I got this book as a birthday gift from two dear friends of mine. We share many interests, and the workings of the human min...morePublished on my book blog.
I got this book as a birthday gift from two dear friends of mine. We share many interests, and the workings of the human mind is one of them, so they figured this book would be a good match for me.
It's a good premise. The author spent a few years working as a health care assistant in a psychiatric hospital and draws on his experiences to tell short stories about mental illnesses. Unfortunately, I didn't like it as much I thought I would. I was hoping for an insightful look into this fascinating, often misunderstood world, but I felt that all the stories were superficial, with the exception of the author's own tale (the last story in the book). Many of the "stories" didn't even feel like stories at all, more like a textbook description with pictures accompanying it. I couldn't understand the constant mention of how people need to be more open-minded and tolerant towards mental illness. What's the point of saying that to a reader who is interested enough to try this book?
I can definitely see a heavy influence from Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, both in graphic qualities and narrative, but this book lacks the profoundity and poignance that "Persepolis" has. Moreover, sometimes I felt like the drawings didn't even need to be there at all.
However, there were some positive points. The author's story was powerfully told (made me wish that the rest of the book was like that) and some of the personal stories of the patients he mentions are genuinely strange and interesting.
This is an ok book, and it's fairly interesting, but I do wish it dared to go deeper.(less)
On my quest for steampunk (or steampunk inspired) comics, I came across Lady Mechanika, courtesy of one of our local comic books shop here in Porto. I...moreOn my quest for steampunk (or steampunk inspired) comics, I came across Lady Mechanika, courtesy of one of our local comic books shop here in Porto. I quickly discovered this is a notoriously difficult series to find – sadly, only the #1 and #2 issues were available. I’ve yet to find a #0, or the collected first issues, at an affordable price. This bodes well for the series, but not at all for my wallet.
Anyway, on the story. Since I didn’t get a chance to read issue #0, I may be missing something already, but reading issue #1 definitely peaked my curiosity. The setting is an alternative Victorian Era. Mechanika, the most advanced city in the Commonwealth, lends its name to the heroin, Lady Mechanika, a girl part human, part machine, who was found locked up in a laboratory surrounded by corpses, with no memory of her past life. With her unique mechanical abilities, she spends her time solving mysteries and doing detective work, while searching constantly for clues to her past life and who might be responsible for her transformation.
In this issue, a young girl with mechanical claws is being chased through the woods. She manages to dodge her attackers and lands on a train going to Mechanika. Who are the people chasing her? Is this girl related to Lady Mechanika, and in what way?
The first thing you notice about this series is the quality of the covers. There are many different ones for each issue, each absolutely gorgeous. Inside, the artwork continues to amaze – the colors, the drawing, panels, all come together to produce an atmosphere that blends industrial, vintage, Victorian and sci-fi elements. The wealth of details is amazing, and steampunk fans will not be disappointed.
Background: I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman and his Sandman series. I came across the more recent, graphic novel retelling of thi...morePosted on my book blog.
Background: I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman and his Sandman series. I came across the more recent, graphic novel retelling of this book first, and while it appealed to me, it was nothing compared to what I experienced when I looked at the original version. The cover is absolutely beautiful, golden and luminous without being kitschy.
Review: It all begins with a wager between a badger and a fox. In a Japanese mountainside, there was a little temple, hardly visited by anyone anymore, and in it lived a monk. The fox and the badger wanted this temple for a den, and decided that whoever got the monk to abandon it would win it. But the monk wasn't easily deceived, and somewhere along the way, the fox falls in love with him. And so begins a tale of love, sadness and sacrifice.
I don't know why this book had such a strong effect on me. It's a simple but lovely story which reminded me of old fables, albeit filled with much more sadness and subtlety than usual. But I found myself being only able to read it very slowly, a few pages at a time, to let it sink in.
The illustrations played a big role. In fact, even though I love Neil Gaiman's writing, Yoshitaka Amano's art is what made this book truly shine (in more than one way). It's beautiful, with an incredible use of color and monochrome, and whimsical lines.
It doesn't matter if you're not familiar with the Sandman storyline, as this falls outside of it, but if you are, you'll be able to appreciate the little details much more.
I will start by saying that this is an absolutely gorgeous book. It's a compilation that was obviously done with great care and attention to detail, a...moreI will start by saying that this is an absolutely gorgeous book. It's a compilation that was obviously done with great care and attention to detail, and as a result it has a very imposing physical presence. I found myself checking if my hands were clean before picking it up to read (and I'm not kidding).
What to say about the comic itself... "Sandman" is fantastic, quite different from what I got used from a comic book (and it must have been quite ground-breaking at the time it came out). I started reading Watchmen at the same time I was reading The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 1, and found myself comparing the two. While Watchmen is undoubtedly much more political and thought-provoking (and also quite original in its storytelling), Sandman is a lot more subtle. It's an intricate world of fantasies, of metaphors and of symbols. I could read only one story at the time, and after a while I figured out why. I found myself being unable to fully appreciate all the little details, references and symbols, because there were so many. Thus, I slowed down (and good thing I did), making this the book that has taken me the longest time to read in my life.
