Search

Graphic Novelty²

Month

August 2018

Trashed

“An ode to the crap job of all crap jobs” is an excellent introduction to this graphic novel that is equal parts fiction, non-fiction and memoir.

Trashed is written by Derf Backderf who is most famous for knowing serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in high school and writing a book about him, My Friend Dahmer. In this book here he too recounts stories of his youth as a trash collector, but fleshed it out to bring it up to date and add facts about the garbage collecting industry. This book about trash is surprisingly good and has a rather timeless feel.

Derf switched the narrative away from himself and writes the story from fictional college drop out JB’s perspective. JB and his friend Mike suffer through an entire year of garbage collecting in their hometown, starting as easily grossed out newbies to being stoic workers in a year’s time. They work with a misfit crew:  their boss who never gives them a moment’s peace, the hipster roommate, the truck driver who is a genius but has no common sense, a creepy racist, along with a few good guys.  Small town politics are shown along with the realities of just getting by in a working class environment. And of course there is the endless supply of garbage that people heedlessly throw out, not thinking of the workers, much less the impact their waste has on the world. Out of sight out of mind.

Interspersed among the narrative are the non-fiction segments that show how trash collection has evolved from medieval times to present day. These sections will really make you pause and think of your own goods consumption and subsequent trash. Its sobering to realize that despite recycling efforts America’s trash is a huge and growing issue. A brief mention is made of how other countries handle their waste in better ecological ways than we do, but going into more depth than that would veer off too far from the narrative.

As I said in my Dahmer review, Derf’s artwork is very reminiscent of Robert Crumb and of Don Martin from Mad magazine, with the angular and strangely jointed people. It is all drawn in black and white, and while not an attractive art style, it does get that underground comix vibe right. This subject matter is certainly socially relevant and satirical in nature, with Derf drawing with loving detail the most disgusting parts of the job. Because I read this book after his first, I could not help but compare the two books to each other as his style is very distinctive and the Ohio setting is the same. I kept on expecting a teen aged Dahmer to appear as some of his characters look eerily familiar to how he drew him in the other book.

While this graphic novel may not be a light heartened romp, it is worth a read for its humor and insight into an issue we should be more informed about.

-Nancy

Backderf, Derf. Trashed. 2015.
Advertisements

A Bride’s Story (Vol. 4)

We turn our focus back on Mr. Smith in this volume, as he and his guide continue on their road to Ankara. As they skirt the Aral Sea, they are led to a fishing village by a lively pair of twins named Laila and Leily. They are of an age to marry, but their father hasn’t gotten started on making them a match yet! Since they know the kind of men they want, they decide to take their nuptials into their own hands – which, more often than not, gets them into trouble! Meanwhile, Pariya’s father has met with the father of a boy that has taken an interest in her! Pariya is extremely nervous – she likes the boy as well, but won’t her forceful personality scare him away, just like all the others?

I cannot overstate it – I adore this manga. The illustrations are so lovingly detailed, and really ground you in the setting. The only thing I didn’t like about this volume were the introduction of the twins. Their comedic relief was a bit overdone for me. The leisurely pace is still a big draw for me. Even if I wish we would meander back to Amir and Karluk at some point, the journey is still worth it.

– Kathleen

Mori, Kaoru. A Bride’s Story (Vol. 4). 2013.

Discussion Post: Star Trek vs Star Wars

I wish to discuss the age old question… are you a fan of Star Trek or Star Wars?

If you follow this blog, you may have noticed that I love both. I have written many a post about both franchises. But I am in the minority that I like both- many people are either firmly in one camp or the other. So, let’s discuss the similarities and differences of both these space westerns, and I hope you will share why you like one vs the other.

Star Trek started on television in 1966. It’s supposed five year mission lasted only three. An animated series followed in 1973 and the first movie with the original crew debuted in 1977. It presented an idealistic and Utopian future, with Earth moving past it’s racial and cultural differences, and ready to explore space. The tagline was “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!”. The franchise was reinvigorated with the new television series The Next Generation, which was then followed by Deep Space 9 (DS9), Voyager, Enterprise and most recently Discovery. The movie series was rebooted in 2009 with new actors portraying TOS crew, but on a different timeline to avoid canon issues.

