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Del Rey

The Hobbit: An Illustrated Edition of the Fantasy Classic

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit content passing his days sitting on his front porch, blowing smoke rings, and drinking tea. All that changes when the wizard Gandalf appears on his doorstep, asking if Bilbo would like to participate in an adventure. Well, hobbits simply do not have adventures! But despite Bilbo’s protests, Gandalf along with a large group of dwarves show up at his door for tea the next day. They are on a quest to take back the stolen treasure that is their leader Thorin Oakenshield’s birthright. One problem… the treasure was stolen by a dragon named Smaug. Bilbo, of course, is horrified… and intrigued. Despite himself, he finds himself travelling with the band of dwarves and wizard. Together, they meet elves, almost get eaten by trolls, get kidnapped by goblins, and confront the most feared dragon in Middle-Earth.

The subtitle stresses that it’s an illustrated edition, which I think in a few respects is true. While it is laid out like a graphic novel, and reads like one, this one is significantly more text-heavy than previous graphic novel adaptations I’ve read. It takes dialogue and expository passages straight from the book. As a result, there are many more text boxes into which the text was all squished. This made the text very small and hard to read at times. The book could have greatly benefited from a larger format (it was a little smaller than your usual trade paperback), or further editing to cut out some of the more unnecessary text.

The illustrations were lovely. They were whimsical and colorful and perfectly suited the lighter tone of The Hobbit. Even the darker places and passages were filled with a light and airy quality. I enjoyed them very much, and I could easily see the appeal for both older and younger readers. Like with the Harry Potter Illustrated Editions, I could see this edition being used by parents to introduce Tolkien to young children. It was in the teen graphic novel section at the public library I work at, but I’d say middle school children would be able to read it on their own.

While a bit too text-heavy for my taste, this was a wonderful adaptation of The Hobbit in graphic novel form. The illustrations will be the big appeal here, as they draw you into a whimsical and colorful Middle Earth.

– Kathleen

Tolkien, J.R.R. Adapted by Charles Dixon with Sean Deming. Illustrated by David Wenzel. The Hobbit: An Illustrated Edition of the Fantasy Classic. 2001.

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Blood Crime

Ivy and Rachel are still on the beat, bringing in drug dealers, petty thieves, and the like. But lately, more accidents have seemed to happen, even around the accident-prone Rachel. When a solid stone gargoyle from a church nearly falls on top of them, Ivy knows something is up. Someone has clearly put a hit out on Rachel, but who and why? Piscary? He gave Rachel to Ivy as a blood gift, but he has lied to Ivy about his intentions before. Art, Ivy’s old boss? He’s got motive, sure, but he’s rotting away in prison, right where Ivy put him.

As Ivy delves deeper into the mystery, she starts losing herself more and more in her feelings for Rachel. One of these days, she’s going to crumble… and everything she’s fought so hard to keep control over, to keep her own, will be undone.

I found this one to be slightly better than the first. My issue with the art is still there – blocky anatomy and lack of varied facial expression – but the characterization made up for it. We read the Hollows series from Rachel’s point of view, and though there have been short stories written from other’s point of view, I had never read any from Ivy’s. You really feel for her as she struggles to maintain control of herself to break away from her abuser. The mystery left unfinished in the last volume was never picked up here, which was jarring and disappointing.

As a whole, this duology is okay. Good writing and solid characterization carry the sub-par art. As much as I like this series and would like it to be accessible to GN readers, you’d honestly be better served reading the books.

– Kathleen

Harrison, Kim and Gemma Magno. Blood Crime. 2012.

Blood Work

Harrison, Kim, Pedro Maia, and Gemma Magno. Blood Work. 2011.

Have any of you guys heard of the Hollows series?

*crickets and tumbleweeds*

I’m about to open new doors for you then 8D XD

The Hollows is written by Kim Harrison, and starts with the book titled “Dead Witch Walking.” It’s about a witch named Rachel, a vampire called Ivy, and a pixy named Jenks who start a runner (private detective) agency together. It’s set in an alternate universe in which a good chunk of humanity was wiped out in the ’60s by virus started with a genetically mutated tomato (yes, you read that right). That event, known as the Turn, was when the supernatural beings came out and helped the world run smoothly while the humans recovered. At the time of the Hollows books, humanity and the supernatural live and work together in relative harmony.

Two graphic novels were written as a prelude to the Hollows series, when Rachel was an intern under Ivy in the I.S. (Inderland Security), one of the two main police forces in the novels. This is the first.

Ivy enjoys working alone. Someone must be out to punish her when Denon, her boss, assigns her Rachel Morgan, an intern and a witch, to be her new partner. In fact… punishment is likely what it is, but who it’s from is anyone’s guess. Ivy has just put away her last boss for murder. She’s just started a blood fast, as well, and her master vampire Piscary is less than pleased with her.

Rachel is impetuous, innocent impulsive… and just plain annoying. She’s also very powerful, but has no idea. Ivy is instantly attracted to her unique mix of innocence and power. She has to get herself under control, however, resist temptation… lest she becomes just like Piscary, her master, whom she loves and loathes in equal measure…

To be honest, I wasn’t completely sold. The art is kind of subpar. Both women look like they have the same facial expressions most of the time, even under extreme stress. The anatomy is solid, just really stiff and blocky, and shows most in the fight scenes. The visual of Ivy “vamping out”, to borrow a phrase from the novels, is really cool. It was different from what I had envisioned in the novels and helped me understand it better. The characterization and writing is just as good as it was in the novels, but it felt really pared down. This is likely due to the format, but it almost felt… bare-bones. I’m attributing this to me being more used to Harrison’s writing as a book format, not as a flaw of the book itself.

It’s tricky to recommend this to someone who wouldn’t be at least familiar with the books, however. There are too many characters who have small parts but whom one might miss the significance of, and things that I could easily understand from having read the novels aren’t explained in great detail here. I think this one might be for fans only. Those who haven’t read at least the first 2 or 3 books might be lost. Hoping the second is better!

– Kathleen

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