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Graphic Novelty²

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November 2016

Papergirls (Vol. 1)

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Vaughan, Brian K., Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, and Jared K. Fletcher. Papergirls (Vol. 1). 2016.

Erin is a newspaper girl growing up in Stony Stream, Ohio, in the late ’80s. The day after Halloween, 1988, she gets up and goes to work as usual. She meets a few of the other papergirls in the subdivision on her route, who have decided to group up to keep themselves safe. There’s Tiffany, a techie; KJ, incredibly book-smart; and the legendary Mac, who was the first papergirl on the block, foul-mouthed and tough and deeply caring for her friends. They set off together, not knowing there were more than just lingering ghosts and ghouls waiting for them. First they’re attacked by hooded things, then they uncover… a spaceship? And the rest of the neighborhood, their friends and families, all gone. What is going on? Can these four twelve-year old girls save the world?

I got the impression from the blurb on the back that it was more of a mystery with supernatural elements. But it’s kind of a really weird space travel, time travel, demon and angel type thing. It was super weird. Way over my threshold of weird. However, I did appreciate that all of the girls were of different ethnicities, and Cliff Chiang’s art is always a favorite. It was nice to look at but the story was so convoluted with too many odd elements clashing together that I am not interested in reading any more.

– Kathleen

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The Contract With God Trilogy

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Eisner, Will. The Contract With God Trilogy. 1978.

This epic book is considered the first graphic novel and was written by Will Eisner, whom the Eisner Awards are named after in honor of all his contributions to the world of comics.

Part I: A Contract With God– Four stories make up this Part I, all which are linked thematically with recurring issues of disillusionment and classism.  The namesake story A Contract with God is about a devout Jewish man who gives up his faith after the death of his young daughter and how he feels that all his good works and that the religious contract he had written earlier were in vain. The Street Singer and The Super detail repugnant people and the misfortune that befalls them both.  Cookalein weaves the stories of several characters staying at a blue collar resort in the Catskill Mountains, who are all striving to better themselves. This last story was fascinating and gives a peek into a forgotten chapter of how the lower middle class vacationed.

Part II: A Life Force– Much of the story centers around Jacob Shtarkah and his Jewish family as they all yearn for a better future. Within one family’s experiences you see a microcosm of what was happening in the larger world during the Depression and years leading up to WWII. Jacob wishes for more and struggles with an existential search as the eleven stories reveal the hopes and dreams of many in the Dropsie neighborhood.

Part III: Dropsie Avenue– My first thought on finishing this segment that it was the classic children’s book The Little House, written by Virginia Lee Burton in 1942, on steroids. The story begins it’s 100 year arc in 1870 in the Bronx when there were still Dutch farms. After a few decades the farms have given way to an elegant neighborhood on Dropsie Avenue. The neighborhood has some newly rich Irish immigrants move in, and then some German immigrants. Both endure discrimination before leaving. The neighborhood begins a slow decline, with tenement buildings replacing the once stately family homes, until Dropsie Avenue is quite city like.  The Depression hits the area hard, and a new wave of Italian immigrants move it, and slum landlords let the tenements go to ruin. While responsible residents remain,  the years pass by with much social upheaval, until the neighborhood is razed for a new housing development. Then begins the cycle again, with a rather depressing epilogue.

Each story can stand alone, but they all fit together as a whole for they compliment one another in tone, under the same thematic motif of cultural and religious identity. The pictures are drawn in black and white with sepia overtones, and Eisner varied his page design to great effect in his storytelling. The cityscapes were well done, but the people he depicted veered between realistic portrayals and caricatures that were culturally insensitive. Ultimately, the saga of death and rebirth makes this a classic story that deserves all the praise it has received. It was a landmark book, that forever changed how a story could be told. 

-Nancy

* Other excellent Eisner books are The Name of the Game & A Family Matter

Our Dystopian Future

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Marvel marketing tool for Fall of the Mutants.

