Tag Archives: Graphic Novel

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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The Rabbi’s Cat – Review

The Rabbi's Cat The Rabbi’s Cat is a very endearing and sweetly written story of a Jewish family living in Algiers in the 1930s. The story is told through the eyes of the Rabbi’s cat, who one day eats the squawking family bird and develops the ability to talk. The rabbi will not let the talking cat be near his daughter, for fear that the cat will fill the daughter’s mind with dangerous thoughts. So the cat demands to have a bar mitzvah, in order to be a proper Jew and be able to be with Zlabya, the daughter. Throughout the course of this graphic novel, we learn much about the history and beliefs and values of Judiasm as the Rabbi tries to teach these values to the cat, as well as through the cat’s silent obsevations of those around him. The setting of Algiers is a great location, because back in 1930, Arabs and and Jews were able to co-exist, living under strict French control. At one point the rabbi and the cat tag along with Zlabya and her new husband to meet the husband’s family. Here the rabbi is taken out of his comfort zone of Algiers and put into wild and exuberant Paris, and we learn more about tolerance, and faith being tested.

The writing is full of humor, history and emotion. The images are amazing. The dark, warm tones really take you into a new world. I have to agree with what it says on the inside cover of the book. It really does bring to life a lost world, a lost time before the Israeli/Palestine conflict when both groups had a mutual enemy in the French. If you liked Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi then I would recommend this book to be next on your list. If you enjoy this book and would like to learn more about this world, I would recommend the movie The Battle of Algiers, a documentary of how the Arabs in Algiers struggled to break free from French occupation.

FINAL GRADE: A+

The Rabbi’s Cat
by Joann Sfar
Pantheon Books, 2005
ISBN 0375714641
142 pages

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The Shiniest Jewel – Review

I expectedly recieved a copy of this title in the mail last week as a result of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer’s group. I’m exceptionally glad that I recieved this title, because this is a really heartwarming and unique work created by cartoonist Marian Henley.

First Line: One Christmas Eve, I drove to Dallas.

Written as a comic stip, like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Marian Henley takes us through the emotional rollercoaster ride that engulf the process of adopting an infant from Russia. Henly is in her late 40’s, and unwed, but has been in a long-term relationship for quite some time. She is worried about breaking the news of adopting a boy named Sergey to her family. Despite her concens, her family shows a surprising amount of encouragement and support. Not long after Sergey’s adoption is announced and Marian feels more secure with her decision to go through with the adoption, she finds out that she cannot adopt Sergey afterall. Marian deals with high levels of incompetence with her chosen adoption agency, who bungle Marian’s first attempt at adoption. Not long after, Marian tries again for a young boy named Igor. Throughout these struggles, Marian’s father goes to the hospital for mutiple surgeries and his health seems to be failing each day. A Family Love Story

This memoir is a tear-jerker, the blue and white cartoon images relate so much more of the story than a paragraph description could produce. Marian is a brave women for sticking her convictions and following through on her plan to adopt a child from Russia. Despite her tragedies in the process and her tragedies at home, this book provides insipiration for anyone who thinks “it just can’t get worse”, well, even if it does, it will somehow turn around and right itself.

The subtitle “A Family Love Story” captures the essence of this memoir, in that Marian is trying to complete the puzzle to her family through this adoption. She makes unique observations about life and death, youth and age.

FINAL GRADE: A+

The Shiniest Jewel – A Family Love Story
by Marian Henley
Springboard Press, 2008
ISBN 446199311
168 pages
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Bone – Review (guest post)

Guest post by my best friend, local graphic novel enthusiast and my local dealer and source for all things comic book. Here is her great review of a comic book series called Bone by Jeff Smith, which I will probably be borrowing in the near future:

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One Volume Edition You’ve read the story before. A kingdom, set in medieval times, is taken under siege by monsters who no longer wish to be subordinate to the arrogant human race. The royal family goes into hiding, is betrayed, and the only two surviving members abandon the kingdom in order to seek refuge in a pastoral farm town. A treaty is signed between the humans and monsters, order is restored, and the once powerful kingdom is only a shadow of what it used to be without its royal family inhabiting its walls. Nevertheless, peace reigns throughout the valley again.

Time passes and the two surviving royal family members are living in tranquility on their farm. It is a grandmother, Rose, and her granddaughter, Thorn. The granddaughter, Thorn, was only a baby when the war had broken out, and knows nothing about her royal heritage. She believes they were always pastoral farmers, and her grandmother intends to keep her in the dark for as long as possible, believing it will keep the monsters, or rat creatures, from breaking the treaty and going back into the valley.

