I've been hovering around Elephantmen for a while. It was recommended to me by a clerk in a comic bookstore in Boston two years ago, but the first TPBI've been hovering around Elephantmen for a while. It was recommended to me by a clerk in a comic bookstore in Boston two years ago, but the first TPB wasn't available and, to be honest, the premise seemed a little too much on the silly side.
I stumbled upon it again in Dublin a couple of weeks back and decided to give it a shot anyway. I'm glad I did.
Elephantmen is set in a cyberpunk-ish universe in which a mad genius bio-engineered human-animal hydrids and trained them as war machines. Those that survived were finally captured by the UN and taken into custody. They enjoyed a limited freedom within the constraints of human society. Most of them are a little more than mental wrecks, although in this first TPB there's a hint of future conflict between them, maybe even factions.
The most obvious quality of Elephantmen is the quite stunning artwork, but as far as I'm concerned, artwork is never enough. What shines through in this first TPB even though the plot, if there is one, isn't really apparent is great character design and a broad worldview that puts the plight of the Elephantmen (who are not all Elephant hybrids) in perspective.
I will definitely be picking up the rest at the first opportunity. ...more
Persepolis was one of the first graphic novels I read, back in the late 90s that was autobiographical. Satrapi was one of the early players in the genPersepolis was one of the first graphic novels I read, back in the late 90s that was autobiographical. Satrapi was one of the early players in the genre, published by l'Association, a collective publishing company that aimed at giving all the projects that the major publishing houses wouldn't touch a home. Persepolis proved to be a huge success, it actually maintained l'Association alive for years, became a motion picture (also very successful), etc.
Persepolis tells the story of a young Marjane in Iran just as the 1979 revolution unfolds. The revolution seen through the eyes of a child is both funny and poignant as she points to the absurdity of some of the new rulings, and wants to defy the oppressive islamists despite her parents' warnings. Ultimately, Marjane is sent abroad by her parents and from there the story takes a different turn. It's about a teenager uprooted from culture and family and trying to find her way and the meaning of life abroad. It's (paradoxically) darker, but no less powerful.
Not only is the story great, but Satrapi manages to find the right distance to tell it so that despite the decidedly unfunny topic, it's actually not a depressing read. Furthermore, her rounded thick black and white penstroke works wonderfully to soften the harshness of some passages.
What is there to say about The Count of Monte Cristo that hasn't been said? It's a magnificent saga of betrayal and revenge, a deeply satisfying novelWhat is there to say about The Count of Monte Cristo that hasn't been said? It's a magnificent saga of betrayal and revenge, a deeply satisfying novel that I keep coming back to every few years. Superb....more
I really loved the Wallander novers, so when I saw this Mankell book on a shelf in an airport bookstore, I decided to grab it. Ultimately, it wasn't aI really loved the Wallander novers, so when I saw this Mankell book on a shelf in an airport bookstore, I decided to grab it. Ultimately, it wasn't as satisfying a read as I'd hoped. The main reason for that is that this isn't one book it's three books that desperately try to meet each other and, when they finally meet, don't do so convincingly.
The first storyline is that of a horrific murder in Northern Sweden. That opening third is stunning, gripping and very powerful. At the end of that third, we sense that there's a historical connection and a Chinese connection.
From there we move into the second storyline, the trials and tribulations of a band of Chinese brothers in the XIXth century. Interesting, though less gripping, and more importantly in such stark contrast that it feels like literally starting a new book afresh. While the connection with the first storyline is laid out flat, it's tenuous at best, and when resolved, not very strong.
The third storyline is about Chinese party politics and the relations between a brother and sister who are both high ranking officials in the party with widely diverging views on what the future of China on the world scene should be. It's well written and convincing to a degree, but again the connections between that storyline and the first are far-fetched.
The resolution of the book, where all three storylines meet is really where it fails. It's sad in a sense because you could imagine at least two of these making really interesting novels of their own, but Mankell here in my opinion has tried to cram too much into a single crime story.
Ultimately it's not a bad read, it's just not a very good one....more