I am probably hopelessly out of date with this posting, but, I’m a bit of a fuddy-duddy at times. I’ve never seen an episode of The Wire, or The Sopranos. I find many critically acclaimed TV shows unbearably bad…yet I can’t wait for the next episode of American Idol.
So it is that I only recently sat down to read the Japanese graphic novel, The Drops of God, Volume 1, by Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto. Wow. It grabbed me by the collar on the first page and didn’t let go until it came to an end. And even then, as this is a series of books, it didn’t really let go. I’ve already ordered volume 2!
Reading the book presented several problems for me. First, the Japanese read the book from the back (from our western perception), reading from right to left. This took some getting used to. Second, even though I am an architect and a visual a person, I was not familiar, really, with graphic novels. It took me a while to realize that the text in the word bubbles and boxes wasn’t the ONLY important content. The artwork provides much of the content. Third, as accomplished as the art work is, many of the characters are drawn such that I couldn’t always tell them apart. Maybe that’s my problem.
But, having said all of that, I loved this book. The plot is silly, the characters are shallow, but the descriptions of wine, of what it is like to smell a fine wine, or taste a fine wine are as close to exact as I have ever seen. The combination of words and pictures seems able to capture more of the experience than words alone. The novel provides a crash course of sorts in wine tasting, wine making, and the economics of wine. And it is about the romance of wine. Wine is a great seducer. This book is about being seduced by wine.
There is a touch of “Mr. Exposition” about parts of the book, but when combined with the compelling images, it isn’t bad. And any of those kinds of “get on with it” thoughts were rapidly put out of my mind by the compelling and artful descriptions of wine, and the experience of tasting. If I could capture a fragment of what it is like to drink a wine that Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto have captured in words and pictures, I would be a very happy wine writer.
I’m looking forward to getting The Drops of God, Volume 2.