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Graphic Novels You've Read Recently

GvzbgulGvzbgul Registered User regular
I love graphic novels. But I dunno where I'd discuss them. In a book thread? A comics thread? So I'm making this thread. Just post and share, even if it's just shouting into the void.

What's a graphic novel?
It's a book with pictures and sometimes words.

Some graphic novels I've read recently:

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? By Roz Chast. It's a book about her parents dying. Roz has done work for the New Yorker since the 1978 and it helps with the difficult story. Her parents are cartoon archetypes. They're so set in their ways, her dad's worrying, her mum's bossyness, they're codependent and they don't change and don't want to change. And so the book is about them dealing with changing. I think my favourite moment was the bit where Roz is going through her parents' belongings and instead the usual drawings you're shown photographs of each item. It's a moment where after being caught up in the story you remember that it isn't a story. I haven't seen much comment about the photos in reviews I've read but for me it was a special moment. Like how other comics might use a shift in art style to represent a higher reality or a story within a story. It's a comics thing I'm fond of.
chast.jpg

Special Exits. By Joyce Farmer. Joyce is an underground comics artist from the 70s who helped create Tits and Clits Comix and Abortion Eve. It's a fictional account of her parents dying (I swear, I don't just read books about parents dying). It's hard to describe why it's so good as the bulk of it is just the day to day tedium of Laura looking after her parents as their health deteriorates. It's darker and a harder read than the other book. The artwork is black and white, the humour is blacker and one of the things behind the publication of the book was Joyce's anger at the poor treatment of her mother by hospice staff. As I said, it's hard to pick out any key moment as a favourite. But a good quote from it would be “Things get worse in such small increments that you can used to anything.” It's a real good book and I'm definitely going to be reading it again, just not, soon.
special-exits-79-001.jpg

Here. By Richard McGuire. It's an achronological story of a room spanning thousands of years, past present and future. It's mostly wordless, with only a few snippets of conversation. It's less about plot than it is about the character and feeling of this room. It's just a nice book to read with an interesting perspective on things.
Here-461.jpg
(click on the images for a link to the articles I stole them from. They're all much better at describing the books than me.)

The Diary of a Teenage Girl. By Phoebe Gloeckner. I don't have much to say about it as I didn't like it. It's a graphic novel but it's more like a novel with intermittent pictures and comics that don't seem to add anything. The highlights are the two one page comics by the main character and the few scenes that makes you think "yep, that could definitely be a scene in a movie."

150,000 people die every day.
TexiKen

Posts

  • GvzbgulGvzbgul Registered User regular
    edited August 2016
    I just read Polina by Bastien Vivès.

    It's a graphic novel about ballet. It's always interesting to read comics about music or dance because they are things that are hard to do in the comics format. Polina's art intersting because it doesn't show movement in the dances. The conflict between classical ballet and contemporary ballet is a theme throughout the book and the still art shows ballet moves in their ideal forms. There is some art that is looser, particularly during the modern dance segments, but the book doesn't focus on it. Polina's arc is about her relationship with classical ballet. However, I would probably guess that the creator was not able or willing to dwell too much on the freer dance and art. It's telling that a big climatic moment in the book, when Polina is a part of an award winning modern dance group, is told not shown. This is in stark contrast to the many other (classical) performances of Polina's that are shown.

    (this image is from after she's left the classical ballet scene so it's a little looser than most)
    polina_01.jpg

    I don't really have much to say about the book as ballet isn't my thing. I've probably got some of the terms wrong in that previous paragraph, but the fact I even know half of what I'm saying is credit to the book.

    But the thing that made me want to post it was a stunning moment late in the book.
    spoilers if you wanna read it?
    seriously, you are much better off reading the whole thing as this moment rests on what came before
    So Polina had a very strict and traditional teacher, Prof Bojinsky. He'd taught her since she was six (if I have the timeline right). And this is a meeting years afterwards. They've just finished a conversation, but the conversation isn't important to the trick. And the trick is this: he takes his glasses off, and boom, he's old. It's simple but effective and perfectly captured that feeling you get when you suddenly realise that a person you've known for years is older. It might sound silly but I said 'wow' out loud when I read it. It's a trick that works because of the art. Bastien keeps things simple and while it occasionally results in creepy visuals like a eyeless person, it works for the most part and hid the passage of time in this instance.
    oDhnnr3.jpg

    edit- put in the link to the article I took the image from. Reading the article reminds me, Polina doesn't talk much. Yet you have a clear idea of what's going on in her head. The book does it so easily that I didn't even think about it.

