Category: book review

Graphic Novel Review: Mimi and the Wolves Volume 1 by Alabaster Pizzo

Mimi and the Wolves Volume 1 by Alabaster Pizzo. Avery Hill, 2019. 9781910395486. I need to rave about Alabaster Pizzo’s art. The anthropomorphic animals she draws are (mostly) wonderfully cute (the wolves can look a bit sinister.) Her writing plays against the cuteness in the most perfect way. It’s like a deep, PG-13 version of Animal Crossing that looks better because it’s drawn in black and white. Mimi is a garland-making mouse who lives with her mate, Bobo. Ever since she was little she’s had a recurring nightmare full of weird creatures and violence (it doesn’t scare her). After taking a concoction to help her have a lucid dream, she speaks to the Holy Venus in her dream. Mimi paints the symbol Holy Venus shows her onto leaves and soon makes a friend who knows about Venus, too — Egort, a wolf. He tells her about Venus, talismans, and spirit guides. Bobo is alarmed — he tells Mimi its the […]

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Graphic Novel Review: Edison Beaker Creature Seeker: The Lost City by Frank Cammuso

Edison Beaker Creature Seeker: The Lost City by Frank Cammuso. Viking, 2019. 9780425291962. 176pp. Edison Beaker survived the Darkness, brought back the keystone, and fought Baron Umbra, but his uncle still won’t let him help with Creature Seeker business. His Grandma reveals that she knows about their adventure, and tells them about the Lost City of Pharos (which she needs them to find) — Edison is the Torch Bearer, and needs to bring the Spark there. Soon they’re being chased by underlings, reunited with their friends Knox and Alexander (a giant cat), and on their way to face Baron Umbra again. (He’s a one-eyed, flaming skull with shadow tentacles? Very cool.) Cammuso’s graphic novels have everything I need in a kids book — great plot, fun dialogue, wonderful drawings. I read everything he publishes, and recommend his books for libraries everywhere.

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Graphic Novel Review: Invisible Kingdom Volume One: Walking the Path by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward

Invisible Kingdom Volume One: Walking the Path by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward. Berger Books / Dark Horse, 2019. 9781506712277. Contains issues #1 – #5. The book opens with Grix, captain of a cargo vessel, making a crash landing on a remote moon. She’s behind on deliveries for Lux (an interstellar Amazon). As she and her crew try to repair their ship and get back on schedule, they discover evidence that they’re being used as part of an illegal payoff. Soon they’re on the run from the economic giant and who knows what else. There’s a space battle. On planet Duni, in the capital city, Vess is blindfolded as she walks the Unseen Path, trying to get to the Unseen Gate, so that she can dedicate herself to the Renunciation and become a red-hooded none. (That’s not a spelling error.) She makes it, but as she begins her duties away from the world, she finds evidence of a conspiracy, […]

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Book Review: Archipelago: An Atlas of Imagined Islands

Archipelago: An Atlas of Imagined Islands edited + with an essay titled “Islomania” by Huw Lewis-Jones, prologue by Chris Riddell, 90+ illustrations by almost as many artists. Thames & Hudson, 2019. 9780500022566. 192pp. including notes about each of the contributors. Each of the island maps in the book is accompanied by a few paragraphs about it. The landscapes are usually beautiful and often bewildering or amusing, and each has its own style. My favorite maps are Xlibris by comics creator Kevin Cannon, who filled his island with stacks of books and locations like Rare Signed First Edition Mountain and Free Coffee Coast. It is, of course, full of happy readers and cats. Graphic novelist Isabel Greenberg’s island includes Angria and Gondal, which were invented by the Brontë kids (and I believe are the subject of Greenberg’s next book). Illustrator James Gulliver Hancock’s Laputa-Nova: Gulliver’s Island Of Perpetual Self Realisation & Connection is full of beautiful colors and simple shapes, and […]

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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.

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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. […]

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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.

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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 […]

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