What are you reading in October 2013?

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What are you reading in October 2013?

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1artturnerjr
Oct 1, 2013, 4:08pm

Happy October, everyone!

Finally got the time to sit down and start I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets! in earnest (I had better - it's due back at the library tomorrow). Man, is it strange.

2brianjungwi
Oct 1, 2013, 11:46pm

Just finished both volumes of Maus. So heavy, but I really liked the relationship explored between the son and father.

3wookiebender
Oct 2, 2013, 2:13am

I've been reading Saga on my iPad. I have to say, being able to buy issues at a tap (or two) is rather addictive.

4edgewood
Oct 6, 2013, 11:15pm

I'm really impressed & moved by The Nao of Brown. Great story, great art, great characters.

Looking forward to reading The Spirit Archives vol. 8. My public library has most or all of the 20+ collections!

5brianjungwi
Oct 6, 2013, 11:36pm

Finished reading Fun Home last night. I always have a soft spot for dysfunctional families/coming of age stories.

4/Edgewood: I read Eisner's book on his theory of comics: Comics and Sequential Art which features several Spirit episodes a few weeks ago. Made me want to read more Spirit (and Eisner) stuff.

6edgewood
Oct 7, 2013, 12:49am

> 5: The Spirit stories are big fun, but my favorite Eisner work is in his graphic novels, particularly A Contract With God and To The Heart of the Storm.

7jnwelch
Oct 7, 2013, 3:04pm

>3 wookiebender: Saga is looking like a really good series, Tania. I thought the second one even better than the first.

>4 edgewood: I'm a big fan of The Nao of Brown, Charlie. For me, it's one of the best I've ever read.

I just started Burma Chronicles, another Guy Delisle graphic travelogue/memoir.

8scificomics
Oct 11, 2013, 6:23pm

9sweetiegherkin
Oct 11, 2013, 10:04pm

> 2 Just started Maus today and was immediately pulled in. I probably could have sat there and read the whole thing straight through if I didn't have so many pressing things to do. :/

10brianjungwi
Oct 12, 2013, 12:11pm

>9 sweetiegherkin: I really enjoyed Maus, it deserves all the praise it has received. I read the each volume in a couple of sittings. Sometimes I had to stop, but it kept pulling me back.

>7 jnwelch: What did you think of Burma Chronicles? I enjoyed it almost as much as Pyongyang. I really like Delisle's work.

Just finished reading Planetary by Warren Ellis which I liked overall, great art, nice take on superheroes, etc., though I enjoyed Transmetropolitan more

11edgewood
Oct 14, 2013, 1:41am

In floppies this week, I liked Rocket Girl, the first issue of a new series by Amy Reeder. It's a retro-futuristic time-travel romp. Also a Multiple Warheads one-shot from madman Brandon Graham.

I picked up a few things at the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco yesterday: the new Love & Rockets annual, the latest K Chronicles collection from Keith Knight, several Supernatural Law collections from Batton Lash, The Big Feminist But anthology, and some promising books from less known artists.

12sweetiegherkin
Oct 14, 2013, 4:43pm

I just finished reading Maus early today and thoroughly enjoyed it, if enjoy is a word you can use for something that leaves you so emotionally devastated. Up next is Alison Bechdel's Fun Home.

brianjungwi, I take it from your most recent readings that you are also taking the CB/GN MOOC? I'm thinking you must have been the one who mentioned it on an earlier thread in this group. If that's the case, I have to thank you because otherwise I wouldn't have heard of the course being offered. If nothing else, it's been great to finally be motivated enough to read all these comics that I've been meaning to read for ages.

13jnwelch
Oct 14, 2013, 4:50pm

>10 brianjungwi: I'm liking Burma Chronicles a lot, Brian, and it's looking to approach the level of Pyongyang, which was so good. I like Delisle, too. I was not as happy with Jerusalem Chronicles. Among other things, I didn't think he really connected with the people there. But it's such a complex place, maybe I should have cut him some slack.

14apokoliptian
Oct 14, 2013, 9:36pm

>6 edgewood:
My all time favorite GN from Eisner is The Building. I really like his after WWII Spirit.

