Showing posts with label graphic novel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label graphic novel. Show all posts

Monday, September 3, 2018

Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Nathan Fairbairn


Rating: WORTHY!

Last volume! A worthy read. Scott finally confronts Gideon, who is much less of a mystery figure in the book than he is in the movie. Ramona has vanished and Scott is so stupid that he thinks she has gone to Gideon despite clear indications to the contrary. Unlike in the movie, she never does go off with Gideon and is entrapped by him only in her mind. Also unlike the movie, and I'm sorry for this, Knives Chau never does become a ninja maiden and fight against Gideon alongside Scott. I think the movie makers made a wise choice in that departure because that scene was awesome.

The character interactions were much warmer and more realistic (and still amusing) in this volume and in volume five, and it made for a deeper and better story. Again, Kim Pine was outstanding. Again Ramona wasn't quite and scintillating as she was in the movie. It felt like some things were not wrapped up here, but that didn't really spoil it. Anyway, after moping over Ramona for the first half of the book, Scott decides to confront Gideon at the opening of his new club and the inevitable battle begins. Scott is killed, but he has gained for himself another life during his previous episodes, and comes back to life, better than ever.

Ramona and Scott don't go off into the sunset at the end, but they do go off into the subspace world which works even better. I commend this as a worthy read.


Scott Pilgrim Vs. the Universe by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Nathan Fairbairn


Rating: WORTHY!

This is the penultimate volume of the Scott Pilgrim hexalogy and after having not really liked the middle two so much, I'm happy to report that the trailing bookend pair were pretty good. They were a little bit different and had more soul to them, and they were more entertaining. The artwork as usual was as usual.

In volume five, he faces off against the Japanese twins, who keep sending robots to attack him. This is completely different from the movie, and is actually more entertaining. The movie was a bit repetitive itself in this regard because the battle with the twins was really nothing more than an amplified version of his battle with Todd Ingram, whereas in the book, it's necessarily more extended and more inventive.

Also, the intriguing Kim really starts coming into her own, not least of which is for noticing - and photographing - the fact that Ramona has a glow, which I was sorry to learn never actually was explained. Anyway, that aside, I commend volume five as a worthy read.


Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Beats by Harvey Pekar, Ed Piskor, and others


Rating: WORTHY!

This is a graphic novel about the so-called Beat Generation, although 'Beat-up Generation' might be a better term. I've never been a fan of Jack Kerouac or William Seward Burroughs, or had any interest in anything those two jerks had to say, and I only consider this a worthy read because it pulls no punches in exposing what these poseurs and losers were, warts and all. And there are many warts.

Of the main three depicted here, Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs, only the middle one comes through with any decent sort of character intact. Kerouac was a racist and a bigot who thought the world owed him a living, and misogynist Burroughs got away with murder - literally - in a case that would not be equalled until OJ Simpson came along. It was not the only murder one of this group would get away with. Lucien Carr was aided in a half-assed cover up by Burroughs and Kerouac, of a murder he perpetrated. He served only two years for it relying on an early version of the so-called 'homosexual panic defense'.

Kerouac denied his daughter was his until a blood test proved what a lying cheapskate he was; only then did he oh-so-kindly allow that she might use his last name if she published anything. Jerk. Burroughs shot his wife in a drunken recreation of William Tell's supposed feat, but whereas Tell shot the apple on his son's head, Burroughs shot his wife through the forehead killing her instantly and got away with it. Alcoholism seemed to be an integral and significant part of the Beat Movement and more than one of them had done time in prison and shown no real improvement for it afterwards!

These were not nice people, yet such as these are worshipped by the pretentious and clueless alike, and were the main - or perhaps more accurately the most celebrated - founders of the Beat Generation which was supposedly known for spiritual values inter alia. According to Wikipedia the hallmarks of the Beat Generation were: "rejection of standard narrative values, spiritual quest, exploration of American and Eastern religions, rejection of materialism, explicit portrayals of the human condition, experimentation with psychedelic drugs, and sexual liberation and exploration."

It made for an interesting read, but there was no rejection of materialism or any sort of values in evidence here. There was lots of drugs and irresponsible and unsafe sex, and denial of responsibility or their actions. After the main three were given their own mini-stories, a lot of lesser-known people in or tied to this group are also mentioned. I read about half of those supplementary materials. It's notable that there is only one person of color mentioned and very few women at all except insofar as the women were involved (usually to their detriment) with the men, or were offspring of the men.

