Bad Friends (Ancco, 2012)
Toxic relationships is one of my least favourite themes in fiction, so I wonder why on Earth I bought this comic in the first place. But if Pearl, the main character, finds these so-called bad friends along the way, it’s because her surroundings are even worse: her father beats her, her teachers slap her, and her neighbours kick her around. Pearl was raised in such a violent environment, she sometimes justifies her father's abuse and almost considered prostitution as an alternative.
The friends Pearl meets are not necessarily bullies or manipulative classmates, but girls that happen to be in a similar situation. Actually, Pearl finds warmth and understanding with Jeong-ae and the others. If they're bad, according to the title, it's because they end up in dangerous circumstances, don't help each other, or don't even realise the others need help.
Towards the end, Pearl is trying to say she’s the bad friend, that she could’ve done much more for Jeong-ae, and that she should've at least say sorry. But just because Pearl managed to escape and prosper doesn't mean she could've saved Jeong-ae as there were other factors for Jeong-ae to end like that.
Don’t be some hard on yourself, Pearl, you’re okay.
Original title: *나쁜친구
By Ancco | 2012 | Drawn and Quarterly | 176 pages