This is a beautiful book and a well-written retelling of the Ramayana. I hadn't heard of this story before reading this book, and haven't read any oth...moreThis is a beautiful book and a well-written retelling of the Ramayana. I hadn't heard of this story before reading this book, and haven't read any other versions. After reading this one, however, it struck me as the Indian equivalent of the "Helen of Troy" story in a lot of ways. It's interesting how stories with similar themes pop up in different cultures. Of course, the details of the story are quite different, but I felt there were many similar messages.
There is a very brief essay at the end of the book describing how Sita's Ramayana fits into a "distinct female narrative tradition." I'd have loved to read more about this and wish the essay had been longer and included more detail (possibly even some sort of bibliography for further reading?). Similarly, there is a brief description of Patua graphics on the last page, after the female-narrative essay. Again, I'd have enjoyed reading a longer essay about Patua scrolls and their ancient/contemporary purposes.
I thought the story was excellent, subtle and complex, emotional and mythical without creating naive distinctions between good and evil. That was one of my favorite things about this story--Sita befriends a number of characters who are, as far as the war is concerned, on the enemy's side. The story makes quite a bit of interesting commentary relating to how individuals fit into the dynamics of war and how the effects of war (regardless of who wins or loses) are destructive to all involved.
The book design is unique and ambitious--and generally I think it's a great success. The scroll paintings are designed well and fit together with the text to create a well-paced narrative. I generally didn't have much trouble "reading" the images or keeping the characters straight. I think there were adequate visual cues to distinguish each character, and they have pretty distinct names. My only complaint is the typeface that was chosen and how it was inserted into the images. It's simple and fairly unobtrusive but the rectangles/speech bubbles with their black outlines and obvious computer-generated geometry don't fit very well with the organic hand-rendered scroll paintings. Also, there didn't seem to be much consistency in how all-caps type was used--I think it was just used for emphasis, but I kept trying to figure out if there was some other logic behind it. Aside from that small design flaw (from my perspective), I think this is a really beautiful book--both the illustrations and writing are excellent on their own, and are combined to create a wonderful graphic-narrative experience.(less)
Interesting collection...I feel like I only understood what was going on in maybe 1/4 of the stories. And it seemed like there was an overabundance of...moreInteresting collection...I feel like I only understood what was going on in maybe 1/4 of the stories. And it seemed like there was an overabundance of boobs (I have nothing against boobs...but sometimes it just made me wonder "why?")
I liked the variety of illustration styles--that's what initially drew me to this collection. After the age of 17 (or thereabouts) my fondness for typical anime/manga illustration dwindled into nothingness. So I can definitely appreciate the "alternatives" presented here.
I think the reason why I'm not giving this collection a higher rating is because there were only a few comics that left me thinking "wow, I want to read more by this artist." Most of the time my reaction was more like "ok...that was kind of weird/funny/provocative/thought-provoking...time to read the next one."
List of favorites/un-favorites to be added when I'm not lazy.(less)
This is a very cool book. Something about its small size is also so appropriate to the theme--the idea of secrets, and a girl sticking her tongue out...moreThis is a very cool book. Something about its small size is also so appropriate to the theme--the idea of secrets, and a girl sticking her tongue out at you...the presentation is just great. The book is full-color (awesome!) and printing is nice. In general this is kind of like a way better version of Sheherazade, but doesn't bother making any grand claims. It's a bit more light-hearted in that regard--not really trying to prove anything, just trying to take you along for a crazy ride. Being the nerd that I am, however, I would have loved an introduction that more fully described the theme, "female secrets." But I guess without an intro it's certainly more...secretive.
Most of the stories are quite short, some only a page or two, and there are also non-narrative illustrations by a couple artists. I found the variety of styles and types of storytelling refreshing and interesting and loved seeing how "female secrets" were revealed or examined throughout the stories. Overall only a few really stuck with me (hence not 5 stars), but I didn't dislike any of them. I can see myself flipping through this in the future, enjoying a few pages at a time and grinning to myself secretively...
