Scott McCloud's The Sculptor is a weighty read. And I don't just mean the actual physical weight of the book (though it is a thick, heavy book). I'm tScott McCloud's The Sculptor is a weighty read. And I don't just mean the actual physical weight of the book (though it is a thick, heavy book). I'm talking about the story, it's implications and how it's stuck with me even though I finished the last page months ago.
David Smith is a struggling artist. He's visited by the ghost of his dead uncle and given a choice -- give up art and live a long life with marriage, children, etc. or live two hundred more days and be able to create as much art as he wants. David chooses the shorter life and art, but he finds, as with all choices, there are pros and cons to it. A pro is he can create art faster and more effectively than ever before. A con is that his friends and agent find it hard to believe he's creating this much art so rapidly.
Another con is that just as David's life has an expiration date, he meets a girl and falls in love. At first it appears a one-sided love (she's dating someone else) but soon the two are falling in love.
The interesting thing about The Sculptor is that the love affair is rich, complicated, wonderful and messy -- sometimes all within a few panels of each other. Meg has her issues and isn't the "perfect" love interest. But she's a great fit for David -- at least for most of the run of this story. Where McCloud takes our characters and this story is profoundly moving -- going from the great excitement of the early days of a relationship to the hard work that comes in keeping the relationship going. McCloud doesn't shy away from some of the harder issues facing our couple nor does he come up with any easy answers for them.
All this might be enough but what elevates the story is the art work by McCloud. It would be easy to rush through the story, only glancing at the artwork but to do so is to sell The Sculptor very, very short. I found myself pausing many times to just marvel at the artwork and the world that McCloud had created here.
I also liked the fact that McCloud has created chapters to this story. As I said before, it's a long, thick, heavy book and one that I don't think necessarily benefits from being read in one sitting. I read it in several sittings and each chapter felt long enough to be satisfying. It also helps you to have a natural break so you can slow down, appreciate the art and maybe go back to revisit a few favorite panels or pages.
The Sculptor is a magnificent, well told, moving story. Highly recommended. ...more
If you were presented with the opportunity to have a do-over in life, would you take it? How about multiple do-overs? And what would the intended andIf you were presented with the opportunity to have a do-over in life, would you take it? How about multiple do-overs? And what would the intended and unintended consequences of such a decision be?
Bryan Lee O'Malley delves into those questions in his latest graphic novel Seconds. On the verge of entering her third decade, Katie is on the brink of great professional success as a chef for her own restaurant. Oh sure, she's got a few regrets like the ex-boyfriend she still has feelings for, the affair she's carrying on with the new chef at her old restaurant and that she unwittingly caused injury to one of the servers at her old restaurant. But then Katie discovers a box with a notepad, a mushroom and a written set of instructions in it. Katie has to write down her regret, eat the mushroom and go to sleep. In the morning, she'll find everything changed.
Katie experiments with undoing the injury to her co-worker. And while the house spirit says it's only wish per person, Katie soon finds where the mushrooms are growing and sets about putting right every wrong decision she's made in her life.
It's not helped by the fact that Katie is a bit selfish and that many of her wishes involve her wanting to have her cake and eat it too. But while the world changes around Katie, she has no memory of the events leading up to the change, which causes some confusion and heart-ache for her and those in her life. Even a simple thing like trying to undo a huge potential bill for her new restaurant ends up having consequences that Katie couldn't or wouldn't foresee.
O'Malley's follow-up to the Scott Pilgrim series is a fascinating, thought-provoking piece that asks a lot of interesting questions and doesn't shy away from not giving us easy answers. O'Malley makes Katie likeable in some moments, but unlikeable in others as she makes wish after wish and doesn't think about the consequences -- or as she tries to avoid consequences for her poorly made decisions. The artwork in the book is rich and colorful and the book foreshadows the eventual resolution well both in the story and the art.
If there's one drawback to the book, it's that Seconds doesn't fully stick the landing. The ending is good, but after the build up of two-hundred or so pages, it still felt a bit rushed or that O'Malley wasn't quite sure exactly if and how Katie's story should end. ...more
As I've said in the past, one of the fun things about NetGalley is skimming through the comics and graphic novels section and finding treasures thereAs I've said in the past, one of the fun things about NetGalley is skimming through the comics and graphic novels section and finding treasures there I might not have heard of before or might have overlooked.
Liz Prince's Alone Forever: A Singles Collection is one such collection. The series of comic strips examine Liz's attempts to find love in the modern dating world that includes things like OK Cupid and texting your feelings to someone and then awkwardly waiting for a reply (this cartoon reminded me a lot of the Seinfeld episode where George tells his latest date that he loves her, only to not get a response.).