I've just finished reading Vimanarama that is a Vertigo hidden gem. Philip Bond's art is very fun, channeling a lot of Kirby. Some times, it reminded me of Mark Buckingham.

15brianjungwi
Oct 14, 2013, 10:40pm

12> Yes! I'm in the MOOC too! It also motivated me to pick up several books that I hadn't read yet. I enjoyed Fun Home, and am currently working on Palestine by Joe Sacco

13> I would agree that Jerusalem isn't as strong as Burma Chronicles or Pyongyang. I still like the day to day perspective he gives on life, but yes he does interact more with expats than locals it seems.

16sweetiegherkin
Oct 15, 2013, 8:13pm

> 15 Cool! You are clearly ahead of me in the reading ... I just got Palestine in from the library so that will be up next once I finish Fun Home.

17Death_By_Papercut
Oct 17, 2013, 11:19pm

Walking Dead Compendium 2
Redwall

Both are good so far.

18sweetiegherkin
Edited: Oct 18, 2013, 9:37pm

Finished up Fun Home and really enjoyed it; still mulling over the right way to describe it for a review though. Now I'm working on The Dark Knight Returns and am less compelled by it than I would have thought.

> 17 Glad you're enjoying them. I recall not being thrilled with Redwall myself, but that's just me.

19fiyrhouse
Oct 19, 2013, 3:52pm


Currently reading Sheltered 1-4 by Image, still getting through many of the DC villains issues, Crossed Badlands, Superior Spiderman, Walking Dead, The Arms of the Octopus arc running in the Marvel Specials and way too many others to list.

20sweetiegherkin
Oct 20, 2013, 1:16pm

Finished DKR and was disappointed by it. Onwards now to Palestine.

21apokoliptian
Edited: Oct 20, 2013, 6:40pm

> 20
I don't know, but after all the derivations of DKR, maybe the thunder has been stolen from the original work. Maybe my opinion can be suspect because I read it when I was 13 and its was overwhelming (even for a Marvel fan).

22apokoliptian
Oct 20, 2013, 4:22pm

I've finished reading Phonogram vol.2. It was good, but nothing compared to the first one. It is a collection of 7 one shots depicting the same night in a (magical) club. The best issues (chapters) are the Aster and Seth Bingos' ones (the latter by far).
The concept is good, but Gillen could not explain clearly up to now what phonomancery is. At least, it works as a good metaphor.
McKelvie's art is good as always.

23artturnerjr
Oct 20, 2013, 5:26pm

>20 sweetiegherkin: & 21

I recently saw the DC Universe Animated Dark Knight Returns film (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman:_The_Dark_Knight_Returns_(film)) and was pleasantly surprised at how much power the story retained for me after all these years. I think having first read it when great mainstream comics were the exception rather than the rule might have predisposed me to like it more than I otherwise would have, however.

24brianjungwi
Oct 21, 2013, 8:04am

DKR> I think part of the appeal for many was getting to see Batman beat up Supes

Having a Manga moment. Just finished the first volume of Attack on Titan because I wanted to see what the buzz was about. I think I may give the second volume a chance though the first really didn't grab me. Also starting Great Teacher Onizuka which was recommended by a friend.

25Death_By_Papercut
Oct 22, 2013, 4:47pm

Read Batman vs Predator just for fun. It's what you'd expect. Not great, not bad. Great art.

Going to start Hellblazer today.

26sweetiegherkin
Oct 23, 2013, 9:21pm

> 21, 23 Yes, I suspect that part of its fame was due to being different at the time. But nearly 30 years later, it's a whole other ballgame. However, I still enjoy other comics from that time, so there's more to it than that. The feeling of "this-is-good-but-it's-like-I-read-it-already-now-there's-so-many-others" was what I had with Miller's Batman: Year One, but I still enjoyed reading that.

> 24 Actually, I'm possibly the only comics reader who can't stand when characters from one series cross into another, so the whole Superman plot did not appeal to me. I'm sure you're right that others found that interesting though.

