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3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  265 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Scottis a washed-up football player who never made it, and whose girlfriend abandoned him along with his dreams of playing pro football. But things have a way of working out, in this sweet, poetic tale--and a new chapter in Scott's life begins as the old one ends. Offered a position in a Japanese sumo training "stable,"Scott abandons his old life, his old name, and even hi...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published December 11th 2012 by First Second
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Seth Hahne
Sumo by Thien Pham

It's funny. I wouldn't have noticed had seemingly arbitrary circumstances not come together as well as they did. Call it fate. Call it serendipity. Call it my doom. Or destiny or predestination or blind harmless luck. Or even all of the the above. The close of the matter is that when reading Thien Pham's Sumo tonight, I saw things that I entirely missed when I read Thien Pham's Sumo two weeks ago—and this due entirely to a change in frame of mind developed by forces exterior to Pham's book or my...more
I wasn't sure what to expect out of Sumo. I really liked Pham's work in Level Up, so I didn't let my complete and total lack of knowledge about sumo keep me from reading it. And yes, you are thrown into the deep end, with virtually nothing about the sport explained. But it isn't about sumo, not really. It's about Scott

Scott was a star football player. Perfect small town life, complete with girlfriend. And then nobody is interested in seeing him play anymore, and his girlfriend isn't interested i...more
I think I’ve become spoiled by the big trade paperback comics I’ve been buying, and thus have drifted away from short comics. I don’t like reading comics in a single day unless I’ve read them before. I like to savor new reads. I read Sumo in about fifteen minutes, and normally wouldn’t have much to say about something that short. But just commenting on its length and leaving it at that would be doing it a disservice.

Without giving too much away, Sumo follows a young man who leaves America to tra...more
Ira Therebel
When I entered the giveaways for this book I didn't realize that it was a comic book, so I was expecting something very different. But regardless I really got into this book and enjoyed it even though I am usually not reading graphic novels.

I like the simplicity of it. The pictures don't go into too much details, but tell one all one needs to know. I also liked the idea of using the colors. Not only do they tell the reader at what point in the timeline we are, but they also help to feel the righ...more
First Second Books
Dec 11, 2012 First Second Books marked it as first-second-publications
Sumo is a gem of a book; a story of sumo wrestling that's lyrical and poetic and just wonderful.

I love how this book's three storylines (for three different parts of the main character's life) are done in different colors (that come together in the end). And the paper is yellow, too! This book is like a puzzle in that it all comes together -- the author clearly took such care in making all his decisions on how this book should be (as is appropriate for a book on sumo wrestling).

And the cover des...more
Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: I read a lot of manga, and the occasional English translated Japanese novel, and am thus interested in Japanese culture. Yet I know absolutely nothing about Sumo, except the usual misconceptions and I thought this brief volume would give me some insight to the culture of Sumo.

The book didn't really do for me what I had hope it would do. It is not so much actually about the art of Sumo, as it is about the main character Scott, now called Hakygei. A failed football player in a...more
Sumo is the literary equivalent of a cupcake - light and sweet, and when you're done it leaves you a little bit sad.
The lead character, Scott is a loveable loser - a once promising athlete that is now past his football playing prime. He has no job, his girlfriend dumped him and his only friends are a trio of sad sacks who hang out at a local dive bar. His oly option - aside from moving in with mom and dad and working at Macaroni Grill - is to switch sports by moving to Japan and becoming a Sumo...more
I am the first to admit that I love First Second graphic novels, so when I received a copy of Sumo from Netgalley, I was estatic. However, once I opened the book, I was so underwhelmed by the artwork and the long, drawn-out story about an athletic competition I know nothing about that I was tempted to leave the book uncompleted.

Despite my initial repulsion to the illustrations, I persisted in finishing the story and came to have a real appreciation for the format and the story itself. I am ofte...more
Peter Derk
Really talented artist. The story is very short and spare, but maybe that's okay. It's funny because people say every story should have a beginning middle and end, but this one was almost all middle. And I liked it. You get the background you need, but they don't have to explain each character from birth to death. It's maybe a couple months of a person's life.