I thought this was a pretty amazing graphic novel, and I definitely plan on reading the original City of Glass next. Concepts of identity, the role of...moreI thought this was a pretty amazing graphic novel, and I definitely plan on reading the original City of Glass next. Concepts of identity, the role of the author in creating meaning, and the blurred line between fiction and reality are all present here, and explored in quite an intriguing way. I don't know how I felt about the ending, though. Maybe I just haven't thought about it enough, but it seemed too open-ended to me. In a way it makes sense, since this story is not a traditional narrative. It attempts to extend itself beyond the confines of the page by involving the author himself as a "fictional" character (but he's still the author...further complicated by the fact that Quinn himself is a writer also--but goes by a different pen name). Still, I would have liked an ending that was more...final...even if that finality was contrived (as all literary endings are, I guess).
I think what left me wanting a "final" ending was the fact that the story starts off in a somewhat "normal" narrative vein. The issues of identity and the inclusion of the author are introduced pretty early on, but about 3/4 of the way in, the narrative quickly descends into abstraction. A part of me loves it, a part of me doesn't. I'm undecided I guess.
Knisley's illustrations are cute, and occasionally funny. Aside from that, this book falls flat. There is no development in terms of Knisley's relatio...moreKnisley's illustrations are cute, and occasionally funny. Aside from that, this book falls flat. There is no development in terms of Knisley's relationship with her mother, or even in terms of personal development. We're never given an idea of what Knisley's relationship with her mother is like before the trip, and even during the trip their interaction is primarily described in terms of where they went shopping and ate dinner.
Knisley spends about half the trip being homesick, worrying about money and her last semester at college, and complaining about how the lines are too long at every attraction. I understand that every trip, no matter the location, has its moments of exhaustion and frustration, but Knisley seemed to find Paris a chore more than a vacation. It was seriously grating and I kept wanting to yell at her "YOU'RE IN PARIS! FOR SIX WEEKS! ENJOY YOURSELF GODDAMMIT!" At times I felt guilty about my resentment, because Knisley seems to have a few serious bouts of depression. So I guess if you want to read the travel memoir of a self-loathing girl who is obsessed with becoming "old" (i.e. 22), then this is the book for you!
There are photographs sprinkled throughout the book, many of which are blurry. Why would you choose blurry, terrible photos to print in a book? Since the book is in black and white, even the clear photos aren't particularly striking. There is one photo of Knisley's father that I thought was quite good--however, I think the book would have been better with no photos at all.
Also, at the beginning Knisley mentions that she began smoking to prepare herself for smokey Parisian cafes. Wow, really? That kind of immediately made me dislike her...how completely stupid.(less)
I was underwhelmed by this book. I think I was expecting something a little more profound but really it's just the story of an artist and his girlfrie...moreI was underwhelmed by this book. I think I was expecting something a little more profound but really it's just the story of an artist and his girlfriend and the ups and downs of their relationship and careers (with a little death thrown in for good measure...er...I mean, tragedy). Stylistically I thought it was pretty interesting and I liked the variety of illustration styles. The portions of mostly visual story-telling are well drawn and nuanced; I felt like those portions held a lot more emotional power than the dialogue or traditionally narrative portions of the story.
The narrative itself is disjointed and each "scene" lasts no longer than a few pages at most. I wanted to get to know the main characters better, to become more engaged in their emotional struggles. The subject of the narrative, while perhaps overdone and not very interesting in itself, isn't necessarily what made this story blase to me. It was the lack of depth in the characters, the absence of any reason for me to actually care about them or their story.
Overall, I was disappointed. I think it might be better if I read it a second time--maybe the emotional aspects of the story would sink in more.(less)
For some reason it took me forever to get through this book.
Thumbs up: "The Canary-Colored Caravan of Death" (excerpt from Fun Home) by Alison Bechdel "...moreFor some reason it took me forever to get through this book.
