Tag Archives: graphic novels

Marbles by Ellen Forney

Marbles by Ellen Forney: It’s no secret that loads of famous artists suffered mental health problems, often severe and untreated. But will medication rob one of one’s creativity? What if the mental health issues are key to the art? In this unabashedly frank graphic memoir, Forney relates her adventures with bipolar syndrome, from diagnosis to eventual stability. Her ups and downs, as well as her fear of being “cured”, were very familiar to me, almost uncomfortably so. It made me want to read some of the other books Forney references, from The Unquiet Mind to biographies of various artists. This is a good book both for those suffering bipolar syndrome and for those hoping to understand the disease better from the outside. And, being a graphic work with drawings that somehow manage to be at once both simplistic and incredibly detailed, it’s a very quick read. I devoured it in two short evenings.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: My first exposure to this comic was the movie a few years ago. I’d heard of it, of course, knew it to be one of those Graphic Novels Everyone Should Read, but before watching the movie I never had much interest. However, given both the amazing scope of the plot and my general confusion about same, I picked up a copy of the book within a week of seeing the film. (And promptly left it on the shelf for the next two years, but that’s par for the course.) And while the movie is actually quite true to the book, there were some things left out by necessity, such as the entire subplot about the people at the newsstand and the pirate comic book. Which were interesting and added quite a bit, but not strictly necessary in the larger scheme of things. If you’re not familiar with it, this story takes place in an alternate 1985, where the existence of superheroes has changed history – we won the Vietnam War, Nixon is still president, etc. Between comic chapters are additional documents, such as excerpts from the original Nite Owl’s memoirs, Silk Spectre’s scrapbook, and newspaper articles. It’s all very well-done, very believable. Rorschach remained the most interesting character, but the comic brought additional depth to Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias – the latter in particular, actually. (It didn’t help that he was horrendously miscast either.) The story as told in the comic made sense and was actually far more astonishing and memorable than the movie. It’s the most believable superhero story I’ve ever read, and one of the more plausible alternate histories as well. If you can handle the violence and often disturbing imagery (the comic-within-a-comic especially), this is one graphic novel you should definitely check out.

Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi

Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi: This was my first graphic novel in quite a while. The art style was very simple, like it had been drawn with black Sharpie, yet amazingly expressive. The framework is of a group of women (the author and her relatives) sharing tales of past relationships. Some of them are funny, some are sad, but all are memorable. It’s also a very quick read; I finished it in a single sitting. I’m not sure so sure it needed to be a graphic novel – most of the drawings are just of women’s faces speaking – but it worked well in this format all the same. I’ll be on the lookout for Satrapi’s more famous work, Persepolis.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

WG 2010-19: Getting Graphic

This week’s WG is about graphic novels. Now, despite the fact that I’m married to a webcomic artist, my experience with comics is extremely limited. I am slowly (oh, so slowly) working my way through the Death Note manga series and have read the first few collections of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but I’ve only read three self-contained graphic novels: Malice, which was kind of meh; In Odd We Trust, which was pretty decent; and Cancer Vixen, which was absolutely excellent.

My to-be-read pile has quite a few goodies, however, including The Crow, Watchmen, Preludes and Nocturnes, and Maus. I look forward to those. I have to get into a special mode to read graphic novels, though, or else I just zip from word balloon to word balloon and miss the illustrations all together.  I suspect that comes from reading comic strips (which I love), since often the dialogue is all that really matters.  Not so in graphic novels.

I am also, ostensibly, writing my own graphic novel. As of this writing the story, dialogue, and storyboarding is all finished. All that’s left is the actual drawing. You know, just a minor step.

Malice by Chris Wooding

Malice by Chris Wooding: I received this book for Christmas and was surprised to find that the embossing on the cover protruded a half a centimeter, which is way too thick to fit very well on a bookshelf. But that’s neither here nor there in the long run. The story itself has a pretty standard set-up: Luke gets his hands on a supposedly dangerous comic-book that turns out to actually be dangerous. He gets sucked into its horrific world and his friends go in after him. Luckily, there are plenty of twists to keep things interesting, such as the motives behind the existence of Malice, Kady’s past, and Justin’s secrets. The art, unfortunately, is pretty poor, to the point where I was having trouble distinguishing between the characters. I was a little disappointed in the ending as well, which is more or less a cliffhanger to be (presumably) resolved in the next book. I understand the purpose behind that tactic, but I was a little disappointed nonetheless. I think, had the story wrapped up in a single volume (or I had the second volume at hand), I would have felt differently. I could see someone in their early teens really enjoying this.

In Odd We Trust by Dean Koontz and Queenie Chan

In Odd We Trust by Dean Koontz and Queenie Chan: I’ve read the first three Odd Thomas novels. I really enjoyed the first one (Odd’s a pretty nifty character) but the second two, not so much. So when I heard the new graphic novel was actually a prequel to the first book, I got interested. And you know, it was pretty okay. The art wasn’t stellar but it was actually pretty fantastic to actually get to see Pico Mundo, Stormy, and the rest. And since it was just pictures and dialogue, most of Koontz’s purple prose was left out, making it a much tighter story. If other Odd Thomas comics come out I’ll probably look them up.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto

Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto: This is the true story, told as a graphic novel, of a NYC cartoonist and her battle with breast cancer. She is diagnosed mere weeks before her wedding to restauranteur Silvano Marchetto, and between that, her job, and the constant nuisance of models hitting on her fiance, things start to get a little harried. The comic format lends levity when needed, but never detracts from the serious parts. Since Marchetto describes every excruciating step of her diagnosis and treatment in great detail, I learned a lot about the process. My mom had breast cancer a few years ago (she survived and is doing fine now, thank goodness), but since I was living 700 miles away at the time I didn’t really experience it first-hand. I don’t usually like reading survivor stories, but this one was pleasantly non-glurgy, even if I couldn’t always relate to her fashionista tendencies. This is something I would urge all women to read, especially those dealing with a recent diagnosis. It’s funny and touching and ultimately uplifting.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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