The final part of the book is dedicated to the making-of the comic, and is really an excellent read. I enjoyed immensely going through the whole issue of "A Midsummer Night's Dream", step by step, with the quirky commentaries of Neil Gaiman to the illustrator.
The artists that collaborated on this book are all very talented. I have a soft spot for Dave McKean's work, and his issue covers were another thing that made me love this book. If you like comic books, then I heartily recommend you get your "clean" hands on this.(less)
A graphic adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, the novel that served as an inspiration for the movie Blade Runner. However, I wouldn't call it a graphic novel exactly; it feels more like an illustration in the style of a graphic novel. The difference is that there's a lot more text that appears to be lifted exactly from the book (I didn't check this, but it felt like everything was there, included the "He responded absently" after the dialog balloons). It's a bit distracting.
This adaptation seems to be particularly directed at those who have seen and loved the movie but who aren't aware of the original material. For me, having seen the movie and read the book, this adaptation didn't bring anything new. The artwork is ok, but very straightforward - I was expecting something more experimental and daring. The cover gallery at the end, however, is gorgeous, and I fell in love with the Collector's Paradise Exclusive by Scott Keating.
Overall, this is a nice read, but not unmissable if you've read the original novel.(less)
"American Vampire" follows the appearance of a new breed of vampire, an "evolution" that happens when the vampires from Europe...morePosted on my book blog.
"American Vampire" follows the appearance of a new breed of vampire, an "evolution" that happens when the vampires from Europe travel to America to further their wealth, and one of them accidentally turns a local criminal. This new breed is a little different - they can walk in the sun, are immune to wood, their strength wanes during the new moon... The story follows Skinner Sweet, the first American vampire, from the wild west to 1920s Los Angeles, where we also meet Pearl Jones, an aspiring young actress. It was written by Scott Snyder and Stephen King, and illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque.
It's strange to see all the blurbs and comments saying that this is an original portrayal of vampires. While it's nice to get a break from all the stories where vampires are just bad boys with feelings, I wouldn't consider this an entirely new approach, but instead a return to how things should be. These vampires are vicious, vengeful and violent, but still manage to be strangely charming.
The story is compelling and the artwork, gritty and rough, lends itself well to the book's atmosphere. The dialogues sometimes felt flat to me, specially when it involved the Old World vampires, who seemed rather corny and cliche. Still, this was an enjoyable read and I'll be looking forward to the next volume.(less)
Richard Mayhew is just your average person with an average job, who allows himself to be gently (and not so gently) pushed arou...morePosted on my book blog.
Richard Mayhew is just your average person with an average job, who allows himself to be gently (and not so gently) pushed around by pretty much everyone and everything in his life. When he stops to help an injured young lady named Door, who comes from London Below, a sort of parallel city that exists beneath and connected to London, his life changes.
This is the graphic adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel. I admit, after reading this I wish I had read the original novel first. I loved the story, and the settings were beautifully depicted, but I was left feeling like something was missing, and the story could have benefited from a slower pace.
Still, this is a lovely book and I recommend it, specially if you're read the original novel before.(less)
Even though I'm usually one of those people who won't watch a movie until she's read the book(s) it's based on, I did the oppos...morePosted on my book blog.
Even though I'm usually one of those people who won't watch a movie until she's read the book(s) it's based on, I did the opposite with Scott Pilgrim. I watched the movie first. I actually really liked it, but it did dampen my enthusiasm somewhat as I was reading this book, because, understandably, not a lot of it surprised me.
But, first things first. Scott Pilgrim is a 23 year-old guy from Toronto, Canada, who has the perfect life. He's in a rock band with his friends, between jobs, and dating a high-school girl. Then Ramona Flowers, a delivery girl on rollerblades, comes into his life.
I liked how honest and funny this was. Ramona's interesting, confident personality is a nice contrast to Knives's innocent and childish demeanor. The artwork and storytelling were simple, but different enough to keep me interesting. Still, this feels very much like the beginning of the story. At least it's a fast read and makes me want to read the others right away.
The sixth and final installment of the Scott Pilgrim story feels quite a bit different from the rest of the volumes, in terms o...morePosted on my book blog.
The sixth and final installment of the Scott Pilgrim story feels quite a bit different from the rest of the volumes, in terms of the artwork, pacing, dialogues, and just the overall ambiance. It's not that it's bad - it just feels rather strange and a bit rushed.
Still, it's a great ending for a great series. It's a rather bittersweet coming of age for the all these 20-somethings, and a very honest, believable one at that. We get closure on most of the characters and relationships. Granted, a few of them don't make a lot of sense, and there are a few motivations and situations that don't really get an explanation (cryogenically frozen girlfriends?), and Gideon's character wasn't as evil or douchy as I thought he would be, but still, I liked how everyone understood things a bit better, even if they didn't exactly change.
Sorry for being cryptic, but I don't want to spoil all the surprises. :)
I loved the cat, and the memory cams. Also, some of the dialogues were spot on. A few examples:
- I don't think I'm ready to be a grown-up. - I don't think you are either, buddy. But hey, you'll get it. It just takes practice.
- You know, you're right. Part of me does still belong to you. But the other parts of me... Are finished with you!
