Skim is a graphic novel by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. It covers the issues of growing up, and about being gay at that. As the cousins grew up in Canada, there’s also a touch on growing up with Asian ethnicity in Canada.
The style of illustration is one of the most unique I have ever seen. Jillian Tamaki definitely brought her Japanese influences into her drawings. It reminds me of Japanese old paintings with its fluid lines. Not only that, the main character is also one of the most unique in graphic novels, or any medium really.
She is Kimberly Keiko who is called Skim, a Japanese descendant girl, who is chubby, gothic, and a bit into witchcraft. One of her popular schoolmates committed suicide and it was rumored that he did so because he was gay. It caused an uproar in the school and the students and teachers work on “save life” campaigns (of which the use is arguable). Meanwhile Skim has her own problems. She happens to have a crush on her female teacher, which forces her to question and figure out her sexuality.
The book captures the moodiness of adolescence, which is probably the most difficult phase of anyone’s life, when everything doesn’t seem to make sense and you don’t quite know where to put yourself. It touches on the issues of depression, love, peer pressure, sexual identity, and just the whole the pain of being young and different.
Skim is rather sad and melancholy, but I think it is an important book to understand what the teenagers might be facing in our time. Also, it would be a perfect book for GLBT challenge (IF I were joining :). Talking about GLBT challenge, Nymeth recently posted about her recommendation for LGBTQ graphic novels on the challenge site. Michelle also just recently posted her review on Pedro and Me by Judd Winick which sounds fabulous. I have Fun Home by Alison Bechdel waiting be read at home. It’s so great how graphic novel is used as medium to discuss serious issues. I hope and feel positive that we will have more in the future.
Sample of illustrations:
2008, 140 pp
Awards (from Jillian’s site)
2008 Ignatz Award for Best Graphic Novel
2008 New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books List
2009 Doug Wright Award Winner, Best Book
2009 Eisner award nominee (Best Publication for Teens, Writer, New Graphic Album, Penciller/Inker)
2008 Best of Books of the Year, Publishers Weekly, Quill & Quire