For the uninitiated, Kate Beaton is a cartoonist and history/literature enthusiast who incorporates said enthusiasms in her work to great comedic effe...moreFor the uninitiated, Kate Beaton is a cartoonist and history/literature enthusiast who incorporates said enthusiasms in her work to great comedic effect. I don't get all the references, but when a comic strip is funny *and* makes you want to learn more about Tadeusz Kosciuszko it is absolutely doing something right. Some things even.
I first heard about Aurelia Aurita, at Angouleme 2011, in a documentary called "J'etais un Sale Phallocrat" (I Was A Dirty Male Chauvinist) about anot...moreI first heard about Aurelia Aurita, at Angouleme 2011, in a documentary called "J'etais un Sale Phallocrat" (I Was A Dirty Male Chauvinist) about another cartoonist (who I hadn't heard of before either) called Georges Wolinski.
Wolinski is known for comic sexual cartoons, sometimes featuring some kind of social commentary, though more often (it seemed to me from the film) featuring cheeky sex jokes for their own sake - think Red Bull ads but instead of drinking Red Bull there's sex, and instead of wings there's boobs. He came across to me, not as a controversial figure, but just as a guy who likes to draw lady parts and doesn't see what all the fuss is about. The final sequence of the film, with him sketching women walking by on the street, and getting all excited when one catches his eye, was actually quite endearing.
Part of the film focused on younger cartoonists (Wolinski is getting on a bit) who are also known for having sexual themes in their work. The guy who does Peches Mignons was there - that's a funny strip, with very cute, simple stylized drawings, showing snippets of modern relationships. It's the kind of strip that I imagine could do quite well in English too.
They also interviewed Zep, who is best known for Titeuf, a comic I really like about a young boy and his friends just at the start of puberty. A lot of the humour comes from them being fascinated by sex, but not really understanding it. (There's a movie version on the way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mEJ97...).
And Aurelia Aurita.. I wasn't familiar with her, but I was a bit curious about her work after seeing the interview and her drawing.
I picked up Fraise et Chocolate 2 in a book shop a few days later and was really impressed with the artwork. It looks sketchy. Backgrounds are often completely white, or just an impression - but she includes details that give a feel of authenticity; as though the location was somewhere she was, and sketched while she was there. The characters are simple. The most striking detail is Chenda's (the main character) hair. It's about the only thing that is consistently shaded in a deliberate, careful fashion - and even then, in dramatic moments it can reduce to a single outline with no colouring. Everything is loose and fluid. Poses are natural, expressions full of emotion. Really well-observed and well-captured work.
The writing, at it's best, shares the characteristics of the art. It feels like a moment that's been captured. The overall arc, about the relationship between Chenda and Frederic, feels very real, but it's in the little moments - Chenda being woken on a flight when the drinks cart knocks her foot, the course of her thoughts when she argues with the angry neighbour - that make this feel like real moments from a real life. (I think some elements of this book are based on Aurita's own life, but I'm not sure to what extent this is a journal comic. I haven't looked into that, and I'm happy enough taking the work as it is in itself.)
Sex is a big part of the story, but I think for the most part this makes up the less interesting side of Chenda and Frederic's relationship. The first half of the book, when they visit Europe, he has a health scare and they fight over various things, is much more engaging than the second half, when they return to Japan, and it focuses on their "sexploration". The brief part about racism, and the character of the neighbour, were my favourite parts of the second half.
It's funny at times, and captures the emotion of a couple in crisis at others. My main criticism is that the story is structured so that many of the dramatic peaks come early on, and the latter part doesn't have the same strong unifying arc.(less)
This is a great mixture of simplicity and imagination. Morrison doesn't write Superman as some depressive outsider or someone desperate to make a norm...moreThis is a great mixture of simplicity and imagination. Morrison doesn't write Superman as some depressive outsider or someone desperate to make a normal life in spite of his powers. He's a larger-than-life hero whose main concerns are saving people and collecting cool stuff in the Fortress of Solitude. He even wants to be friends with Lex Luthor - who is also quite straightforward, but written very well.
The imaginative aspects (especially everything to do with Leo Quintum) are fun. Something that's a bit frustrating with superhero movies is that they're so tied down to strict realism. With Iron Man for example, they put so much effort into convincing the audience that the suit is semi-feasible that they don't have anything left to add any other "comic book" stuff. The result is that the climax of both films is Iron Man fighting another Iron Man. I guess the reasoning is that you can't get an audience to buy into a super-suit and an ancient Chinese guy who can do magic in such a short period.
By contrast, this comic introduces a race of genetically-engineered giant humans, created to spend centuries exploring deep space, in a single panel. And then Superman and Quintum walk down the corridor to see something else that's awesome. It's fun enough, and presented pseudo-scientificly enough, that you don't think "That's just silly", you think "I'd like to see more of that!" And as the story goes on, they just add to these things you'd like to see more of. They build a world that's more than just the story that plays out in this book.
The episodic style also works well - chapter about Lois, chapter about Jimmy Olsen, chapter about Lex.. It gives you a *feel* for the characters and settings in a way that I think is quite difficult to achieve with the limited text of a comic.
Writing this review I think I've just convinced myself to read it again!(less)
This is the kind of book that makes comics so inaccessible to new readers. A good story idea - and not too complicated when you boil it down - is made...moreThis is the kind of book that makes comics so inaccessible to new readers. A good story idea - and not too complicated when you boil it down - is made so convoluted by stretching it to include cameos from obscure minor characters and references to other stories, as some kind of insular fan service.(less)
A beautifully drawn and coloured fantasy tale. The attention to detail really makes their world seem authentic.
Although the mice look great I was worr...moreA beautifully drawn and coloured fantasy tale. The attention to detail really makes their world seem authentic.
Although the mice look great I was worried towards the start that the character design (small all-black eyes, few facial features) would make expressiveness a problem. When it came to any dramatic moments however their gestures and small details - like creases around the eyes - conveyed emotion wonderfully.
Making mice the central characters is great. The whole world is dangerous, due to its scale, and something simple like an owl can play the role of a dragon.
In simple one/two panels sequences characters are expanded on really well, and by the end I felt like I knew a lot of their motivations and backstory.
Haven't read the first book - bought it today. Good times!(less)
The world of Invincible is fun. The foreword to one of the books says it's a superhero comic and not ashamed to be one. I agree with that - it's humou...moreThe world of Invincible is fun. The foreword to one of the books says it's a superhero comic and not ashamed to be one. I agree with that - it's humourous, affectionately poking fun at the genre, the art is clean and simple, and the main character gets a kick out of having powers. Best of all Kirkman pulls off some genuine drama without resorting to dark and moody dark moodiness.