Background: After reading (and being totally unimpressed by) the first volume of this series, I decided to give "Fables" anothe...morePosted on my book blog.
Background: After reading (and being totally unimpressed by) the first volume of this series, I decided to give "Fables" another shot, simply because I wanted to understand why this is acclaimed widely as an amazing comics series. After the underwhelming first volume I was weary, but still hopeful. And, as it turns out, with good reason.
Review: Taking inspiration from Orwell's Animal Farm, this volume follows the story as the non-human looking Fables, forced to live away from the eyes of the non-magical population, decide to rebel against their more human looking counterparts, who live in recluse in New York City. With a half-baked plan to overthrow their "oppressors" and then invade the lands that were taken from the Fables by "The Adversary", characters like the Three Little Pigs, the Three Bears, Shere Khan and Baghera, led by Goldilocks, champion a revolution by overthrowing Weyland Smith, the mayor of the Farm, and enslaving him so they could force him to make weapons modified for use by the non-human Fables. Snow White and her sister, Rose Red, get caught up in this affair when they go visit the farm (Rose on community service because of the events in the last book) and Snow is forced to take matters into her hands, while her sister seems to fall in with the traitors.
The characters were all much more fleshed-out, staying true to their storybook originals, but still showing a twist (often very macabre) that made them interesting and unexpected. However, if you were annoyed by Rose Red on the first volume, be prepared - she is still an arrogant, spoiled brat, and Snow White's naivety towards her is sometimes infuriating. The story is much better as well, and this time I found myself caring about what would happen next. The jokes were also funnier and didn't feel forced at all, just part of the story and world.
All in all, a huge improvement over the last one (however, I still think it has the potential to get better). I will definitely keep reading this series.(less)
After a somewhat shaky beginning, the "Fables" series has become a keeper for me. Even though I didn't love this volume as much...morePosted on my book blog.
After a somewhat shaky beginning, the "Fables" series has become a keeper for me. Even though I didn't love this volume as much as the previous one, it was still pretty good, and the story genuinely surprised me.
The first issue follows a secondary character, Cinderella, like with Jack in the previous volume and, like Jack, I believe she has a spin-off series. I'm not a great fan of Jack and I have to say I didn't find Cindy all that interesting. Just your basic, run of the mill spy so far... We'll see if it gets better. The second issue is a back story from Bigby Wolf's life, fighting the nazis in World War II. He is one of my favourite characters and I love that there are so many layers to him.
The rest of the volume is dedicated to the main story arc. Snow White goes into labour on the election day, the results of which should come as no surprise to anyone. Going into any of the details of why I liked this so much would be spoilery, so suffice to say I'm really looking forward to the next issue right now.
(view spoiler)[ Although I have to say the whole thing with Bigby's father could have been handled better. I mean, he came from the Homelands, and no one even thinks of asking him how he managed to survive there all these years? Doesn't anyone wonder if he works for the Adversary? Or at least be a little more cautious? (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Knowing this was the second to last volume of the Scott Pilgrim series, I was expecting this to be the book in which everything...morePosted on my book blog.
Knowing this was the second to last volume of the Scott Pilgrim series, I was expecting this to be the book in which everything sort of goes wrong in preparation to the redemption at the end of the series. Well, I was right. This one is much grimmer than the others, and consequently isn't as fun to read.
It feels like every character has gone downhill for this one. With the exception of Scott, who despite all his failings, actually manages to mature somewhat, and Kim, who stops pretending she doesn't care about anyone, every single character acted in a bitchy, immature or egotistical way. It's okay, though, since this is true to reality - everyone does stupid things once in a while. And it's funny how real all of it is: how sometimes relationships have everything to go right and still go wrong for apparently no reason, how every relationship in your life leaves behind traces that mess with you long after things are over, how people in your life (and your past) sometimes just can't seem to leave your life alone.
Ramona's character is still annoying, and I still don't get what's supposed to be awesome about her. I mean, abandoning your pet is low, man. But maybe that's just me, since she's been my biggest gripe about the series in every single volume.
It's still a great story, with lovely art and storytelling, and I can't wait to read the ending.(less)
Background: I loved the first volume of this series, so I was looking forward to reading this one.
Review: Following the near apocalypse and all the crazy stuff that happened on Vol.1, we meet the characters as they try to figure out how to move on, when some of the things that happened left scars that will never be healed. The siblings are scattered and broken, left to their own personal vices and grudges. But when a mysterious organization (of which we had a glimpse on the first volume) travels through time to hunt Number Five and threatens to destroy Earth, they have to unite their powers again to prevent it.
I have to admit it's a little difficult describing what actually happens. There are so many storylines, so many loose ends, that I wasn't even sure what the story was as I was reading it. And that was my main problem with this volume. It was much more confusing and all over the place than volume one. At times it almost felt like there was no thread connecting everything, and some situations appear to be an excuse to give cool one-liners or scenes. Things get better midway, after the fantastic "Heaven" scene, though.
