What We Are Reading: Graphic Novels
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Hi - saw a post recommendation for John Lewis' graphic trilogy MARCH and ordered the first one for January 2017.
I'll probably kick off the New Year with Ben Aaronovich's Rivers of London: body work. It's a graphic novel format short story for those who can't get enough of the book series.
Hi, I'm new, but I love manga, superheroes and graphic novels, so I thought this would be a good place to come. I am hoping to read what little manga I own that isn't as of yet read and to add to my collections in the coming year. This includes but is not limited to the entire Pandora Hearts series.
(I have read about a fourth of this series and own about half. So, I think it will be a good project to work on.)
Book #1: Rivers of London: Volume 1 Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch, art by Lee Sullivan (4 stars), GN - police procedural, recommended by Heather
Heather reviewed this one on her thread last year, which is what landed it on my list. This GN falls between Foxglove Summer and The Hanging Tree. It's a really fun short story, and I liked the artwork even though some of the characters, especially Nightingale, were not as I pictured them. A nice little interlude to lull us over until the long awaited The Hanging Tree comes out here. If you have not tried this series, I highly recommend it - the audios of the novels are fabulous, narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, who brings something extra to the stories with his voices and inflections.
Started March, Book 3 this morning but had to stop after a few pages - it was emotionally devastating and made me cry. Hard. Will get back to it when I'm feeling a bit stronger and more mentally prepared.
>6 Crazymamie: >7 Crazymamie: I'm lucky, I read The Hanging Tree last month. Read Rivers of London: body work this week and loved seeing all the characters in full colour. Great little story.
I also read The Incal by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Moebius. I enjoyed this scifi GN, it had been serialised in the 1980s in France when it first came out.
I'm about to start The thrilling adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua.
Posted this in my 75 books thread:
La bouteille à la mer - La Patrouille des Castors - Mitacq
Touchstone not working on this one. Oh well.
The fifth book in this series, released in 1959. I have a way to go before I read them all.
This time the Beaver Patrol are sailing in Brittany when they discover a message in a bottle from lost researchers in Greenland. This kicks off a search which at first turns up no trace of the missing scientists, but through the actions of the Beaver Patrol and the help of a worldwide scout network they uncover the mystery and then are sucked into a classic Cold War action adventure.
Up until now, all countries in this series have been named, but this book invents an Eastern Block country of Esturia, which confused me for a while as I thought it might be a French word for a country such as Estonia, but it was fairly clear that East Germany was actually meant. For some reason, the authors did not seem to want to name the enemy state.
Anyway the whole story is a preposterous boys own adventure that is nevertheless quite enjoyable.
Still, maybe I should start reading Asterix instead!
Just finished Monstress Volume 1: Awakening. Wow, gorgeous artwork, creative world, good story.
>16 drneutron: Birdy and I both liked that one,too, Jim. The second volume comes out in June.
Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria and Iraq by Sarah Glidden
The American author, along with two journalist friends, take an extensive trip to the Middle East, to interview people that have been touched by the Iraqi war. They are seeking answers, from the other side of the fence and what they learn is conflicting and unsettling. Fans of Joe Sacco, will like this approach.
At 300 pages, it is a lot to take in, at times, with it's endless interviews but there is a valuable insight, to be found here, so I give this a solid recommendation.
I just finished reading March: Book One by John Lewis
The first in a trilogy of graphic novel depictions of the life of U.S. Rep. John Lewis and his role in the U.S. civil rights movement. This volume begins with his life on a farm in Alabama and culminates in the 1960 sit-ins at lunch counters across the south. The narrative is framed as a story that Rep. Lewis is telling to two young boys on the morning of January 20, 2009 (President Barack Obama's inauguration).
I intended to read for about 10 minutes before bed the other night, but I was immediately sucked into the story and finished the whole book at 1am. I'm a big fan of black-and-white comics (e.g. The Walking Dead and Persepolis) because I find them less overwhelming than color comics, and this is no exception. Considering the story is entirely about race, the black and white shading is crucial. The frame narration results in a storytelling-type feel which worked very well, though the interstitial scenes felt a little unnecessary. What an inspiration John Lewis is. We need him now more than ever. I can't wait to read the next two books.