27artturnerjr
Oct 23, 2013, 9:41pm

>26 sweetiegherkin:

Batman: Year One is really a very affecting piece of work; it's the first story I ever read where I really fell in love with Jim Gordon as a character. Miller and David Mazzucchelli's Daredevil: Born Again is another powerful story arc from the same creative team; I thought it surpassed even Miller and Klaus Janson's previous work on the series, which was superb.

28sweetiegherkin
Oct 27, 2013, 8:37pm

> 27 Thanks for the info. I haven't read any of the Daredevil comics but now I know where to start if I do ever pick them up.

I finished up Planetary: Crossing Worlds fairly quickly. This was the only Planetary title I could find in my library and coming into the series later like this definitely took a bit of a toll. The first third of the book was me mostly just trying to figure out who was who.

Today I finally started Palestine for real (not the false starts I already mentioned here several times) and so far I'm not really feeling it. Still, it's early on so that might change.

29brianjungwi
Oct 27, 2013, 10:29pm

28> I think Palestine grows stronger, the first issue didn't particularly grab me either, but by the middle I was pretty much hooked.

30.Monkey.
Oct 28, 2013, 4:59am

>28 sweetiegherkin: I absolutely hated Palestine. I'll be curious to see what you think when you're done.

31sweetiegherkin
Oct 29, 2013, 11:32pm

> 29, 30 I don't like the illustrative style or lettering in Palestine. I feel like it gets in your face in a way I don't appreciate, like it's yelling at me. I'm guessing that maybe the author did want to push this issue(s) and make people aware of what he learned in Palestine so perhaps that obnoxiousness is intentional ? I do like the story overall though, with the various vignettes of injustices he sees. As I get further in (about half-way right now), it gets easier to ignore how I don't like the illustrations and lettering as I focus on the stories presented.

PolymathicMonkey, I'm interested to know why you hated the comic so much. In the beginning, I found that I was getting frustrated by how one-sided the narrative is, but then I realized that I don't really do that for historical fiction so I don't know why when the situation becomes modern, I felt that was a breaking point and then I got over it. I do find it annoying sometimes (although I also realize it's sheer honesty) how the author notes he is looking/hoping for trouble because it will make good copy for his comic, etc.

32Deni3
Oct 29, 2013, 11:41pm

I am finishing up Wormholes by Dennis Meredith and then I can't wait to read Horde (Enclave 3) by Ann Aguirre which came out today!

33.Monkey.
Oct 30, 2013, 4:53am

Well for one thing, I, also, hated the art. It was really really hard to tell distinct people apart, and just, unflattering and, no, did not like. And the other main issue I had was your other point. The thing is, historical fic is intentionally fictionalized so that someone can simply use it to make their own story with that as the backdrop, and whatnot. Sacco is telling a nonfic story, and he's being a journalist and makes such a stink about how he's just telling it like he sees it, no bias at all. Except he very clearly is telling one side of the story about how those evil Israelis are so awful and do so much horror. That's a bullshit way to tell about a situation, and if that's how he deals with things I have no interest in reading anything else he's done. blech.

34brianjungwi
Oct 30, 2013, 5:40am

31> I appreciated that the art was different,I get bored looking at similar visual styles all the time. I think the gritty feel it has went well with the book. I agree on the lettering though. I liked how he often commented on the fact that even the most horrible things would be used in a book so that he could make his name/make money. It's one of those topics I've heard from photographers in conflict zones, it's a weird thing to make one's living on another's misery, and there is a guilt/honesty there that can be interesting.

33> I thought it felt a bit like a Human Rights Watch report (with pictures). He's reporting what happened to witnesses for the most part. It felt more like a slice of life story that happened to take place in refugees camps/conflict zone. I don't think it simplified the situation at all while also highlighting voices most of us have never heard. I agree it would have been interesting if Sacco spent time with settlers, the israeli army, etc. It was fascinating to read about the lives he did report on, the people in detention camps, etc.