However, the characters are still some of the most unique ones you can find in comics (Séance is currently my favourite), and Gerard Way does have some of the craziest ideas ever, and that alone makes the comics worth reading. Gabriel Bá's artwork gets even better in this issue. And you do get a lot of pretty amazing moments that you didn't see coming... I just wish it was less messy and more coherent. Still, highly recommended!(less)
**spoiler alert** It's no secret that I love the Fables series, and this volume follows a very cool, but overlooked character: Flycatcher. That being...more**spoiler alert** It's no secret that I love the Fables series, and this volume follows a very cool, but overlooked character: Flycatcher. That being said, I didn't love it as much as I would have liked to.
The story reminded me way too much of Lord of the Rings, and everything happened too fast. The Prince's amazing and sudden magical powers (not the ones related to the armor or sword) aren't really explained, and since the kingdom's very existence depends on that magic, it's a flaw that can't be overlooked. The artwork is also weaker compared to other volumes in the series. Character-wise, Flycatcher loses some of his spark and becomes a pure, incorruptible king / martyr who insists on only seeing the good in people, which might work well in regular fantasy stores but was really strange for the Fables universe. Also, Red Riding Hood is boring. But hey, at least Snow White and Bigby Wolf are still their regular, cool selves.
Still, I like where the story seems to be headed, and I'm curious to see the war developing.(less)
Being rather new to the comics world (I only started reading them more steadily last year), I was eager to know more about the medium, and various onl...moreBeing rather new to the comics world (I only started reading them more steadily last year), I was eager to know more about the medium, and various online searches kept pointing to Understanding Comics The Invisible Art (also by Scott McCloud) as a great starting point. Unfortunately, at the time I set out to buy it it was unavailable, so I settled for this one instead.
I have to say I loved it! It really opened my eyes to a lot of details I was missing, or rather, things that I was aware of on an unconscious level, but which make a huge difference when you're aware of them. Even if you don't actually want to "make" comics, this is still a great book to further your understanding of them. My appreciation for the medium and the amount of work that goes to each page certainly improved.
If I had to find something wrong with this book, it would be that it only scratches the surface on most points - but then again, the book describes itself as a starting point, and throughout the book you get many pointers from the author to further your knowledge of what's being discussed. Also, one has to keep in mind that this is only one of the three books Scott McCloud wrote on the subject, so what's missing from this one is probably explained in the others (which I will definitely be checking out).
I also love that this was written and presented in comic book form. It makes it a very fun read, while still being informative. Overall, it was everything I expected it to be.(less)
I was disappointed by this book. I'm a fan of Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series, and The Color of Magic is one of my favourites, so I guess I a...moreI was disappointed by this book. I'm a fan of Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series, and The Color of Magic is one of my favourites, so I guess I approached this book with high expectations. I just can't help compare it with the original, and I felt that in graphic novel form it lost most of its spark. Somehow it was much less funny and much more confusing. The relationship between words and images was at times too simplistic and descriptive, and the story seemed to jump all over the place.
I've never read The Light Fantastic so I was able to enjoy it a bit more, but even so, I'm guessing the original is much better.
Also, I was rather let down by the artwork. Some of it is quite good but most of it is predictable and not very interesting. What's more, a lot of the chapter covers were pixellated.
All in all, a disappointing read, and I would recommend that people interested in Discworld read the original books instead.(less)
The second installment of the Scott Pilgrim's series continues to explore his burgeoning relationship with Ramona Flowers (a...morePublished on my book blog.
The second installment of the Scott Pilgrim's series continues to explore his burgeoning relationship with Ramona Flowers (and, consequently, the fights with her evil ex-boyfriends) and his withering one with Knives Chau (who seems to develop an unhealthy obsession for anything Scott).
I actually enjoyed this one more. I'm not sure if it was because it's a bit more different from the movie than the first volume, or simply because the story picked up pace. It was still quite easy and fast to read, but there were more funny and unexpected moments. The scene with Ramona and Knives, in which Knives shows the reason for her strange name, was particularly enjoyable. The book ends in a cliffhanger, after we meet, for the first time, Envy Adams, Scott's ex-girlfriend and now member of a successful, art rock band (or something).
This whole series is a funny, but honest look at how complicated relationships are and how emotional baggage really prevents people from moving on. I'll definitely keep reading.(less)
Background: Back in June, I had the pleasure of meeting Gabriel Bá and his twin brother Fábio Moon in the opening of their exhi...morePosted on my book blog.
Background: Back in June, I had the pleasure of meeting Gabriel Bá and his twin brother Fábio Moon in the opening of their exhibition at Mundo Fantasma, our local comic book shop. I had never heard of The Umbrella Academy series (which goes to show how out of comic book news I have been), but the cover caught my attention, and having Gabriel Bá signing it was a plus.
Review: It's not usual for me to read the first chapter of a book, raise my head from it and go "What the hell just happened?", but that is exactly what happened with this book. It's probably the weirdest comic book series I've read so far, but I love weird, so that's a good thing.
The story is definitely reminiscent of the movie "The Royal Tenenbaums", as it describes a dysfunctional family of adopted kids and their "father" (he's hardly worthy of that title), who all grow up with special powers and become a most disgruntled and estranged group of individuals. But it becomes much more than that, a bit of science fiction mixed with a slightly gothic atmosphere.
