Cecil and Jordan in New York
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Cecil and Jordan in New York

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  509 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Short stories, including the adapted-to-film original Cecil and Jordan in New York
Gabrielle Bell splits her cartooning time between creating wry sketchbook autobiographical comics, such as those included in her 2006 graphic novel, Lucky, and working on more detailed fictional short stories. This collection represents her short comics work that has been published in
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published September 16th 2008)
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Imagine a linear story. Now imagine cartoonist Gabrielle Bell studying it with her hands on her hips. She takes a giant scissors, the kind used by mayors at ribbon cutting ceremonies, and makes two incisions into the tale. A snip here, a snip there. What's left is a short story without context, unfettered by fatty back story and neat closing statements. Like walking into the middle of a conversation and then leaving before it ends -- or before being told, for instance, it was all just a dream.

While reading this collection, I had one of those experiences where time and space stop completely only to deposit you at some future point an hour and a half later in life, your neck and shoulders sore from total absorption. When you come to, all the bones in your body crack in unison.
I REALLY like Gabrielle Bell's stuff.

In small servings.

I know, I feel like a bad comic fan, a bad autobiocomic fan.

I consistently adore Bell's stuff in collections like The Best American Comics 2010 and Stuck in the Middle: 17 Comics from an Unpleasant Age, but I think that's because they sit like little moments in time in the midst of more wacky, wild styles of illustration.

When I'm reading a whole bunch of her stories all at once (like here), I begin to notice how fixed her figures feel. How...more
An enjoyable collection of short stories in graphic novel form. Gabrielle Bell is able to capture very associative characters in just a few frames. I really liked how each story ends so definitively. I never felt like any story went on too long, and she's not afraid to be ambiguous.
Cecil and Jordan in New York by Gabrielle Bell is a collection of short stories about the quiet moments that change the characters' lives.

The description of the book on Goodreads is a little bare. I thought that the short stories would all be related to Cecil and Jordan. However,the stories feature different characters. Cecil appeared in a couple of stories. It was a little confusing because I didn't know if the two Cecils were the same character.

Like any short story collection, ther...more
Cecil and Jordan is the first graphic novel I've ever read, which is probably why I don't know exactly what to make of it. Even though I know it's an inaccurate assumption, my instinct is always to equate graphic novels with comic books and, in turn, comic books with superheroes, villains, and apocalypse. Cecil and Jordan is no heros and villians tale, but rather a collection of tales that explores - in art and written word - the intricacies and subtleties of interpersonal human relationships.

... that Bell's strength -- her gift for understatement, subtlety, matter-of-factness -- might be her weakness, too, in that everything that happens in these stories -- from mundane conversations in coffee shops to kissing scenes to physics-defying dream sequences -- takes on the same introspective, bleached-out tone. Her drawings avoid cartooniness; her words avoid cleverness and decorative flourish; and it all adds up to a lot of clean, quiet moments that never threaten to approach catharsis....more
Shayna Ross
Since I've been reading numerous types of graphic novels, this collection of stories just didn't stick out to me very much. Perhaps I was expecting more drama or reality or just a stronger sense of self. Either way, it was a good quick read, but not something I would come back to.
Catherine Mahoney
Liked the pieces that were a bit fantastic the best...the first with the chair...or the one with the behemoth. All seemed to have a good sense of where to begin and end.
Read for Graphic Narrative. Sweet, sometimes whimsical, sometimes sad stories. Most of them serve to evoke a mood or a sympathy or a mindset rather than make a point. That works well with the format and her art style. My favorite of the stories is "Felix"--the relationship between the main character, an art student, and Felix, the son of a famous painter, is believable, understandable, and--sweet. As Prof. Chaon pointed out, there aren't a lot of stories showing relationships like that, where a...more
I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Gabrielle Bell, and her collection of stories in “Cecil and Jordan in New York” provides a good sampling of her work, both fictional and autobiographical. The stories highlight Bell’s subdued yet fun style, artfully combining everyday realism with a dream-like sense of the fantastic. I love this juxtaposition, best seen in the eponymous story in which an aimless young woman finally feels a sense of usefulness after she transforms herself into a chair. In the...more
Jun 18, 2009 Susann rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Susann by: NPR/Alan Cheuse
I'm not much of a graphic novel reader, but I saw a glowing review on NPR.org, so thought I'd give it a whirl. This is a collection of the author's short stories and, although I enjoyed them, I think I would better appreciate each one on an individual basis. When I read them in rapid sequence, they started to mush into young-artist-melancholy, with characters stuck in the same, sad holding patterns.

"Felix" is probably the strongest story, and I loved the whimsy in the title story. "I Feel Nothi...more
interesting collection of short stories, graphic novel-style. the one that stands out the most to me is the story about growing up and getting picked on in school - there are implications that they are poor/neglected/mental health issues in the family, but never says outright what was going on. very sad. also the story about friendship when they throw the hippy guys into the lake. the stories are full of emotion, but in a subtle way; the characters themselves tend to keep their feelings to thems...more
David Schaafsma
I liked these later, more developed short stories than the shorter stuff in Lucky, though I did like that work, too... Looks like Bell alternates between memoir and fiction, which is cool...I liked the story about Anna working with a famous artist's son a lot. Again, nothing much happens, as with her memoir work, but that's the point, and the attraction, really. The artwork here is far more elaborate than in Lucky. I like both kinds, again, but I liked the art better here. Fun stuff, likable fla...more
This is just to say: I am reading the newer edition with an exciting color cover.