This is minus the new Discovery crew!

Star Wars was an immediate hit in 1977 when it debuted on the big screen. Set in the past, this more swashbuckling series also had a strong spiritual component and was a straight up adventure. Two more hit movies came out in 1980 & 1983, making stars of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. But that seemed to be that until the series was  given a new prequel trilogy starting in 1999 which established how Darth Vader came to be. Again a pause, but starting in 2015 Disney continued the journey of the original three stars with a new trilogy plus stand alone movies set in the Star Wars universe. With the Disney machine behind this franchise, it is set for years to come.

This is minus the newest trilogy !

Here are but a few of the differences between the two series:

Science vs Drama

Future vs Past

TV series vs Movies

Logic vs Spiritualism

Gene Rodenberry vs George Lucas

JJ Abrams vs JJ Abrams

( Ha!- He has directed movies from both franchises!)

 Paramount vs Disney

Now I shall reveal my favorite of the two…Star Trek!  While I might have grown up on Star Wars, it was discovering Star Trek: TNG that established my nerd cred. Star Wars was cool to like then, and still is today. For me to admit that I adored Star Trek took some spunk. My sorority sisters in college were kind of shocked that I liked it so much but they loved me so they put up with my “eccentricities”. I could talk about the various series for hours and eventually wore down my boyfriend (now my husband) into watching the episodes with me. The Star Trek fandom might have less numbers but they make up for it in kindness, as the Star Wars fandom can be toxic at times.

So…are you a Live Long & Prosper fan or a May The Force Be With You? Tell me why!

-Nancy

 

Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 5): Heart of the Amazon

After travelling the world, working with the military, bringing peace to all, Wonder Woman could use a little down time. The perfect opportunity arrives when Etta’s brother is getting married, and Etta could use a plus one. When a bomb is uncovered at the reception, however, it looks like business as usual. There are some who think that Diana’s blood – her Amazon DNA – could make them strong, make them a hero. There are others who think that her blood could cure countless diseases. And still others want her blood to make an army. Whoever they are, they used Diana’s friends to get to her – and Diana is out for blood herself.

This is the first volume that Shea Fontana wrote. I didn’t find it quite up to par with Vols. 1-4, which Greg Rucka wrote. Those are undoubtedly some hard shoes to fill, but I just didn’t find the same emotional resonance in this volume as in Rucka’s work. This volume is a lot more action-oriented. I found myself struggling with the DNA plot point – Diana’s powers are blessed upon her by the patrons, not as a result of any superhuman gene. It doesn’t make sense for anyone to WANT her DNA. I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief for this one. The artists varied from issue to issue – which is really just a personal nitpick as the art was all great =P My absolute favorite continues to be Jenny Frisson’s variant covers. They’re! Just!! So!!! GREAT!!!! I LOVE THEM!!!!!

Also included in this volume are stories from Wonder Woman: Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman Annual #1, which features this gem:

ww-annual-kaiju-fetch

Yes. Diana, Princess of Themyscira, playing fetch with a Godzilla-type creature. My heart can’t take it 😭

– Kathleen

Fontana, Shea, Mirka Andolfo, and David Messina. Wonder Woman (Rebirth, Vol. 5): Heart of the Amazon. 2018.

I’m (still) a Pokémom!

Two years ago (has it been that long?!) I wrote my first post about playing Pokémon Go as an adult. At the time I justified it, for all three of my children played it as did many of youth at the library I work for.  But my children have all quit, yet I am still playing. I am the only Mom out there who wants her kids to play, and was sad when they stopped.

For 2+ years I have consistently played this game- which is quite shocking even to me- as I have never been much of a game player. I played some Pac-Man in my youth, and I’d play Mario Cart or Wii games with my kids, but I never saw the appeal in video or handheld games. Until now. I seriously can not stop. Once they introduced the incentive of earning extra points if you played consecutive days, I knew I was hooked. The game amuses me to no end, like when I find a gym that players have filled with all of one type of creatures- just for fun. This one was filled with all flyers.

