Cold Mountain (Graphic Novel): The Legend of Han Shan and Shih Te, the Original Dharma Bums is a graphic novel that uses the poetry of Han Shan and Shih Te to tell the story of these two scoundrels. If they existed, that is. The main part of why these people might not have existed is their names are “Cold Mountain” (Han Shan) and The Foundling (Shih Te). And while it is romantic to think they put their poetry on trees, rocks and caves, more likely they are a collaboration of many people.
That aside, this is some of the poetry that would influence the Beats, the Dharma Bums (yes that Dharma Bum) and countless people who felt “off the norm.” Perhaps, the poems are a bit indulgent to the extreme, but there is a lot going on in them. As they themselves say the foolish think them wise and the wise think them foolish. They make fun of all around them. Including themselves.
The main story is Han Shan and Shih Te’s journey to enlightenment. Their disdain for authority, even religious. They are convinced their way is the only way. They give up on all material possessions and revel in being the clowns/jokesters and begging off others. At the same time, they enjoy making fools of people assumed to be their betters. Nature and they seem to be linked. There truly is a romantic overtone to the book.
Sean Michael Wilson and Akiko Shimojima have created something that needs to be experienced by each person as their biases, experiences and knowledge allow. This is another book I wish I did not have to rate. I say it is a 3, but that is because the black and white sketches are not pleasing to my eye. There is something for everyone, you just need to start the journey.