Inevitably, something happens to cause disruption once more. Chaos erupts, war happens, characters die, others are redeemed, and order is restored once more. (C’mon, I didn’t just ruin the ending. Order is always restored in these sorts of tales!) So why should you read “Bone” by Jeff Smith? I’ll give you one word — its namesake — the Bones.

Meet cousins Phoncible P. “Phoney” Bone, Smiley Bone, and Fone Bone. They are bone creatures and residents of Boneville. The book starts with the three cousins wandering the desert, two weeks after having been exiled. One of the cousins, Phoney, had incurred the wrath of the entire town after having implemented one of his famous get rich quick schemes that ended terribly wrong (imagine gastrointestinal troubles on a town wide scale). They are drawn and depicted as sweet and childlike as Tolkein’s hobbits are in the “Lord of the Rings,” and even Phoney’s shady business deals are described as being innocent in their selfish intentions. After accidentally splitting up, each cousin individually makes their way to Barrelhaven, the human inhabited town where Rose and Thorn live. This is when the story really starts.Out From Boneville

It is the scenes with these bones, whether with each other, the rat creatures, or the humans, that makes the story attractive to even non-comic book lovers. As we get to know each Bone individually, we find ourselves rooting for Phoney as he implements one of his schemes just so we can see to what humorous means it will ultimately backfire. We then sympathize with the lovelorn Fone who follows Thorn, his unrequited love, and later partner in war. And finally, we smile every time we get to see Smiley interact with his pet baby rat creature, constantly hiding and sheltering him from those who try to kill him simply because of his race. Then, when the war really starts, Smith masterfully has the reader wondering what will become of the innocent spirits of the Bones as they are thrust into ugly times where allegiances are shadier than Phoney’s business schemes and evil doers exists solely to destroy the entire world and sheer existence.

In short, if you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings, or any kingdom like fantasy world, you should read “Bone”. Don’t be a literature snob and turn away from this masterful piece of work just because it is drawn like a children’s comic, or simply because it is drawn. “Bone” stands alongside any great bildungsroman or hero’s journey tale, and will suck you in so much that after the last page is turned you will want to go back to the beginning get lost with the Bones all over again.

** Bone by Jeff Smith is available in a 1 volume, 1332 page, trade paperback by Cartoon Books.

** Winner of several Eisner awards, including, but not limited to, Best Humor Publication (1993, 1994), Best Continuing Series (1994), Best Writer/Artist (1994).

** Winner of several Harvey awards, including, but not limited to, Best Cartoonist (1994-97, 2000, 2003, 2005), Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work (1994, 2005).

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Rex Libris – Review

There are 5 Laws of Librarians: 1) Books are to be read. 2) Every person his or her book. 3)Every book its reader. 4) Save the time of the reader. 5) The library is a growing organism.

With these five laws I am soon launched into volume 1 of the Rex Libris comic book collection by James Turner. This collection contains the first five chapters, with roughly 32 pages per chapter. I think I derived the most humor from this book just by being a librarian and understand the painstakingly difficult patrons with overdue books and fees. Although this series takes it to an utmost extreme when in the first few pages librarian Rex Libris must deal with an unruly patron, a demon-spirit Samuri.

With cunning, sarcasm, and plenty of research skills, Rex is able to learn how to defeat all the various enemies he faces. The writing is intelligent, although maybe littered with a few too many scientific terminology that sometimes takes away from the plot.

The story is still in its developing stages, so there is really only character introduction in the volume 1. We are introduced to Rex Libris (The Librarian) Circe (a 2000 year old retired witch, now librarian) Simon (Once tried to conquer the world and has since been turned into a bird by Circe) and Hypatia (a newcomer), and the Administrator (the boss). This collection of librarian super-powers work in the Middleton Public Library, which apparently rest on a ley of mystical power, thus enhancing the appearance of fictional characters that can be seen by library patrons. Filtered throughout the story are many library idioms (aways see a librarian before heading out into the stacks, always return your books or we will come after you, etc).

I’m curious to know what the appeal of this book is for non-library workers. I think Rex Libris may become one of the coolest librarians since the advent of Giles some ten years back.

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I, Librarian (Rex Libris) (Rex Libris)

Rex Libris
by James Turner
SLG Publishing (June 25, 2007)
ISBN 1593620622
184 pages