Category Archives: Graphic Novels/ Comics

Blankets (Craig Thompson) – Review

BlanketsBlankets by Craig Thompson
Age: Adult
Genre: Graphic Novel / Graphic Memoir
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions, 2003
ISBN: 1891830430
582 pages 
 
 
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Told in nine chapters, Craig Thompson’s beautifully illustrated graphic memoir tells the story of a young man finding love, questioning his faith, losing his love and losing his faith.

Despite the hefty size of the book, a whopping 582 pages, the story is told through black and white illustrations, many of which add so much more to the story than mere words ever could. The story centers around Craig’s two-week visit with his friend, Raina. Craig met Raina at a Christian summer camp, and the two exchanged letters frequently before setting up the visit.

Told through flashbacks of Craig’s life, and through the present state of Raina’s deteriorating family life, Blankets is about Craig’s journey of self-discovery, focusing on his relationship with 3 specific people. First, his younger brother. Second, Raina, and third, his relationship and struggle with his faith. Craig learns the painful lessons of family pains and heartaches, joys and quiet moments of bonding.

Neil Gaiman’s quote on the inside cover perhaps sums it up the best:

moving, tender, beautifully drawn, painfully honest…

Book 53 of 2011

The Night Bookmobile – Review

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The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger

Age: Adult


The Night Bookmobile is a graphic short story that tells the story of a young woman who encounters a mysterious, disappearing Winnebego that carries the most valued elements of her past on the streets of Chicago. The night bookmobile is run by Mr. Openshaw and its hours run from Dusk to Dawn. Exploring through the stacks and stacks of books, Alexandra discovers that the bookmobile houses every single book she has every read, or attempted to read in her life. This chance encounter draws Alexandra into an almost obsessive cycle of reading, and trying to find the bookmobile once again, even going so far as to become a librarian to one day work for the bookmobile and The Library.

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. – Jorge Luis Borges, “Poema de los Dones”

This is the quote that kept running through my head while I read this graphic novel. Alexandra’s chance encounters with the bookmobile are sporadic, but timely.  She always comes across the bookmobile at a major turning point in her life, three major turning points to be exact. This book reads more like a cautionary tale against having too much love of reading and books (something unheard of among bibliophiles). Seeing the path Alexandra is drawn down is somewhat disturbing, but maybe because I see myself in her place. Who wouldn’t want their heaven to be full of books, read and unread? Audrey Niffenegger made an interesting point in the afterword:

As I worked it also became a story about the claims that books place on their readers, the imbalance between our inner and outer lives, a cautionary tale of the seductions of the written word. … What is it we desire from the hours, weeks, lifetimes we devote to books? What would you sacrifice to sit in that comfy chair with perfect light for an afternoon in eternity, reading the perfect book, forever?

It is a very haunting story, very much in step with Niffenegger’s style. I love my books, I love the stories, the characters and the lives I can spyon  in any book I pick up and read. But I’m not sure what I would sacrifice for that perfect book in that comfy chair with the perfect lighting. This book brings up many thoughts on life and death, being anti-social and the difference between living for a dream and living in reality. I think any reader who comes across this book should take a pause and really understand why they read and just where books fall in line with their priorities.

The Night Bookmobile
by Audrey Niffenegger
Abrams, 2010
ISBN 9780810996175
33 pages

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The night bookmobile

Noteworthy Links #8

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Starting off the new year with a fresh batch of links for all your clicking pleasures.

The Good

  • Download a free e-novella by Prix Medicis award winning author David Vann – author of Caribou’s Island. The award winning e-novella, SUKKWAN ISLAND, is part of a larger compilation of stories, entitled LEGEND OF A SUICIDE.

You can read it for free online, or download to an e-reader. If you don’t have a reader, then you can download the necessary software from Amazon, Sony, etc to read the novella.

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Sukkwan-Island-Novella-Material-ebook/dp/B004H1U1UW/

Sony

http://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/david-vann/sukkwan-island-free-novella-with-bonus-material/_/R-400000000000000323488

Kobo

http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Sukkwan-Island-Free-Novella-With/book-fB2kqTTDI0m-OwhHIu1OXA/page1.html

It is also available in the iBookstore for Apple products, and should be available for the Nook shortly.

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The Fun

  • Best of 2010 with Neil Gaiman – The Golden Age of Comics

Anthology editor Neil Gaiman describes the joy and challenge of selecting The Best American Comics 2010. “It’s like the golden age,” he says of the increasingly diverse and prolific genre. – More at http://www.npr.org/2010/12/09/131937258/neil-gaiman-selects-top-american-comics-of-2010?ft=1&f=5&sc=17

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The Ugly

This announcement has sparked a twit-war on Twitter under the trending topic of “Huckleberry Finn.”

I have a few questions and concerns on this note.

1. Who decides what the offensive words are?

2. What will be the offenders be? – According to the article, the N word will be changed to “slave.” But will it stop there? Will there be more re-writes in this book’s future changing other words, phrases and even meanings and intentions of the story?