    Gvzbgul on
    150,000 people die every day.
    DouglasDanger
  • DouglasDangerDouglasDanger Registered User regular
    I love comics and graphic novels. I read most of my comics in tpbs and buy the occasional graphic novel. Good post, thanks.

    I play games on ps3 and ps4. My PSN is DouglasDanger.
  • GvzbgulGvzbgul Registered User regular
    I've reread The House That Groaned. I'd forgotten most of it. I can't say I like it, but I did get a lot of enjoyment from it? It takes some messed up people, puts them in a house, and then gives them a glimpse of happiness before pulling the rug out from under them.

    An example:
    One lady is a dieter. She's healthy, she runs a support group for fat people. And her backstory is that she was fat and married. She wanted to have kids but her husband was a bit of a dick and didn't think she should have a baby because she's fat. So she works hard, exercises, diets, and gradually gets thinner and healthier. Finally her doctor gives her the go ahead, she goes shopping for a nice dress, rushes home...

    to find her husband fucking another man.
    And that's a lot (but not all) of the stories. They are laugh out loud in their awfulness. It's an interesting book because of the mix of cruelty and hope the book has. Sometimes hope is only there for it to be dashed, and I'm not sure if the other times hope isn't also dashed (or will be).

    The best thing about the book is the front cover. It's a little hard to tell from the picture, but the front cover has cut out windows, and when you open the book you can see inside all the rooms. It's clever, interesting, and sadly isn't done in the story all that much. Which is a shame as seeing into cut out buildings is one of my favourite tropes and it's one that comics do the best out of any medium bar none (well, I suppose doll houses would top comics, but that's pushing it).
    51QQ4LRdqnL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
    IMG_5823.jpg?1438327048

    And just cos I can, a summary of each of the main characters, spoilers, but also a warning on some of them?
    Barbara is transwoman.
    Janet runs a diet group.
    Matt retouches models' photos for a living, and can't touch other people.
    Mrs Durbach is an elderly lady who has lived in the building so long she is literally indistinguishable from the furniture.
    Brian is sexually attracted to disease and deformity.
    Marion is a morbidly obese hedonist who runs a group for gluttons.
    And yeah, their stories are gross, sad, surprising and funny.

    150,000 people die every day.
  • GvzbgulGvzbgul Registered User regular
    edited September 2016
    The Property by Rutu Modan is good. It's about a Jewish woman and her grandmother returning to Poland to reclaim the grandmother's house after they escaped to Israel during WW2. But it's more complicated than that and different characters each are doing their own thing. I find it hard to say what exactly made this book different from others. I mean, a lot of stories use a secret to drive the plot, but I think part of what makes it good for me is how well the characters work. In particular the grandmother's secrecy and the brother-in-law's jerkitude (like I said, it's hard to find the words). His jerkitude leads to my favourite moment in the book, which is at the end, so spoilers:
    The daughter and her Polish friend are confronting him in a Jewish cemetery over his bad behaviour.
    seriously, he is...


    And to avoid their confrontation he sings.
    QG3Hw3m.jpg

    This is in a Jewish cemetery on a special day of remembrance, so there's a lot of people around. It's a total jerk move but then the Grandmother comes up and WHAP! hits him with her hand bag. Best moment.

    3FCgCni.jpg
    As always, click on the pictures to see the article I stole them from. Even more spoilers there, but it's a good short read. That page is from early in the book, and it makes a pretty good statement about it is trying to accomplish. Which that article goes into.

    Gvzbgul on
    150,000 people die every day.
  • GvzbgulGvzbgul Registered User regular
    Gee, this thread just seems to be me. Oh well. Read more graphic novels people!

    The Graphic Canon is an ambitious three volume comic adapting works of literature. A lot of literature. Volume One covers from The Epic of Gilgamesh to 1800, Volume Two covers the 19th century and Volume Three covers the 20th century. Each volume is 500 pages. it's crazy. The Graphic Canon did so well that they came out with a fourth volume, The Graphic Canon of Children's Literature, which is another 500 pages of adaptations of children and young adults' stories.

    It's a blast to read, there's so much variety both in the sources and the adaptions. There's poems, speeches, stories, science, philosophical and religious texts. Some artists illustrate, others turn the works into comics, there's limited space so some artists abridge a novel or only do a chapter, there's a crazy amount of variety and there's always something new in the next entry.