^Love that John Lewis series!
I finished Monstress, which has good illustrations and an intriguing story. Looking forward to the second one.
I'm now reading The White Donkey: Terminal Lance, a fictionalized account of Marine training and deployment in Iraq. Very good so far.
I'm about 3/4 of the way through my re-read in the Sandman Omnibus, too.
>20 norabelle414: I also just read that one (and similarly, just thought I'd read for a few minutes in bed before going to sleep and ended up finishing it). Definitely reading the sequels as soon as I can.
^Ditto for Paper Girls Volume 2 - loved it as much as the first. I'll probably wait for the next collected edition, although I'm sure it'll be a long wait.
Over the weekend, I read Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley and March: Book One by John Lewis. Both were excellent, though very different. Knisley writes an almost confessional, journalistic style on a variety of topics - this one, food. John Lewis's story is an inspirational memoir of his activism in the civil rights movement as a college student. I've got books 2 and 3 ready to go sometime this week.
March: Book One gives an amazing African American perspective of life, fears, non-violence,
and the evolution of leadership and protests in the medieval South during the 1950s-60s.
Equally astonishing is that trump would add this MAN to the list of decent humans he has attempted to demonize.
Reading Ms. Marvel Vol. 6, which so far is another good one by G. Willow Wilson.
>27 jnwelch: I have yet to read any of that series. I want to. Might see if any copies ae in at the library when I stop tonight.
>28 SuziQoregon: I hope you have good luck. It's been popular, so there's a good chance the library will have it.
This one (#6) has a number of scenes in Pakistan with her family there, which I'm liking.
>29 jnwelch: Nice! It appears that my library has a copy of the first volume available so stopping there on my way home after work.
I continue to enjoy the Lone Wolf and Cub series. Lone Wolf and Cub Vol. 4: The Bell Warden has been the best so far. Lots of details about Edo period Japan with an emphasis on various weapons in this one. This volume was much more personal than the previous three and addresses the perils of Ogami taking his toddler Daigoro with him on his assassins journey.
World of Edena was some wonderful work from Moebius. The story got a little muddled for me at the very end, but I didn't care. It was a fun read with beautiful artwork.
My Favorite Thing is Monsters was a knockout, and my review is on the book page (unfortunately without illustrations).
Now I'm reading, and enjoying, Sarah Glidden's Rolling Blackouts, a nonfiction one about traveling with journalists in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.
I also read Moebius' World of Edena recently to follow up The Incal which is illustrated by Moebius.
Since my last post I've also read:
Bandette Volume 3: The House of the Green Mask by Paul Tobin - I loved the first two volumes , Bandette is fairly irrepressible.
The thrilling adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua - great
Fist stick knife gun: a personal history of violence by Geoffrey Canada & Jamar Nicholas - GN of the biography, brilliant
A year without mom by Dasha Tolstikova - her mother leaves Russia for postgrad research study in the US
Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan - about the shortlived freedom of the lions from Baghdad zoo
Elmer: a comic book by Gerry Alanguilan - interesting scifi
Harvey by Hervé Bouchard - children's GN
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
Cardboard by Doug TenNapel - brilliant children's scfi GN
Religion : A Discovery in Comics by Margreet de Heer - nonfiction, interesting
Rivers of London: Night Witch by Ben Aaronovitch
Just finished Descender Book Two: Machine Moon by Jeff Lemire Loved it. I need to get my hands on Book Three soon because this one ended on a cliffhanger.
The team that wrote and illustrated Agatha: The Real Life of Agatha Christie did a really good job of telling Dame Agatha's story. They were even able to get Poirot into some of the frames.
I loved this book. Thank you, Becca.