SLIGHT SPOILER: I guess some people might take offense with the kind of "love" some of the siblings share, but honestly, they weren't really raised as brothers and sisters, it was more as if they were an organization of grown-up super heroes from the get-go. It's hardly surprising they turned out the way they did. In my opinion, it made for truly interesting characters, easily the best thing in this whole series.
I loved the artwork. Gabriel Bá's style is amazing, very angular and clean, and the colorist (Dave Stewart) did an absolutely beautiful job, with strange colors that complement the story perfectly.
The story was good, slightly confusing at times, but I'm hoping that some loose ends will be tied up in the next volume. I'm certainly looking forward to it.(less)
Background: The Fables series has become a definite "keeper" for me, one of those comic book series that I'm sure I'm going to...morePosted on my book blog.
Background: The Fables series has become a definite "keeper" for me, one of those comic book series that I'm sure I'm going to follow as long as they exist. After a shaky start on volume 1, the series gets progressively better.
Review: From the very beginning of the series, we've heard stories of "The Adversary" and how he brutally conquered the Fable homelands, forcing the inhabitants to flee to our world, and enslaving those who weren't lucky enough to make it out of there. But so far, the stories have followed events within the Fable community itself, and this issue is the first in which we catch a glimpse at the threat that drove them out of their homelands.
The book starts with Boy Blue telling Snow White the story of the day the last ship of refugees headed for the safety of our world. This, for me, was the point where I started to look past the Fables' cynical personalities, because it really shows the hardships they've been through, and the sacrifices they all had to make.
When the first Fable to escape in over a century shows up at their doorstep, the community is divided into those who rejoice, and the more sensible ones who suspect such a miracle. The story spirals into the first truly epic event we see in the series, and all the characters get an opportunity to shine in their own way.
In my opinion, this was the best volume so far. Great character development, with even the annoying characters like Jack or Rose Red going up a few notches in my consideration (though still not enough for me to actually like them). Prince Charming is developing into one of the most interesting characters as well, since I'm never sure if I hate him or think he's okay. The art is still lovely, with the James Jean's covers stealing the show every time. And the little details scattered through the story (like the way Prince Charming and the Beast manipulate Beauty so her husband can properly join the battle) are awesome.
After the amazing third volume, I had high expectations for this one. In general, this one was ok, not as great as the previ...morePublished on my book blog.
After the amazing third volume, I had high expectations for this one. In general, this one was ok, not as great as the previous one. Plot wise, there's a lot more emphasis on the characters' lives outside the whole "fighting evil exes" thing. I guess this is where the story lost me a bit. The reasons? The main characters.
****** SLIGHT SPOILER AHEAD (OR WHATEVER) ******
Ramona's character seriously annoyed me in this volume. The whole being "mysterious and aloof to avoid getting hurt" thing isn't cool, or cute. It's annoying, and stupid, not to mention oh so typical, and I was under the impression that Ramona was everything but typical. Guess not. Also, being crazily jealous for apparently no reason while also thinking it's ok to invite your ex to sleep over and making out (a little bit) just because said ex is a girl, is unfair and a double standard. This also applies to the fact that Ramona has no problem at all to go through Scott's dreams but goes completely ballistic when he enters one of hers, by accident. Way to go, Ramona.
Not that Scott's character was any better. I kinda understand not remembering a lot of people in your life, but it gets to a point where it's just ridiculous and starts to look incredibly self-centered. Also, not remembering your last year of college? I guess your higher education isn't important either, specially when you have no interest in finding a job and only do it because your girlfriend tells you to.
****** END OF SPOILER ******
Anyway, rant over. The main characters may have been annoying, but the supporting characters make up for it. I still love Wallace, and Kim, and Stephen Stills ("If your life had a face, I would punch it the balls. Seriously."). Looking forward to the next one.(less)
Background: I had never heard of this book until I got it as a gift for my birthday last month, but I have been a huge fan of Dave McKean's work since...moreBackground: I had never heard of this book until I got it as a gift for my birthday last month, but I have been a huge fan of Dave McKean's work since I discovered it around four or five years ago, so it was a really nice surprise. I first became aware of his work through the graphic novel Black Orchid, which he made with Neil Gaiman. I remember marveling at the beautiful panels in that book and wondering who this amazingly talented artist was. After that, it was only a matter of time until I got acquainted with the rest of his illustrative works. This, however, is the first book I got that wasn't made together with other authors, which got me curious.
Review: Let me be a bit unorthodox and start this review with a conclusion: go buy it. Seriously. You won't regret it, if you're a fan of his work or of the comic / graphic novel genre in general, specially if, like me, you like to see the boundaries of a medium being explored to the limits. That being said...
Pictures That Tick is a collection of short stories, some made of words and images, others of only images, some drawn, some painted, some photographed, some all of the above. The author includes a short introduction to each of the stories, which in itself I found very interesting. In some of them he would allude to what had inspired him to make it, including some references to other artists such as Duane Michals (who happens to be one of my favourite photographers), while in others it seemed like I was staring at written versions of his scattered thoughts. In fact, many of the short stories felt like that - a materialized string of ideas, or stream of consciousness, rather than a story per se - and this is particularly notable in the stories in which he uses no words.
