By Leroy Douresseaux
Oct 29, 2006 - 6:14
CARTOONIST: Christy Lijewski
ISBN: 1598167375; soft cover; Drama, Older Teen-16+
192 pp, B&W, $9.99
Christy Lijewski was a runner-up winner in TOKYOPOP's Rising Stars of Manga 3 contest (for the entry "Doors" which had a Tank Girl vibe). Before the end of that year (2004), Lijewski had her own ongoing series from Slave Labor Graphics, Next Exit. Her long-awaited TOKYOPOP project has finally arrived. It's a graphic novel entitled Re:Play, of which the first volume appeared in late summer.
Set in a sort of near future, Re:Play has as its protagonist a young woman named Cree Winters. She's the lead singer of a rock band called, Faust. Ed Delphi, her ex-boyfriend and the band's bassist, abandons Cree and Faust. Chance lands her Ed's replacement, a mysterious, homeless young man who says his name is Izsak. Izsak proves to be a talented bassist, and despite the objections of the band's guitarist and Cree's stepbrother, Rail Kainer, Izsak joins the band. Faust's drummer is Charles Delphi, Ed's twin brother, a young man who prefers to live as a woman (or at least live dressed as a young woman).
Rail grows more mistrustful of Izsak, especially when he discovers that Cree and the new guy are slowly falling in love. Izsak tells Cree that he has no memory of his past beyond the previous five years, but Rail discovers something about their new bassist that is the stuff of fantasy. Two mysterious figures are also stalking the band, and everything is coming together in an explosive union.
Christy Lijewski's work shows its influences, which seem to be everything from Anime and Manga to punk rock and whatever is current in youth culture. Her characters are middle class kids who choose to live on the edge; it's grunge with a touch of futurism. Influences aside, Lijewski's work is her own. No matter how familiar elements of it seem, her cartooning is ultimately her own.
Lijewski was born to tell stories in the comics medium, and while her comic books may be Manga by default, they're (simply stated) good comics. With her highly stylized art, she creates sets and backgrounds that evoke a youthful vigor, but her strength is figure cartooning. Natural body language and evocative faces define character and tell the story.
In Re:Play she's created the kind of concept that plays well in Manga (and American comics), a drama heavily flavored in dark fantasy. While not perfect (the narrative in the first volume is a tad decompressed), Re:Play engages the reader, and sometimes that's worth more than artistic perfection.