So, while it was worth reading to learn all of this, it's not worth reading for any sense of spiritual enlightenment or literary enrichment.


Tib & Tumtum by Flora Grimaldi, Nicolas Bannister


Rating: WARTY!

This is a Calvin and Hobbes wannabe and it fails. It also has elements of Minecraft in it in that this area looked like a series of giant stacked flower boxes straight out of Minecraft's lack of design workshop. I learned later that it was supposed to be a cliff! The art other than that, by Bannister, wasn't bad. The stories by Grimaldi were boring and uninventive.

The story is of Neanderthal kid Tib, who has a birthmark in the form of a red splash around his left eye. Other kids constantly make fun of him because of this. He's friends with a dinosaur (the Hobbes of the duo) named Tumtum, which animal his mother detests because she thinks it's dangerous. Well, it is to bird chicks, because this one poor nestling who fell out of the tree was swallowed whole and eaten by the dinosaur without a second thought.

The entire graphic novel is a series of one page cartoons retelling the same stories of cruelty and stupidity and bullying and loneliness over and over. The kid is bullied by his peers, or he plays with the dinosaur. His parents are largely absent and don't seem to care how miserable the other kids make him. The story is a disgrace and therefore warty.

Anyone who thinks humans and dinosaurs ever lived at the same time in history is a moron, period. I'm not going to recommend a book that panders to that while at the same time offering nothing to ameliorate it and make it worthwhile suffering this fictional lie. If it had been a sabertooth cat for example, in place of the dinosaur, it would have made more sense, but I'm guessing that the authors didn't do that because it would have shown exactly how much of a cheap rip-off of Calvin and Hobbes this book truly is.

The book doesn't even attempt to teach any history with all of the people having a modern mindset and using a modern vocabulary. All the author did was to take the laziest way out possible: put modern people into stone-age times, add an anachronistic dinosaur and hope people will (literally) buy it, without making any attempt to offer anything original, educational, inventive, fresh or new. Why not rip off the kids? It's pathetic.


Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O'Malley


Rating: WARTY!

This is an early effort by O'Malley and it shows. Written in 2004, the year before he began Scott Pilgrim, it traces the pointless directionless journey of one of the biggest whiners I've ever read about. This girl meets someone online, talks back and forth with him for a year, goes to visit him in California, and misses her return train. She finds a letter from the guy in her bag but never reads it. She accidentally hooks up with three other idiots from her school who coincidentally also are visiting California, and begins this dumb-ass journey with them. There are endless pages of text, of her whining about her worthless life. She the most unmotivated, clueless, passive waste of skin Iv;e ever read about. The art sucks and the whole thing was a waste of my time. Now let me tell you how I really feel about it...kidding! Seriously, I cannot commend this one at all.


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Nathan Fairbairn


Rating: WARTY!

On to volume four, which was just as much of a disappointment as volume three, and for the same reasons: one note story, nothing fresh on the table, repetition of the motifs from previous stories.

Thee was a mild improvement which came from this short section where Knives's dad comes after Scott with a sword and ends up killing off one of the exes which is left entirely out of the movie, but that was about it. Everything else was humdrum. Even Ramona! Even that section was a bit stereotyping in that her Asian father is portrayed as a sword-weilding vengeance seeker.

I was thinking about this Ramona issue, too, and I think one of my problems with this was that Ramona was portrayed so perfectly by Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the movie that the graphic novel version of her looks rather threadbare in comparison. She has her moments but she cannot hold any sort of decent candle to the movie Ramona.

Another problem I had with this was that it was more exploitative than previous volumes: a lot of female characters were drawn seemingly for purely carnal purposes than I recall from the earlier outings, including Knives, whom we're told is still seventeen. It's like on the one hand the author wants to represent her as an innocent child in need of protection, but on the other he has no problem depicting her in a bikini on a beach for no purpose other than to show her ass (which appears more than once in this volume).

So, I was not impressed with this one either, and I cannot commend it.


Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Nathan Fairbirn


Rating: WARTY!

Now it's my sad duty to report on two failures by Bryan Lee O'Malley. Volumes three and four of this series. Starting with volume three. This is one reason why I dislike series as a general rule because they are frequently so derivative and lazy and it's hard to be genuinely creative when all you;re really doing is telling the same old story over and over again which is all too often what series end up doing.