For the most part, Liz's observation are self-deprecating, witty and amusing. I can't help but hope she's exaggerating some aspects of these stories, if only for her own sake. But having been out there in the dating world once upon a time, I have a feeling that some of the more extreme quirks aren't necessarily all that exaggerated.
This collection was a quick, pleasant read and it's one that makes me curious to see what else Prince has to offer. I may have to seek our other collections by Prince or just surf over to her web site and see what other observations on life she has to offer.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Wizzywig: Portrait of a Serial Hacker is a love note to the early days of computer hacking and social engineering. We're presented with a composite chWizzywig: Portrait of a Serial Hacker is a love note to the early days of computer hacking and social engineering. We're presented with a composite character who has skills to manipulate the phone company for free long distance and begins to learns the ins and outs of hacking back in a time before many of us even knew what the Internet was.
Reading Wizzywig, I couldn't help but be reminded of Kevin Mitnick's books about his days as a hacker and some of his tricks that he used. Reading this now when it seems like we get a news story every other week about a data breach, you can't help but think that this is kind of where it all started.
Art wise, the book is a solid and the story is well told. We're given short, snippet that add to an entertaining whole.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review....more
Retelling timeless fairy tales with an harder edge and some darker themes is nothing new -- either on the printed pages or other popular media outletsRetelling timeless fairy tales with an harder edge and some darker themes is nothing new -- either on the printed pages or other popular media outlets.
What attracts me to a retelling is is those crafting the reboot have a new take on the material or offer a different way of thinking about a familiar story or tale. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
Unfortunately, Grimm Fairy Tales: Oz is one of the cases where it didn't work for me.
A modern, darker re-telling of the popular story of The Wizard of Oz, this six-issue comic book series gives us a new, harder edged Dorothy, who is whisked away to the land of Oz and plopped down into the middle of a power struggle between various characters.
And, of course, this new take includes enhancing (ahem) every female character to the Barbie-doll-like measurements and having them all dress in outfits that emphasize said enhancements. Unfortunately, making the women of Oz "sexier" doesn't necessarily enhance the shortcomings in the plot or the feeling that I got mid-way through this collected edition that the storyline was being stretched out from a couple of issues concept to six.
It all adds up to a disappointing retelling of the familiar Oz story. I walked away feeling like the series had squandered its potential and instead of offering us a new take on Oz, all we got was a "sexier" one full of female characters ready to fall out of their outfits at a moment's notice.
The umpteenth and first re-telling of Spider-Man's origin, with a few tweaks and updates along the way.
This one is truer to the original story told byThe umpteenth and first re-telling of Spider-Man's origin, with a few tweaks and updates along the way.
This one is truer to the original story told by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko all those years ago and I give it a lot of credit for that. Reading it, I found myself wishing they'd adapted this into last year's Amazing Spider-Man instead of what we got.
I can see how comic book storytelling has changed and the younger audience this book is targeted at may not necessarily like or want to read the original Lee/Ditko continuity right out of the gate. As a retelling of Spidey getting his powers and learning that with great power comes great responsibility Season One works fairly well. And it's nice to see that the first supervillain Spidey faces is the Vulture -- again something that calls back to the early days.
The tweak of J. Jonah Jameson hiring a young reporter to start off the anti-Spidey stories is nicely done but a bit too quickly wrapped up. I feel like there was more potential to this that could be explored in future installments, assuming Marvel decides to renew the series for a second season. ...more
When DC decided it was time to retell the origin story of its some of its iconic super heroes, it was decided that while Superman and Wonder Woman's oWhen DC decided it was time to retell the origin story of its some of its iconic super heroes, it was decided that while Superman and Wonder Woman's origin might need some freshening up, the mythology surrounding the origin of Batman worked without any tweaks or revamps. Instead what the origin of Batman needed was a different take on the classic origin. The result is Frank Miller's highly influential, much revered four-issue work Batman: Year One.
Going back to the early days of the Batman saga, the story chronicles the rise of not only Batman but also Jim Gordon. A disgraced officer from another city, Gordon comes into the corrupt world of Gotham politics and starts trying to make a difference. At first, he's willing to hunt down the vigilante who is cleaning up Gotham's streets but over the course of the year he realizes that there could be something more to the Batman. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is taking is first tentative steps toward becoming the savior that Gotham needs and trying to avenge the death of his parents.
If you've seen Batman Begins, you've seen elements of this story realized on-screen. However, while that movie is good, it's always fascinating to go back to the source material and see how its not only similar but also different. Year One works extremely well because of the parallel view points of Gordon and Bruce Wayne. It's easy to see why this four-part series is so influential and so cited as one of the great story arcs in comic book history. It easily earns all its accolades and then some. ...more
How do you review something as iconic and influential as The Dark Knight Rises?