I DID kind of hope to find out more about sumo. I know nothing about it and still don't really understand it. I have to say, it's hard to...more
Simple yet sophisticated, Sumo is a graphic novella that resonates. Pham's story moves along quickly through a series of different timelines, and despite its short length, the main character Scott is well developed. I was interested and invested in him right away, which is good since this is really a book about Scott, not Sumo. The sparse artwork is powerful, with a lot of the narrative told in what is missing from the frame rather than what is included. Shadow and simple color are used to great...more
Tony Cafiso
I read Sumo by Thien Pham, and i thought it was an okay book. It was about A football player who decides to move to japan and become a Sumo wrestler. The story jumps back and forth between his wrestling, him leaving the U.S. and a girl he meets in Japan. Each of these stories is drawn in a different color to make it easier to tell when the story was changing.

I liked the artwork in it but the story wasn't very interesting. Towards the end it becomes a little more interesting but the beginning ta...more
Oct 06, 2012 Kimberly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Comic Lovers
Recommended to Kimberly by: Elizabeth Bert
I liked the graphics. I'm not really the type of person to read comics. But i got the hang of it :). I enjoyed the book , because it was truthful in the way ... people do irrational things when their relationship ends. (view spoiler)...more
Zack Patten
This was a pretty short read but it was pretty good book. It follows an ex-football player turned sumo wrestler. Throughout the story it switches between the past (through flashbacks) and the present. It uses color to show what period in time it is. By this I mean it would use orange for the present, green for a certain point in the past and blue for another point in the past. Overall this was a very good book and would definitely recommend it.
Carrie Shaurette
After failing to make the NFL and experiencing a hurtful breakup, Scott decides to start over by moving to Japan in attempts to become a sumo wrestler. Color is used very purposefully and effectively to designate different periods in Scott's life in this slim, but tender story. This graphic novel which can and should be read in one sitting explores themes of self worth and cultural shifts sympathetically.
Jason Bloom
Soft-spoken, elegant, flowing; this short (SHORT) graphic novel is a beautiful poem to a lost soul who seems to find his place in the world. Former football player Scott leaves his ordinary life in America to become a Sumo wrestler in Japan, partly to escape the hurt he felt at the loss of his girlfriend and partly because he needed a change, he needed something else to make him whole. Does he find it? DOES ANYONE?!
Dean Fleer
I thought it was an okay book. It was a good book because it was easy to read. I liked it because it was a graphic novel. It had lots of pictures and that is why I liked it. It would be a good book for anyone who wants a quick book. I would recommend it to anyone who likes graphic novels and pictures.
Nice and short. Sweet story about a guy moving to Japan to become a Sumo wrestler.
Lots of style but a lack of any meaningful narrative. Shame.
Scott was a high school football star and professional hopeful, but his life takes a disappointing turn when he isn't picked up by the NFL. He finds himself in an unexpected place: dumped by his prom queen girlfriend and feeling aimless, he accepts an offer to train to be a sumo wrestler in Japan. He had to drop everything and leave everyone he knew behind, and not everyone is sure he's doing it for the right reasons. He's not sure he can convince everyone that he has what it takes to become a s...more
Erin Reilly-Sanders
I really wanted to like this one more since Thien Pham is such a nice guy and really a good artist. I thought the story was fair and the art good and the dialog unfortunately stiff and rather uncomofortable to read. The idea of the plot is pretty smart but fails to really explore the depths of the such a cultural interchange. The relationships between the characters show promise but didn't quite feel fully articulated to me, although perhaps a second, more leisurely read through would help. The...more
Scott is a washed-up NFL wanna-be, recently dumped by his high-school sweetheart, and ready to put everything behind him and start over in a new life. A completely new life- from USA to Japan, and Scott to Hisukagi.

