Category: book review

Graphic Novel Review: His Dream of the Skyland

His Dream of the Skyland by Anne Opotowsky and Aya Morton. Top Shelf, 2018. 9781603094290. 312 oversized pages including an illustrated glossary. http://amzn.to/2EgZUA2 Before Song Lu leaves for his new job sorting and delivering dead letters for Hong Kong’s post office, one of the prostitutes next door gives him a freebie while his mother is in the next room telling fortunes. On his way to work he helps some neighborhood men with a puzzle, then arrives at a building full of disorganized piles of undelivered envelopes. Lots of soft blues and white give artist Morton the chance to use other colors to make seemingly random details pop, and lend nearly every page a sense of dreamlike wonder as Song heads to the Walled City of Kowloon (and elsewhere) to try deliver letters. There are gangsters and acrobats, plus Song’s friends and family in the mix along with a few mysteries besides the undelivered letters, and a tragedy or two. This […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Short & Skinny

Short & Skinny by Mark Tatulli. Little, Brown, 2018. 9780316440516. 250pp. Cartoonist Mark Tatulli’s autobiographical graphic novel will appeal to lots of creative kids, and it’s also custom made for fanboys like me who were a certain age in 1977. Mark is small for his age, and dreams of being a superhero, talking to the girl he likes, and being free of junior high bullies. His solution: send away for several of the muscle building kits advertised in the back of comic books, and then return to school after vacation a changed man. But over the summer something changes him more: seeing Star Wars! Mark wants to create his own parody of the movie (and does), which set him on a path to a decades-long career in TV before he starts making comics and illustrating books.  

Tags

Guest Book Review: The Typewriter

Thanks to Robert for the guest review!

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: The Wild Cat

The Wild Cat (Mr. Badger and Mrs Fox #6) by Brigitte Luciani (story) & Eve Tharlet (art). Translation by Nathan Sacks. Lerner / Graphic Universe, 2018. 9781541500877. 32pp.  http://amzn.to/2Pn41MH The books in this kindhearted graphic novel series about badgers and foxes living together are as sweet as they are beautiful. After a show featuring the masked wild cat named Sylvester, Ginger, a young fox, wants to be just like him. When the young badgers tell her foxes don’t climb trees, she shows them otherwise, but then Sylvester and his companions (three genets) make fun of Ginger. She sets off to figure out whether or not she’s a real fox, and gets the assurance she needs from new friends and her Papa. (Plus her dad knows a secret about Sylvester, and calls the not so wild cat on his crap.)  

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Fake Blood

Fake Blood by Whitney Gardner.  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. 9781481495561. 336pp. http://amzn.to/2EdN5XH This new entry into the late grade school/tween graphic novel market stars AJ and his friends, who are just starting the 6th grade. AJ is the kind of kid librarians love: he boasts about the number of books he read over the summer and the summer reading prize he won (sunglasses). He likes Nia, the smartest girl at Spoons Middle School. She is obsessed with vampires. His sister BB offers AJ some classic advice (be yourself), but instead of taking it he “borrows” her copy of Moonlight (a thinly veiled stand-in for Twilight) and gives himself a vampire makeover complete with glitter and hair care products. After AJ convinces Nia he’s a vampire, the story picks up a bit of speed, and it’s clear that there’s a real (and not very threatening) vampire at school, too. The illustrations are charming, and what I like […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Coda Volume 1

Coda Volume 1 by Simon Spurrier & Matías Bergara. BOOM!, 2018. 9781684153213. Contains #1 – #4 of the comic book series. http://amzn.to/2DOx4HA Sometimes coloring is so good it’s impossible to ignore. (See: Laura Martin’s work in the Planetary series and Issabelle Arsenault’s in Jane, the fox & me). Other times it just adds to the fun. (See any issue of Adventure Time or Invincible, and every book of Trondheim and Sfar’s Dungeon series). But once in a while colors are so berserk and eye catching I can’t understand how they work together — examples include Tula Lotay’s colors in Supreme: Blue Rose, the covers for Slam!, and now Matías Bergara’s insane mix of gradients in Coda. There may be thousands of colors on the first page, an illustration of a rotting husk of a giant dragon.  Somehow they work together to perfectly create this broken, post-apocalyptic, former high fantasy world. The writing is great, too —- Spurrier’s first bit of […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Grass Kings Volume 1

Grass Kings Volume One by Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins.  BOOM! Studios, 2018. 978168415115.  Reprints #1-#6 of the series.  176pp including a cover gallery and additional artwork.  https://amzn.to/2JYpDxJ The Grass Kingdom isn’t too far from the city of Cargill, on some land by the sea. It’s a place full of people seeking the freedom to live as they like. They’re ruled by Robert, but he’s been doing way too much drinking since he lost his daughter and his wife. The Kingdom is surviving because it has an airport and everything its residents need, including its own police officer. After Robert gives shelter to a woman on the run, all hell breaks loose. The Sheriff of Cargill wants her back, and sends in a thug, Big Dan, to provoke a response. It all ends up with a threat against all the residents of the Grass Kingdom, and they show everyone why that’s a very bad idea. Jenkins’ watercolors are fantastic, and […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Kitten Construction Company

  Kitten Construction Company: Meet the House Kittens by John Patrick Green. First Second, 2018. 9781626728301. Mewburg is building a new mansion for its Mayor, but the City Planner won’t consider Marmalade’s design because she’s a cute little kitten and “just too adorable to be taken seriously.” After meeting Sampson, an electrical engineer / kitten who’s only been able to work as a dishwasher, they form an all-kitten construction firm and set out to prove their skills. This is a wonderfully silly book that I wouldn’t mind reading over and over again to the right kid. Green’s art and comics keep getting better, which is saying something since his last book was Hippopotamister. A big shout out to Cat Caro’s textured colors — they really up the cute quotient.

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: The Unwanted

The Unwanted: Stories of The Syrian Refugees by Don Brown. HMHTeen, 2018. 9781328810151. 105pp. Brown’s graphic novel opens with protests in Syria in March 2011, and the violence that followed. As Syrians flee the country and Assad’s soldiers, others join the fight. Hardships plus the possibility of torture and execution force many to make difficult choices for themselves and their families. Overloaded ships overturn at sea. Profiteers are everywhere.  It’s not clear who refugees can trust or where they can go, but leaving seems like a better, safer bet than staying. The book doesn’t follow a single refugee on her harrowing journey, but instead summarizes the experiences of many based on diverse sources. Individual faces are often drawn somewhat indistinctly, more so in crowd scenes. Despite the circumstances, there are moments of joy and hope. The book made me realize both the scope and scale of what’s happening, and in giving specific examples (with sources cited) and bringing different people […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Onibi

Onibi: Diary of a Yokai Ghost Hunter by Atelier Sento (aka Cécile Brun and Olivier Pichard). Translated from French by Marie S. Velde. Tuttle, 2018. 9784805314968. 128pp. In a small shop in Suruwada, a young French tourist (Cécile) buys a magical camera with a lens polished by monks. Cécile and her boyfriend Olivier are told it can photograph supernatural creatures, or Yokai. As they explore the area and its stories, Cécile snaps a photo which is printed in blue at the end of each story (see below). The tales of the yokai are true, and invisible creatures are everywhere (including foxes and the worm-like bura bura along with more familiar types of ghosts). Brun and Pichard were inspired to write this graphic novel on their trips to Niigata Prefecture and the folks they met there. Their love the people, the place, and in particular the food comes through. The creative team’s pencils and watercolors give great expressiveness to faces, colors, […]

Tags