Thumbs up: "The Canary-Colored Caravan of Death" (excerpt from Fun Home) by Alison Bechdel "Just a Bad Seed" and "Once, We Ran" by C. Tyler "Glenn in Bed" by Kevin Huizenga "No Midgets in Midgetville" by Kim Deitch "Won't Be Licked! The Great '37 Flood in Louisville" by Dan Zettwoch
Thumbs down: "Fuc 1997: We Share a Happy Secret, But Beware, Because the Modern World Emerges" by Ron Rege Jr (loved the aesthetics, but so tedious to read) "Untitled (Discrete Operations Vehicle--Burning Gall) by Gary Panter (I'm sorry--I just don't "get" Gary Panter's comics...ugh) "Meet the Dropouts" by Tim Hensley
There are some others that I just felt "meh" about..."Kramer's Ergot" by Paper Rad was definitely one those. The style is cool, trippy, and interesting but ultimately it just made me think "ok...but who cares?" Definitely some good pieces in this collection though.(less)
Great art, simple story. I like how there is a surreal twist to the whole story. The plot and illustrations combine the mundane and fantastical. It's...moreGreat art, simple story. I like how there is a surreal twist to the whole story. The plot and illustrations combine the mundane and fantastical. It's a quick read, but one worth re-reading.
On a completely nerd-related note, Nobrow Press puts out some of the finest editions of contemporary graphic novels, in terms of binding, construction, and design. Wish I could buy everything they've ever published. Happy to find this one at my local library.(less)
I really liked "The Shooting Star" out of three stories in this collection. Overall, however, I didn't like these stories as much as some of the later...moreI really liked "The Shooting Star" out of three stories in this collection. Overall, however, I didn't like these stories as much as some of the later ones.(less)
This book is pretty silly. I actually had no idea what I would be reading when I picked this up. Mostly I just noticed that it involved Mark Twain and...moreThis book is pretty silly. I actually had no idea what I would be reading when I picked this up. Mostly I just noticed that it involved Mark Twain and I generally enjoy things published by Fantagraphics so I decided to check this out from the library.
I'm not really sure how I felt about it. It's silly, it's funny (at least in concept). It didn't actually make me laugh, or even chuckle. Maybe it made me smile? I can't remember. I guess I just have a cold, black heart. Or I'm just not easily amused.
I didn't think it was a bad book by any means, just not my sort of humor. I enjoyed the absurdity of Twain's adventures and Kupperman's writing style. I know a few people who I think would get a kick out of this book, and will definitely be recommending it to them.(less)
I saw Sakabashira's illustrations before I saw his comics, so when I got this book all I really knew was that I like the way he draws, and I like the...moreI saw Sakabashira's illustrations before I saw his comics, so when I got this book all I really knew was that I like the way he draws, and I like the weirdness of his subject matter. I had actually seen a number of images from this book without knowing they were part of a larger narrative, so it was interesting to see them in context (although I'm not sure how much context is worth in such a strange tale).
Anyway, "The Box Man" really keeps you guessing and wondering what the hell is going on. The ending is hilarious. Sakabashira's drawings are beautiful and full of details. Lots of grotesque, humorous imagery. Overall: Good stuff!(less)
I love Eleanor Davis's comics & artwork. She knows how to tell a story. As someone who knows her through her more "adult" work, I was curious how...moreI love Eleanor Davis's comics & artwork. She knows how to tell a story. As someone who knows her through her more "adult" work, I was curious how she would tackle a children's story and was excited to see this book at my local library.
Overall, I thought the story was good, albeit simple and a bit predictable. I liked the characters and can definitely see this being the beginning of a series in which the three main characters and their families become more fully developed. I was hoping for something a little more innovative than your standard museum-heist action/mystery. Too simplistic for me but I'm not really the intended audience. Kinda left me feeling like the villain should have mumbled something about meddling kids, ya know?
The characters are the strong point of this book, but I also really enjoyed the layout, which is full of fun details. Davis takes full advantage of the graphic novel format and uses some interesting visual motifs that carry throughout the story and reinforce the science-y theme.
Overall, a fun read that is supported by nice illustrations. Definitely something I would give to my kids to read, if I had any (ha).(less)