Despite reading my fair share of comics and graphic novels, I usually leave the reviewing of them to Wendy and Tiara. Theirs are always really good, whereas I wouldn't even have any idea where to begin! So, you're going to have to bear with me here. This will be my first ever comic review for the site, but I'm also really excited because it is for none other than Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden's Cemetery Girl from Jo Fletcher books. Come to think of it, it's a first for JFB too. This title is the first ever graphic novel published by them, and I was pretty thrilled when they sent me a copy.
The summary of it is as follows: the body of a young nameless woman, presumed dead, is dumped from the trunk of a car into a cemetery. But oh, actually she was still very much alive! In the rough landing, she hits her head and wakes up with no memory of who she was, or anything about her past. All she knows is that someone tried to kill her. Lost and alone, the girl decides to take shelter in a mausoleum, and as the days pass the place eventually becomes home. Combining the names from different tombstones and from the cemetery itself, the girl comes up with a new identity: Calexa Rose Dunhill.
The main plot of Cemetery Girl really gets going when Calexa witnesses a murder but is unable to go to the police, fearing that it would draw attention to herself, especially since her unknown would-be killer is still somewhere out there. But there's a bigger mystery arc here too, invoking questions like, Who is Calexa, really? Who's out to get her and why? On top of that, she seems to have developed a strange ability to see things, ever since waking up not-dead from her brutal attack. Basically, this volume contains a wonderful self-contained story, but you can also tell that the best has yet to come.
Anyway, you might think, oh what's the big deal, Mogsy! Just review a graphic novel like you would a regular novel! But I don't know. Being presented with a story visually, particularly in sequential art form, really changes things for me, especially since I have had experience penciling comic art in the past. In comics, there's of course the added factor of how well the art meshes with the writing. So when it comes to questions I ask myself while writing a review, I have to reference them to the effectiveness of the illustrations as well. You gotta check this out, though: http://www.jofletcherbooks.com/2013/1...
From this awesome panel alone, you can tell that Kramer's art and Rudoni's colors definitely "click" with the tone of the story. Cemeteries are a tricky setting to pull off in art, since they are places of such emotion. You could say getting the atmosphere just right here is very important, since that's where most of the story takes place. I think the artwork does the setting justice though, and the night time and stormy scenes are especially well done. The art in general is quite easy on the eyes.
As for the story, I felt it fit nicely with the format. With graphic novels, you could arguably get away with rushing the pace a little. Still, even as the days fly by for Calexa (Night one, Night two, Night twenty-six, Night sixty-eight, etc.), the story never loses sight of its goals. Sometimes, just a panel or two and a few lines of dialogue are enough to convey the more complex feelings, not to mention the writing makes use of quite a few silences as well, to good effect. I was most impressed by the way both writers and artists were able to develop the minor characters, like the cemetery caretaker or old Lucinda, and make them stand out for the reader.
Can graphic novels can have a "young adult" feel? If so, then Cemetery Girl definitely has a bit of that. Most likely this is due to the apparent age of the protagonist, not to mention the story also involves a group of trouble-making teens. The plot is relatively straightforward and character development may on the lighter side, but for a first volume this was extremely well done. Quite promising, too. Like I said, there are still many questions that need answering, and I find myself eager for news of the next volume! (less)
I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book at first. Thank goodness I was wrong! Still, can you really blame me for having my doubts? After being inundated in recent years with the dozens upon dozens of movies, TV shows, video games etc. all featuring the same mindless gory battles against the shambling, moaning hordes of the undead, my initial thought was: been there, done that, now what more can this zombie book offer?
Well, this is the review where I happily eat my words! I should have known better anyway, because Ragnarok Publications has never let me down. As it turned out, Those Poor, Poor Bastards had a lot more to offer than I'd anticipated, in addition to that charming little title. The book did contain some of the usual trappings you'll find in a lot of zombie stories, but there were some twists as well, and I loved how the authors took the familiar and created something new. Also, while I haven't read enough of the Weird West sub-genre to consider myself a fan, a description like "Zombie Western" wasn't really something I could resist.
It is 1868, in the Sierra Nevada. The book begins with Nina Weaver and her father Lincoln riding into Coburn Station only to find that everything has gone to hell in a chuckwagon. The "Deaduns" have arisen and are sowing bloody carnage all over town, forcing the living to band together in order to survive. In typical fashion, you end up with a large, diverse ensemble cast. And like watching The Walking Dead, you just know before you even begin that many of them are going to end up zombie food before this whole thing is over.
Put a big group of people with disparate personalities into a stressful situation and you'll also inevitably get your clashes and alliances within the ranks. There are the good folks like Nina and her pa, the priest Father Mathias as well as the charming James Manning. On the other side of the fence you have the less savory types and troublemakers like the Daggett brothers or the scummy Mister Strobridge. Then there are those caught in the middle who just aren't sure. With tensions this high and a swarm of Deaduns at the door, it's the perfect set up for explosive conflict. Emphasis on explosive.
So far, with the exception of the western setting, things might be sounding rather familiar. But then, the authors work their magic and you suddenly realize there is way more to this story. Bucking tradition, we're actually given an explanation into the Deaduns and how they came to be. Their origins and motives, not to mention the actual reveal itself, were so unique that it completely threw me for a loop -- in a good way! I have to say this ended up being a delightfully fun read, in all its blood-splattered glory.
Those Poor, Poor Bastards also taught me something important about myself -- that I will never be too old or too jaded for a good ol' zombie story! What a fast-paced, crazy wild book. I think I'll just end this review with a suggestion to the potential reader: there are a lot of characters, so definitely try to tackle this novel all in one go if you can, ensuring that the dozen or so identities will always remain fresh in your mind. Besides, it shouldn't be too difficult -- because once you start reading, you just might find it hard to stop!(less)