35.Monkey.
Oct 30, 2013, 6:18am

Yes, I think the stuff he did report on was interesting, but the stuff he then chose to say after going to Israel was just slamming on them and acting like an arrogant ass, as far as I as concerned. If you're going to attempt to tell the story, tell the whole thing. Trying to make it seem like these people were all just simple innocent victims of an evil murderous bully was a load of bunk. There's a huge deal more to it than that, and his effort was just an attempt to vilify the other side. I have zero respect for that.

36brianjungwi
Oct 30, 2013, 7:38am

35> My take, and I don't want to come off as too much of an apologist, was that it was hard for him, having spent the time with Palestinians to really relate to the Israeli side of the story. The last chapter fizzles in that regard, he just can't see other dimensions any longer, it's the price of getting too close to the story as a journalist. Which brings out the larger issues of objectivity in any journalism which I'm not really sure there is (or ever was). I think the part of the purpose was that he felt the whole story wasn't being told which is why he focused so heavily on the voices he chose. Looking at the time it was written I can recall a heavy focus on Israeli point of views while the Palestinians (at that time) were portrayed fairly one dimensionally by the media, so I take it as Sacco's attempt to see that the whole story was being told. I think he does shine a light on some issues (Palestinian political groups recruiting young children, power struggles among Palestinians) that we don't see and aren't exactly palatable.

37jnwelch
Oct 31, 2013, 4:49pm

Burma Chronicles was good, and now for something quite different, I'm reading Batgirl Volume 2.

38WadeGarret
Nov 1, 2013, 7:44pm

Reading: Saga; The Manhattan Projects; Dark Knights (Green Hornet and The Shadow); and Infinity

39sweetiegherkin
Nov 2, 2013, 5:59pm

> 34-36

The thing is, historical fic is intentionally fictionalized so that someone can simply use it to make their own story with that as the backdrop, and whatnot. Sacco is telling a nonfic story, and he's being a journalist and makes such a stink about how he's just telling it like he sees it, no bias at all. Except he very clearly is telling one side of the story about how those evil Israelis are so awful and do so much horror. (polymathicmonkey)

Oops, I see I wrote "historical fiction" in error; I was actually referring to nonfiction that did not deal with current affairs, I guess writing fiction after historical just became habit! I did find it a bit frustrating that Sacco kept mentioning his status as journalist because this did not feel as unbiased as journalism should at least attempt to be (although I completely agree with brianjungwi that objectivity in journalism has very real limits). For instance, there was a point in the book when he is interviewing someone who makes the claim that all the media in America is owned by Jewish people. That seemed like a very easy place for Sacco to add in a clarifying notation (like he does in other areas) to point out the actual statistics. Perhaps he just felt like that was an inflammatory enough statement not be taken seriously enough to warrant objection, but I think that was an area where he really failed to be a journalist.

But when I stopped looking at this as a piece of journalism (which, let's face it, it is not) but rather almost like a memoir of one guy's trip to Palestine, I started to like it more and appreciate it for the strengths it did have. It may not be an unbiased presentation of all sides to a complicated issue, but it does give voice to a lot of voiceless people. I appreciate how Sacco went to places where I would never dare to tread and spoke to everyday people about what they were experiencing. In this way, I agree with brianjungwi about the book being a bit like reading a HRW report with pictures. Hearing these kinds of stories are both horrifying and illuminating - and discomforting because they force us to look at complicated situations and evaluate or perhaps re-evaluate our opinions. They also force us to ask questions about what we should - or even can - do when we see atrocities.

