Welcome to the first installment of Webcomic Trek. Today I’d like to talk about the webcomic Homeroom 1-L, by Jack Martin and Shannon Kindred. They can also be found on twitter seperately (Jack and Shannon) as well as a team. You can find the comic on Webtoons, where it updates every Saturday. So what is Homeroom 1-L? The comic is a slice-of-life series focusing on students in a Japanese-style high school, complete with the tropes and aesthetics you would come to expect. It is a mostly character-driven story, though there are hints at a larger story involving the mysterious designation of Homeroom 1-L, which may have been set up to have certain teens in the classroom.
The art seems appropriate to the story and genre. You have the standard urban environment of Japan, though you don’t get this so much from the architecture itself but rather small signifiers of it being Japan, such as posters and a signs here and there. Little cultural cues in the writing also emphasize the setting as well. The characters are generally easy to distinguish visually and through dialogue. You have the “core” character of Yoshie, who serves as the perspective point of the rest of the cast. You have the social-media obsessed Kimiko, and the serious Okatomo in the first chapter. Chapter two introduces a new trio of students immediately who each set themselves apart in attitude. It seems that structurally, the first three chapters introduce a number of students who find their way into the mysterious Homeroom 1-L. It’s very much setting up the large cast, though at this point the story is not providing much mystery-building beyond the fact these characters are put into this homeroom. I wish we got more hints at some weirdness with the homeroom, rather than characters merely being shocked by their placement in it. It seems like we might get some new mysteries now that the whole class is together, documented by Kimiko’s instagram post, naturally.
What Concerns Me
I am not aware of the cultural backgrounds of the creators but it seems like a great many of the choices made come from the world of anime and manga as opposed to Japanese culture itself. It seems the creative team is located in Maine, USA. It does bring up some questions on my end of how they are choosing to represent the culture of Japan, given how widely caucasian the cast is, and how often elements of the story are stock tropes and archetypes from the anime and manga world, but I would prefer not to dwell on that too deeply here. It may be worth a discussion in the future. The love of Japanese high-school stories is readily apparent in the story, but I am concerned that the research and attention to detail may not be entirely there.
Another issue I a concerned about is the lack of clarity in actual reading the comic. From time to time the comic switches between manga-style right to left panel/balloon arrangements, though most of the time it seems to stick to American comic-style left to right panel/balloon arrangements. I think. It can be very confusing.
What I can say based on my read through the entire archive is that this comic definitely appeals to Japanophiles or fans of high-school social drama. If that’s not really your sort of story though, perhaps the mystery of this homeroom might introduce a little weirdness that may be more your speed. I can’t really say that I am the target audience of the comic, but I can see the appeal of it.
Thanks for taking the time to read this quick little dive into Homeroom 1-L. I hope you’ll join me next week as we look at another webcomic. If you would like your webcomic to be included on the ever-expanding Webcomic Trek I am taking, please register at the Comicadia Forums and post your comic in the “Share Your Comic!” thread. We’ll be sure to tweet it on the official Comicadia Twitter account as well. See you next time!