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Market Day (Americana #1)

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  841 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews

Mendleman’s life goes through an upheaval when he discovers that he can no longer earn a living for his growing family doing the work that defines him—making well-crafted rugs by hand. A proud artisan, he takes his donkey-drawn cart to the market only to be turned a
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published January 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Apr 08, 2010 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
Sturm's most understated and best book yet, beautiful and thoughtful, with a sense of timelessness and universality pervading.
Gregory Han
Apr 19, 2010 Gregory Han rated it liked it
Artistically, James Strum's latest is hauntingly beautiful, capturing the day in a life of a rug artisan...from his nervous few steps out in the morning light journeying to the market till the shroud of night falling around him. My favourite moments were of the hustle and bustle of an early 1900's market illuminating the personalities and energy of artisans and market shoppers, which quickly fades away into the dark realizations of an uncertain world and an even more uncertain future predicted o ...more
Brian Weaver
Jan 21, 2014 Brian Weaver rated it it was amazing
Beautifully and simply told, this wonderfully illustrated graphic novel tells the story of Mendleman, a Jewish rug maker, who goes into town on "market day" in an attempt to sell his rugs. But when he finds out that the owner of the store where he usually sells his rugs is no longer there, and that the new owner doesn't care to buy his rugs, Mendleman's world is thrown into chaos as he begins to question his profession, his life, and all of existence. James Sturm, author of another great graphic ...more
Feb 24, 2016 Abby rated it really liked it
A quietly gorgeous book -- really great use of a muted palette with a few streaks of color for impact that correspond to the narrative arc. I agree with Richard that Sturm is definitely making a point about the futility of perfecting your craft, especially if you are as obsessive as the Jewish rug maker at the center of the story (or as most cartoonists I know tend to be). But I think he's also showing the readers (in a very non-didactic fashion) how that futility is fed by a capitalist society ...more
Jun 02, 2010 Deborah rated it really liked it
Beautifully drawn story of a rugmaker who prides himself on the quality of his craftsmanship making his journey into town to sell his wares, worrying about his pregnant wife and how their lives are about to change. When he gets to the market, he has a new set of worries. I gave it 4 stars because the ending confused me a little. I think the point was that the world was changing and his ways were no longer valid, but to make that decision based on one day...but the world is always changing, somet ...more
Jun 26, 2010 Dorian rated it it was amazing
Having spent a couple of years trying to get up to speed on comics/graphic novels, I guess I'm finding them a mixed bag. But this is one of my very favourite ones, along with Maus and Fun Home. It's very dark, in both palette and tone--a somber and sobering story (it begins and ends with the fantassized/fearfuly imagined deaths of two of the protagonists) but also a gentle and kindhearted one.

The book, which tells the story of a Jewish rug-maker in an Eastern European Shtetl and the end of the 1
Sep 02, 2010 Raina rated it it was amazing
Completely heartbreaking. And completely stunning.

A fine rug maker in early 1900s eastern Europe finds he can no longer get good prices for his work. As I read, I found myself thinking about how isolated this society was (he walks everywhere), thinking about management theory, thinking about the loss of quality, and my knowledge of the horrors of WWII just loomed in the background.

Really amazing illustrations, with nice use of full-spread bleeds, demonstrations of this artistic mind to create ru
Oct 06, 2010 Ajj rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emilia P
Oct 10, 2010 Emilia P rated it really liked it
Shelves: comic-books
James Sturm, you are really a treasure.
Your work is such a work of art, carefully not drawing attention to the artist himself, celebrating the fact that you're making a graphic novel, and not just writing a story and not just bombarding us with new and interesting art.

And the story, too, of the way the world changes, painfully, imperceptibly but somehow also all at once, in a Jewish Eastern European context here, but very easily universalized... it was a great one for the medium of light and sh
Feb 10, 2015 Mike rated it liked it
James Sturm is one of my favorite artists. His simple style, sharp juxtaposition of light and shadow, and unsettling use of space allow his drawings to tell a story far better than his uneven writing ever could.

