Sunday, October 24, 2010

Nola's World (Volume 1)

Changing Moon
Mathieu Mariolle, MiniKim & Pop

Originally published in France, Nola's World follows Nola York-Stein, a teen who lives in the beautiful seaside paradise town Alta Donna...resulting in a rather boring existence.  Nothing ever happens there, and life has been even lonelier for Nola since her parents divorced.  Now, she hardly ever sees her father, who has his own new family to support, and her mother is a workaholic who tends to choose a night out with friends over her own daughter.  But her life gets a little more exciting when two new kids show up at school.  Nola thinks that something is funny about the brother and sister, and is determined to get to the bottom of things, if anything, for something to do.  And it turns out that her hunch is right - they are harboring a secret, one that she couldn't have imagined.  While stalking the pair (pretending she's a super-sleuth), Nola inadvertently makes friends with them, enjoying time with self-absorbed Ines, and perhaps developing a crush on Damiano.  This is a fun world that Mariolle has created, with plenty of mystery and intrigue, and a good dose of teen angst.  But being completely frank, the art is easily the star attraction of this title.  Without that eye-popping art, this would be a pretty standard story.  Nola's World has been heavily influenced by manga, with characters sometimes surrounded playfully by flowers and hearts, and with emotions clearly depicted by face-long teardrops or skulls.  Characters will also do that thing where they get tiny and cuter and more cartoony than they already are.  MiniKim arranges the story beautifully, with some quirks to her artwork, like boxy pants and rubbery arms and legs (randomly and for no apparent reason).  She produces some very breath-taking scenes and backgrounds, and has some great character designs.  But Pop's coloring brings things to a whole new level.  Using mostly pastels, Pop makes Nola's World feel really sugary and happy, and very feminine.  Nola herself sports cotton candy-pink hair and characters often don bright attire and maneuver through environments rich in color and full of detail, such as shopping malls and amusement parks.  In the back of this first volume, the creators go through the process of how their collaboration comes together in the end, with a fine final product.  Especially on the art end of things, between the drawing and coloring, the creators are perfect for each other, and the story fits in nicely with what they're capable of producing - a stunning visual treat.

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