Next year when Donald Trump, our president-elect, takes office it will be 30 years since this ad was drawn to publicize interest in the comic Fall of the Mutants, a companion piece to Marvels’ X-Men God Loves, Man Kills and Days of Future Past.  The story was a metaphor for the discrimination and spread of xenophobia that had pockets around the United States. So have we learned and grown since then? No, we very obviously have not.

As I heard the election results last night, I thought of the beginning of GLMK, when two young African American children are chased and killed by extremists who then string the dead youth up on a playground with a sign that declares them Muties. The shocking picture is reminiscent of how the KKK would make examples of their victims so others would live in fear. And now today, we have citizens that think it is alright to brand people with derogatory labels, and think that some people are less worthy than others.

We now have an elected leader who is a fear monger. Trump spreads hate and division everywhere, and I am terrified as to what his presidency will entail. Half of America brushed aside his hateful rhetoric, the allegations of sexual assault, his admitted tax evading, his bankruptcies, his swindling of students at his now defunct Trump University, and his mocking of people with disabilities.  The KKK have endorsed Trump for they see characteristics they admire, and know they have a protector in him.

Dystopian futures are very popular in stories and movies but I worry we are facing this as a reality in the years ahead. This blog post is short and angry, but I shall end it on a hopeful note and quote Maya Angelou. Let her words of hope lead us as we head into an uncertain future.

 You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Let us rise, America, let us rise.

-Nancy

 

Birds of Prey (Vol. 7): Perfect Pitch

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Simone, Gail, Paulo Siqueira, Robin Riggs, and Joe Bennett. Birds of Prey (Vol. 7): Perfect Pitch. 2007.

After Barbara’s recovery, the Birds are back in the game. Helena is infiltrating Gotham’s mobs, gaining their trust as the daughter of one of their own, to bring them down from the inside once and for all. Calculator is seeing a strange symbol everywhere – Oracle’s symbol. He will stop at nothing to find out what it is and who’s behind the green mask. He figures out who is in her inner circle and kidnaps Savant. The Birds must go up against some of the most powerful villains on Earth in order to get him back… including Deathstroke.

Halfway through the book, the arc picks back up after Infinite Crisis. Basically it’s “Birds of Prey, One Year Later” =P Dinah is absent from the Birds for now – deep in the jungles of Asia, she undergoes brutal training to gain special experience and training. The Birds have found a replacement, though – Lady Shiva. Barbara especially wishes for Canary’s speedy return. Can the Birds keep Shiva under control? Can Dinah survive the training she’s putting herself through?

It was nice to have the spotlight on Helena a little more in the first half of this issue. I have kind of a soft spot for Huntress XD We get to see a little bit of her day job, a little bit of her working alone, and a little bit of her mobster daughter. I may try another of her solo comics; the few I’ve read I didn’t particularly care for. The second half might seem a little out there but they do reference an earlier volume that makes it all make sense =P Bruce Timm’s art makes an appearance at one point which is always fun X3

– Kathleen

The Walking Dead: Compendium Three (Volumes 17-24)

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Kirkman, Robert, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn. The Walking Dead: Compendium Three. 2015.

Here we go again. Some new villains come into play, and Rick and his crew continue to fight the living and the dead! Warning- some spoilers.

Volume 17-Something To Fear: No!!!! So did you think the Governor was bad? Well then, it’s time to meet Negan. Two fan-favorites bite the dust, with the second death being especially heartbreaking. Rule of thumb with TWD- if a volume ends on a hopeful note, the next one will devastate you.

Volume 18- What Come After: After the heartbreaking death in the last volume, Rick regroups. As Negan doesn’t know who he is dealing with, he thinks he has cowed Rick and the others. He has another thing coming. I love that Heath speaks some much-needed truth to Michonne. Enough of her man-stealing crap.