The artwork itself is nothing short of amazing. Dave McKean seems to have mastered many different mediums in a way that many other people can only aspire to. If you're familiar with his work you probably already know this, but it still came as a surprise, to see so many mediums intertwined in such a lovely manner in one single book. The highlights, for me, were "Ash", a story about a girl with a tree growing through her, and "His Story", which follows the life of a boy who had listened to his father's story. It sounds rather simplistic when I put it down in words, but believe me, it's everything but. The book is full of metaphors and word play and little pearls of wisdom which sometimes come in the form of an image. This quote, from "Ash", particularly struck home with me:
She looked out at the other trees, and she realised that her life was one of thousands, any one of which could have been her, she had grown wherever her life had taken her, she had drifted wherever the wind had blown her.
This is a gorgeous, thought-provoking book and I am infinitely glad I came across it. It showcases Dave McKean's talent not only as a visual artist, but also as a skilled storyteller.
What's Next: Some of these stories touched me deeply and still linger in my mind. I now have all his books (including the ones he worked on with other authors) on my wishlist. I sincerely hope he makes another one with short stories such as these.(less)
Lovely artwork from Amy Reeder Hadley. The story was interesting, but Madame Xanadu, as a character, fell a little short of my...morePosted on my book blog.
Lovely artwork from Amy Reeder Hadley. The story was interesting, but Madame Xanadu, as a character, fell a little short of my expectations. I felt that she had the potential to be a lot more interesting, not to mention likable. The Phantom Stranger was simply annoying and had a serious lack of communication skills, but then again, I've never been a fan of these brooding, mysterious character types. Still, the story was good and I enjoyed reading about how the story of Madame Xanadu (or Nimue) entangled with the stories of other DC characters, as well as with historical events such as the French revolution.
P.S. In the Marie Antoinette chapter, I was a little irked by the errors in the French sentences. "Le Madame"? "Les belle dames"? Hmm.(less)
I was looking forward to reading this book. I had heard and read about it, and even watched the movie adaptation (which, in my opinion, is not as good...moreI was looking forward to reading this book. I had heard and read about it, and even watched the movie adaptation (which, in my opinion, is not as good as the book itself) before reading it. I wasn't disappointed. While this book probably must have had a much greater impact at the time the comic first appeared (due to the political and economic climate) it's still a wonderful read today. To top that off, it's presented in a very original way, as far as comics go.
I won't go deep into the plot here, to avoid spoilers. The atmosphere is dark, almost depressing, mostly detached. The most interesting thing for me was the psychological and philosophical studies of the characters' motives. The side stories, newspaper clippings and excerpts, and even the "comic within the comic" added interest to an already intricate story. I found myself fascinated by Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach. Not your usual comic book heroes, that's for sure.
Background: I'm starting to really like this series (it's come a long way from the first issue). I'm buying the issues in order...morePosted on my book blog.
Background: I'm starting to really like this series (it's come a long way from the first issue). I'm buying the issues in order when I can find them.
Review: In this issue, there are a couple of stories unrelated to the general storyline: one follows Jack of the Tales (still of a pretty vacuous mind), and the other gives a little cultural background for the Liliputians. Both are very funny and provide great context for the story. I heard Jack of the Tales even has its own spinoff of the series (along with Cinderella), but I've yet to check it out.
By the way, don't read this if you haven't read the second book. Should go without saying, but...
The rest of the story picks up where the last one ended, with Snow White convalescing from the encounter with Goldilocks on the farm. Things have been going smoothly in Fabletown, with Bigby Wolf taking care of things while Snow is in the hospital. One day, a journalist asks for an audience with Wolf and lets him know he's been spying on the Fables underground New York community for the last three years, and that he's discovered they're immortal. He threatens to publish everything, and the Fables have to find a way to keep him from unmasking them. There's some disagreement among the Fables as to the best course of action, and Bluebeard starts getting resentful towards Wolf and Snow's authority.
This series keeps getting better with each issue. The characters are still very much "archetypes": Snow White is icy but innocent, Wolf is scraggy but loyal, Jack is resourceful but dumb... But they make sense inside their own stories in that they're not regular humans, they are Fables after all. And inside these archetypes, they are getting more interesting, specially Bigby Wolf and Prince Charming.
The humor is still there, still getting better. I actually laughed out loud reading Jack's story. The art is top notch as well, specially when it comes to the covers, which are simply beautiful.
I'm starting to get why this series is so popular. Will definitely pick up the next one.(less)
Background: In keeping with my "jumping from one thing to another" theme I've been having in books lately, I decided to read a...morePosted on my book blog.
Background: In keeping with my "jumping from one thing to another" theme I've been having in books lately, I decided to read a graphic novel. This one had been staring at me for a while on my to-read pile - and really, you can't help but notice it with a cover like this - so I gave it a go.
Review: This is the first book that I've read that's entirely devoted to Joker - I've never read Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore, which seems to be lauded as the best in the subject. And even though I've read a few Batman comics, I have to admit that my biggest experience with Joker before this was Christopher Nolan's film, The Dark Knight. I loved Joker's character in the movie. It's up there with my favourite villains of all time. So, going into the book, I was keen to delve deeper into his mind.