I came to this by way of the movie which I'd been in two minds about watching for some time, but I discussed it with myself and we came to an agreement: I wouldn't spoil the movie if I agreed to give it a fair shot. I watched the movie with my kids and it was hilarious, so then I decided to go to the source and read the graphic novels.

There are six and I didn't realize that the movie encompassed all of them. Given what had happened with the first volume, it quickly became evident that some serious departures from the books must have occurred over the remaining five volumes and sure enough, this was the case. I was hoping this meant more fun, but starting with volume two, the graphic novels and the movie parted ways increasingly while still telling the same overall story.

The problem was that while the movie told a cogent and succinct story, the graphic novels were all over the place and I could see why much of it had been cut out of the movie. I could also see that if you really liked the graphic novels, and then moved on to the movie, you might not like it so well, or vice-versa.

I positively reviewed the first two volumes. Volume one was like watching the movie - which had been taken almost frame for frame and word for word from the comic. Volume two departed somewhat but was still a worthy read. After that it has gone downhill, based on my experience of volumes three and four, I'm sorry to report. It would seem like there's not a lot new that can be added given that the author has locked Scott into fighting every one of Ramona's evil exes.

Volume three is entirely about Scott's run in with Ted Ingram, Envy's band-mate and boyfriend, aka The Vegan. There's also a lot of fluff tossed in which did not entertain me. The story continues with the flags added to characters, like telling us that Knives Chau is seventeen, or tallying up how much Scott won for beating an opponent, or what kind of an outfit he's wearing, or telling Ramona he loves her. These are things we already know and it was simply irritating to read those this time around. It wasn't inventive any more, and it brought nothing fresh to the table.

So the hot potato of volumes one and two was now a wrinkled, drying, sprouting and slightly smelly potato that cannot be improved, no even by frying, and overall I can't commend this as a worthy read. If you're addicted to the series or if you haven't seen the movie and want to find out how it play out, then go ahead by all means, but it left me disappointed.


Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a fun graphic novel in nicely-drawn grayscale, about this girl, Anya Borzakovskaya, a Russian émigré who lives with her kid brother and her mother, and is trying not to feel like the odd one out at this private school she attends, trying to play down her origins, losing her accent, trying to fit in. She even refuses her mother's сырники (syrniki, a sweet cheese fritter. I had to look that up after first translating the Russian!) because she thinks she's overweight. She really isn’t, but shamefully slick advertising has brainwashed far too many girls into thinking they are.

I couldn’t quite follow how she ended-up going home in the dark though a deserted field, but she did. And she fell into a well. Fortunately, all was well, because despite the depth of it, she landed at the bottom without breaking or spraining anything. The problem is that it’s a deserted area and there's no one around except these bones, which bring forth the ghost of the girl, Emily, who once owned the bones. This is Anya's ghost.

When Anya finally is discovered and gets out, Emily, whose ghost has been tied to her bones for ninety years, somehow manages to follow her. At first this freaks out Anya, but after she discovers that Emily is useful, she becomes somewhat less fraught with misgivings. Emily can’t be seen by anyone else, and so is able to crib answers from other students during a test and relay them to Anya, for example. Having spent a lot of her free time reading fashion magazines in Anya's bedroom, Emily is also able to advise Anya on how to dress to kill, and put on make-up for a party she wouldn’t normally have attended.

It would seem that all was well with this new relationship in Anya's life, but when Anya starts talking about putting the ghost to rest, Emily deflects the matter repeatedly. Anya is a strong female character though and pursues the quest unbeknownst to Emily, co-opting the aid of another Russian émigré, a boy whom Anya had had little time for until now. What she learns from her investigation is disturbing, leading to a disturbing confrontation with Emily.

I really enjoyed this story. It was in some ways reminiscent of others I've read or seen in movies, but nonetheless fresh and very entertaining. The artwork was sweet, sand the main character, Anya, was admirable and very cute. I definitely would read something else by this author, and especially if it featuring this same character.


Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a sweet graphic novel that in many ways reminded me a bit of Green Almonds: Letters from Palestine by Anaële Hermans and Delphine Hermans (positively reviewed in July 2018), but much more of Algeria is Beautiful Like America by Olivia Burton and Mahi Grand (positively reviewed in May 2018).

In the latter of those two graphic novels, we get a story very much like this one: the ex-patriate (or descendant of same) returning to the homeland for a visit and learning some truths about her past, but this story is much more mystical. FYI: pashmina is a scarf - in this case a magical one. Technically, pashmina refers to the fine Kashmiri wool which we in the west know as cashmere (cue track six of Led Zep's Physical Graffiti album!).

