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THE TIPPING POINT (graphic novel review)

Review by Lily Fierro
The Tipping Point
Written and Illustrated by Naoki Urasawa, John Cassaday,
Boulet, Bastien Vivès, Bob Fingerman, Katsuya Terada,
Frederik Peeters, Emmanuel Lepage, Taiyō Matsumoto,
Paul Pope, Atsushi Kaneko, Keiichi Koike, Eddie Campbell
Cover by Enki Bilal
Published by Humanoids
Released on January 20, 2016
ISBN-10: 1594651361 / ISBN-13: 978-1594651366
Price: $29.95

As a society, our tipping point quickly and ominously approaches.

With autonomous cars only a few years around the corner, a remaining giant question on how to address international and domestic terrorism, and no improvement on our oil-dependent lifestyles in America, some form of change will occur, and when it does, we’ll have moved into a new post-technology age.

Perceptive to this sense of a drastic change in the future to come, the master minds and creators at Humanoids have created The Tipping Point, an anthology inviting 13 international comics creators to write and draw their own adaptations and interpretations of the concept of the tipping point, the precipice of change. 

The Tipping Point compiles stories from some of the most established and revered comic artists and writers. In the introduction, Fabrice Giger, the head honcho at Humanoids, describes the publisher’s commitment to combining Japanese manga, French-language bande dessinée, and American comics, and the thirteen stories appropriately blend the established styles that Humanoids advocates, creating an excellent source of inspiration for the “cross-pollination” that Giger hopes for future generations.
Given the various styles represented in The Tipping Point, each creator has a significantly different perspective on the anthology’s central theme.

Opening with Taiyō Matsumoto’s “Hanako’s Fart,” a playful, beautifully illustrated short tale on comparing various tipping points in other people’s lives as Hanako fears that her accidental fart may be a tipping point for her experience at school, and closing with Katsuya Terada’s “Tengu,” a sumptuous, hypnotizing illustration of an artist’s own eruptive moment of creation where the images in the imagination descend onto paper, all of the creators excel in their artwork in the anthology. Every story has a distinctive visual style, mood, and tone. Some are grounded in fiction; others dwell in reality, and some navigate between both realms.

As expected from any anthology, winners always emerge from a collection. While Emmanuel Lepage’s “The Awakening” and Boulet’s “I Want to Believe” stand out as the weaker stories, they still contain commendable achievements.

Lepage’s story has some of the most captivating artwork I’ve seen in quite some time, and Boulet’s contribution, though not awe-inspiring, is clever, entertaining, and funny. Both stories, even if they do not succeed more than the other works in The Tipping Point do, still accomplish more in a matter of a few pages than eighty percent of everything out in the comics world.

As for the strongest of the bunch, Keiichi Koike’s contribution, “Fish,” Bob Fingerman’s “The Unbeliever,” and Atsushi Kaneko’s “Screwed!” rise as the winners.

Koike’s “Fish” has a psychedelic and futuristic quality to its tale of the apocalypse via nuclear destruction that occurs in parallel with the final preparation of a red snapper. Fingerman’s “The Unbeliever” teases a militant atheist as he visits heaven and hell and refuses to believe that they exist. Kaneko’s “Screwed!” merges Roy Lichtenstein’s dotted pop-art style with realism to follow a young yakuza who has made an enormous mistake on what may be the eve of the end of peacetime in Japan. All three works look at some element of the end of a life or multiple lives with completely different approaches and visual composition, and all three celebrate the best of what the medium has to offer in their contrasting artistic styles and storytelling methods.

Though The Tipping Point contains showcases for artists from France, Switzerland, Scotland and America, it particularly illuminates Japanese talent that has not received a ton of English translation, and that is the greatest gift of this Humanoids anthology.

Assembled with a perfect ebb and flow of levity and direness in tone and extravagance and minimalism in illustrations, The Tipping Point provides a collection of refreshingly energetic and visually exceptional work. It’s a perfect way to celebrate the publisher’s anniversary, and it’s a hell of a release to set a high standard for Humanoids in 2016. Bravo!  

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