The mid-East, and in particular relations between Palestine and Israel, is something no one is going to "solve" or even present fully in one book, whether it be in a comics format or otherwise. For me, I thought about how other books present (or could present) information and that again made me more receptive to Sacco's book. For instance, I had just recently finished Maus so that was very much on my mind. That was the story of one man's survival of the Holocaust, so it was all about his first-hand experiences. It did not strive to talk about the historical events that went in to the rise of Nazism and the beginning of WWII, it did not talk about how many everyday German citizens were unaware of what was happening in concentration camps or trying to resist Nazism in their own ways, it did not talk about how many risked their own lives to save Jewish friends and neighbors. Instead, it gave a pretty bleak blanket picture of all German soldiers as evil soulless people, who at best could be bribed into allowing some concentration camp prisoners a few meager privileges. But I loved that book because it told real stories and didn't shy away from talking about the horribleness of a real situation. It was not designed to be a tome telling the whole story of everything I mentioned above. Likewise, when I began viewing Palestine in a similar way - of course in this case, it's not first-hand experiences per se as it is Sacco's writing down other people's first-hand experiences - I had more sympathy for the fact that Sacco didn't try to contextualize everything but simply showed what things were happening as they unfolded. There are obviously major differences, mostly especially that Sacco is claiming some amount of disinterest and therefore lack of bias, but it did help change my own biases toward the subject and the book. (And please let me make clear lest anyone be confused, I am NOT in any way trying to say that Israelis are equivalent to Nazis, I am just trying to connect different things I've read together to enrich my overall reading experiences.)

One of the things that occurred to me after I thought of the two books in close proximity is that it's not so much that Sacco is saying all Israelis are "those evil Israelis" as Polymathicmonkey says, but that the soldiers are definitely particularly brutal. They seem to be "drunk with power," so to speak. This made me think about those famous sociological/psychological experiments done in the 50s or 60s to explore how it was that Nazi soldiers could be so horrible and brutal, and the conclusions that most "everyday Joes" would end up doing something violent to another person simply because someone in authority told them to go ahead and do so. Perhaps a take-away point isn't so much that any one group (be it political or ethnic or what-have-you) is "evil" so much as that certain situations (particularly anything that involves military force) facilitate the devolving of people very quickly into something forceful and violent. Meanwhile, everyone on the outside is very quick to want to make things simple and clear, dividing people into "good" and "evil" factions, and looking for scapegoats where they can.

While reading this book, I also started thinking about the atrocities we saw in Abu Ghraib and the prisoner abuse there certainly mirrored some of the things Sacco writes about Palestine. (For me, the passages about prisoner life were some of the most heart-wrenching and compelling parts of the book.) Then I started thinking about a hypothetical comic book about Abu Ghraib. If the book showed only the one side of the story (the prisoners), I would still think it was a book worthy of being read for addressing an important topic that most would shy away from reporting. If it went on to talk about the soldiers' perspective also, it would be even more meaningful. If it went even further and spliced in some scenes of everyday Americans going about their business ignorant (willfully or otherwise) about these atrocities or aware of them but feeling helpless to do anything to stop them, that would be an excellent book. So I think ultimately, that's the problem with Palestine. I appreciate it for bringing a perspective that American media does by and large ignore. But I do think it could use some more alternate viewpoints to make it more meaningful.

However, that being said, I think the point of having a series of vignettes and little contextualization from Sacco was to force the reader to make his or her own judgment calls. Again, I think this does not seem fitting per se with Sacco's purported role as journalist. But I do think it's a good book not to rush through but to stop and think about things after each vignette. A few of these stood out for me in particular because they really provided food for thought. One was an early one called "Valley of Kidron," in which some street children take Sacco on an unrequested and really unwanted tour and then demand they give him money. Afterwards, he stomps away from them angry, cursing under his breath and disbelieving everything they had said. It's a small scene and it's not referenced again, but I think it sets the reader up for the idea that Sacco is being taken for a ride, literally and sometimes figuratively, throughout the book. He is reporting what people tell him, but there's always the possibility that what they say is not true, or is not the whole truth. Another vignette was called "Law" and presented the idea that there's all kinds of morals out there and which ones should the be the ones respected? When they clash, which ones should supersede which ones? There's Islamic law (brought up because of a case involving an honor killing), Israeli law, the Geneva Convention, and U.N. resolutions all competing with one another. Sacco concludes this part by noting that the soldiers walking about everywhere are for all intensive purposes the law. The final one that really made me think was called "Women" and dealt with a very small subsection of the population concerned about women's rights in Palestine. The women Sacco interviews actually address the questions straightforward enough and the way Sacco presents the illustrations, it's as though the reader is being asked these questions: "If we get a state, do we retreat back to the way things were, or do we change things? Will economic development be considered priority and women's issues left behind. We're attached to the national movement ... Any regression in the national movement and we're the hardest hit people ... The intifada isn't over ... But people figure, "If we lose Palestine, why worry about women?" (p. 136) As someone who cares a lot more about women's rights than politics (although of course recognizing that the two are almost inextricably combined), the questions raised explicitly and implicitly in this short part were particularly interesting and relevant.