    A couple of favourites: Kevin Dixon's wordless comic adaptation of the 9th chapter of Oliver Twist. I just find the flip from words only to art only fun and it shows how good comics are.
    gc2full-oliver.JPG?format=300w

    Some of William Blake's original Jerusalem: the Emanation of the Giant Albion is published. It's a prophetic work from Blake that uses both words and pictures, which shows the long history of graphic ?poetry?. I dunno what exactly the terms to use are but words+images is cool.

    And then there's stuff where I was just not aware of the original and it was cool to read that stuff. I quite liked the adaptation of Frederick Douglass's "If there is no struggle, there is no progress" speech. It was the reason I'd even picked up the book in the first place, I was just looking for stuff to do with Frederick Douglass in the library and the Volume Two popped up in the search.

    Anyway, it is a crazy ambitious work featuring the talents of many artists and well regarded works of literature. There's bound to be something to your liking in there.

    150,000 people die every day.
  • Kathy300Kathy300 Registered User new member
    I recently read V for Vendetta. I just enjoyed reading it.. It was awesome.

    Gvzbgul
  • VanguardVanguard Give up on art and become a dad in shorts at a pizza buffetRegistered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    Graphic novels I have read recently:

    Paper Girls - Loved it.

    Wytches - Gorgeous art and genuinely creepy horror. I might be biased as I grew up not too far from where this is et.

    Descender vol. 1 & 2 - I love love love the art in this thing. The story is great too, and every now and again, when I feel it meanders, Lemire brings a knockout punch of a twist.

  • simonwolfsimonwolf creator of the 2016 [chat] of the year it's always sexy pokemon [chat] in our heartsRegistered User regular
    edited November 2016
    I was gifted the first two volumes of Mizuki Shigeru's Showa: A History of Japan for my birthday and they're absolutely wonderful.

    O5Iv3QQm.png

    It's a history of the Showa period, aka 1926-1989 (the lifetime of Emperor Hirohito), and it's also Mizuki telling the story of his life as a person who grew up in that time, was drafted into the army, lost an arm fighting the Americans in the Pacific, and eventually becoming one of Japan's most famous manga authors. But the real trick is how he zooms in and out to contextualise the period, not just giving you facts and figures about the battles and the expansion of the Japanese army, but sometimes taking the time to tell you about the time he and his brothers walked twenty miles to buy doughnuts for the first time, or how his grandmother died of tuberculosis that she contracted after trying to earn the family money by being a caretaker for a sick man.

    He's very clearly anti-militaristic and critiques both sides of the war, but it's also an incredibly well-made and accessible telling of the history of the 20th century.

    simonwolf on
    GvzbgulKipling217
  • GvzbgulGvzbgul Registered User regular
    Woah, that's cool. I'm currently reading his book on Hitler but I haven't finished it yet.

    150,000 people die every day.
  • simonwolfsimonwolf creator of the 2016 [chat] of the year it's always sexy pokemon [chat] in our heartsRegistered User regular
    I'm also reading The Osamu Tezuka Story, which is a stark contrast with Mizuki's work. Mizuki's honesty about himself (which extends into self-deprecation at times) comes across as refreshing compared with how The Osamu Tezuka Story (which should, be noted, isn't autobiographical, but co-authored with Tezuka Productions) trips over itself constantly to talk about how talented, hard-working, prolific, etc etc Tezuka was.

    P7DnqYm.jpg?1

    It's an interesting book, to be sure, and I have no doubt that Tezuka was a talented and prolific artist (despite Miyazaki Hayao's vehement dislike of the man and his oeuvre), but it really could have stood to be a smidge less fellating in its overview of Tezuka's life. Tezuka comes across less as a person and more the Patron Saint of Manga and Anime.

  • GvzbgulGvzbgul Registered User regular
    edited December 2016
    613WvZEafcL._SX365_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
    I finished Shigeru Mizuki's Hitler, and that is a pretty good book. It focusses on Hitler, taking the "Great Man" approach to history. I was taught in High School and Uni a bigger view of society shaping history. But reading about Hitler the way Shigeru presents him makes me realise that I haven't got the whole picture (assuming that what Shigeru shows is true, and I have no reason to believe it isn't).

    It's an interesting book because Hitler is portrayed as cartoonish, inspirational, comedic, sympathetic, and tragic. Which are weird things to say about Hitler. But I think it works. It is deliberately focussing on Hitler, the man, and this means other things like the Holocaust fade into the background (although they are not totally ignored). But it is impressive how Hitler goes from a vagrant artist to a member of a party of 7, to dictator of Germany.

