Manga Monday

Manga Monday #21: The Doctor Who Loved Miss Abbott

Sometimes you may wonder, “Just how much shoujo does this woman read?”  And, okay, the answer is a lot, but I hope that was I offer up today as a reading suggestion will be just enough different that it’ll fill your fancy.

It’s totally a romance, but it’s a period piece.  The author is not a native English speaker, but the entire comic was dialogued in English rather than her native Spanish.  Also, this comic passes by all the regular tropes, offering something totally fresh and wonderfully unique.

The Doctor Who Loved Miss Abbott

Miss Abbott and the Doctor
Maripaz Villar
57 chapters (ongoing)

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Miss Abbott and the Doctor, a self-described “sketchy Victorian rom-com”, started with a few short stories that author Maripaz Villar posted on her DeviantArt account.  She got such a great response that she decided to continue the adventures, only to go on and create what is now an ongoing story on Webtoon, featuring Doctor Andreas Marino, a man with a distinct affection for the quiet life, who meets Miss Cati Abbott and immediately decides he dislikes her.

Unfortunately for Andreas, Cati–a woman raised abroad in the isolated tribes of Amazonia–is not only quirky but also funny and seems to have a knack for getting him into trouble.  Thus begins the tale of their “dislike” that’s actually just “like”.

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Miss Abbott and the Doctor takes something age-old, the whole I-don’t-like-you-because-I-actually-like-you idea, but spins it on its head within a story that features a different setting and fully unique leads.  Cati is not a normal girl but any means, and Andreas is uniquely affected by that, and it is this dichotomy that drives them into each other, over and over again–and it’s all very, very entertaining to watch.

One thing that sets Miss Abbott apart from other webtoons, comics, and manga alike is the styling.  While traditionally webtoons are usually fully inked and colored digitally, Miss Abbott takes to its own style with pencil drawings with small touches of color for emotional emphasis.  It’s simple and Maripaz’s illustrating style is beautiful, with a strong sense of anatomy to boot.  She’s also quite talented at background art and style, but she often omits them, saying, “I believe you can tell a story only using what you need.”

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Like I mentioned, this whole I-don’t-like-you-because-I-actually-like-you thing isn’t new, it’s older than Cheers.  We see it time and again on television, often being forced to sit through season after season of, “HOLY CRAP JUST GET TOGETHER ALREADY.”  When this happens it’s like creators are telling us that the only thing interesting about this show or book or whatever is our interest in that couple getting together.  Like, once they get together, there will be nothing for us to watch.  Which kind of makes you question the quality of the writing in the first place, right?  Writing for TV is interesting in this way, there’s this fear of ending audience interest too soon.

Webtoons often feel like they follow this same feeling.  To completely work through a plot point, it means that you need to have a follow-up plot point or otherwise end the story.  Oftentimes it’s easier to drag out a plot rather than to end it, especially when it comes to the OTP.  Miss Abbott steers clear of this.

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Although there’s definitely the uphill battle to them finally admitting that they’re in love, it’s not done in such a way that it takes five seasons for it to actually happen.  Miss Abbott is a great example of plot burning, which is basically where you have a plot point (e.g. lead romance fulfillment) and you burn it through, you don’t drag it out unnecessarily in order to keep viewer/readership.

Hopefully, that makes any sense.  To put it simply, although Andreas and Cati’s what-if relationship it what pulls you into the story, Maripaz doesn’t abuse that–and that’s key to these sorts of stories.  When it takes so long you want to beat someone to death, there’s probably an issue, right?  Right.

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Maripaz actually starts the story where their interest in each other first begins, which is of course what we’re interested in and is an example of good writing:  start right in the middle of the action.  In this case, it’s in the middle of the attraction (yes, I just did that, I’m so sorry).

Although the two leads are incredibly different, on paper, they quickly find that they are highly compatible.  Not in the cliched oh-so fiery, opposites-attract, arguments all day long idea, but rather in a way that two people can come from two totally different backgrounds and still have so much in common it’s insane sort of way.  Rather than being a story about two people so wrong for each other it works, Miss Abbott is about how our backgrounds and societal expectations don’t define who we can and cannot be with.

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Miss Abbott and the Doctor is just freaking fantastic.  Although it sometimes puts too much of a message forward, albeit great messages, it’s never done in a way that detracts from the overall enjoyment.  Miss Abbott addresses issues while still remaining the romantic comedy that has us wishing for a Doctor ourselves!

You can read Miss Abbott and the Doctor on Webtoon.  New chapters will start up again in January, but you can binge read what’s there in the meantime!

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