While comics as a business are in a bit of a transitional period, comics as a medium for expression and communication are as effective as ever.
Jason Li has lived all over the world, and recently decided to document his two-year experience in Barcelona, Spain in an approximately 80 page volume called “Adéu Barcelona Catalunya.”
Ethnically Chinese (born in Hong Kong) but culturally mostly Western (Canadian/American), Li’s take on being an outsider in a place (the province of Catalunya) where the citizens (the Catalans) seem rather clannish is very funny and charming. And the right price. The book is free-for-download as a PDF under a Creative Commons license.
Some of the book concerns Li’s work experiences at what he calls “an innovation consultancy,” but the bulk of it concerns the culture of the area, the people he met, and their stories. While Li says he’s kept in touch with some of his subjects, he told Osmosis Online that “every time I move, I end up losing connections more than I thought.” As a reader, I very much got the sense that the book is capturing a certain time in the author’s life, a snapshot brimming with resonance through which he can revisit his interesting, engaging, and sometimes awkward experiences.
Li refers to the book as a graphic novel, but I would probably call it a collection of graphic essays. The art itself is serviceable, but the use of that art is quite keen in displaying the book’s best points: Li’s humor and keen observations. The “heatmap of friendliness in Spain,” was one of my favorites. I should also point out that it takes a rather deft hand to discuss racial differences and perceptions in a humorous manner while remaining inoffensive. In my opinion, Li succeeded, yet at no point sacrificed laughs along the way.
Li says he’s currently living in Hong Kong right now, “Working part-time for an educational tech startup, and working part-time on two books. Both books involve writing and drawing.”
One is a book he’s working on with a my former professors–“a handbook for new teachers, but in comic form.” The other is “a graphic novel about my mom’s childhood in Hong Kong.”
With money not being a factor, time is the currency you need to spend downloading and reading Adéu Barcelona Catalunya, and I highly recommend you do so. I laughed out loud continuously, and pretty sure I may have even learned something about foreign cultures as well.