The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui 5 stars
I adore graphic memoirs, and this one is exceptional. It follows, the author, as she looks back at the lives of her parents, as they grew up in Vietnam, during the tumultuous '40s and '50s, eventually, marrying each other and trying to raise a family in a war-torn country. It also looks at their flight to America, after the fall of Saigon and the difficult adjustments, of living in a new world.
The illustrations are perfectly suited to, the strong writing, making this a memorable read. It will easily be one of the best GNs I have read this year.
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris 4.7 stars
Set in Chicago, in the late 60s, this dazzling, graphic novel, is presented as a fictional diary, written by a ten year old named Karen. She has a devout adoration for monsters and envisions herself as a female werewolf, or were-girl, if you will. After a neighbor dies, mysteriously, Karen decided to do some sleuthing herself and finds herself navigating some dark, twisty, places, confronting the drug world, freaks and the Holocaust.
I would rather not divulge any more details but I will start hurling a few more superlatives- This is a powerhouse work, written and illustrated, with depth, beauty and horror. An unsettling creepshow that would make Robert Crumb shudder.
Yes, it is early in the year but I would be hard pressed to think, I will read a better GN in 2017. As an added bonus, this is only part one...wolfish grin.
I read Descender Vol. 3: Singularities by Jeff Lemire yesterday. I love this series. This third volume was a look back at the backgrounds of some of the characters. I enjoyed it a lot. I'm already on the wait list at the library for volume 4 which comes out in July.
I'm enjoying Just So Happens, the story of a young Japanese woman returning from London to Japan to see family.
Finished off the Final Chew Vol. 12: Sour Grapes by John Layman This was the wrap up to a completely bizarre and oddly humorous series. It was a good ending.
My most recent GN was Becoming Unbecoming by Una. I found it to be a very powerful book about how society treats females. I was also interested to learn about the Yorkshire Ripper, his reign and fall. Scary time to come of age in that part of the world.
^Secret Path is a very unique GN, illustrated by one of my very favorite artists, Jeff Lemire. It is actually a ten song album, written by Gordon Downie and drawn by Lemire. It is also stark and absolutely heart-breaking. It is based on a true story about a young Indian boy, in Canada, that escapes a Indian Residential School and tries to find his way back home...400 miles away. Keep the hankies handy. Here is one of the songs:
Don't Let This Touch You
"Don't let this touch you
Don't let this touch you
Words are birds
Words are snow
Words don't make the rain go
Can't be done
Can't be done
Don't let it touch you
Don't let this touch you
Words are blanks
Words are ghost
Words are God
Words don't make the rain go
What do you do?
I heard them in the dark
Heard the things they do
I heard the heavy whispers
Whispering: 'Don't let this touch you'
Don't let this touch you
Don't let it touch you
His glowing face
By the stove
His orange face
Daddy, make the rain go"
I just picked up Invincible, Vol 2 from the library. Haven't started it yet, though.
>47 Familyhistorian: I read Becoming Unbecoming a few weeks ago as well, really worthwhile read.
I've read a lot of GNs of late:
The red Virgin and the vision of Utopia by Mary & Bryan Talbot (2016) - graphic bio
One hundred nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg (2016) - stunning
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth: A Novel by Isabel Greenberg (2013) - also stunning
Orbital, Vol 1: Scars by Sylvain Runberg, illustrator: Serge Pellé (2009) - Star Wars-esque scifi
A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York by Liana Finck (2014) - advice column letters brought to life
Flight of the Raven by Jean-Pierre Gibrat (2017) - set in Paris during WW2
One trick pony by Nathan Hale (2017) - excellent children's scifi
Lighter than my shadow by Katie Green (2013) - graphic memoir
A Chinese Life by Philippe Ôtié & Li Kunwu (2012) - graphic biography/memoir collaboration
Munch by Steffen Kverneland (2017) - graphic biography
Such a lovely little war: Saigon 1961-63 by Marcelino Truong (2016) - graphic memoir
becoming, unbecoming by Una (2015) - graphic memoir
In Real Life by Cory Doctorow (2014) - YA GN
Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke 3.7 stars Graphic Novel
While Ratke was in college, she suddenly lost her beloved uncle. She had a difficult time recovering from his loss and started to take refuge at different ruined and forgotten places, around the U.S. and a few abroad, searching for answers and some kind of closure. She visits old mining towns and other abandoned cities, that once beat with life and hope. This is a melancholic narrative, nicely illustrated in stark black and white. I am not sure it all works for me, but this is a talented artist and writer and one worth keeping a close eye on.
