Weekend Journal reviews Shenzhen

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Weekend Journal    |    John Krich    |    February 9, 2007

The Wall Street Journal Asia, W10


By Guy Delisle (Drawn and Quarterly)

This comic strip may be the most sobering work of the bunch. A brief stint working as an animator in China's materialist border town turns into a Kafkaesque nightmare of miscommunication for Canadian Guy Delisle, a forceful illustrator and deft observer of manners. His work is in the tradition of Art Spiegelman's harrowing Holocaust-survival comic-memoir "Maus." But where the angst of Mr. Spiegelman's Holocaust victims was real, this cartoonist's travails grow tiresome and a bit forced. Couldn't he have gone more often to nearby Hong Kong, or perhaps picked up a smattering of Chinese phrases to help break his isolation? Still, in a world full of irrelevant paeans to the Great Wall or great business prospects, "Shenzhen" documents a real and frighteningly recognizable China of gray skies, concrete construction sites and equally flattened lives.

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