I’ve been watching Flower Boy Next Door, a show that features a character, Jin Rak, who is a web comic writer/illustrator making a webtoon based on his reclusive young female neighbor. The show itself is based on a real webtoon called “I Steal Peeks at Him Everyday.” And the real webtoon is what Jin Rak is drawing on the show. It’s all very meta.
I’m not exactly sure what the difference between webtoons and online comics strips are, but watching this show made me want to share two web comics that I enjoy reading. The thing I like about both is that they take stereotypes and either flip them on their head or play them up for humor and social commentary, but in a way that doesn’t offend. Kinda like a tamer version of the animated cartoon South Park.
Scandinavia and the World
If my coworker hadn’t married a Dane, I probably wouldn’t have found this comic strip. The three main characters are friends (frenemies): Denmark (party boy), Sweden (uptight guy) and Norway (nature boy). They each have a sister who has a similar personality, except Sister Sweden who is about as not uptight as one can be (Only Sister France might be looser). Neighboring Finland (rough, scary dude) and Iceland (sparkly pretty boy) also represent. Other characters named after their respective countries pop in to interact with the Scandinavians and allow the cartoonist to make commentary on our world. Reading this strip I’ve learned a lot of history about the Scandinavian countries and their unique customs.
One of my favorite scenes was America sitting next to Canada at breakfast, chatting him up. On the other side of America sits Sister Mexico. There is a large cereal box border between them. America is eating a huge stack of pancakes; Canada is eating a small bowl of porridge. Sister Mexico’s facial expression is priceless.
Follow the guys and gals adventures at Scandinavia and the World.
Fried Chicken and Sushi
A fish out of water tale. That’s the gist of Fried Chicken and Sushi. The strip takes a humorous look at how Karl, an African American living in Japan, navigates his way through a completely different culture working as an English teacher. Cultural perceptions, differences, race and identity are often the focus.
The cartoonist, Khalid Birdsong, lived in Japan for a couple of years and incorporates some of his experiences into Karl’s world. One of the storylines I could relate to was being the only black person in the workplace and one day my coworkers repeatedly asked if I’d met a new coworker–turned out the new coworker was a black guy. He was also young and cute. Matchmaker, matchmaker. LOL.
I Steal Peeks at Him Everyday
Since I’m really enjoying the characters in Flower Boy Next Door, I’d love to be able to read the webtoon, but it’s in Korean. Sadly, I’m still at the level of a 19-month-old with understanding spoken Korean and I’m completely illiterate with reading it. I haven’t found a translated version yet, but if you’re adept with the language, you can check it out here.