Liquid City, vol. 2 is not a graphic novel in the traditional sense, but rather an anthology of short comics by artists and illustrators living in Southeast Asia that offers a glimpse of life culturally different from our own. Many of the stories found in this collection range from personal dramas and light hearted adventures (“Delays”, “Journey to East Java”) to the supernatural and fantastical, as otherworldly creatures and ecological super beings live alongside humanity (“Orang Minyak”, “Invasion”). Tucked within the work are several informative essays about the influence comics have had on the region and the subsequent boom of homegrown talent in faraway places like Cambodia and Thailand. There’s also a discussion of how national tragedies, like the super typhoon that devastated the Philippines in 2009, affected the growing comic book scene – in particular, the outpouring of artwork depicting superheroes attempting to save people from disaster (or succumbing to it) reaching a fever pitch, just as it did in the States after the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Each work gives the opportunity for the artists to show off their own artistic styles and voices. What’s interesting about the artwork is that one can easily notice how Western and Eastern art styles and comic genres influenced the region’s community (“Orang Minyak,” in particular could easily pass as a work by Marvel or DC). While a small number of comics deal with some mature themes, the collection is easily accessible to younger audience due to the lack of any sex or graphic violence (outside of the typical comic book variants). Liquid City, vol. 2 is a delightful resource for those looking to expand their knowledge and scope of comics.