The improbably diverting story of a kid who gets really good at a board game. Rather repetitive -- lots of pages of people playing games with great deThe improbably diverting story of a kid who gets really good at a board game. Rather repetitive -- lots of pages of people playing games with great determination -- but strong characters and great illustration. From start to finish, has a distressing habit of dropping its most interesting story lines and characters, including anyone female....more
I've tried twice to learn something about chemistry from this book, with very little takeaway. Unlike in Gonick's superb history books, the illustratiI've tried twice to learn something about chemistry from this book, with very little takeaway. Unlike in Gonick's superb history books, the illustrations here are neither helpful nor particularly funny. I suspect it is best used as a refresher text for someone who already knows the stuff, but just needs a refresher. ...more
Unfinished at the time of Herge's death, this rough draft of a Tintin adventure is only likely to be interesting to serious fans who are also interestUnfinished at the time of Herge's death, this rough draft of a Tintin adventure is only likely to be interesting to serious fans who are also interested in the creative process. But for that group, it's a fairly fascinating glimpse at how art, story, and layout of a comic developed together. Judging from what we're shown here, Herge seemed to be refining the earlier stages of his story before even sketching out -- maybe before even deciding? -- how it would end.
Be warned: this story stops dead in the midst of the action, without even a clue about its resolution. That's more the pity because the adventure to that point seems to be shaping up as one of the most interesting and sophisticated of the Tintin adventures. We'll never know for sure. In any event, I choose to assume that Tintin gets out of his scrape and brings the bad guys to justice. Maybe he even writes a little article about it -- but offstage, of course....more
Herge' didn't realize that his Tintin character was going to become a big deal when his boss told him to create a work of anti-Soviet propaganda for cHerge' didn't realize that his Tintin character was going to become a big deal when his boss told him to create a work of anti-Soviet propaganda for children. Apparently he didn't put much effort or thought into it, and was pretty embarrassed by it once his character and career started to take off, refusing to render a color version and keeping the original black and white version from being reprinted for as long as he could. Well, he was right to be embarrassed; "Land of the Soviets" is painfully crude not just in its political ham-handedness and cultural ignorance but in its drawing and plotting as well. There are glimpses of competence towards the end, but you would never guess that anything as terrific as the better Tintin books would grow from this rough beginning.
Of historical interest only. Even for a very serious Tintin fan, I would not recommend buying sight-unseen....more
Good Tintin, not great Tintin -- a very linear storyline, essentially one long trip. Some great large-panel illustrations: Tintin waking up from his nGood Tintin, not great Tintin -- a very linear storyline, essentially one long trip. Some great large-panel illustrations: Tintin waking up from his nightmare at the chessboard ("CHANG!") and the panorama of the wrecked airplane.
Realism doesn't really matter in Tintin, but interesting from an adult perspective: the intro establishes some mountaineering cred for Tintin, but what on earth is the Captain doing on vertical slopes? Also, the good mariner is really pushing the limit of his (hilarious?) alcoholism in this episode -- is that level of whiskey consumption even survivable?...more
Probably the worst of the Tintins from an adult perspective (although I loved it as much as all the others as a kid). It is interesting from a socioloProbably the worst of the Tintins from an adult perspective (although I loved it as much as all the others as a kid). It is interesting from a sociological perspective - "Europe imagines America" and all that - but doesn't have a ton of entertainment value. Even though it's a Tintin, I'm giving it two stars: it is merely "OK."