Did the book succeed to do this? Overall, I have to say, unfortunately, it didn't. The premise seemed interesting - Joker being mysteriously released from the Arkham asylum, eager to get control of the city back from those who had usurped it while he was away - and the artwork grabbed me immediately. We see the story told through the eyes of Jonny Frost (though there is at least a couple of scenes we get to look at where he isn't present), who at times seems a bit too simple as a character, almost verging on straight-forward, but actually, towards the end of the book, he was probably the only character whose actions I understood. Maybe it's just me, but I didn't get the rest.
Joker especially was a disappointment (it was, after all, a book about him). I expected, of course, a sociopath, but his actions in the movie, while horrifying from everyone else's point of view, made sense inside his own world. He was ruthless while still managing to outwit everyone. In this book, he is released from the asylum and goes around killing people and trying to get money, supposedly to wrestle control of the city back into his hands... And he does only that for most of the book. There's no finesse in his actions (which is interesting since later in the book he accuses Jonny Frost of being too obvious and having no finesse). He seems to be no more than a deranged lunatic who likes killing people.
Maybe I was wrong to base my expectations on the movie. But the book does nothing to get one's mind off Heath Ledger's rendition of Joker - the design seems to be based on him, actually. And the dark, haunted look of the city also bears an uncanny resemblance to the movie.
I didn't get Batman's actions either. He's dormant for most of the book, only reacting when Harvey Dent asks him to. I won't get into the reasons Dent asks him for help to avoid spoilers, but it all seemed a bit too loose to me. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that nothing is explained in this book - not the reasons why he was released, nor his actions, nor why he seems to be taken by surprise when Batman strikes back - which would be fine by me if the book offered some kind of psychological exploration of the characters. It doesn't. The only character where it succeeds at this somewhat is Jonny Frost.
However, the book did keep me interested to the end, and the main reason for that was the artwork. Beginning with the cover (which made my mother systematically turn the book face down - literally - because, she claimed, it creeped her out) to the beautiful panels inside, I thought it was great throughout. The style goes from clear-cut inks to a more painterly look, and does this without seeming disconnected, but instead adding a strangeness that was lacking in the story. There were also a couple of moments that stood out for me, even if the story didn't; one of those happens in the meeting Harvey Dent has with Jonny Frost, in which he tells him, regarding his loyalty to the Joker:
You know you are involved with a sick man who will see you die? He will stand over your body, with your blood on his hands and I promise you he will laugh... Not because your life means nothing to him. But because death, for him... Is the punch line.
Overall, I chose to give it three stars because I liked reading it, and even though it fell short of my expectations (except for the artwork), I don't consider it to have been a waste of time.
What's Next: Since everyone seems to have great things to say about Alan Moore's book, I added it to my wishlist. I'll also definitely be checking out other works by the artist, Lee Bermejo, since the book got me curious.(less)
Leaps and bounds better than the first two volumes. You get to know the characters deeply in this one, with lots of dynamic bac...morePosted on my book blog.
Leaps and bounds better than the first two volumes. You get to know the characters deeply in this one, with lots of dynamic back story and dialogue. There is an intensity that was lacking from the previous volumes, and the story really starts picking up pace.
The fights are less superficial and the relationships get more complicated. The artwork also gets more interesting and unusual, and the "meta" comments (for example: "Right. It's almost 3.30, and we've been here for a quarter of this book. Let's call it a night.") are much funnier and well placed.
Looking forward to the next one. Three exes down, four to go!(less)
Background: I will admit this right from the beginning: I got this book because of its cover. It's deceptively simple and quite...morePosted on my book blog.
Background: I will admit this right from the beginning: I got this book because of its cover. It's deceptively simple and quite brilliant. And the phrase that's pictured coming out (or going into) the book really piqued my interest: Stories are the only thing worth dying for. Food for thought.
Review: Wilson Taylor is the author of the most celebrated fantasy book series in the world. Surpassing even Harry Potter's popularity, the Tommy Taylor series follows the adventures of a boy wizard, his friends Sue and Peter, and a magical flying cat as they battle an evil vampire called Count Ambrosio (the similarity to Harry Potter's storyline is evident). The author's son, Tom Taylor, is believed by fans to be the model for his father's stories, and when Wilson Taylor disappears, his son tries to cash in on his father's legacy in any way he can. However, he is haunted by abandonment issues and resentment at being looked at only as a fictional character. When doubts are raised about his past, and whether or not he is truly the son of the missing author, Tom Taylor is thrust into a lot more trouble than he could conceive.
I liked the story, the premise is interesting, and all the literary references make this a true pleasure for any book lover. I had a few problems with the execution - for example, I thought that the story evolved quite slowly, with the main character not figuring out things that are made quite obvious to the reader. I guess this is fairly true to reality - after all, if you were in the main character's shoes, just how easily would you believe you were actually a character made flesh, or that all the literary mumble-jumbo your father taught you would be useful to battle enemies you're not even aware of? In that sense, the character of Tommy is believable, even if he's a bit insufferable (at least to me, he came out as whiny and kinda spoiled).
