Category: book review

Graphic Novel Review: Dementia 21

Dementia 21 by Shintaro Kago. Translator Rachel Matt Thorne. Fantagraphics, 2018.  9781683961062. 294pp. Includes an interview with Kago by Gary Groth, and a few piece of surreal, full-color art. – Seventeen strange and humorous tales about home health aide Yukie Sakai. She tries her best to earn good feedback scores while helping her elderly patients, but that’s not easy when they’re cursed, when the number of her patients multiplies endlessly, and when one old woman’s dementia and super powers combine to explode everyone she forgets. The tale of AI powered dentures was totally creepy, and it was followed by a purely funny story in which Yukie tries to care for an elderly giant hero, Redman, who once defended Earth from evil aliens. Recommended if you like manga in-jokes, and if you laugh at the same time you cringe.

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Gideon Falls Volume 1

Gideon Falls Volume 1: The Black Barn by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, and Dave Stewart. Image, 2018. 9781534308527. Collects #1 – #6. Publisher’s Rating: M / Mature. – Gideon Falls is a quiet little town, but something is seriously wrong there. The new pastor seems to sense it even before he’s under suspicion for murder. Norton knows it’s evil incarnate, and he’s trying to figure it out by combing through the city’s garbage and cataloging his finds. But he’s just been released from the hospital, and his therapist is about ready to have him committed again. Some think a holy war is underway. At the center of everything is the terrifying image of a black barn. – Lemire has been one of my favorite comics creators since the publication of Essex County. Kudos to his writing, Andrea Sorrentino’s shadowy art, and Dave Stewart’s colors in this volume. I filled my teenage years with supernatural horror, and maybe that’s why graphic […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: The Lost Path

The Lost Path by Amélie Fléchais & Jonathan Garnier, illustrated by Amélie Fléchais. Lion Forge / Cub House, 2017. 9781941302446. Published as an oversized hardcover, which the art deserves. Three kids get lost in a forest with only a treasure map and their overactive imaginations. (One kids sees everything as robots.) There are many strange creatures including dancing porcupines, a giant sheep, and the coolest looking owl that’s ever been drawn. As the book switches back and forth between color and black-and-white illustrations, and throughout it left me with the sense that I was missing something, but in a wonderful way that will have me re-reading it over and over. It’s magical, and will become one of those graphic novels that I give every kid I know.

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation

Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation by Ari Folman, illustrations by David Polonsky (with a few by Hilda Noam).  Pantheon, 2018. 9781101871799. 149pp including an afterward and notes from Folman on adapting the diary. In order to adapt Anne Frank’s diary, Folman, Polonsky, and Noam made bold choices. This book does not contain every word and detail from the original — instead it’s spacious, interpretive, and altogether wonderful. It gives itself enough room to be a great graphic novel, to establish the time and place Anne Frank lived, and to share what was going on in her head while she hid (with her family and others) in the secret apartment above her father’s business. The terror of being discovered is always there, but so is the boredom of the situation. The focus is more on Anne and her life, though, and particularly her friend Kitty (her name for her diary). Her poor attitude and realistic relationships with her mother and […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: My Beijing

My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder by Nie Jun. Translated by Edward Gauvin. Lerner / Graphic Universe, 2018. 9781541526426. 128pp including sketches in the back. These amusing stories of Yu’er and her loving grandfather are filled with quiet magic. When she wants to train to swim in the Special Olympics, she’s not allowed in the pool, but her grandfather rigs up a harness and a rope and teaches her to swim in the trees. When neighborhood bullies injur a butterfly, Yu’Er makes a new friend who takes it to Bug Paradise, an empty lot full of flowers and plants where Yu’Er listens to an impromptu natural concert. I don’t want to be more specific as the way the stories reveal themselves is beautiful. I think I can add that one reminded me of my favorite part of Peter Pan, and two involve a very gentle, dreamlike form of time travel. Nie Jun’s love for Beijing’s hutongs (the narrow lanes […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Herakles Book 1

Herakles Book 1 by Édouard Cour.  Lion Forge / The Magnetic Collection, 2018. 9781942367499. 157pp with a Greece-centric map of the world and character guide, plus orange endpapers (a bold choice!) The cover’s matte finish and gold foil give this graphic novel a lot of shelf appeal. Inside, the sketchy art looks like a combination of pencils and inks, and Cour is great at creating a sense of speed and power, particularly during the fight scenes. The book is alternately dark and moody, and full of deadpan laughs. Herakles is haunted by ghosts of those who’ve died at his hands or because of him — it’s not an exaggeration to say he’s a mass murderer. This sad, heroic version of the myths is epically readable with just enough full frontal male nudity to keep it out of all but the most daring high school libraries.

Tags

Nonfiction Book Review: What Shape Is Space?

What Shape Is Space? by Giles Sparrow. Thames & Hudson, 2018. 9780500293669. 142pp including an index and list for further reading. http://amzn.to/2V10MP8 – I read this in a hotel bar full of screaming and moaning football fans while waiting for my daughter, who was attending a Brockhampton concert, and it still managed to hold my interest! There is no greater praise I can offer a nonfiction book. – This serves as a great primer/review of the history of human views of space and the way we calculate the size of the universe. It also offers a math-free overview of string theory and the definition of a universe, discusses why scientists think dark matter and dark energy are out there, plus explains black holes and the possible ends of all things. – I love that the text is different sizes. (see the image that’s part of this review) I easily skimmed the big text for topics I was interested in, skipped […]

Tags

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