Main character Priyanka Das lives with her mother in the USA. The two of them do not always get along. Neither does this suitcase get along with the shelf it's stored on apparently, because it keeps falling off, and when Pri finally opens it, she discovers the scarf, but more importantly, discovers its power.

When she wraps it around her shoulders, she is transported to India, not literally, but to the heart and soul of the land in her mind. Her visitations there are hosted by an elephant and a peafowl. She's also transported from the grayscale images we've been seeing so far into brilliantly colored, vibrant depictions of India. The change is quite startling.

Priyanka is very much into creating comics, encouraged by her uncle Jatin. Despite this she is shy about her work. Without her knowledge, her teacher sends one of her efforts to a competition, which she wins. I guess this is why she doesn't react when he tells her he did this behind her back, which struck me as a bit odd. She didn't feel violated at all? And this is after she had earlier flatly refused to enter a contest he wanted her to enter. However, this win means she can afford to go to India - so the story would have it. In actual fact, the round trip airfare is twice what she won - but this is a bit of a fantasy!

India isn't what she had imagined from her pashmina-induced flights of fancy, but she's still thrilled to be there and to see it all. She's not so thrilled that her scarf doesn't work now she's actually in-country. The scarf had been showing her things, including a mysterious shadowy figure which her elephant and peafowl friends had been anxious she avoid (for reasons which are never made clear), and a primitive reed hut. What's this all about? She becomes quite the detective, follows clues, and eventually finds out what she needs to know. The revelation is just the ticket.

I liked this story very much. Admittedly I am rather biased toward India, but the story was a good one about a strong female character who made things happen, and I typically enjoy a story like that no matter what ethnicity or nationality the main character is. I commend this one as a worthy read.


Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Jason Fischer, Nathan Fairbairn


Rating: WORTHY!

I've slowly become a fan of this author, and this was no exception despite a new team coming on board, with Jason Fischer co-illustrating and Nathan Fairbairn coloring.

Katie Clay (as in 'subject to being molded') is a chef who is the founder and co-owner of a restaurant called Seconds, but she longs to start her own place, and has been putting money into this derelict place she plans on naming 'Katie's'. How she is the founding owner but also co-owner of this restaurant isn't explained.

She has an ex, Max, who seems to want to get back with her, but the reason why they're no longer together isn't given and Katie seems rather resentful of him. She's having a very casual affair with the cook instead, and trying to figure out the deal with this tall dark waitress, Hazel, who has been working the tables at the restaurant for a while, but who is an enigma to Katie, not least because she draws curious pictures of this odd-looking girl in her spare time.

Katie has two encounters, one with some magic mushrooms (no, not that kind!) growing under the floorboards, and the other with Lis, who is apparently the house spirit of the Seconds establishment, which is housed in a venerable building. Katie lives in the attic room of this building. One night, Lis appears and introduces Katie to the mushroom before Katie finds out where they grow. Katie gets a do-over and can fix problems from the past by writing her wish in a notebook which Lis also gives her, and then eating the mushroom while on the premises. In the do-over, Katie is the only one who knows that this is an alternate reality.

Katie's told she gets only one do-over, but she's not happy with it, and when she discovers the mushroom trove, she steals twelve of them. Despite Lis's angry admonishment, and she begins doing-over her do-over multiple times. In her do-vers, Katie becomes closer to Hazel and discovers that Hazel is drawing Lis, but cannot see her. Hazel is also the one who placates Lis by leaving clothing and bread for her in the rafters.

This story is in some ways reminiscent of the movie The Butterfly Effect in that her do-overs seem to progressively make things worse rather than better, and with Lis's help, Katie realizes that there's a third influence working against her wishes. In the end she manages to get what she thinks she wants - and certainly what she can live with.

The drawings are simplistic and offer limited coloring, but are nonetheless well done and charming. They tell as much of the story as the text does. While I wasn't sure about Katie's feelings for Max or why she had them, or why she misbehaved, I did enjoy the story. It's easy to get through and entertaining. I commend this graphic novel as a worthy read.


