Elegant Ennui: Michael Cho Talks 'Shoplifter' [Interview]
Also a contributor to the recent volume of Batman: Black and White, Cho does a very good job with the characterization of his Shoplifter protagonist: grumpy, wry yet oddly affable, and smart. She's both a familiar and refreshing protagonist and serves well as a universal conduit for the emotions and experiences portrayed. I'm usually the first person to shunt the concept of "quit your day job, and do what makes you happy" à la Zen Pencils, Cho's an accomplished enough writer that his presentation of Corinna's decision to pursue her creative passion is more the result of a cumulative desire to change what isn't working for her, an acknowledgement of the problems she's having and possessing the strength and fortitude to realize only she can enforce a difference. She's under no illusions about what the future may bring, but for now, she's done enough to make herself feel better, and hopeful, and that will do. Shoplifter's a short book -- 90 pages or so, and the concise length serves it well -- there's no flab here, no room for distracted interjections, no complaints. It may be slight, but it's elegantly executed, and I like the fact that Cho didn't feel the need to draw this out, the story's assured and cogent (although spending more time with the character would perhaps leave a greater impact on the reader). Visually, it's as attractive as you'd expect from Cho, alternatively surrounding Corinna with beautiful rendered city and then leaving her swathes of space; she's as lost in one as the other. The rose and black color scheme is a gorgeous combination that does much to imbue the narrative with a sense of warmth and closeness, and also to dispel any notions of otherwise suggested tone. It's rare that you read something so evenly handled yet characterful and uplifting, but Shoplifter manages it. I chatted to Cho about the new Pantheon book, its themes and the process by which it was created.