A point of pride for me is that I have never spent a dime on this game. You can buy “coins” that let you purchase more tools to help you in the game, or even to buy your avatar more clothing. Since I’m embarrassed to even be playing this game at my age, I’m certainly not going to spend money on it. I like to pat myself on the back and tell myself my game play is more authentic that way.

I have been planning on writing this post for awhile, but I set a goal for myself to catch the elusive Mew first. I did so through “A Mythical Discovery” that had gamers compete eight multi step challenges to earn the right to catch the legendary Mew. One step took me forever to complete. Kathleen who also plays sent me a funny message with a screen shot she took of a glitch in the system that showed me catching a creature that at that time I had not captured yet.

During my recent family vacation, I finally completed that last excellent throw and captured the little bugger. I actually squealed and shouted out to my family about my success. They were not as impressed as they should have been.  All this effort for a pink little cat/mouse hybrid thingy.

I have no plans to quit and am quite excited that next week a new quest is being released that will set me on a new journey to nab the new legendary Celebi.  It just goes to show- that you never know what game (or book) will appeal to a person. So, I gotta GO, and catch me some more Pokémon!

-Nancy

Header picture is from the website Game Replays.

Rose (Vol. 1)

In a world where all magic disappeared with the Guardians and their Khats, a young girl starts to exhibit the old signs. Not many people remember, but her mother remembers the stories. The Queen Drucilla remembers: she’s the one who killed them all. She is rooting out anyone who, like Rose, starts to show signs of magic, and she’s not discriminatory about who else she kills. Rose’s entire village is eradicated, leaving her devastated, angry, and out for revenge. Once she meets her Khat, marking her as a Guardian of the realm – all bets are off.

I found the story pretty generic. It’s that classic high fantasy coming-of-age story, with the typical characters to match. The thing that bothered me the most was the Queen herself: all evil, no questions asked, with stereotypical dark skin. The art made the writing bearable, though. It was lush and detailed, like the prose of my favorite fantasy novels. It’s an okay addition to the fantasy graphic novel genre, but those who prefer more finesse in their writing might want to look elsewhere.

– Kathleen

Finch, Meredith, and Ig Guara. Rose (Vol. 1). 2017.

Other People

Other People is two beautifully told stories about family and community relationships, with spot on character studies.

The first story, Days of the Bagnold Summer, is an in depth look of a summer between a mother and her teenage son after his plans to visit his father in Florida fall through. Set in a small British town, Sue and Daniel uneasily move through their days, with Sue trying to connect with her metal-head teenager. Daniel skulks around home, not truly upset about not making the annual trip to visit his father and stepmother, but not wanting to admit it to his mother.  Six weeks pass, with Daniel slowly gaining some insight and empathy towards his mother, who does her damndest in trying to prod him lovingly in the right direction. Their interactions were so true to life, and the conclusion with the two of them heading to a family wedding was sweet.

I connected with this story at many levels, as Sue is shown at the library she works at, and as a librarian myself, I laughed at some of the observations she made about patrons there. But it was a mother trying to relate to her teen that was the most poignant for me. Actually I am a mother to three teens- and believe me, there are days that are hard with them. I had so much compassion for the character of Sue and I wanted to shake clueless Daniel, although at heart he wasn’t a bad son. I look forward to the movie they are going to make of this story.

 

The longer second story, Driving Short Distances, was another character study, this time between Sam and his boss Keith. Sam is  27 and at a crossroads in life, as he failed out of university and had a breakdown; so Keith, who is a distant relative of the family, takes him on as a sort of an apprentice in his distribution and delivery business. That Sam truly never figures out what Keith does on his endless errands is a running gag. Keith’s false boasting and foibles become evident as Sam is stuck in the car with him for hours a day, but Sam becomes more confident as the story progresses and he knows he has to stop being carried about in the current and grapple with making himself a new life. The story is a sort of love letter to small town life, as Keith and Sam interact with the same residents day in and out, and I laughed out loud several times. By the end, you are aching for both men, as this tender story shows how toxic masculinity can prevent men from really connecting with one another.