When I read the Tintins at 6 or 7, they seemed novelistic (although I wouldn't have used that word, of course) in their depth and mature pacing. As an adult, many are notable for their hyperactive leap from crisis to crisis, and "Tintin in America" is perhaps the worst offender along these lines. Compare with "The Castifiore Emerald," which is by comparison almost stately in its pacing....more
The chief virtue of this synopsis for me, as somebody who recently read the full-text version, is demonstrating by contrast how richly detailed and coThe chief virtue of this synopsis for me, as somebody who recently read the full-text version, is demonstrating by contrast how richly detailed and complex Dostoyevsky's novel really is. Boiling it down to 119 pages of text and image, Korkos and Mairowitz barely have room to get the plot outlined, let alone the nuances....more
What a crashing disappointment. This book, which positions itself as a showboat of creative data visualization, LOOKS great. It is initially fun to brWhat a crashing disappointment. This book, which positions itself as a showboat of creative data visualization, LOOKS great. It is initially fun to browse. But it is no fun to pay attention to, as you soon realize that almost every single item on display is marred by something. The something differs from image to image -- sometimes it's just that the information is pointless, but often the most fundamental laws of visual representation are ignored. Indeed, several images do a considerably worse job at representing information than a set of typed lists would do: check out "Most Successful Rock Bands" for a particularly egregious example. Then, some "images" really ARE just typed lists ("Loevinger's Stages of Self Development", "Internet Virals"). And obvious factual errors are rife (your chances of dying in a bus or train accident are 1 in 77, apparently, as opposed to your 1 in 18,585 chance of dying in a car accident. uh huh).
In beautiful full-spectrum color, this will be the most disappointing book on information design you ever look at carefully....more
I am strongly drawn to histories in cartoon form, but almost always a little disappointed by them. The problem is that the leading work in the genre -I am strongly drawn to histories in cartoon form, but almost always a little disappointed by them. The problem is that the leading work in the genre -- Larry Gonick's many-volumed Cartoon History of the Universe -- is so outrageously good that it is hard for anyone else to compete. Gonick's books are treasures, and I would never wish them away, but the field of non-fiction cartooning might be a little more healthy if its pioneer hadn't set the bar quite so high.
Louis Riel is the biography of a Canadian populist, rebel, and, arguably, nut-job who was involved in two local conflicts during Canada's late 18th Century expansion onto the prairies. He led working-class, French-speaking, Metis inhabitants of the prairie provinces in their struggles against the great powers of the Canadian government and the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Students of westward expansion anywhere in the Americas will not be suprised to learn that minorities and those who opposed the expansion of capitalism and its attendant systems, here as elsewhere, end up with a fairly raw deal.
Brown's treatment of this history attempts a factual, relatively "literal" retelling, and makes no particular effort to be funny. Me, I'm old-fashioned -- I prefer comics that are, you know, comic, so as a matter of taste Louis Riel is not especially my cup of tea. I can attest that it is well-drawn in a style reminiscent of Tintin, albeit in stark black and white. As far as I can tell it is quite well researched. The incidents in question illustrate some of the real concerns and conflicts of "The West," which is nice; Western history has been so buried under more than a century's worth of competing mythologies that any glimpse at actual documented incidents is always full of surprises. Learning about the expansionist phase of Canadian history, furthermore, is a good exercise for those United Statesians who always imagine a halo floating up there above the Maple Leaf.
This particular work of "comix history" did not ~wow~ me, especially, but it illustrates the strength of the form: in a short evening, I went from total ignorance of a historical episode to having a comfortable layman's understanding of what happened and why it was significant. Thanks, Chester Brown! I salute Louis Riel as a successful effort in an important and underdeveloped genre. I would love to see many, many more books like this one....more
Any graphic presentation of historical or pseudo-historical events has to live with comparison of Larry Gonick's amazing "History of the Universe" booAny graphic presentation of historical or pseudo-historical events has to live with comparison of Larry Gonick's amazing "History of the Universe" books, which are a brutal act to follow. Even cutting "A Thousand Ships" some slack on this account, though, it's a bit of a disappointment. The strengths of the graphic format aren't brought to bear, as characters aren't drawn with enough individuality to be able to tell them apart easily. Transitions are often unmarked, making it possible to read through several panels before realizing that there has been an important shift in time and place.
Shanower has chosen to depict the people of the epic as ordinary people, which is a reasonable decision. For my taste, though, it waters down the mythology, stripping it of a lot of its grandeur and humor, and making it just a little bit dull....more