2010, Slave Labor Graphics
Story, Art: Shari Chankhamma
Some buggers get all the luck, eh? Or at least they do in The Sisters’ Luck, a graphic novel by Thai artist Shari Chankhamma (The Clarence Principle) in which luck is a visible energy that individuals unconsciously exchange and attract.
Enter twin sisters Umbra and Untumbra, who form a ying/yang of good and bad luck. Umbra has used her ability to leech luck from others to enjoy fame and fortune, while Untumbra has helplessly watched those around her die. The sisters’ powers cancelled each other out during childhood, see, and their abilities only became apparent when they both went their separate ways as adults. Now, Untumbra understandably wants to reunite with her favoured sister, while Umbra is reluctant to let her cursed sibling drain her of her providence.
Unfortunately, this fascinating premise swiftly falls victim to high fantasy with the appearance of David, an albino biker who has a beef with Umbra’s manager Sergio; who is, oddly enough, also an albino. David explains to Untumbra that luck is a form of coloured energy (blue indicates positive, red negative) and that Umbra’s fortune has upset the universal balance. Thus begins a battle to restore said balance.
The multitalented Chankhamma’s art has a rough energy to it here, which I really enjoyed. I’d definitely recommend checking out her beautiful imagery here. This is one of the few black and white books I’ve ever read that would have truly benefitted from colour, as it plays a major part in defining both the characters (it’s difficult to appreciate an albino in B&W) and the fantasy world they inhabit.
One use of the F-word aside, The Sisters’ Luck will appeal to young adult readers, particularly manga fans. Those audiences will definitely be a lot more forgiving of the book’s vague conclusion than I – by the time Sergio whipped out a pair of swords formed from positive luck energy, either the book had lost the plot or I’d lost interest. But I appreciate that my issues with The Sisters’ Luck have as much to do with the conventions of manga storytelling (or American books tailored to that market) as it does my particular tastes, and I certainly plan to hunt down some of Chankhamma’s other work.