>52 avatiakh: Flight of the Raven looks amazing - what did you think of it? (The touchstone leads to a totally different book, btw)
>54 msf59: >55 jnwelch: Share the love on those GNs, they're so fantastic.
>56 PawsforThought: The story is good enough to keep you going to the end to find out who was the betrayer, putting all the members of her unit of the resistance at risk. The artwork is beautiful, though he does tend to draw his women a little too seductively.
I fixed the touchstone, there were several there that needed fixing.
>57 avatiakh: Oooh, that sounds really interesting. And sadly, the problem with drawing women as essentially sex dolls seems to be a difficult one to weed out in comics/GNs.
Is the thinking that the comics/GN audience is primarily still boys n' men?
>58 PawsforThought: >59 m.belljackson: That is not the case for the middle grade/young adult GN market - that market has a lot that is geared to girls. My 12-year-old son loves GNs and it is getting harder to find them for him, but there are lots and lots for girls. He does read those and enjoys them, but they are harder for him to relate to.
If anyone has any suggestions, we would love to hear them. We're familiar with Jeff Smith, Raina Telgemeier, Jane Yolen, Matthew Holm & Jennifer Holm, Vera Brosgol, the Lumberjanes series, and a few others
>60 rretzler: I'm not familiar with GNs directed at that age range - I read ones primarily aimed at adults.
I'd suspect part of the reason why there's so much emphasis on GNs for girls in that age range is that the publishers assume the boys are reading superhero comics and the like, so don't bother with anything else aimed at them. Personally, I'd be happy if all this "for girls" and "for boys" business went away completely and it was just aimed "at kids" or "at older audiences", etc.
>60 rretzler: Some GNs that come to mind, Robin:
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Coraline by Neil Gaiman (the graphic version)
The Graveyard Book by Gaiman (of course, the print novel is great, too)
Anya's Ghost (a girl, but he should like it),
The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick,
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan (a multi-book series)
Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai (long series; our then young son loved these, as did I, but you might want to look at them first; he's a samurai rabbit and there's death in just about every one)
Mouse Guard by David Peterson (there's more than one)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle (the print novel is a classic, but the GN adaption is surprisingly faithful and good)
Castle Waiting by Linda Medley (girl-centric, but he should like it)
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series might be a bit old for him, but maybe not. My wife and a neighborhood kid who seems around 12 years old love these.
Not something I am reading but something I want to read:
I saw the amazing Wonder Woman movie this past weekend, and absolutely loved it. So I thought it'd be nice to read some WW comics/GNs, but the problem with superhero comics (and especially ones as old as WW) is that there SO MUCH. I don't know where to start. And also, I don't want to drown in trope-y, sexist stuff. Can anyone recommend a good, well-written storyline/reincarnation where she's as badass as in the movie and isn't drawn to look like a cross between a barbie and a sex doll?
^I just can not let go of these birds, so I started Audubon, On The Wings Of The World, a graphic bio of John James Audubon. It begins very well and is beautifully illustrated. Thanks to Nancy for putting this on my radar.
>61 PawsforThought: I feel your pain. :-) I'm going to be looking at the Wonder Woman GNs by Greg Rucka, e.g., https://smile.amazon.com/Wonder-Woman-Vol-Lies-Rebirth/dp/1401267785/ref=pd_sim_14_4?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1401267785&pd_rd_r=YMGH547GR3642HKC5QB2&pd_rd_w=rtNIe&pd_rd_wg=TDY28&psc=1&refRID=YMGH547GR3642HKC5QB2 A lot of people have spoken highly of them.
