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AN AFTERNOON IN UENO by Graeme McNee

www.graememcnee.com

40 pages

I like to think of An Afternoon in Ueno as a Japanese comics version of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It’s about a young girl who inadvertently ends up dodging her parents and playing hookie for the day. She visits the titular Ueno Park, buys a cool hat, participates in an impromptu jam session with other musicians, and even leisurely takes in the pieces at the Museum of Western Art. Like Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane, she learns some things about herself that cannot be taught in school and can only be learned through authentic life experience, including standing up to an overbearing father figure. McNee even includes a small pull-out map that can interactively be used by readers to retrace the girl’s steps in the book, and visit many of the happening spots in Ueno Park, like Fragola Ice Cream, which is depicted in a glorious two-page spread right in the middle of the book. There’s a serenity to McNee’s risographed lines that captures our quiet imagination and calms the spirit. He’s continuing to demonstrate, through his growing body of work, the effectiveness of the minimalist approach. He’ll use one-page establishing shots that get the job done crisply, experiment with 4-panel pages that seem to include an “extra” panel allowing for contemplative additional beats, and relies on seamless visual transitions like the protagonist eyeing a hat in a store, then as the reader flips the page, the girl walks out wearing her new hat as the reader provides all of the basic closure needed. It’s the least amount of information required on the page to convey the actions. With people like Ryan Cecil Smith firmly on my radar, there seems to be a burgeoning scene of foreign comics practitioners living in, and working out of, Japan. The results of the cross-pollinized arts and culture have been terrific. Grade A+.

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