I was surprised at how short this graphic novel was. 'Sumo,' while simple and poetic, seems rushed, but rushed works for the storyline as everything for Scott is changing at a rapid pace. Regardless of how his world has been turned upside-down as he is trying to find himself, I think...more
Full disclosure: I won a free copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway.

I didn't realize when I entered the contest for this book that it was a graphic novel (I think that's what they call a comic book in novel form; it's not my usual type of book to read), but I breezed through the first 50 pages and found it was a more compelling way to tell the story, because the pictures tell the story more quickly. I enjoy the way the author portrays the characters with his unique style of pictures that c...more
Andy Shuping
Scott had dreams of being a pro football player and when those dreams comes crashing down so does the rest of his world. He doesn’t have a good job, his girlfriend dumped him, and about the only thing left to him is to move to Japan and become a sumo wrestler. So...Scott leaves his old world behind him, even his name and hair color, to pursue this new dream. And through the struggles and turmoils he endures, he begins to find a new focus in his world.

The approach to the story is very different t...more
Nathan Herald
book 140 of 1000

Scott's life didn't turn out the way he expected it to. His pro-football career never happened, and in turn, he lost out on his lucrative endorsement future, as well as the girl of his dreams. Scott's not one to live in the past however - he may ruminate on it, but that won't stop him from what the future holds. At this point in time, that future is across the world, in Japan. Having been asked to train as a Sumotori, Scott is now in a highly regimented world, and he's finding b...more
Oleg Kagan
Sumo is short; it's a wisp of a story, really. Several flashbacks and a couple of days in the life of Scott, an ex-football player turned aspiring sumo. But those moments are told with elegance, earnestness, and clear narrative logic. I like the art, and was able to get through the book my lunch break. I only wish there was enough story in this graphic shorty for several more lunch breaks.

In related news: I seem to be doing a fair job going through the First Second catalog these days.

This is a quiet, brief, understated graphic novel about a young man trying to make his way in the world. Oversized Scott has failed at his previous endeavors--a professional football career and a relationship with Gwen--and is now in danger of failing at his attempt at starting over as someone completely different--a sumo wrestler in Japan. He has a chance to find himself before it's too late, though. Pham achieves much with simple, stylized illustrations, thematic colors, and subtle symbols. An...more
Nov 25, 2012 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: gn
Really lovely gem. The language is sparse, but the images convey the story poignantly. Really lovely artwork. I was not impressed by Thien's somewhat sloppy penciling in Level Up, but his ink lines in Sumo are masterful. He captures posture and movement in minimal lines. The three stories weave together nicely. The book could appear simplistic or profound, depending on the state of mind of the reader. This will be an interesting one for discussion groups.

I just wish he didn't use the word "pussy...more
Having lived in Japan, I've enjoyed sumo for quite some time. I just wish this story would have explained some of the basics for moving up and down the sumo rankings (banzuke) better. It was unclear to me if the author was aware of the number of bouts a non-sekitori rikishi must fight each tournament (basho) and win* if they wish to advance to the ranks of sekitori. Beautiful drawn story nonetheless, and I hope it helps other readers become interested in sumo.

*A rikishi who is not a sekitori wi...more
Simple but good. I think the art is really cute and even though it is confusing sometimes the author makes really good use of colors to distinguish one story line from another. It was easy to understand. The best thing about this book was how well the author brought together the three different plots together at the end. I also liked how it ended with no real conclusion. What happens next is left to the reader's imagination. Usually cliffhanger ending like this are annoying, but the author pulle...more
Big failed football player goes to Japan to become a Sumo wrestler to escape the pain of being dumped. There isn't a lot to this story, but what's there is really enjoyable. Pham's art is wonderful. He uses a minimalistit, yet heavy brush, style to draw the story which results in the art looking like kanji. It's really beautiful stuff.

The story itself feels like a short film, and is very airy. The dialog is sparse, and the resolution is up in the air, and while it did leave me wanting more, it d...more
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