We loved the Wonder Woman movie, too. I think Gal Gadot (who plays her) has a movie franchise if she wants it.
I've liked the Wonder Woman GNs by the highly respected Gail Simone, but they don't come close to the level of the movie, IMO.
>64 msf59: I hope it helps, Mark. It's always fun to do that kind of list.
>65 msf59: I've already added the Audubon on the Wings GN to the WL, Mark, based on your enthusiasm.
>66 jnwelch: Well, both she and Patty Jenkins are already confirmed for a WW sequel so I there's that. I was absolutely floored by how great she was as Diana, absolutely perfect casting.
I recoqnize the cover of the Greg Rucka GN, and the title (Rebirth), sounds familiar - I think it's been mentioned in articles about the film. Based on the Amazon preview, the illustrations look very much like the Barbie/sex doll mixture I abhor, and I just don't think I can stand that (it's all boobs and non-existant waist). The Gail Simone illustrations look better (more lean muscles, less boobs) but there doesn't seem to be any previews available so it's difficult to tell.
Oh, well. Can't have everything, I suppose. Thanks for your help. :)
>67 PawsforThought: I know what you mean with the Barbie/sex doll junk. Maybe Gadot will have a positive influence on that, too. Glad to hear that there's already a sequel lined up.
I do think the Gail Simone illustrations are pretty good in that regard.
You might rate her stories more highly than I did. Our library has these, so it maybe yours does.
>68 jnwelch: Yeah, her versions look better than the ones in the other series (I think the illustrator's name was Liam Sharp? I suspect the gender difference is a reason for the difference in style)
Sadly, my library most definitely doesn't have these. Wonder Woman has never been big in Sweden, and while my library is fairly good at stocking GNs in general, they don't do superhero/weekly comics stuff. Maus and Sandman, yes (and thank goodness for that), but not DC & Marvel. Too big of an expense for a fairly small audience where many probably buy the magazines themselves.
But I'll wait and see and maybe something will turn out. As you said, maybe Gadot will have a positive impact on the print version.
Audubon, On The Wings Of The World by Fabien Grolleau 4.5 stars
Yes, I love birds and the great outdoors, but I knew very little of John James Audubon. This turned out to be a perfect introduction. In the early 19th century, Audubon began to comb the American wilderness, in search of birds, which he meticulously documented. An artist and adventurer, who firmly placed nature, above everything else, sadly, to the detriment of his family.
His meeting with Darwin, during a visit to England is priceless. This is a beautifully illustrated volume, that I can not recommend high enough.
**warning- Audubon shot birds on a regular basis, to use as specimens and models. It seems this was a very common practice during this time, but it is not always easy to swallow with our more modern sensibilities.
>72 jnwelch: Good to know. I have One Hundred Nights out from the library. I'll probably get this one next
^Ms. Greenberg has delivered another gem. She is on fire. The One Hundred Nights of Hero also deals with Early Earth and lots and lots of stories. She is one of the most imaginative and creative GN voices out there. She can also be very funny.
**See post #72
Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green 3.8 stars
Fortunately, I have not come across anyone in my life, with a severe eating disorder, so this heart-breaking and sometimes gut-wrenching illustrated memoir, enlightened me about the horrors of this nightmarish condition. Green pulls no punches here, in her brutal honesty and this can be a bit hard to handle for five hundred pages, but I am glad I now have a better understanding and empathy for people going through this.
>82 msf59: Sounds like a worthwhile one, Mark.
I just finished Boundless by Jillian Tamaki, a collection of graphic short stories. I'm a Tamaki fan (loved Super Mutant Magic Academy and ones with her sister), but this one was a disappointment. I'm not sure what she was aiming for, high art maybe, but she missed, IMO. The one that was pretty good was called "Sex Coven", about a mysterious audio of nonmelodic music that has powerful effects on people.
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