Category: book review

Graphic Novel Review: Lorna by Benji Nate

Lorna by Benji Nate. Silver Sprocket, 2019. 9781945509346. 56pp. Lorna is a young woman with a bad attitude, green hair, a knife, and a cat she loves (because it’s a cold-blooded killer with no remorse). She’s cruel, mean, and kinda adorable. The second half of the book is a flashback to her terrible first date in high school. The fact that she’s talking to her date’s skull at the beginning of the sequence is a bit of foreshadowing. This is all much more fun than it sounds, and library censor-bait in the best way. Benji Nate also wrote and drew the happily strange graphic novel Catboy, about Olive and her best friend Henry, a humanoid black cat. It looks parent friendly but is creepier than it sounds.

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Charlotte Brontë before Jane Eyre by Glynnis Fawkes

Charlotte Brontë before Jane Eyre by Glynnis Fawkes. Introduction by Alison Bechdel. Disney Hyperion, 2019. 9781368023290. 92pp plus a postscript, discussions of source material for pages, and a bibliography. This graphic novel opens in 1837 with Charlotte Brontë receiving a letter from Robert Southey warning her against writing for celebrity. The story then flashes back to her family life at Haworth Parsonage where, as a child, she lost not only her mother but her two older sisters in the space of a few years. Her father sent her to school, hoping to make her into a teacher and prepare her for her future. She and her remaining sisters and brother have vivid imaginations and make up stories together. Charlotte has ambitions of writing and publish, and this seems to carry her sisters along later in life as they struggle to work as teachers and governesses. My favorite moment in Brontë’s life story is when, as a student, she gets in […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: The Lady Doctor by Ian Williams

The Lady Doctor by Ian Williams. Pennsylvania State University Press, 2019. 9780271083742. 249pp. (mostly duotone). Dr. Lois Pritchard is dealing with a lot. The other doctors she works with want her to become a partner, but she’s not sure that’s right for her. The National Health Service may soon be privatized (or at least partially so). One of her patients keeps hounding her for the pills he’s addicted to, her mother, who she hasn’t spoken to for 20 years, is suddenly trying to contact her and there are always more and more patients. These include an exhausting array of repeat offenders like the local Casanova who’s spreading STIs, and the guy with the Pinocchio tattoo on his junk. Dr. Pritchard worries she’s too cold, frequently drinks with a friend to unwind, and makes many mistakes but along the way does a great deal of good. This story is really well balanced and human, and I particularly loved Williams’ use of […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: The Grande Odalisque and Olympia

The Grande Odalisque by Florent Ruppert, Bastien Vives, and Jérome Mulot. Europe Comics, 2018. 124pp. http://www.europecomics.com/album/the-grande-odalisque/ The Grande Odalisque: Olympia by Florent Ruppert, Bastien Vives, and Jérome Mulot. Europe Comics, 2018. 135pp. http://www.europecomics.com/album/2-olympia/ Carol and Alex are daring art thieves who bring on a third partner, Sam, to help them pull off their most daring job yet — stealing The Grande Odalisque (a painting) from the Louvre in broad daylight. The action sequences are some of the best you’ll see in comics, and Mulot and Ruppert add absurd touches that made me laugh. On of my favorites is in the opening pages of the first book, when Alex is distracted because she’s getting dumped while she’s supposed to be helping Carol escape from a museum. There’s also a lot of humorous dialogue, mostly about sex and relationships. Fun stuff. In the sequel, the thieves run into problems with a mafia boss who demands they steal three paintings in one night. […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: The Man Who Came Down The Attic Stairs by Celine Loup

The Man Who Came Down The Attic Stairs by Celine Loup. Archaia, 2019. 9781684153527. 48pp. Publisher’s Rating: Suggested for Mature Readers. After moving into a new house and giving birth to Roslin, Emma is overwhelmed. Her daughter won’t stop screaming, and it’s not colic — she’s frightened. Emma’s husband Thomas never complains, but he has changed. Emma’s not sure who he is, and she’s afraid that he’s a danger to the baby. This horror story’s black and white images fully convey everything Emma feels and experiences. Highly recommended, but not for kids.

