Author: Gene Ambaum

Graphic Novel Review: Clementine Book 1 by Tillie Walden

Clementine Book 1 by Tillie Walden. Grey tones by Cliff Rathburn. Skybound Comet / Image, 2022. 9781534321281. 256pp. Set in the world of The Walking Dead, Tillie Walden’s new graphic novel centers on Clementine, a seventeen-year-old who has been through some serious shit in the seven years after the zombie apocalypse. She’s hardly willing to accept help, though she does get some from a dentist turned prosthetist in an Amish community where her brief visit is quite the topic of conversation. She leaves as soon as she is able to and meets Amos, a young man heading to Vermont as part of his Rumspringa. He hopes to help build a homestead on a mountain peak there, and maybe to fly in an airplane. Clementine sees him as too naive and nice to handle the realities of life in the wider world, and they end up traveling together. In Vermont they become part of what seems like it will be an […]

Tags

Awesome Picture Books!

Zoobilations! Animal Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian. Beach Lane Books, 2022. 9781534465909. I truly love this short book of poems, each of which is not more than a page long. Opposite them are Florian’s paintings (which I would have bet were drawings). Brilliant rhymes! And there’s even a poem about a mole rat. Some Questions About Trees by Toni Yuli. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2022. 9781534489158. A series of questions about trees from artist Toni Yuli, who combines textures and media and who is even doing a bit of what I’d consider cartooning. A short, compelling book that will inspire kids to ponder. The Day I Became A bird by Ingrid Chabbert and Guridi. Kids Can Press, 2016. 9781771386210. A boy falls in love with a girl named Sylvia who loves wild birds. So he builds himself a bird costume and wears it to school one day. This is a perfect love story and it has some of […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Celestia by Manuele Fior

Celestia by Manuele Fior. Translated by Jamie Richards. Fantagraphics, 2021. 9781683964384. There was a great invasion. Some took refuge on Celestia, a small man-made island, a place with an economy built on trading where masked parties seem the norm. It’s also a place the rest of the world seems to have forgotten (if it’s out there at all). Local bad boy Pierrot survives there as do others, including his father, Dr. Vivaldi, an odd guy with a pet blackbird who is putting together a team of telepaths. Pierrot’s telepathic friend Dora is soon on the run from Vivaldi and his team, and she needs Pierrot’s help heading for the mainland where, well, things get stranger. It all feels very dreamlike, and reminds me of nothing so much as Susanna Clarke’s Piraesi and a great episode of something like The Outer Limits. Fior’s art is always beautiful, and the soft, unshaded colors help give this graphic novel a dreamlike sense that […]

Tags

Bookstabber Episode 19: Moon Knight Graphic Novels from the 2010s

Here to protect his city is the masked vigilante all criminals know to fear… no, not that one. Not that one either. Gene and Willow dissect Marvel’s most moon-themed knight in the Moon-Knightiest Bookstabber to air. Available at bookstabber.podbean.com or wherever you get your podcasts (we hope).

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: The Nightmare Brigade Vol. 1: The Girl From Déjà Vu

The Nightmare Brigade Vol. 1: The Girl From Déjà Vu by Franck Thilliez (story), Yomgui Dumont (art), and Drac (color). Translation by Joe Johnson. Papecutz, 2022. 9781545808771. 112pp. Originally published in French as two separate volumes. By day Estaban and Tristan attend Jules Ferry High School. By night they help Tristan’s father’s young patients by entering their dreams as members of The Nightmare Brigade. They use a machine the professor invented, along with an airlock that leads into the dreamer’s mind. (Once in a dream that door is Estaban and Tristan’s only way back to reality. If the dreamer wakes up while they’re in their nightmare, Estaban and Tristan will be trapped there.) Within the graphic novel are two cases, or maybe three. The first is Sarah who, like Estaban, was found in the forest suffering from amnesia a few years before the story starts. If Tristan and Estaban can figure out what’s causing her recurring nightmares they may be […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Asadora! Volume 1 by Naoki Urasawa