Saturday, August 18, 2018

Toil and Trouble by Mairghread Scott, Kelly Matthews, Nichole Matthews


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a sweet graphic novel written by Scott and illustrated by the Matthews's. it is of course rooted in The Tragedy of Macbeth by Shakespeare, which dates back to around 1606. There was a real life Macbeth, known in his time as Mac Bethad, or son of Bethad, and who rose to prominence as Lord of Moray in 1032, more than likely after murdering his predecessor, Gille Coemgáin and marrying his widow, Gruoch. Was it really worth it to marry someone named Gruoch? I guess we'll never know!

And just to clarify, When Gruoch says, in 5.1, "Out, damned spot! Out, I say!" she's not talking to the family dog....

As usual, Shakespeare's play isn't remotely accurate and is in some ways more like a telling of the Gunpowder plot which took place the year before this play was first performed. In my opinion, it's really nothing more than a redux of The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark which he wrote a few years earlier. Billy Shakespeare was not known for his originality! In reality, Macbeth ruled for almost two decades before dying in battle. It was actually his son whose rule was less than stellar. And don't even get me started on the asinine superstitions attached to the play!

This look at it is fresh and commendable. The author, Scott, is a bit of a James Cameron in the sense that she let this idea stew for about a decade before she brought it to the screen - or in this case the graphic page!

The novel looks at the whole story from the perspective of the three witches, and makes a compelling tale. They are witches of auld, witches of nature, and they have been around, working back stage in Scots history for decades. Now that Macbeth has heard the prophecy that he will become king, he feels the need to hasten it along, and ends up killing King Duncan and laying the blame on his sons, who flee, but Macbeth can'`t live with what;s happened and follows Hamlet into madness. The three sisters are arguing over how events should unfold, and end up in a cat-fight over it and how to fix it - or how to let it continue as is, depending on which witch you root for. Macbeth's affairs are not the only tragedy playing out, here.

I really enjoyed the story and recommend it as a worthy read.


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Slam by Pamela Ribon, Veronica Fish, Brittany Peer, Laura Langston


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a so-so read. I didn't feel let down, but I certainly didn't feel elevated by it either, so while I rate this one a worthy read for light entertainment and a quick story, I won't be following this series because it really didn't invest me in any of the characters. The writer is an ex-Los Angeles Derby roller girl by the name of Pamela Ribon, so 'ribon fish peer' isn't some kind of fishing advice! It's the writer artist, and colorers (including Langston) and the writer definitely knows what she's talking about, which was one of the things which appealed to me.

The artwork was good, but used a very blue palette which didn't always please my palate. It was pretty decent, but not great. The story moved too fast and was a bit disconencted in places, so I wasn't quite sure what was happening some of the time. It concerns the so-called 'Fresh Meat' girls who want to become roller derby players. Jennifer and Maisie try out for the Eastside Roller Girls and both are accepted, but they're put on different teams, and while one of them flourishes, the other is despondent because she can't seem to quite make the cut.

Their now separate lives seem to be pulling them apart and they have a fight and aren't speaking, but when one of them is injured, the other immediately rallies round, so the story was a bit trite, predictable, and offered nothing new beyond the roller rink, but it wasn't too bad, so I'd commend it, particularly if you're interested in this kind of sporting life. Frankly it's a bit too brutal for my taste, so it's not something I'd choose to follow, but the story about those who do was an entertaining read for a while. If it had been a tad better I would have wanted to read more. As it is I'm satisfied with reading this far and I'm done with this series.


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

First Year Out by Sabrina Symington


Rating: WORTHY!

This is another graphic novel about transitional experiences. It's completely honest about feelings and experiences from start to finish and it pulls no punches.

Presumably based on the author's on experiences at least to an extent, this is a fictional account of a mtf transgender named Lily. As is typical, she always knew she was a female from a very early age, despite being hampered with a male body. She wasn't gay, and she fought against these 'sissy' feelings by body-building and indulging herself in insensitive traditional masculine behaviors, but of course these were doomed to fail because her body notwithstanding, she was a woman through and through.

The color artwork is fairly rudimentary, but what's most important is the story, which discusses her problems: personal and interpersonal, the troubles in finding a decent date - and keeping him, and the support or lack thereof she got, from her parents' changing perspectives to being denied use of the women's restroom in a restaurant, to the friendships she made and the loving relationship she formed, to the unintentional torture of the final step of sex reassignment surgery.

This is educational, painful, humorous, and thoroughly worth reading. I commend it.


The End of Summer by Tillie Walden


Rating: WARTY!

This was a nonsensical graphic novel which I did not enjoy because I had no clue what was going on despite wasting my time reading right to the end!

