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The House that Groaned by Karrie Fransman

The House that Groaned (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Karrie Fransman

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422273,462 (3.33)6
Title:The House that Groaned
Authors:Karrie Fransman
Info:Square Peg (2012), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:2013 challenge

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The House that Groaned by Karrie Fransman (2012)



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I haven't read many graphic novels because I'm really not a fan, so I wasn't sure about weighing in on this. But then I read one that really moved me (see next review). I see now why it is such an exacting genre.
There are words and there are pictures. Ideally, the words and the pictures work together to tell a story that just words, or just pictures won't tell. When I was young, I saw this lovely synergy come about in numerous beautifully inked superhero comics where characters came to life through the draughtsman's command of composition, shadow and body language. And the dialogue was there too as part of the whole design. I had no interest in stupid super heroes but they made me be interested. I enjoyed the drawing and lettering of love comics too. I get what Roy Lichtenstein saw in them. I also loved the visual plainsong of classic comics, so neatly drawn, the colours slightly browned, their stand-offish lettering filling enormous speech balloons. And don't get me started on Edward Gorey. Swoon!
Unfortunately, 'The House That Groaned' has none of this magic. The artwork is too clunky for me to enjoy. It's all done in a series of monochrome blue-greens where the darks and lights fight each other rather than coalesce. It's like a book full of drawings of people by someone who hates to draw people. Most of the frames suffer from poor composition which makes them confusing and hard to 'read'. This is a form of storytelling that needs a cinematographer's editing eye to get to the kernel of every frame. Think of Vittorio Storaro's highly populated scenes in 'The Last Emperor' and how the eye is never confused because he composes the frame for clarity first, letting the beauty, tragedy, or ugliness follow.
There's a scene in this book where schoolgirls tear off their clothes and dance around naked at boarding school. It's one of the better moments where the frames come together enough to sing a bit. And yet, I recently came across a similar sequence in 'Skippy Dies' by Paul Murray. No pictures, just a white page of words that make me feel the heat of the gym while my eyes water from the smell of hormones and Axe. In this book neither the pictures nor the words quite do this, jointly or severally.

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1 vote dmarsh451 | Mar 31, 2013 |
For a book that covers body image & loneliness this is a darkly amusing and beautiful book. It’s deceptively simple in one way with, using stereotypes and simple character backgrounds to set off a whole heap of chaos. Its juxtaposition here, the exaggeration and interaction, the lovely washed out blue artwork at odds with the text that make it a delightfully exciting read. The glutton hoax calls the dieter during midnight feasts, the Barbie doll starts a doomed relationship with her neighbour who only ensures perfection retouching photographs, the ignored old lady literally fades into the background (have fun spotting her whilst feeling guilt at her awful situation).

It not really for the faint of heart (one of the characters sexualises the diseased & dying) but it’s interesting and err.. fun and comes very recommended. It's got great reviews from those new to comics.. if you want to dip your toe in.

It has a website over at
http://www.thehousethatgroaned.com/ ( )
2 vote clfisha | Nov 26, 2012 |
Showing 2 of 2
They say that old houses have character, but in Karrie Fransman’s The House That Groaned, the old Victorian where this story is set might as well be a character itself. Built in 1865, it seems to have been left on its own to rot and break apart from the inside out, much like many of its current occupants. Yet, if the building was properly maintained, the lives of those inside would not be compelled to intersect in such a dramatic way. Pipes slip apart allowing conversations to drift down from the upper floors, the boiler bangs with such ferocity it sounds like angry knocking, and stairs buckle under foot, landing one tenant at another’s front door. Fransman allows the rooms’ walls to act as panel borders, and the gutters are filled with the house itself; its machinations evident, bridging the gaps between people’s lives.
added by skyekat | editInfinite Earths, Kat Sicard (Jan 25, 2012)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0224086812, Paperback)

Introducing a fresh and utterly original new star in the graphic novel world.
141 Rottin Road
'A cosy, one-bedroom apartment on the first floor of a charming Victorian conversion. Newly decorated and with a separate kitchen and reception room. Located just a bus ride away from a wide range of shops, restaurants and bars.'
Welcome to The House that Groaned and the six lonely inhabitants of its separate flats, characters so at odds with themselves and their bodies that they could only have stepped out of the pages of a comic novel. There's Barbara, our make-up artist heroine and man-made blonde bombshell; Matt, the photographic retoucher who can't touch; Janet, the tormented dietician; twenty-something Brian, the diseaseophile whose sexual penchant takes him to the edge of perversion; old Mrs Durbach, who literally blends in to the background; and the gloriously fleshy and hedonistic Marion, matriarch of the Midnight Feasters. Behind the house's anonymous facade, the building is decaying. As pipes explode and walls collapse, events force the residents out of their doors and into each others lives - with dramatic consequences.
Exploring the themes of body image, sexuality and the loneliness and isolation of contemporary urban life, The House that Groaned is a modern-day fairy tale full of magic realism and farcical symbolism which will woo both comic fans and attract new readers to the medium.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:45 -0400)

'The House that Groaned' is a modern-day fairytale full of magic realism and farcical symbolism which will woo both comic fans and attract new readers to the medium.

(summary from another edition)

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