On one level, I suppose you could ask whether or not this four-issues mHow do you review something as iconic and influential as The Dark Knight Rises?
On one level, I suppose you could ask whether or not this four-issues mini-series lives up to the hype and accolades heaped upon it over the years? That answer is, yes. And the fact that it revolutionized not only Batman but all of comics is another major feather in its cap.
It's influence on the Christopher Nolan trilogy of films can't be denied--especially elements used in this summer's The Dark Knight Rises.
All of that said, while I can respect this comic's place in the history of comic books, I didn't really enjoy it. And for me, that's one of the fundamental things a comic book or graphic novel should be in order to be "perfect." It should be something that I enjoyed and that I want to read again.
Unfortunately, neither of those things is the case here.
Don't get me wrong--this is a very good story and it's an influential one. I just wish I'd loved it more than I did....more
I'm a huge fan of Neil Gaiman and yet, I've never read the entire run of Sandman.
I've made several runs at over the years, but each time I come up shoI'm a huge fan of Neil Gaiman and yet, I've never read the entire run of Sandman.
I've made several runs at over the years, but each time I come up short. I'm very good at checking out the first volume from my local library with the best of intentions to read it, but somewhere between the library and home I feel daunted by the fact that there are so many issues I'm behind on.
Thankfully, the series is complete (though Gaiman has said he'll return next year with a prequel) and each volume isn't a behemoth of pages like some of the epic fantasy series I'm behind on but tempted to pick up.
So it is that I finally picked up the first volume and cracked the cover, determined this time to at least read the first two volumes in this highly influential series.
After reading and enjoying the first, I wonder why I waited so long.
The first eight issues aren't perfect--as others have said the story is little more than a quest saga--but they're enjoyable, entertaining and a fascinating look at early Gaiman. Reading the stories, you can see Gaiman become more assured in his writing and storytelling prowess. By the end of the volume, all the pieces are in place for the rest of the run and I find myself no longer daunted by not having read the entire series but worried I'll consume them all too quickly. I plan to read them fairly close together, but I think this is a series that I should savor and enjoy. ...more
After really enjoying the first arc in this series, I was eager to see where the storylines might go next.
And while I liked this second half-dozen issAfter really enjoying the first arc in this series, I was eager to see where the storylines might go next.
And while I liked this second half-dozen issues collected here, it felt like there was a little less of a focus to this collection than the first.
The six stories here each feature flashbacks that offer a bit more depth to some of the characters in the Morning Glories universe. The main thread running through the rest of the story is the fall-out from the events in volume 1 and the impact it has on the characters.
I have a feeling these are six issues that when we look back over the entire series storyline, we'll see pieces being put into place for later stories and character developments.
This one isn't quite as good as the first collection, but it's still worth the time and investment to read it. It also leaves me curious for the next collection and to see where things continue from here. ...more
Delving into the world of comic books and graphic novels, it's hard to know where to start. Oh sure, there are the big names in the field and the supeDelving into the world of comic books and graphic novels, it's hard to know where to start. Oh sure, there are the big names in the field and the superhero dramas that I read growing up. But at some point, I feel like I want to branch out a bit and try something new or different. The question, as always, is where do I start?
My local library offers a wide variety of graphic novels and collected arcs from various comic books. That's a huge help given the sometimes higher entry price point for such collections. But again, it's still difficult to know where to begin or which author, artist or series might appeal most to me.
Enter Morning Glories. I've heard a lot of positive buzz for it from some trusted on-line sources with similar interests to my own. I also heard comparisons to Lost. So when my library got a copy of the first two collections of story arcs from the series, I decided to take the plunge and reserve them.
So far, so good.
The first arc, taking place over six issues and collected in this volume, introduces us to universe, characters and situation. Six new students are chosen from the Morning Glories Academy, a mysterious institution that seems to harbor some kind of ominous secret. The Lost comparisons come in the form of flashbacks to various characters time before they came to the Academy and why they're there. These helps flesh out the characters a bit as well as creating some intrigue and tension as the story evolves.
A couple of things appeal to me about this series. The first is the solid art work. The second is that there appears to some thought behind the overall story line and I've read in various place that the series isn't planned to run indefinitely but will have a definitive beginning, middle and end. The third is that in just six issues, the story managed to pull in a few surprises and twists that feel earned and open up a larger world of stories for the series going forward.
It's all enough to hook me and keep me interested to see if and where this might all go. ...more