The story is of this extended family which lives in a palatial home in some location where the winters last three years. How that works is an unexplained mystery. Usually the winter (or the summer) is a function of axial tilt and orbit. If the axis of the planet isn't parallel to the axis of the star, then for half the year one hemisphere will be more or less inclined towards its star, the other half of the year inclined away.

This is how the seasons work, so aside from bizarre orbital systems or multiple stars, the only way a three year winter is going to work is if the planet takes six years to orbit its star, which means it would be so far away from the star that winter would be all year! The planet could have a highly elliptical orbit, bringing it closer to the star in summer and further away in winter, but this would be a one year winter from a subjective perspective. It makes no sense to talk about a three year winter, but we're expected to accept this, and that the winter requires that the people have to lock themselves inside the house for three years.

Fine, let's accept that and move on; next up is this giant cat. It's exactly like a cat, but it's the size of a horse. There's no explanation for this - it just is! They don't even turn the cat outdoors for the night! Anyway the house is shutting up and then what? I have no idea what. The story is vague to the point of non-existence. It shows the family eating, playing games, relaxing, sauntering around, riding the cat, but suddenly it's like a kid is missing and no one knows what's going on. Is someone dead? I have no idea. Is there a killer on the loose? You got me.

The artwork was so scrappily bad that it was truly hard to distinguish one character from another, and they were all so uninteresting that I gave up trying. I read the early part and then read and skimmed to the end without having a clue what was going on or how it panned out. That's how blandly bad this was. I cannot commend it, not even slightly. It's nothing but a long, drawn-out winter of discontent for the reader.


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Snotgirl Vol 2 California Screaming by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Leslie Hung, Rachel Cohen


Rating: WORTHY!

This was amusingly subtitled 'California Screaming' and I had to wonder why not 'California Streaming' given the manifold mucus from Snortgirl's allergies, but streaming means a whole other thing these days.

This is the second compendium of comics about this problematic fashion blogger named Lottie Person, who has been nicknamed 'Snottie" by her new 'friend' who Lottie in turn had nicknamed Coolgirl, but who is actually a fellow blogger named Caroline.

One of my early theories about Caroline was that she might be a complete delusion created by Lottie under the influence of a new experimental allergy drug prescribed by her new doctor. Caroline could well be the girl Lottie wishes she were, but since other people see Caroline, then either she's real, or Lottie's delusion is disturbingly larger than even she fears. Could Lottie be imagining this whole world while sleeping off her allergy drug in her apartment? Who knows?

Lottie certainly has some issues. She introduces her new acquaintance to her hater's brunch group which consists of Cutegirl and Normgirl, both fellow bloggers. The four of them decide to go on a desert retreat, but barely has it begun when they change their minds and instead go to a fashion blogger conference in California, where things get really weird.

Talking of, weird Lottie stalker Charlotte was pushed off a roof by Coolgirl (or Lottie under a delusion she's Coolgirl) towards the end of volume 1, but shades of Tricky, she don't, she don't, she don't die! Instead, she's in hospital being visited by Snotgirl's ex, Sunny.

Worse than this, Lottie starts being haunted by a girl who died violently but who can't remember who killed her. Worse than that, Coolgirl elects to room with Cutegirl instead of Snotgirl, and so Lottie is stuck with Normgirl, with whom she seems to be fighting constantly. And now there's a new blogger on the block with very few followers, but who wishes to befriend Lottie and then becomes offended when Lottie spaces-out over her. Will Lottie ever have a day when things don't go disastrously south and park? Oh, and Cutegirl has a twin whom she refuses to acknowledge the existence of! And maybe Normgirl's perfectly ordered life isn't so perfect?

I loved this one and I admire Leslie Hung's drawing. She makes the characters, male and female look real, cute, and even sexy without pumping them up to improbable proportions like the super hero stories do, and Rachel Cohen's coloring is every bit as good in this volume as Mickey Quinn's work in volume one was. I commend this volume as a worthy read.


Snotgirl Vol 1 Green Hair Don't Care by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Leslie Hung, Mickey Quinn


Rating: WORTHY!

I got the two Snotgirl graphic novels from the library. The title was so bizarre that I couldn't help but request them just out of curiosity. I didn't know what to expect, but I was intrigued and I actually enjoyed reading the first one. She gets her name from this weird friendship she strikes up with a girl named Caroline, who sounds like nothing but trouble. Snotgirl's real name is Lottie Person, and she's a fashion blogger who has chronic allergies, hence the Snotgirl nickname that this new friend bestows on her. Lottie was kinder, calling her new friend Coolgirl.