Even so, I found it a bit confusing, which I guess is the result of only reading the beginning of the story (when the book ends you feel like the story has only just started) and the bits of information that is thrown in in the form of blog entries, chat discussions, and back story. Still, I kinda liked the vibe of mystery-to-be-solved this gave, and I'm really looking forward to the next issue. Also, the fact that stories are presented as being the thing that makes the world go roung is really interesting.
Overall, thought-provoking and out of the ordinary. If you like fast-paced, action-driven comics, then I guess this one isn't for you. But if you're a passionate writer or a reader, I'm sure you'll be able to connect with this book.
What's Next: Will definitely check out the next volume.(less)
Sometimes, in life, a book comes along that speaks to you so clearly about the things you believe that it seems to have been wr...morePosted on my book blog.
Sometimes, in life, a book comes along that speaks to you so clearly about the things you believe that it seems to have been written by someone inside your head. For me, "Daytripper" was one of those books.
Each chapter follows a day in the life of Brás, a brazilian writer, and ends with his death (this isn't a spoiler, by the way - it's right on the back cover). But that's not what the book is about. What's important is the notion you get that life is made of the little moments we hardly think about when we're experiencing them. That death, no matter if you think about it or not, is always there, just another part of life. That home isn't a place but a complex mix of people, emotions and memories. That nothing is ever as simple as it looks.
As for the artwork, it's simply gorgeous. The drawings are the best I've seen from the artists (having seen their work in other books) and the coloring is genius. Some of the panels are so breathtaking that I spent some time just getting lost in them. It's that good.
Coincidentally, just one week ago I presented a university project about death that touched upon many of the ideas that I found inside this book, and maybe that's why it touched me in a way that may not be transmittable to other people. Still, I recommend this to everyone. Surely one of the best graphic novels I've read.(less)
Background: A disclaimer: This book is, to my knowledge, only available in Portuguese (at least so far).
I came across this book a couple of months ago, and its unassuming cover and strange title didn't do very much to peak my interest at the time. However, I'm always interested in checking out new work from Portuguese authors, specially in the comics / graphic novels department, which is still too small here. Since then I've seen this book for sale practically in every bookstore I go to, which is out of the ordinary for any comic, but it makes me happy to see it's getting the attention it deserves.
Review: This is a story set in Lisbon, a refuge point in World War II for people trying to flee Europe and the Nazi persecution. All over town children have been mysteriously disappearing from their homes, and the police find themselves helpless to solve the situation, leaving the parents disgruntled and the city in near chaos. Seemingly oblivious to this at first, we meet Eurico, a guy who works as delivery boy in a pizza store, who has a few problems of self-confidence and who wishes he could do more with his life than being screamed at by his boss and daydream about his co-worker. When his motorcycle (on which his job depends) gets stolen by a creature who looks very much like a goblin, his friend suggests he goes to an occult investigator, named Dog Mendonça, for help, and all hell breaks loose.
There were some things I loved about this book, others not so much. I absolutely loved the characters, specially Pazuul, the demon trapped inside an 8 year-old girl's body. Very out of the ordinary and simply hilarious. The others were less original and more cliché, but their interactions made up for it, as there are a few moments of pure "laughing out loud" which for me were the high point of the book. I also smiled whenever I came across a reference for World of Warcraft.
My major gripe was with the story. I had only read the back cover and the inside flap of the cover (hadn't even started on the book at all!) and already guessed who the big villain was. The plot was just too straight-forward and predictable for my taste. Everything that I guessed would happen, happened. And the characters acted in ways that were somewhat hard to believe... I mean, after a couple of hours together they were already calling each other "friends", and the total lack of any incredulity Pizzaboy (aka Eurico) had when he first came into contact with the supernatural world made me doubt him as a character a bit.
Also, as I was reading this, I felt like I was looking at the storyboard for a movie, and not a graphic novel per se. This ultimately made sense when I read the making-of, since the script was originally to be made into a movie, but the author turned to the graphic novel medium when he realized he could never get the funds for it in Portugal, at least not without giving up quality. And lastly, there are many references to other movies, too many in my opinion, that are also explained in the making-of.
However, I'm still very happy I came across and read this book, and that they managed to make it and publish it. It was fun to read and I'm interested in reading more adventures with these characters. Also, the artwork is really nice and adapts itself perfectly to the story, both in terms of drawing and coloring. Here's to wishing they make another one!
What's Next: I'll be looking out for another issue in this collection, and also for works by other Portuguese comic book authors, who I'm pretty sure are out there trying to make amazing books but failing to find the funds for it.(less)
I hate to say this about any book, but this wasn't good. Actually, it was much worse than I had expected. I saw the movie first...morePosted on my book blog.
I hate to say this about any book, but this wasn't good. Actually, it was much worse than I had expected. I saw the movie first, and while I didn't love it, it was better than the book. What's more, the stories are completely different, the only real connection is that, in both, there are cowboys and - wait for it - aliens.
This wasn't terrible, but the story is way too basic and nothing, not the characters, the setting or the events, gets explored in the slightest, which was a disappointment.(less)