SKIM: Life of a Queer/Goth Girl

I’ve been a fan of graphic novels, since my childhood and teenage years. I read a ton of Japanese graphic novels as a child; they’re also called Manga. Manga were my favorite type of books to read, and it still is. And, I’m also a fan of Goth culture, I’ve been into it for a long time since my early years in high school. Even though, I may not currently present myself as a Goth (there’s actually a significant reason and I have good explanations for this, but that’s going to be a blog post for another time). But, what I can say for now is that: for me, being Goth is not just about the fashion, the make-up or the appearance, it’s about how I feel inside, not just how I look from the outside. The Goth Culture is quite a unique culture and style that you don’t see it in everyone and every day, but it’s been a popular trend in (as far as I am aware) in the Western world (Europe and in parts of North America), also in Japan (although the Western style of Goth culture differ from the Japanese Goth Culture. The fashion is very different. This blog is a review on a graphic novel SKIM, that illustrates the life story of a Queer/ Goth girl.

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Photo Description: Cover of Mariko and Jillian Tamaki’s graphic novel: SKIM. Face of a teenage girl, one hand over her forehead.

SKIM is written by a Japanese Canadian writer Mariko Tamaki, and drawn by artist Jillian Tamaki. Personally, I think reading SKIM was an interesting and unique experience, and I really enjoyed reading it. Also, I think that SKIM has both characteristics of a mixture of Japanese Manga with the westernized comic book taste to it. However, one thing that did stand out to me a little was when I saw that SKIM is recognized for “Best Illustrated Children’s Book Awards,” and this kind of got me thinking, whether it is accurate to categorize SKIM as a children’s book. Probably, a young adult’s or teens graphic novel, maybe, but definitely not a children’s book (I think).

But anyways, SKIM centers on the story of the main character named Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a Japanese-Canadian Catholic High School girl, but she calls herself Skim. She’s sixteen-year-old and is best friend with a girl named Lisa Soor, although their relationship, or rather friendship with each other shifts from time to time. Skim also calls herself a Goth girl, and her interests are: Wicca, Tarot Card and Astrology. The book, SKIM illustrates the typical life of teenage/school life, but with a bit of complexity of relationship problems and struggles. And she is (and may be) Queer. With Skim’s  relationship complexity, it gets even more complicated when she’d herself  unintentionally “fall in love” with her English and Drama teacher, Ms. Archer. Then, when Ms. Archer left the school, Skim felt so awfully insecure and depressed because of it. But, all in all, SKIM was a good read; it’s emotional but not “too much”

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Photo Description: 5 band members from London After Midnight.

, and the story is also so realistic; that’s what I loved about it.Finally, I mentioned this distinct differences between European and Japanese Goth Culture at the beginning of the blog. And certainly, I’d like back that up by showing you a comparison between the two through images and music. The image I chose to represent a Western style of Goth is an American Goth rock band called “London After Midnight,” their style is very dark, by wearing nearly all black and punk-like. One of the songs I love from this band is called “Sacrifice” [Link: London After Midnight-“Sacrifice”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egLAkA4HrXU ].

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Photo Description: A girl dressed in Japanese Gothic Lolita Fashion.

In comparison, the Gothic Lolita fashion in Japan, the photo on the left shown a Gothic Lolita girl, dressed in Victorian style long dress, with curling hair and is almost doll-like. Clearly, this kind of Goth Culture in Japan is very different from the Western Goth Culture. But I think both are great, because they’re so different and unique in their own way!

By: The Invisible Vision Project

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