I appreciated that the art was different,I get bored looking at similar visual styles all the time. I think the gritty feel it has went well with the book. (brianjungwi)
Well, I do like to see diversity in art styles, but this particular very cartoonish look is one I am not really a fan of in most cases. For this book, it felt very out of place with the serious story being told. I actually did not feel like the art was gritty at all, and that's why I didn't like it. A more gritty illustration style would be more difficult to stomach but I think more fitting with the subject matter.

I liked how he often commented on the fact that even the most horrible things would be used in a book so that he could make his name/make money. It's one of those topics I've heard from photographers in conflict zones, it's a weird thing to make one's living on another's misery, and there is a guilt/honesty there that can be interesting. (brianjungwi)
Hmm, there were times where I felt like this was true. For instance, when Sacco would note how people with next to nothing were offering what little they had (the seat near the heater, the best place to sleep, special meals, etc.), these were very touching scenes. But there were other times when Sacco was just walking around hoping something bad would happen so he could write it down, which just felt annoying. Yes, it is very honest and I suppose I should appreciate that he was being that intimate about his own down-fallings, but I just found these to be a waste of space. Write about what happens, don't write about what you hope might happen so that you could have something interesting to write about.

Trying to make it seem like these people were all just simple innocent victims of an evil murderous bully was a load of bunk. There's a huge deal more to it than that, and his effort was just an attempt to vilify the other side. (Polymathicmonkey)

I tried in my ramblings above to address the issue of "vilify(ing) the other side," which I don't think was Sacco's intention. However, I do agree that sometimes Sacco went a little too far in trying to make the Palestinians seem like "simple innocent victims." For instance, he would note times where people were beaten on the spot or their relatives' houses razed, which are actions I cannot condone and I do not think belong in a democratic state where people should have a right to a fair justice system. But he would write about these situations as if the people involved had done nothing at all, while simultaneously noting that they had thrown stones or Molotov cocktails at others. This seemed to happen a lot more in the beginning of the book, and I found it very frustrating.

My take, and I don't want to come off as too much of an apologist, was that it was hard for him, having spent the time with Palestinians to really relate to the Israeli side of the story. ... I think the part of the purpose was that he felt the whole story wasn't being told which is why he focused so heavily on the voices he chose. Looking at the time it was written I can recall a heavy focus on Israeli point of views while the Palestinians (at that time) were portrayed fairly one dimensionally by the media, so I take it as Sacco's attempt to see that the whole story was being told. I think he does shine a light on some issues (Palestinian political groups recruiting young children, power struggles among Palestinians) that we don't see and aren't exactly palatable. (brianjungwi)

Very much agreed. I think the book could have been excellent if he had chosen to perhaps contextualize a bit more or chosen to at least speak with some everyday Israelis ... even if the media focus at the time was (and still is to some extent) more on the Israeli POV, that POV is usually whoever is high up in the political food chain. Spending some time with lower- and middle-class Israelis and hearing their stories would probably have revealed a different story and he might have learned something even more interesting, but we'll never know. BUT the book he does give us is interesting enough for highlighting those stories we don't hear much about, including the power struggles and the voices of subgroups, such as the women's rights activists I mentioned earlier. I'm about three-quarters of the way through the book now, and I've certainly warmed to it a great deal more than the first chapter or two. There are definitely some high points, but it's still not a *great* work, in my opinion.

40brianjungwi
Nov 2, 2013, 9:24pm

wow. great post, where's the +1 button?

41sweetiegherkin
Nov 3, 2013, 12:32am

> 40 haha, thanks! I realized somewhere in there that it was getting very long, but all through the week when I had little time to read as I was running about getting work and such done, I was ruminating on this book on the backburner of my mind so I was happy to have a chance to write some of that down.