    I appreciated that he ties the Nazi Party to economics. Economy does well, the Nazi Party loses votes, economy does poorly, Nazi Party gets votes. It's also interesting that while Hitler has a great deal of control over people in the early stages, by the time WW2 is properly rolling he is less an actor than a reactor. Which is obvious, given that Germany lost, but from a story telling perspective it's important as even in the late stages of the war he was ordering people around. Often historians will talk about Hitler getting more involved in the military side of things as a key part of his downfall but Shigeru doesn't really show that. He's interested in telling a story of Hitler's arc. Aside from a few major orders like the order for the troops at Stalingrad to fight to the death we are not shown much. Instead, Hitler hides in his holiday home and then his bunker and reacts to bad news after bad news.

    The writing was a little too simplistic and literal for me. There's a lot of "this is how I feel" "this is what I am doing." But I'm blaming the translators for that.

    I quite like the mix of realistic and cartoonish artwork. It belittles Hitler while treating the situation seriously.
    hitler-shigeru-mizuki-extrait.jpg
    I don't think I've ever seen Hitler's moustache drawn like that before.

    Gvzbgul on
    150,000 people die every day.
    Sorce
  • GvzbgulGvzbgul Registered User regular
    edited December 2016
    I also read The Wolf Man, which I think is written by a Dr. Freud fanboy but it comes off as "Freud was a know nothing know it all" to me. At least it isn't as bad as another graphic novel about Freud (Hysteria) by the same author I read that ended with a plea for a return to Freud's "positive thinking healing."

    I also also read Lighter Than My Shadow, an autobiographical comic about anorexia. It is really effective because it so long (over 500 pages). She gets better, "oh fuck I'm only a 1/5th of the way through." She gets better, "oh fuck, I'm only half way through." She gets better there's more, she gets better, there's more.

    edit- gee, it's like I have autocorrect but for my brain.

    Gvzbgul on
    150,000 people die every day.
  • GvzbgulGvzbgul Registered User regular
    edited January 12
    51wzDP5Ox0L._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    The Law of the Desert Born, it's cool. It's an adaptation of a western written by Louis L'Amour. I dunno. I love (spaghetti) western films, but western novels haven't really been something I've gotten into. I dimly remember reading some when I was younger and read everything I could get my hands on. Western stuff is something I'm very interested in, but 'classic' western stuff isn't. The Law of the Desert Born is and adaptation of a classic western short story, and it has changed a lot in the process. I bet I would not be half as interested in the original story, the adaptation seems to have brought out some of the tension that lay in the background of the original, which was more generic and Romantic. I particularly enjoyed how my point of view changed throughout the book. Usually there's a character that the reader follows who is the protagonist and is a good guy (usually, but this is a western so definitely). But there's enough twists and turns and uncertainty that I found myself changing sides. That uncertainty could be a bad thing, it muddies the story a bit, you're along for the ride and don't have a sense of where you're going. But it's a nice ride, and the lovely black and white art makes it enjoyable enough. Though not my thing, it's a fine book.

    I read another book recently that I wanted to also post about, but I can't remember what it was now.


    edit-
    Ah! I remembered. Blacksad! Go read Blacksad. It's real good.
    B2PiN9VCcAAgw5c.jpg
    So good. Noir detective fiction with animals. Wait wait wait! No, it's not a furry thing. Ok, yes, they do yiff. But it's a noir thing, unfaithful wives, femme fatales etc. Look, that's just a small part. And it's not a furry thing. Every part is brilliant, the fights, the dialogue, the mishmash of decades creating a perfect world for noir plots and events. Just read it. Trust me.

    Gvzbgul on
    150,000 people die every day.
  • haaayeshaaayes Sheffield, UKRegistered User new member
    edited January 15
    Vanguard wrote: »
    Graphic novels I have read recently:

    Paper Girls - Loved it.

    I liked Paper Girls (I've only read volume one so far) - the central story idea was brilliant. But I thought it was too dialogue-heavy, to the point of being self-indulgent at times (very much a writer's comic rather than an artist's). I'd have liked for it to let itself breathe every once in a while, and take in the creepiness of what was happening without characters constantly making quips. I'm like, 'I get it, Brian, you're clever.'

    I'm finally getting around to reading Persepolis which is blowing my mind and heart right now. Even though her style is so minimalist I get that 'I'll never be this good' feeling.

    haaayes on
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