David B. returns with more tales of myth and legend. The Veiled Prophet concerns the controversial figure of Hakim al-Muqanna – a lowly persian man from the 8th century who is enveloped by a mysterious shroud that falls from the sky. Hakim takes the form of a new and threatening prophet.
The Armed Garden and The Drum that Fell in Love cast the reader into the religious and nationalistic turmoil of 15th century Eastern European Christendom. In the Armed Garden a simple blacksmith believes he has been instructed by Adam and Eve to re-establish paradise in Bohemia (Czech Republic). His antagonist – Jan Žižka – himself a paradise seeker and Hussite crusader – must vanquish the Neo-Adamites. I could go on and on but we’ve already used up our 100 words. The artist’s obsessions are on full display in these all to short tales. More please.
With faithful textural representation R. Crumb draws new life into The Book of Genesis. Sex and scandal and banishment are all here as the greatest story ever told is redrawn from this great illustrator’s imagination. Crumb studied the bible to get every nuance right. Adam and Eve as you might expect are caught in a web of their own devising, and Crumb brings new life to this timeless text.
Review by: John Schoppert, Tacoma, WA.
Watch out, Portland! There’s crime and mystery afoot and Greg Rucka does an excellent job showing the gritty side of a seemingly sleepy little town through beautiful illustrations and the point of view of a compelling main character, Dex. The strong, female detective takes us along on her journey to get to the bottom of suspicious activities in this book. The element of the story that was less compelling was that of her gambling problem, but it did provide the reason she would take such a risky investigation on: To clear her debt.
The Incal is a compendium of Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius’ trippy graphic novels. Set in a futuristic dystopia, this mythological metaphysical mystery adventure follows private dick and anti-hero, John DiFool, on a series of bumbling and psychedelic journeys. With friends! Moebius’ illustrations are detailed and amazing and the tiniest of line gestures can describe a scene or a facial expression. Welcome to the Jodoverse.
(this is for adults because there’s sex, drugs, boobs, and violence, but I would have totally dug this as a kid)
Review by: Serenity Ibsen, Portland, OR
Understanding Comics is a unique graphic novel ABOUT graphic novels, but more importantly, it is about creating graphic novels. I felt compelled to read this book, even though I am not a comic artist, because it gave me the understanding of the “secret language” of comics and graphic novels. The book is clever and easy to read, but really gets at the core of the topic that so many readers love. Using effective illustrative and narrative styles, while explaining exactly why these styles are effective creates a harmonious union of form and content for the reader to absorb as they go.
I loved Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. I appreciated Satrapi’s perception of the Iranian Revolution from the view of a child – a perspective of strife that is often denied or ignored many. Her story mirrors that of a friend of mine, whose family fled Iran – they were Baha’i, and there was no place for them in the Islamic Republic. Revolution is hard, sad, and deadly, and even more so because the lies outpace the truth. Satrapi appears to have spent her life as a survivor unflinchingly unveiling those truths, to come to an accord with the complex nature of historical events.
Review by: Holly Winzurk Freewynn, Portland, OR
Serially published in France as l’Ascension du Haut Mal between ’96 and 2003 by L’Association, the American translation appeared in its entirety as Epileptic in 2005. Epileptic chronicle’s the efforts of the Beauchard family as they struggle to treat their son’s severe epilepsy. The author explores the nature of his brother’s illness in an unsentimental manner as well as his own consuming fear that the illness is contagious. The author retreats into an increasingly elaborate fantasy world of mythology, cartoons, and war. I was initially drawn to this title because of the author’s unique visual style and intense illustrations. I quickly found the tragic narrative of familial angst difficult to resist and even more difficult to forget.
A story as sweet as the inspiration for its title, Lucy Knisley’s graphic novel about a six-week trip to Paris with her mother is a record of the many complexities that exist in a mother-daughter relationship. Told through black and white photos of her trip as well as bold illsutrations, the reader feels like they’re right alongside Lucy in the city of lights. While she doesn’t probe into her relationship with her mother as much as an author like Alison Bechdel would, French Milk is a breezy read that will ignite a reader’s desire to travel with a loved one.
Image via Powell’s.
The term “coming of age” is assigned to any book containing a mention of sex, teenagers, love lost or love gained. While it may be an overused term, it is the most fitting one to describe Blankets, a novel with gorgeous black and white illustrations and an equally beautiful story about a young man grappling with the confines of his strict religious upbringing and falling in love for the first time. Thompson does an excellent job of guiding the reader through these issues and letting them decide for themselves how they feel as they come out on the other side.
image via Powell’s.
This text-dense graphic novel might prove overwhelming at first, but the story of Gemma Bovery–whose life mirrors a similarly named Flaubert heroine–is worth a few pages of feeling overwhelmed. Gemma’s life is punctuated by periods of adultery and discontent, and while she tries to will herself out of depression with everything from a move to the French countryside to retail therapy, she cannot shake the boredom of her marriage or her life in general. Those familiar with Flaubert’s work may know how Gemma’s story ends, but in the case of Gemma Bovery, the journey is worth more than the ending.
Image via Powell’s.