“We were mightily impressed” – The Man in the McIntosh Suit by Rina Ayuyang

IMG_2023-3-26-175618Rina Ayuyang’s latest graphic novel reads (from 10,000 feet) like a Filipino-American mash-up of The Grapes of Wrath and Red Harvest – in that, to begin with it’s about a group of migrant workers but by its close it’s taken in mistaken identities, speakeasies and lost love.

Told in a two-tone format (although the colours do change throughout) that will have you trying to work out if she uses chalks or pastels or water colours, The Man in the McIntosh Suit opens in bucolic fashion, with seagulls pinwheeling in the sky and a group of men waking and prepping for their day. The first third of the book will have you wondering just where it’s all going. Is this an ensemble piece?

And then no: we’re off. One of the migrant workers splits, in search of his estranged wife who he thought he had left back home but who turns out to have moved to America too – or has she? We enter a Paul Auster-ian version of the city, in which small-time crooks and humble blue collar sorts and fancy-schmancy dames all rub shoulders. We don’t want to give too much away because The Man in the McIntosh Suit is very much a mystery you want to inhabit yourself.

We’ll just say this: this was our first Rina Ayuyang and we were mightily impressed by it. There are moments here and there where sometimes the plot speeds by a little too fast (such that you feel like you’re almost reading what happens over Ayuyang’s shoulder), but for the most part The Man in the McIntosh Suit is a blast and we’ll be looking forward to whatever she crafts next.

Any Cop?: The Man in the McIntosh Suit looks good and feels like an unusual and distinctive read. Ayuyang is definitely a graphic artist to watch.


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