Coolgirl calls her Snottie instead of Lottie, which pisses off Lottie, because she's the one always making up nicknames for fellow bloggers. She refers to one as Cutegirl, and another as Normgirl. Those three get together for Hater's Brunch once a month, which is a little breakfast club they created. Events in Lottie's life are slightly warped and a bit absurdist, so they appealed to me. I had trouble at first in trying to figure out if this other girl actually existed, or was merely a figment of Lottie's imagination - perhaps the Lottie that Lottie herself dreams she could be.

Coolgirl appeared right around the time a new allergy doctor put Lottie on an experimental medication, and from that point on, Lottie's life became even more weird. She believes that her new friend fell over in the bathroom and cracked her head open, but when she wakes up the next morning, there are no police at her door, and no reports of dead girls in bathrooms, and eventually the girl reappears in Lottie's life none the worse for wear. Did she crack her skull? Did Lottie imagine the whole thing? Does this girl even exist, or is Lottie imagining her? Maybe Coolgirl is imagining Lottie?!

The comics are done by the same guy who did "Scott Pilgrim Against the World," or whatever that was called. I never read it, but I read about it. It ended up as a movie, but I can't see something called Snotgirl making it to the movie screen. Not in the USA I'm sorry to say. Because old white men are in control, there's far too much idée fixe about how young girls should appear on movie screens in the USA to have a Snotgirl up there.

I can see it as an animated TV show. It's actually pretty funny. I think Lottie is more cute than Cutegirl. Cutegirl just seems annoying, but she's not the one who gets pushed off a building at the end of volume one!

So I have to say, if you haven't figured it out, that I am a Snotgirl fan now, and I'm very much looking forward to reading volume two already. Fortunately, I have it in hand so I can get to it right away! This comic is beautifully drawn by Leslie Hung, gorgeously colored by Mickey Quinn, and it tells quite an entrancing story. I love it.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Love Letters to Jane's World by Paige Braddock


Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I requested this from Net Galley's 'read now' collection which is always a bit of a hit and miss affair, and this was a miss I'm sorry to report, because I really thought I'd enjoy it. I was thinking that it would be a fun and amusing read, but it was neither.

I became bored with it quite quickly, which surprised me, and I made it only a third of the way through by which time I honestly could not stand to read any more. It's just not my kind of humor I guess: too cheesy and simple for my taste.

Worse than this though was that for a book which claims diversity as one of its qualities, there was one - perhaps two - people of color in the entire thing, which doesn't sound very diverse to me given that most people on the planet are people of color, and a third of them are Asian. But talking of so-called minorities, I guess I'm in the minority in disliking this since it has done well for itself over the years and been somewhat groundbreaking to boot for a comic whose main character is LGBTQIA. For me she was more LGBTMIA, though.

The story is a highly fanciful 'autobiography' it would appear, given that the main character is quite obviously modeled on the author, but I hope the author is smarter than the character depicted here, who comes across as quite stupid and thoughtless. I didn't like her, much less respect her, which didn't help to like the comic strip stories.

The artwork was very much 'Sunday Funnies' style, but in black and white line drawings, so no color diversity here either, and sometimes the text was hard to read because it was also hand drawn and rather scrappily so - something I've never understood about comics. It was large enough to read okay (for the most part) on a tablet computer, but I sure wouldn't want to try reading this on a smart phone or in a badly printed copy.

It's yet another graphic novel which doesn't acknowledge that there are ebooks, and the print book margins made it quite wasteful of trees, too. This is another negative against this comic book since trees are the only entity which is doing anything concrete to fight climate change, and here is another author/publisher seemingly determined to decimate them. And so it goes.

I wish the author all the best in her career, but I cannot recommend this one.


Green Almonds: Letters from Palestine by Anaële Hermans, Delphine Hermans


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This is an interesting story told in graphic novel form, of a trip to Israel and Palestine by one of a pair of sisters (Anaële the writer), the other sister (Delphine the artist) remaining in Belgium. I never did get out of it why the one sister went and not the other, or how she financed her trip which lasted ten months, or what the actual reason was for her trip!

