In February 2016, First: Second announced a graphic novel written by novelist Hiromi Goto, Shadow Life drawn by Celine Loup, and edited by Calista Brill, about an elderly Japanese Candian woman running from death. Scheduled for 2018, it disappeared from the schedules without notice, but has now returned for March 30th, 2021. Now it seems with a brand new artist Ann Xu.
Poet and novelist Hiromi Goto effortlessly blends wry, observational slice-of-life literary fiction with poetic magical realism in the tender and surprising graphic novel Shadow Life, with haunting art from debut artist Ann Xu.
When Kumiko's well-meaning adult daughters place her in an assisted living home, the seventy-six-year-old widow gives it a try, but it's not where she wants to be. She goes on the lam and finds a cozy bachelor apartment, keeping the location secret even while communicating online with her eldest daughter. Kumiko revels in the small, daily pleasures: decorating as she pleases, eating what she wants, and swimming in the community pool. But something has followed her from her former residence―Death's shadow.
Kumiko's sweet life is shattered when Death's shadow swoops in to collect her. With her quick mind and sense of humour, Kumiko, with the help of friends new and old, is prepared for the fight of her life. But how long can an old woman thwart fate?
Goto told the LA Times "'Shadow Life' is a graphic novel about a 76-year-old Japanese Canadian woman whose well-meaning middle-aged daughters have placed in an assisted living complex… She sets herself up in a bachelor apartment where she enjoys daily small pleasures. But when Death's shadow catches up with her, Kumiko's sweet life begins to crumble. What can one old woman do to outwit Death? Kumiko's in her final fight for the rest of her life."
"Graphic novel as a narrative form was something I wanted to check out. I read some manga and American comics through my childhood, but returned to thinking about the form more seriously after reading "Barefoot Gen," and "Maus." Contemporary adult content graphic novels like Bechdel's "Fun Home" also showed me how much range and depth was possible. My daughter is also very manga oriented and has kept me abreast of the current trends coming out of Japan.It's a neat form of storytelling and I was curious as to how the very nature of representation would affect reader experience. And, also, I'm a writer who likes to explore new (to me) things … I wanted to give it a try."
It took a little longer than expected. Now with an entirely new artist. But it will be out in six months.