The writing, as in some of Sturm's other work, does end up being the major weakness of Market Day. It's hard to develop much sympathy for the main character's problems, something a reader needs in the sad, world-weary, heavy allegory of Market Day. The book also seems to end suddenly and
Kevin Fanning
Mar 29, 2011 Kevin Fanning rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
Gorgeous, if maybe not to my taste. So much of the work by modern male graphic novelists is so unrelentingly dour. What is it that readers enjoy about this? I'm genuinely curious, because I feel like I'm missing out on a lot. Whether it's James Sturn or Chris Ware or Daniel Clowes or Charles Burns--artists who are celebrated for a very bleak & pessimistic view of humanity--who use their talents to show how how depressing and pointless life is. I know that! I have a window and internet access ...more
Seth T.
Nov 11, 2011 Seth T. rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
That James Sturm's Market Day would be a gloomy affair is evident from the start. The colours are murky and drab. The shadows loom large and dominate the frame. The dialogue is sparse. And the book is about an artiste. Which almost guarantees angst, self-doubt, and a large cereal bowl-full of mopiness.

Tch, artists.

The thing is: Sturm uses his protagonist's preoccupation with both artistic excellence and the recognition of those with taste to tell a quietly powerful tale of brute pragmatism versu
Sam Quixote
Dec 31, 2012 Sam Quixote rated it really liked it
A rug maker in early 20th century Eastern Europe prepares to go to market to sell his rugs. He sits up at night worrying about money. He is soon to be a father and he needs to sell his rugs. When he goes to the market he finds his usual buyer has retired and sold his business to a young man who doesn't care for craftsmanship and wants to pay as little as possible. As he wanders the towns looking for a place to make some money, he thinks about his old buyer, the man who encouraged him in his rug ...more
Emannuel Rojas
Jul 28, 2011 Emannuel Rojas rated it really liked it
"But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." Timothy 5:8

This is the difficult circumstance in which Mendleman, a jewish rug-maker with no more demands for his craft, finds himself in. A ounce proud and self-indulgent artisan he must now face a new reality in which he may have no choice but to abandon his dreams in order to provide for his new family. Should he stay and fulfill his obligat
Oct 30, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it
This beautifully illustrated graphic novella is set in turn-of-the-century Eastern Europe, as modern mass production is beginning to displace traditional crafts. It tells the story of a young Jewish man's attempts to sell his carpets as he travels from his tradition market to a new store and ultimately attempts to return home. The story unfolds in a single day, from early morning until late at night, but captures and entire world in flux. The story is simple, the dialogue relatively minimal, but ...more
Dec 08, 2011 Bruce rated it really liked it
Mendleman, the weaver awakes early on market day and heads to town with his rugs in a mule drawn cart. His wife is pregnant with their first child, and as he trudges along in the pre-dawn he worries about all the things that could possibly go wrong, and what the terrible consequences might be. As dawn breaks and he approaches the marketplace his mood improves, he’s inspired with new rug designs and contemplates the pleasant bustle of humanity as the other vendors set up their wares. He meets a r ...more
Mar 26, 2012 Antoine rated it really liked it
Après quelques années dans le domaine de l’éducation, James Sturm fait son retour éditorial avec Jour de marché. Une fois de plus, il pose un regard croisé sur le passé et cherche à découvrir l'origines des dérives de notre époque. Après les tensions raciales et les prémices du sport spectacle dans l’excellent Swing du Golem, les dérives de l’extrémisme religieux et la soif de l’or dans Above & Below (malheureusement pas encore traduit), il se penche vers un des piliers de la vie moderne, c' ...more
Apr 10, 2012 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels

As I was reading this, I was expecting to give a GLOWING review with my strong stamp of approval... but this book has ONE flaw. One BIG flaw:

It doesn't really have an /ending/.

I hate that. Oh I hate that so MUCH...

It doesn't /need/ one... but I like my stories to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. We have to guess at the end in this one...

Even so, This is a definate four stars out of five, because with VERY few words and a lot of very simple drawings, James Sturm has managed to tell us an a
David Schaafsma
Really beautifully, lovingly done story based on historical materials. Wrenchingly harsh, but hopeful in that the rug weaver's anguish and his love for his family and his artistic vision and commitment come through... Not a sentimental, sappy, happy ending, a good and clear picture of a simple man suffering to make a living in harsh times. Gorgeously done, with muted tans and browns and greys, all in honor of the weaver's own artistic vision...
Dec 08, 2012 Kim rated it it was amazing
Market Day is a very moving, sad, and subtle graphic novel for older readers. Set in a European Jewish community of the last century, Market Day shares one day in Mendelman's unraveling life. A rug maker of distinction and a father-in-waiting, Mendleman goes to the Market town to sell his rugs, only to find his supply chain is upended and nothing is as it was. This book makes me wish I had an "Economics" tag. . . it's contemplative and sad.
Jan 21, 2014 Stephen rated it it was ok
Lotsa missed opportunities here. For a book about a man who discovers he can't make a living in his chosen profession anymore, this book could have applied to millions of readers today with timeless themes. But the problem with this book is that there were no solutions. Get drunk? Fantasize about an old lover? Expect the answers to come from virtual strangers on the streets? None of those work. It's a book about a guy with a problem and no resolution.