The other thing that was missing was any sense of history which would have put the present circumstances into perspective. This conflict (which is much too polite a word for it) between these two peoples, and which has religion at its root, did not arise yesterday! It's been going on for centuries, but most notably since 1948 when Palestine, as it was then, was carved into two, with the Palestinians being given what is now known as Jordan, and the Israelis being given a sliver of land along the Mediterranean coast.

On the day Israel was effectively created, it was invaded by four Arab nations (later joined by four others) and yet it held its own without outside help from anyone. It's been under siege ever since, with a continual rain of rockets and mortars (well over ten thousand combined) onto Israeli territory which has been beset by terrorist attacks for some seventy years.

Over just the last two decades, these attacks have killed over two dozen Israeli civilians, five foreign nationals, at least eleven Palestinians, and only five Israeli soldiers. None of this is ever mentioned in these stories. The wall which looms large, both figuratively and literally in this story is a direct outcome of these attacks, yet none of this is ever mentioned in stories like these.

None of this excuses the Israeli behavior towards innocent Palestinians, either, which is quite flatly inexcusable, but it does put it in context. This story focuses on Palestinian deprivations and hardships, and on efforts by both Palestinians and Israelis to address the conflict. For that reason, because it gives a different and very personal perspective and about country I have also traveled in (Israel) and visited many of the places mentioned here, I consider it a worthy read, because it tells a story which definitely needs to be told, and which was both saddening and heartwarming in almost equal measures.


Goldilocks and the Infinite Bears by John McNamee


Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was an unexpected gem I found in net Galley's 'read now' selection, which is always a hit and miss affair. This was a hit. The graphic novel consists of simply-drawn cartoons - several panels and sometimes more than one page to each topic, illustrating humorous and unexpected outcomes to stories arising from assorted inspirations such as fairy tales, pop culture, religion and so on.

The very first one, for example, shows Goldilocks entering a room and unsuccessfully sampling various servings of porridge, and eventually revealing that the reasons she cannot find one to her taste is that this is hell and it's where porridge thieves are sent!

That's the kind of humor, and sometimes it's hit and sometimes miss. There were several of these I simply didn't get, or I did get (or thought I did!), but did not find funny, but there are enough here that anyone is bound to find something to their taste. The closest better-known example of this kind of humor that I can reference are the cartoons of The Far Side, although this is a bit different from that. I had the same feeling of hit and miss with those cartoons that I do with this, but this was, overall, funny enough and original enough that I consider it a worthy read.


Sailor Twain or, The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a graphic novel written and illustrated by Siegel, which I read a while back and had forgotten to blog! I do not know how that happened, but now I'm correcting that mistake. I really enjoyed this. It went on a bit long to be truly perfect, and the ending was somewhat confused, but overall it was a worthy read.

I'm not a big fan of mermaid stories, despite having an idea for one of my own! They have never made a whole lot of sense to me, but to have the, what might be called 'vagina-shaming' and erroneous insult of a fishy smell taken ownership of in so graphic a manner whereby the lower half actually is a fish, is too delicious and intriguing a concept, and I have to love it.

My lack of fanship for these stories is admirably attested to by the fact that I've reviewed only one mermaid book in my entire blog of many hundreds of reviews, and I liked that one. I know I have another somewhere on my shelf which I should read and blog, but for now, this is the only other one. That said, I watched and enjoyed an entire TV series about these mermaids who live on the coast of Queensland, Australia. it was called H2O and had a kick-ass theme song (Ordinary Girl) written by Shelly Rosenberg and performed by Kate Alexa.

The reason I made this drastic decision was that I was working on my Terrene World novel Seahorses, a follow-up to Cloud Fighters, although featuring a different cast (I'm not a fan of series!). My characters are not mermaids, but they do have special powers in this environmentally-themed, female-empowerment novel for middle-graders which was also set in that same general vicinity, and I wanted some local flavor and accent, and in the end I became quite a fan of the show because it was so cute and amusing! Plus I've always been a softie for Australians.

Anyway! Sailor Twain plies the Hudson river in New York and he lands a mermaid one day. She's sick and he keeps her hidden in his cabin as he nurses her back to health whereupon the two become quite attached. The story then becomes highly embellished with shady characters, mysterious females, and undersea enchantments, and apart from the somewhat confused ending, it tells a fun story of intrigue, fantasy, and mystery and does quite a good take on mermaid mythology. I recommend it. Or maybe just commend it. I mean, why would I recommend it when I haven't commended it in the first place? Okay...so I commend it, and now I recommend it! Yeah, that's it!