3. There is no guarantee that this sort of move will result in the unbanning of the book and I would like to argue that this is undermining the integrity of the book.

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The Random

  • Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, defends poetry in a wonderfully written op-ed for the Poetry Foundation. As one of my favorite authors, both for children and adults, I think everyone should read this statement and go out and find a book of poetry to read right away. I think I’ll start with Pablo Neruda…

The Tragical Comedy of Mr. Punch – Review

The Tragical Comedy of Mr. Punch is a stand alone Neil Gaiman comic about a man remembering a childhood summer with his grandparents in England. Sent away for the summer because his mother was about to give birth, the narrator spent a majority of his summer engulfed in the violent tale of malicious Punch and poor Judy.

The story of Punch and Judy is really violent. The story traces back to the 1660’s originally from Italy making its way to England in the 18th century.  A script for Punch and Judy was written by John Payne Collier in 1828 under the title “the Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Punch and Judy.” In the story Punch happily kills their baby, kills Judy, kills the police, the judge and the devil that come after him for his crimes. In true Neil Gaiman style, there is an air of mystery, and paranormal in the story. The images are not traditional cartoon comic book style. They are instead a combination of photographs and drawn images, dark and dreary that cast a melancholy shadow over the story.

http://frankiely.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/punch-baby-and-judy.jpg

Although I’m a bigger fan of Neil Gaiman’s prose, this one is a really good introduction into the dark shadows of his mind.

The Tragical Comedy of Mr. Punch
by Neil Gaiman
Harper Collins,
ISBN 1563892464

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The Courageous Charitable Philanthropist

Don’t you want to be a hero too? I love the song they have playing in the background.

myhero21

Fables: Legends in Exile – Review

This is one graphic novel that caught my eye. There was a series of this books on the New Shelf at my library yesterday. I found the first graphic novel in the series and read it all in about an hour. Its a very quick and fun read. Its a Young Adult graphic novel, so it was pretty toned down compared to some of the other graphic novels out th

legends in exile

This one, is a mystery graphic novel. My, what a transition I made. The main character Bigby Wolf is on a murder investigation of Rose Red, Snow White’s sister. In the course of the investigation we meet King Cole, Little Boy Blue, Bluebeard, Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk) among others. The concept is clever, but since its YA, its a little to neat and clean for my taste. The newer versions that popped up at the library are for adults, so I’ll check those out and see if they are any better. The concept is that all these fables were kicked out of their kingdoms by an evil Adversary, and now all the fables (immortals) have to blend in with the mundanes or “mundys” as we are affectionately called.

This is a good series, a good middle step between fairy tales for kids and fairy tales of adults, but I’d recommend this book for the preteens 10-13 years old. The older teens might find it lame.

FINAL GRADE: B

Fables: Legends in Exile
By Bill Willingham (writer)
Vertigo Comics,
ISBN 1563899426
119 pages

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Weekly Geek #9 Wrap-Up

This week’s topic for Weekly Geek is challenges. In all my months of blogging, I’ve seen too many banners and buttons for challenges on the Internet. This week’s topic finally gave me the push to start investigating all these reading challenges and find a few that I would want to participate in.

Since Monday, I have joined the July Book Blowout. I will try to read 13 books, 1 more than what I read for June.

The Classics Challenge 6 classics in 6 months (July 1st – December 1st)

and
The Graphic Novel Challenge 6 graphic novels from January 01 to December 31.

This should help me get to my end goal of 100 books by the end of the year. I’m already almost halfway there with 43 books under my belt. These challenges, plus books for fun and books sent me to for reviews should make for a well-rounded selection of reading materials.

Strangers in Paradise – Review

I feel as if I am the last person to read Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore. My best friend Carmen gifted me this graphic novel a couple of years ago. She’s been my underground railroad of literature, since my entire family, boyfriend and other best friend started enforcing a book buying ban. Carmen would smuggle me books on holidays, birthdays and graduations. Its a fun little loop hole that I looked forward to every time. Family and friends have since given up trying to prevent me from acquiring books so long as I get rid of some to make room for the new additions.

Well, onto the review.
Katchoo, an independent, intelligent and pretty girl, in love with her roommate Francine, was living a pretty typical life, until quiet yet brooding David enters the scene at an Art Museum one day. In a graphic novel filled with love polygons, this book does not cease to entertain. Being a graphic novel, the writing is sharp, hilarious and wonderfully matched with descriptive illustrations. We are taken into Katchoo’s world, and are brought into her vulnerabilities, her strengths and her courage. Set in a blur of money embezzlement and crime bosses; Katchoo, Francine and David live in a typical world, filled with typical emotions of heartbreak and the tight bonds of friendship.

This is a pretty short review, I’m not sure what else to say. If you haven’t read it yet, then I don’t know what you are waiting for, if you like comic books and graphic novels that is. Its a fun read, the characters and storyline are well developed and the storyline progresses at a steady pace. There wasn’t a dull moment, but then again, I was trapped in an airplane for 3 hours, so this read was a pleasant way to pass the time.

Find this book at your local library

Strangers in Paradise
by Terry Moore
ISBN 1892597268
344 pages