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Creation by Sylvia Nickerson

Creation by Sylvia Nickerson. Drawn & Quarterly, 2019. 9781770463776. 192pp. A new mother (an artist) reflects on living and creating in Hamilton, Ontario — “known as the armpit of Ontario…” — a city struggling through a transition from it’s industrial past. Gentrification is underway, there’s a lot of poverty, people are being displaced and excluded. Even though art is reinvigorating the neighborhood, the artist’s studio used to be cheap, substandard housing. Is she part of the problem? Motherhood isn’t quite the overwhelmingly hopeful, joy-filled time it’s normally presented as in the media, but it tilts toward joy. Somehow so does life in the imperfect city. Nickerson’s black, white and gray art suits the setting — it feels a bit hazy, like the pollution from the dead factories is still hanging about. She illustrates Hamilton’s neighborhoods with more detail than the people in it, though she’s able to invest everyone she draws, even when she uses only a few lines, with […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Captive of Friendly Cove: Based on the Secret Journals of John Jewett by Rebecca Goldfield and Mike Short

Captive of Friendly Cove: Based on the Secret Journals of John Jewett by Rebecca Goldfield and Mike Short. Fulcrum, 2015. 9781936218110. 162pp including a list of commonly spoken words in the Nootkan language. This graphic novel is based on the experience of sailor and blacksmith John Jewett, who lived for years as a captive of the Mowachaht people on Vancouver Island between 1803 and 1805. After the ship he was on, the Boston, arrived to trade in Friendly Cove, the ship’s captain insulted the local chief, Maquinna. His men later returned and slaughtered the crew, sparing the lives of Jewett because of his skills, and Thompson, because Jewett claimed he was Jewett’s father. After the ship’s goods were distributed at a potlatch and the ship burned, the men’s hope for rescue faded and they make a life for themselves, with Jewett creating jewelry, tools, and weapons. Overall they lived as well as their captors, and they come to understand how […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Taxi!: Stories from the Back Seat by Aimée de Jongh

Taxi!: Stories from the Back Seat by Aimée de Jongh. Conundrum, 2019. 9781772620399. 96pp. Taxi rides in four cities (Paris, Jakarta, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.) give de Jongh the chance to learn something about her drivers and to reveal a bit about herself. All of the rides are fascinating in their own way, though my favorites are probably the one in L.A. (it begins badly, but she manages to save it) and her ride in Jakarta, which starts out very out of control but ends with a deep, unexpected connection of the sort that I’ve only ever experienced far from home. This memoir is the result of de Jongh’s graphic novel The Return of the Honey Buzzard having led to a lot of international travel. ( Blossoms in Autumn is excellent, too.) This is a simple, somewhat indirect and brilliant memoir. De Jongh’s art is, as always, stunning.

Tags

Guest Review: Tiger vs Nightmare by Emily Tetri

Tiger vs. Nightmare by Emily Tetri. First Second, 2018. 978-1626725355. 65 pp. In this graphic novel for children, readers learn Tiger is lucky, so lucky that she has loving parents who dote on their only cub, a warm house, and any and all of the food she desires — not just raw meat- but exotic, homemade dishes. She also has a monster for her best friend. Monster lives in her bedroom,  eats dinner with Tiger, and stays up all night to combat any and all of the nightmares Tiger may have. Most of the time, Monster has no issue keeping watch so Tiger sleeps safely.  Unfortunately,  Tiger has “one of those days” that ensures a restless night. Monster vows to take his guard duties even more seriously than usual. When Nightmare shows up, Monster cannot scare him off. The two friends will have to work together to defeat Nightmare. This is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel for kids that even […]

Tags

Graphic Novel Review: Eileen Gray: A House Under the Sun by Charlotte Malterre-Barthes & Zosia Dzierzawska

Eileen Gray: A House Under the Sun by Charlotte Malterre-Barthes & Zosia Dzierzawska. Nobrow, 2019. 9781910620434. 155pp. including biographies of everyone involved and a bibliography. Eileen Gray was an artist, designer, and the architect best known for the now-famous house she created for her lover, architect Jean Badovici, on the coast in the South of France in the 1920s and early 1930s. This graphic novel is a biographical sketch centered around her work on that house, known as E-1027. It also includes scenes of her childhood, of her studying lacquerwork, and of other friendships, but her relationship with Badovici is at the center of the narrative. It’s clear he doesn’t understand her, and that costs him their relationship after he allows another architect to ruin E-1027 for Gray. I have a minor interest in architecture and had never heard of Gray. I picked up this book because everything Nobrow publishes deserves a look, and I’m so glad I did. This […]

Tags