Chester Brown draws comics like it was a traditional craft practised since ancient times: a vocational path to God. Reading this book put me into a slChester Brown draws comics like it was a traditional craft practised since ancient times: a vocational path to God. Reading this book put me into a slow meditative trance. It's like Sufi cartooning....more
Before I say anything else, everyone should read this book.
OK, now the caveats: Hari's style is a little breathless - more weekend magazine than NY ReBefore I say anything else, everyone should read this book.
OK, now the caveats: Hari's style is a little breathless - more weekend magazine than NY Review of Books. This probably makes the book more accessible for casual readers, but it occasionally grated with me.
Also, the plagiarism scandal that nearly finished Hari's career some years ago has left its imprint on this book in some interesting ways: extensive endnotes, a brief reference to having been involved in a "journalistic controversy" and having done "wrong things" and, most significantly, repeated assurances that recordings of all interviews quoted in the book are available online. I guess this book serves partly as a resurrection of Hari's career and reputation, and both he and the publisher seem acutely aware of the need to cross every t and dot every i.
Having said all that, please read this book. There are plenty of other great books on the stupidity of drug prohibition (some of them better written or more nuanced and thorough), but Hari manages to present the central issues clearly and persuasively, backed up with solid evidence and devastating human stories that make the argument for legalisation impossible to ignore. The case for ending prohibition is overwhelming, and for all his flaws, Hari makes that case powerfully and comprehensively. I can't imagine anyone reading this book and coming away indifferent.
Since I first began seriously reading up on the war on drugs (with Dan Baum's excellent Smoke and Mirrors), I've watched the public debate gradually shift, until at last we seem to have reached a tipping point. Hari's book may not be the best thing I've read on drug prohibition, but it's undeniably powerful and persuasive and the timing is perfect.
Legalisation is utterly necessary and increasingly looks inevitable. Hari brings together a convincing array of arguments and evidence in favour of legalisation. Importantly, he also provides an emotionally overwhelming sense of the tragedy and horror of prohibition - individual lives ruined, suffering people tortured and killed, whole societies plunged into violent chaos.
If every policy maker, politician, opinion columnist and government official read this book, it's hard to imagine prohibition continuing for long. Failing that, if enough voters read it, the rest will eventually follow....more
Chris Reynolds' 1980s comics are some of my favourite comics of all time. There's nothing else quite like them (the nearest spiritual relative I can tChris Reynolds' 1980s comics are some of my favourite comics of all time. There's nothing else quite like them (the nearest spiritual relative I can think of is the comics Robert Scott was drawing in New Zealand around the same time). Beautiful, sad, meandering, dreamlike. Half-abandoned overgrown quiet places. Deep black shadows. Mysterious and ordinary. If you've never read Reynolds before, start with his graphic novel Mauretania (Penguin Books, 1990). And if you can find copies of his old self-published series Mauretania Comics, snap them up. They're worth whatever you have to pay for them....more
I can't recommend this book enough. A deep breath, a slow opening of the soul, a gift of love. The final sequence is one of the most beautiful thingsI can't recommend this book enough. A deep breath, a slow opening of the soul, a gift of love. The final sequence is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read. I could feel my heart unfolding, unclenching.
Tom Hart's been quietly making a mark in comics for more than twenty years: from his beautiful, poetic mini-comics in the 1990s to the smart, funny and deeply political Hutch Owen; The Sands; Daddy Lightning; Banks/Eubanks, etc etc. And for many years he's also been teaching - supporting and inspiring another generation of cartoonists to "cartoon like you mean it." Tom's one of the most interesting cartoonists around. He's slowly built a body of work that's innovative and experimental in a way that's maybe less obvious to casual readers, but rewards countless re-reads. There's an aesthetic sensibility at work in his comics that's unique and powerful, and it's been consistent from the very beginning. His work is like no-one else's. I think his importance and influence have been under-recognised - something I hope is about to change with this extraordinary, unforgettable book.
Rosalie Lightning is a landmark book: the culmination of Tom's craft and his whole approach to cartooning as a potent, personal, intimate artform. It's viscerally powerful, deceptively simple and direct, honest and heartfelt and generous. There are layers of complexity and depth in this book, and a raw intensity that won't be denied. It's a book about why we live and why we make art. I know the subject will frighten some people away, but there's really no need. It's the most loving, joyful, real comic I've read in a long time.
A masterpiece. It deserves to be read, discussed, and studied for years to come....more
There's a lot more going on with this book than it at first appears. On the face of it, My Friend Dahmer is a pretty straightforward account of Derf'sThere's a lot more going on with this book than it at first appears. On the face of it, My Friend Dahmer is a pretty straightforward account of Derf's high school friendship with Jeffrey Dahmer, and of what Derf has subsequently learned about Dahmer's private life during those years - including his gradual slide from weird kid to horrifying serial killer. And, of course, that would be enough to make this book compelling and interesting.
But Derf is also quietly probing the nature of the world surrounding Dahmer at the time: his parents, teachers and, above all, his peers, including himself. Derf and his friends (bored and alienated teenagers) enjoyed Dahmer's weirdness enough to form the ironically named "Dahmer Fan Club," incorporating him into their teenage pranks and adopting him as a kind of mascot - a morally ambiguous relationship that's as close as Dahmer gets to having actual friends.
If this were a book by Alison Bechdel, it would include a lengthy captioned exegesis on the complex psychological and social subtexts revealed by these relationships; "thinking out loud" is, after all, what Bechdel does (and is part of what makes her so interesting). Instead, this being Derf, the self-analysis tends to be more sparing and succinct. It's a book to read slowly and then think about, finding your own patterns of meaning in the details Derf has painstakingly provided. And - oh my God - there's plenty here to think about.
When I described this book to my (20 year old) son, he said it sounds deeply disturbing: not just because it's about a serial killer, but because it so firmly positions that serial killer in the real world and in ordinary life. And he's right. So many books and films about "true crime" have the effect of transmuting actual events into something that feels unreal and mythical - like a dark, monstrous fairy tale. Derf has managed to do the opposite: to take an endlessly mythologised horror show and restore it to the world in which it actually took place - which happens to be the same world in which we all live.
This book made me feel deeply uneasy. As it should. And I'm very glad I read it....more