Volume 19-March to War: Leaders Rick, Paul, and Ezekiel along with the residents of Alexandria, The Hilltop Colony and The Kingdom decide they are going to take on Negan. This book is another bridge book, for it is setting up characters (I like the conversation between Ezekiel and Michonne) and scenarios as they prepare for war.

Volume 20-All Out War Part 1: Rick leads the united three communities against Negan. Although they have an initial first victory, Negan regroups and comes at them again. Negan shows some crazy morals, as he stops a rape and voices his long-term strategy, but yet then he does…

Volume 21-All Out War Part 2: I have to give props to Negan- he is a fantastic villain. While evil and misguided, he is much more believable than the damn Governor. So…we have more mayhem, needless death, and double-crosses. Rick reverses yet again on moral issues- in previous books, he said they must be better than their enemies and spare them,…then wait, no, we must kill our enemies to survive…ok now we must show mercy and be civilized in this book. Pick a stance Rick, and get control of your son who tries again to be judge and jury of whether a person lives or dies.

Volume 22- A New Beginning: Two years have passed since the war with Negan and the communities have thrived since then with community building and trade networks established. Negan has been neutered, but don’t count him out. I’m sure he’ll figure out a way to create some chaos in the future. A new band of survivors has been discovered and they are as wary of Alexandria as Rick and his crew were when they discovered it. As there has been a lull in epic villainy for awhile, a new threat is discovered at the end of this volume. A new beginning indeed.

Volume 23- Whispers Into Screams: A large contingent of survivors are found, living amidst the zombies, called The Whisperers. How they have survived is revealed, but many questions remain about their motives and standard of living. Carl falls for the daughter of the leader Alpha, and is incensed regarding some of their ways. Tensions mount at the Hilltop among the different factions, and a showdown is imminent.

Volume 24- Life and Death: Beginning: Welcome back Michonne! Interesting character development to explain where she has been and why. Middle: Alexandria trade fair. The surrounding communities and their residents come together to trade, network and hook up. Ending: No!!! OMG, the boundary line set up by Alpha to warn Rick to stay away from her and The Whisperers! The last few pages break your heart, as the panels are split up showing the newest victims, and the reactions of their friends and loved ones at the fair not knowing where they are yet. The feels!

These compendiums only come out every three or four years, so you won’t see another TWD review from me until 2019 or so (although I will keep up with the smaller volumes)! Remember- “In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living”. So…put down your phone and LIVE!

-Nancy

Read the others volumes at: Compendium One, Compendium Two, Compendium Four

 

Arrow Season 4

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***There are major spoilers for seasons 3 and 4 ahead***

Let me start off by saying that this might be the first and last season of Arrow I ever review on this blog. I knew going in what was going to happen, and that the fandom backlash on this season was pretty rough. But I went in optimistic anyway, deciding to give this show one more shot. By the end of it, I’m done. I am just done.

I get ranty. I get angry. I only hope it doesn’t scare you guys off.

Continue reading “Arrow Season 4”

Sunshine Blogger Award

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Michael at My Comic Relief nominated us for this award that acknowledges “bloggers who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”. Before you read any further, make sure you check out Michael’s crazy good and insightful blog, for right now he’s wrapping up a four part series on the different incarnations of the tv/movie Jokers! Pick your favorite Joker and tell him why!

The rules to accept the Sunshine Award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the eleven questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate eleven blogs * (or however many you want) to receive the award and write them eleven new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog

 

1)  What are the five best films of the decade thus far (so that’s 2010-2016)?

Nancy: Star Wars- The Force Awakens is by far the best.  I really am stumped for others, as I don’t see many movies, and while I like a lot, there are no others that truly stand out like SW. But I will give a shout out to At Any Price because my family and I are in this movie! Seriously! We were picked from a casting call of thousands and are in a scene at the concessions stand between Dennis Quaid and Clancy Brown. My husband and daughter do a walk by the actors, and the boys and I are sitting at a picnic table behind the two men. Blink and you’ll miss us.