Asadora! Volume 1 by Naoki Urasawa / N Wood Studio. Translation & adaptation by John Werry. Viz, 2021. 9781974717460. Publisher’s Rating: T+ Older Teen for ages 16 and up. This series opens in 2020 Tokyo with a giant monster laying waste to the city. Then it cuts to Nagoya in 1959 where a young girl, Asa, is trying to make it to a doctor’s office as a typhoon closes in on the city. (Her mother needs the doc because she’s in labor, and no one can remember Asa’s name because she has so many siblings.) The storm sounds like some kind of animal, and as Asa starts running home she meets (and passes) her friend Sho, who is training for the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics. By the next day she’ll have been kidnapped, helped steal a plane, and become an integral part of the disaster relief as she looks for her missing family. She’ll also notice a detail that […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: The Aquanaut by Dan Santat

The Aquanaut by Dan Santat. Scholastic, 2022. 9780545497619. 256pp. Five years ago Michel drowned on a research ship, The Miette, but his brother Paul was rescued. Now Paul is raising Michel’s daughter, Sophia, and trying to run the Aqualand theme park, which commercial concerns have turned into a bit of a joke. One day an old deep sea diving suit walks out of the ocean. It’s filled with some kind of fantastic mechanism to make it appear that a human is inside, but at the controls are a number of sea creatures. They have Michel’s lost journal, and they’re hoping to find safe refuge in Aqualand. But when they get there they just find rides and souvenirs and a show featuring one scared orca. Luckily they also meet and befriend Sophia, who helps keep them secret for a while (despite inviting them to be part of her science fair exhibit for some badly needed extra credit). Santat’s second graphic novel […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: The Butchery by Bastien Vivès

The Butchery by Bastien Vivès. Translated by Jenna Allen. Fantagraphics, 2021. 9781683964476. 86pp. The story of a relationship from its wondrous beginning right through to its terrible end, told in realistic scenes and metaphors like soldiers about to parachute into combat and (trigger warning?) outright assault. Almost nothing is explained in detail but if you’ve ever been through a painful breakup, you’ll be able to fill in the blanks. This is an amazing book that exemplifies how a comic creator can effectively use layout, white space, and different levels of detail in drawings. If you have an adult graphic novel collection, buy this and Vivès’ The Grand Odalisque, which he co-created with Ruppert and Mulot. They’re both hilarious and poetic and beautiful, though the latter book has more robberies.  

Tags

Picture Book Reviews

The Very True Legend Of The Mongolian Death Worms by Sandra Fay. Henry Holt, 2022. 9781250776082. 40pp. with some info and sources at the end on the legend of the death worms. The worms exist, but they’re far from the terrifying creatures of legend. It’s more like they’re so ugly they’re cute (if you’re into that kind of thing). They are gigantic, but they’re also friendly, though it’s hard to get other desert animals to see that that’s true. A very silly book! Mina by Matthew Forsythe. Paula Wiseman, 2022. 9781481480413. Mina is a cute little mouse who likes to read, so you’re already going to love this book. Her father likes to bring home surprises for her. One time he thinks he’s brought her a squirrel. It’s not a squirrel. I’ve loved Forsythe’s art since his graphic novel Ojingogo, and it just keeps getting better.     The Problem With Pajamas by Lauren Stohler. 9781534493438. When Cody’s dad tries […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Cats of the Louvre by Taiyo Matsumoto

Cats of the Louvre (Louvre Éditions) by Taiyo Matsumoto. Translation and English adaptation by Michael Arias. Viz, 2019. 9781974707089. 432pp. Publisher’s Rating: T/Teen. This is my favorite of these graphic novels that take place in / around the Louvre Museum in Paris, which have been released in English by various publishers. It has Matsumoto’s signature organic softness, both in terms of the ways he draws characters (cats and humans) and the way the plot moves forward. Basically there are cats in the Louvre, and they’re taken care of by one of those who patrols the museum at night, Monsieur Marcel. Marcel has been looking for his sister for a while — she disappeared in the museum when they were kids. We learn later in the book that he thinks she went into a painting. It’s not much of a surprise at that point because one of the little cats, the most mischievous among them, Snowbébé, who likes to roam the […]

Tags