I totally liked this except for the abrupt endings. I don't always need things neatly tied up. I am a fan of ambiguity. In this case I kept feeling like Bell just got up to do some chores and stopped writing and drawing the story(ies). Because the stories are very good, and you want to see what the characters are going to do, and then suddenly there's a new story.

The one with the painter and the little kid was stell...more
Some very pretty stories, sweet and melancholy; some other ones, maybe due to her understated style which works really well in some stories, just left me not caring. The one based on the Kate Chopin story, especially, really failed to capture the nuances that made the original story so powerful. In others I was frustrated by the ending--I felt like the story was driving towards something, and ending juuuust before it got there. But still, this was sweet and enjoyable, and some of the stories wer...more
First off, SO BUMMED that 90% of these stories have been published elsewhere. Upon reading this collection, I realized that I had already read some of these stories. Ah well. I have no complaints about the stories themselves, which only become more evocative when read in succession. "Felix is, by far, the strongest story—it feels the furthest from Gabrielle's personal history, and it so richly mines childhood attachments. I'd have probably given this collection a 5, if I hadn't experienced (just...more
I read a different version, which just came out in March. So I'm not sure what might have changed. But I really liked these little stories. Each story is a little different from the ones before, though there are some common threads weaving here. Some are much longer and/or more serious than others. My favorite is "My Affliction" which is somewhere in the middle. It was the only completely fantastical one, and it could possibly be my favorite because there is a cutely drawn dog in it. I don't kno...more
Gabrielle Bell writes autobiographical and fiction comics. This book appears to be a combination of autobiographical and fiction. All but one of the stories are reprints of stories published in anthologies or collections. There is one new story at the end of the book.

Gabrielle has a subtle style that lulls you into an easy going mood and then will hit you with a twist or an observation. I find her work thoughtful and poignant.

She also prints autobiographical comics on her blog. Well worth chec...more
Emilia P
Hm. There are a couple of real gems in here -- the story about the art teacher and the one about the windowsill birds. Bell tends to either go a bit too far into the abstract or into personal anecdote, and it's best when she balances the two, and when she does it's really really good.

As for illustration, I know it's very... deliberately the way it is. But honestly, it's way too restrained for me. I think I'd like it for a single comic at a time, but a whole book, nope, it's not quite fun enough...more
Derek Royal
A collection of Gabrielle Bell's previously published comics (for the most part), several from Mome and Drawn & Quarterly. These stories are less directly autobiographic than those in Lucky, although a couple of Lucky stories find their way in this collection. This represents some of the best of Bell's work, brief narratives that are in no rush to be contained or wrapped up neatly. The focus is more on mood and character than on plot.
Mel Zs
gabrielle understand me
Sometimes I have a hard time with a new book with old stories, older anyway, as I 've read most of these before in the Mome anthologies, but some of these still make me laugh. Ms. Bell has a great sense of humor and a great imagination. Her art is a little crude, but fits the stories. I would definitively recommend it and look forward to her work in the future.I would say at least two thirds of the book is above average.
The art is truly lovely and many, if not all, of the storylines affecting in some way - the first in particular, with its overt magical realism, is memorable in the utmost. However, with few exceptions, the pieces tended to end just short of - well, something. I was frustrated, then touched, then frustrated (repeat as necessary).
Emotionally rich.
Can't stop loving the cover.
I showed the art-school story to Lindsay and she Ha, it is true!
A glimpse of the young troubles of life, but a set that ultimately didn't speak so big to me.
Feb 10, 2011 Alexis rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
I liked the art style and the story that was based on a short story written by Kate Chopin, but this collection fell flat for me. Most of the stories were too surrealest and non-linear for my taste.
Usually hearing people describe their dreams is a drag. But, based on these comics, you'd really want Gabrielle Bell to describe her dreams to you. Her comics are quietly, brutally, vividly honest.
Oct 26, 2010 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: comic
This was fantastic. It's the story telling of Chris Ware and Daniel Clowes and the art of Jeffrey Brown. Way more mature than the other collection of Bell's that I've read.
Lorra Fae
oh my gad, this is now one of my very favourite graphic "novels" - it's actually a collection of really wonderful stories - I loved every single one! Highly recommended.
A great, honest book of short pieces, compellingly drawn. I slept on Gabrielle Bell for awhile and now I'm really looking forward to reading more from her.
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Gabrielle Bell was born in England and raised in California. In 1998, she began to collect her “Book of” miniseries (Book of Sleep, Book of Insomnia, Book of Black, etc), which resulted in When I’m Old and Other Stories, published by Alternative Comics. In 2001 she moved to New York and released her autobiographical series Lucky, published by Drawn and Quarterly. Her work has been selected for the...more
More about Gabrielle Bell...
Lucky The Voyeurs When I'm Old and Other Stories July Diary San Diego Diary

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