural series that explores the life of its Korean protagonist, Yun Hee Cho, in her quest to take revenge on the shape-shifting fox demon known as kumiho. Seven years prior to the present day course of events, Yun Hee Cho’s parents and sister were brutally slaughtered by the kumiho, whom has now taken the form of her dead sister, Cho Sun Hee to seduce and kill her victims.
Although the series is still in its adolescent stage, with only the chief characters having been introduced at the moment, the comic still retains enough mystery and intrigue to compel the reader to follow it on a weekly basis. Through the first one and a half chapters, we witness the introduction of the main characters Yun Hee, her dog Soot Bull, and the Elvis-loving American Martin Alexander. Yun Hee is initially reluctant to open herself up to the advances of the brash American soldier until a certain turn of events joins the two at the hip. By the end of the cliffhanger ending to chapter one, there's just enough emotional depth to cause the reader to care about the characters and their plights.
Creating an authentically Asian storyline from a Western perspective without overly exotifying the characters or settings is not an easy task, and Yun Hee Choo represents a nice break from the typical Asian stereotypes. Where many Asian females often get misrepresented as a submissive "China Doll" type or a hyper sexualized "Dragon-lady" type in Western media, Yun Hee Choo's serious mentality and steadfast approach in achieving her goals makes her a strong female lead along the lines of Kiki (Kiki's Delivery Service), Mulan (Disney's Mulan) and San (Princess Mononoke).
On par with the Fox Sister's well-written narrative and characters is the art. The airbrush techniques used in the illustrations helps bring the late sixties/early seventies world to life as everything from character designs to backgrounds are painstakingly detailed to match the time period. In one particular close-up during a fight between Snoot and the kumiho, I couldn't help but notice the varied amounts of textures that help make the background pop off of the page. Although they're extremely subtle, it's something that I appreciate as a fellow artist and I truly hope that they'll be able to carry the quality art throughout the rest of The Fox Sister.
For people like me who prefer to own physical copies of everything, the gorgeous embossed hard-cover book contains forty-six pages of chapter one along with concept art that makes it a must-have for any fans of Asian folklore or supernatural mysteries. Although the 9" X 11.75" hard-bound book is not currently available for sale online (I've checked everywhere from the official website to Amazon), the website for The Fox Sister is updated every Thursday and there is an archive of back pages so that everyone can enjoy this creative endeavor for free.
People who are interested in a hardcover version of chapter one can only hope that Christina makes an appearance at a convention near them, or wait patiently for the two creators to set up their online store. For whoever wants to check out the series now, please visit http://thefoxsister.com/. Please note that the landing page for the website features the newest panel, so be sure to watch out for any potential spoilers.
What I Loved:
+ Perfectly accentuates the early seventies/late sixties with everything from Alex's hair, to the musical choices and Yun Hee Cho's dress.
+ A strong introduction to an intriguing independent project. You can tell that there’s a lot of creative passion being poured into the series.
+ Strong female lead that breaks the typical archetypal mode.
+ I enjoyed the seven-pages of bonus concept art exclusively in the hardcopy.
What I Hated:
- It's hard to give a comprehensive grade to a project that’s currently in progress, that said I’m very much looking forward to following the rest of the series.
- Some of the stylized text is hard to read at times, particularly the musical lyrics that are seemingly stressed to convey emotion.
Images properties of: Christina Strain, Jayd Alt-Kaci