Image result for driving short distances

Author Joff Winterhart really captures the frailties, oddities and connections between people especially in small communities where people have known each other and their families for generations.  His sketchwork captures the essence of people, warts and all, drawn in black and white with excellent shading. His blue overwash in the second story hints towards the depression that both men exhibit, showcasing that Winterhart’s deceptively simple looking artwork is quite effective. I am thankful to NetGalley for bringing to my attention this graphic novel and it’s charming stories.

-Nancy

Blogging Friends Tribute!

I’m back from my family vacation! My family traveled to Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio, Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, and wrapped up our trip in Washington DC. We enjoyed nature, history and culture- but an added bonus when I was traveling was meeting some of my blogging friends in real life!

My family and I met Michael of My Comic Relief and Kalie of Just Dread-Full , who are romantic partners, for lunch as we traveled between Cuyahoga Valley and Gettysburg. They traveled close to two hours to meet us!

Kathleen, my writing partner, wanted to meet them too- but a photo of her would have to suffice.

As we arrived at the restaurant first, my daughter asked what would happen if they didn’t show. Was I going to be catfished? But they were there soon afterwards and there was no awkwardness and our conversations flowed as they do on-line.  I had been so nervous about meeting them- they both are so funny and write so intelligently, would I be super lame in comparison? But both were authentic to their blog voices and Michael was as verbose as I had expected (and hoped) he’d be. Two hours zipped by, and my entire family enjoyed meeting Michael and Kalie, but eventually we had to finish our drive to Gettysburg.

After we spent a few days in Gettysburg, my family headed to Washington DC. On our first day there we visited Mount Vernon and Arlington Cemetery. Between those two locations, we planned to meet Jeffrey from The Imperial Talker, who lives in the area. He was also accommodating to my family’s schedule, and modified his day to meet us.  He and his wife Jen met us for lunch, and he too was as awesome in real life as he is on his blog. Jeff and Michael are best friends in real life, so it was neat to be able to talk about one another, now that we all had met. We even planned for a possible meet up next year in Chicago if something we are working on is approved (hint- it has something to do with Star Wars).

Kathleen didn’t photo bomb this picture, instead our spouses did!

One of my favorite parts of blogging is the on-line friendships that I have established. Until I started to blog myself, I had doubted people’s claims that real friendships could be made without meeting one another. But it’s true! That I truly have met Michael, Kalie and Jeff is icing on the cake. Thanks to Jen and my family who were all amazingly chill about meeting people they didn’t know for lunch, so I could meet my FRIENDS!

-Nancy

(Header picture borrowed from WebDev Studios)

The Ghost, the Owl

One night, a girl appears in the forest, dancing on the lake. The animals have never seen her before. She’s a ghost, but undoubtedly human – probably best to leave her alone. Wise Owl thinks she looks confused and scared, so he goes to talk to her. The girl can’t remember a thing about what happened to her, and she is grateful for Owl’s help, but confused too. She does remember that people don’t go out of their way to help others. Owl doesn’t think that’s true. Eventually they find a house, with a young woman inside, defending it against a man who wants to take it from her. What is the Ghost’s connection to this place? Can they help the woman who currently lives there?

This was a unique read. Let’s start with the layout. There are no panels like in a traditional graphic novel. Instead, the whole page is one big illustration, in what appears to be watercolor and colored pencil, with speech bubbles peppered throughout. Sinuous brushstrokes move softly through the pages and gently guide the reader from one speech bubble to the next. I read it twice (it’s very short) just to study the art and how it connected the text in such a subtle, non-invasive, yet wholly pervasive way. I am in thrall of the masterful craftsmanship that went into this graphic novel.

Template
The Ghost, the Owl (pg. 5).

The story was pretty open-ended. Enough is explained so the reader is placed appropriately in the story, but just enough is left out so the reader is left to draw their own conclusions about various elements, including the ending. I could recommend it to a variety of age groups. I enjoyed it immensely as an adult, but I would easily give it to a middle-schooler because of the short length and the discussions of selflessness and man vs. nature that could start with this book. High schoolers could talk about more of the same, but would better appreciate the folklore inspiration for the story and the open-ended writing. Beautifully rendered and highly recommended.

– Kathleen

Franco and Sara Richard. The Ghost, the Owl. 2018.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