Artwise, this didn't do anything for me. I c
Erin Sterling
This was referenced in a podcast as a graphic novel to give people who don't think graphic novels are novels (I'm paraphrasing, but something to that effect). A beautiful historical graphic novel about a Jewish rug-maker with a pregnant wife who goes to sell his rugs at market day and finds that the seller who buys beautiful pieces of craftmanship has retired and only cheap materials are being brought. This read like a short story to me, as in, I wish there had been more. Not middle school appro ...more
Uwe Hook
Feb 28, 2015 Uwe Hook rated it it was amazing
Market Day is the story of a poor rug maker and peddler in the early years of the 20th century in Eastern Europe, told and drawn with great feeling and restraint. It shows a grey world, and Sturm portrays it (in shades of grey, black and white), and the life and people that would soon disappear, with such empathy, one can feel the weight of the rugs and the growing hopelessness as the poor man trudges from one possibility to the other, only to have them all evaporate. The illustrations are lovin ...more
Mars Dorian
Jul 17, 2015 Mars Dorian rated it really liked it
Depressive little tale about a Jewish carpet seller who's coping with the harsh life of Eastern Europe life while the industrial age wipes out his business through mass production.

Market Day consists of simple drawings with little text, but haunting colors (everything's brown, black and grey-ish) which creates a desolate Easter-European atmosphere.

The ending is a bit open-ended, but then again, this a slice-of-life experience, not a tightly-knotted plot.

Warning: this is downer of a story. Get
Mendelmann ist ein jüdischer Teppichknüpfer im frühen 20. Jahrhundert. James Sturm schildert einen schicksalshaften Markttag, an dem Mendelmann seine Teppiche zum Händler bringen will und feststellen muss, dass der Inhaber gewechselt hat und dieser nun seine hochwertigen Teppiche nicht abnehmen will. Seine Versuche, die Teppiche auf dem markt anderweitig zu verkaufen, scheitern, er wird sie erst in einer Art Kaufhaus für wenig Geld los und stürzt in tiefe Verzweiflung. Seine Existenz steht schla ...more
Feb 19, 2016 Mahinn rated it it was amazing
Tenderly rendered, this graphic novel delicately nurses the open wounds of what it is to be human. Our vulnerabilities, our hopes and fantasies, the constant whirr of thought in our head, and the ache to create and be inspired by all we live among.

This is one day and night in the life of a Jewish rug weaver and his impending fears coming to life; his sense of dismay and dejection when he finds he will soon have no work. The utter hopelessness of his situation coupled with the new chapter of his
Vivek Tejuja
Mar 08, 2016 Vivek Tejuja rated it it was amazing
So this graphic novel came heavily recommended to me by @mentalexotica and I absolutely and most certainly take her recommendations very seriously – more so when it comes to graphic novels. She doesn’t miss them and is bang on with what she likes or loves most of the time. I read the book in half an hour (it was her copy), but the memory of it will stay and linger for longer than that.

“Market Day” as the title suggests is about a day in the market. It is about art and commerce as seen in the ma
May 14, 2016 Erica rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Edward Sullivan
Aug 24, 2016 Edward Sullivan rated it it was amazing
Exceptional art and story exploring timeless, relatable themes.
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James Sturm is the author of several award-winning graphic novels for children and adults, including James Sturm’s America, Market Day, The Golem’s Mighty Swing and Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow. He is also the founder of the Center for Cartoon Studies and the National Association for Comics Art Educators. He created Adventures in Cartooning with collaborators Alexis Frederic-Frost and Andr ...more
More about James Sturm...

Other Books in the Series

Americana (3 books)
  • Above and Below: Two Stories of the American Frontier
  • The Golem's Mighty Swing

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“His absence has only made him more present.” 1 likes
“A few years ago we discussed when Sabbath truly begins. When is the precise moment of the setting sun? So I made a rug weaving together black and deep purple. When the light faded enough, and one could no longer tell the difference between the two colors, then Sabbath had begun and prayers could be made.” 0 likes
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