Kathleen: I don’t get to movies much, so I’m not sure how great these movies really are in the grand scheme of things XD I loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Lego Movie, Out of the Furnace, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and Deadpool.

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2)  What is a television show that you would suggest to anyone?

Nancy: The Americans on FX- married undercover spies from Mother Russia in the DC area in the 1980’s. Love the intrigue, the era, the actors!

Kathleen: Bob’s Burgers. Too many adult animated shows rely on crude humor or humor that hurts others, but this show is funny because it’s just plain written well. At it’s core, it’s about a family who loves each other. It’s heartwarming, a little ridiculous, but genuinely hilarious.

3)  Is there a movie you liked better than the book?

Nancy: The Magic of Ordinary Days which was a Hallmark movie. I liked the ending in the movie more than the book ending.

Kathleen: Brooklyn! The movie was soooo much better honestly just skip the book.

4)  What book deserves its own television series?

Nancy: Locke and Key! They tried a series a few years back and shot a pilot but it didn’t get picked up. Fingers crossed that it will get off the ground this time around.

Kathleen: The Hollows series by Kim Harrison, but it would do better as an animated series rather than a live action one, I think.

5)  What is your favorite movie soundtrack?

Nancy: Forest Gump! Love the evocative music throughout the decades.

Kathleen: Batman Forever. Sue me 8D

6)  What is your favorite movie score (c’mon, they’re different!)?

Nancy: Phantom of the Opera, by Andrew Lloyd Weber. When my family is not around I love to sing the theme song.

Kathleen: Lord of the Rings!!! Or Sweeney Todd.

7) Do you prefer a movie theatre or the couch at home for your initial viewing of a film?

Nancy: Some movies such as the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises deserve the theatre experience, but I’m a busy mother- real life often dictates the couch!

Kathleen: Theater, because of the shared experience. Couch is a very close second – more room to cuddle the boyfriend =P

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8)  What is your favorite genre of film?  Why?

Nancy: Suspense. I like it to have a dose of action, romance and intrigue. I want to figure out who did it!

Kathleen: Fantasy! With a dash of action and romance =P

9)  What movie do you wish had a sequel that doesn’t?

Nancy: The Incredibles! Why in the world did Cars get two sequels while the amazing Incredibles did not?? I heard that finally Incredibles 2 will be released in 2018- 14 years after the first.

Kathleen: Repo! The Genetic Opera. The ending was both tied up nicely and left a lot of things open to the imagination at the same time. I need more!!!

10)  Do you read the book and then see the movie or see the movie and then read the book??

Nancy: Are you kidding? Book first! (Except for the Outlander tv series- those books are monsters to get through).

Kathleen: I’m with Nancy! Book first, duh!

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11)  What role do films and going to/watching movies play in your life?

Nancy: Not much unfortunately. See my answer to questions #1& #9, for I have a time crunch of epic proportions. I have a huge list of movies I’d like to see some day, but that might be when my three and grown and flown!

Kathleen: I’m more into TV shows than movies, so I mostly rewatch movies to unwind when my TV queue isn’t too full.

 

We nominate these amazing bloggers:

Onebookishgirl

Comics Grinder

The Page Turner

My Side of the Laundry Room

Bookwraiths

Life of a Female Bibliophile

 

Questions you get to answer:

  1. Share a funny moment from your childhood.
  2. Which is your most memorable trip that you took?
  3. What is your most anticipated book release?
  4. Is there a movie or tv series you liked better than the book?
  5. In your opinion what is the most overrated film/series?
  6. In addition, what is the most underrated film/series you’ve encountered?
  7. Have you ever watched all the movies a particular actor or actress is in?
  8. Any museums you like to frequent?
  9. What was your first car?
  10. Which movie is like a work of art to you?
  11. Which movie or TV series is your guilty pleasure?

Thank you again Michael for the nomination!

-Nancy & Kathleen

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