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Market Day

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,183 ratings  ·  147 reviews

Mendleman’s life goes through an upheaval when he discovers that he can no longer earn a living for his growing family doing the work that defines him—making well-crafted rugs by hand. A proud artisan, he takes his donkey-drawn cart to the market only to be turned
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published January 1st 2010)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,183 ratings  ·  147 reviews

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Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Enigmatic but bleak, this day-in-the-life of the artist-at-selling-art is told with much confidence & reverence for the past. Leaving the shtetl, meeting the general populace, swallowing your pride: in this excursion we see what history does to its members, how entire cultures die or struggle to survive.
Seth T.
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
That James Sturm's Market Day would be a gloomy affair is evident from the start. The colours are murky and drab. The shadows loom large and dominate the frame. The dialogue is sparse. And the book is about an artiste. Which almost guarantees angst, self-doubt, and a large cereal bowl-full of mopiness.

Tch, artists.

The thing is: Sturm uses his protagonist's preoccupation with both artistic excellence and the recognition of those with taste to tell a quietly powerful tale of brute pragmatism versu
Kevin Fanning
Dec 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
Gorgeous, if maybe not to my taste. So much of the work by modern male graphic novelists is so unrelentingly dour. What is it that readers enjoy about this? I'm genuinely curious, because I feel like I'm missing out on a lot. Whether it's James Sturn or Chris Ware or Daniel Clowes or Charles Burns--artists who are celebrated for a very bleak & pessimistic view of humanity--who use their talents to show how how depressing and pointless life is. I know that! I have a window and internet access! Bu ...more
Dave Schaafsma
Really beautifully, lovingly done story based on historical materials. Wrenchingly harsh, but hopeful in that the rug weaver's anguish and his love for his family and his artistic vision and commitment come through... Not a sentimental, sappy, happy ending, a good and clear picture of a simple man suffering to make a living in harsh times. Gorgeously done, with muted tans and browns and greys, all in honor of the weaver's own artistic vision... ...more
Stephanie (aka WW)
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully drawn, atmospheric graphic novel. That it is not going to turn out well for Mendleman, the rug maker, is obvious from the start. No, the area’s version of Walmart has moved in and artiste’s products are no longer valued. What to do when this is your livelihood and you have a wife and baby on the way?
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sparse, dreary, and wonderful.
Sam Quixote
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
A rug maker in early 20th century Eastern Europe prepares to go to market to sell his rugs. He sits up at night worrying about money. He is soon to be a father and he needs to sell his rugs. When he goes to the market he finds his usual buyer has retired and sold his business to a young man who doesn't care for craftsmanship and wants to pay as little as possible. As he wanders the towns looking for a place to make some money, he thinks about his old buyer, the man who encouraged him in his rug ...more
Apr 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
Sturm's most understated and best book yet, beautiful and thoughtful, with a sense of timelessness and universality pervading. ...more
Oct 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Tenderly rendered, this graphic novel delicately nurses the open wounds of what it is to be human. Our vulnerabilities, our hopes and fantasies, the constant whirr of thought in our head, and the ache to create and be inspired by all we live among.

This is one day and night in the life of a Jewish rug weaver and his impending fears coming to life; his sense of dismay and dejection when he finds he will soon have no work. The utter hopelessness of his situation coupled with the new chapter of his
Emilia P
Oct 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comic-books
James Sturm, you are really a treasure.
Your work is such a work of art, carefully not drawing attention to the artist himself, celebrating the fact that you're making a graphic novel, and not just writing a story and not just bombarding us with new and interesting art.

And the story, too, of the way the world changes, painfully, imperceptibly but somehow also all at once, in a Jewish Eastern European context here, but very easily universalized... it was a great one for the medium of light and sh
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels

As I was reading this, I was expecting to give a GLOWING review with my strong stamp of approval... but this book has ONE flaw. One BIG flaw:

It doesn't really have an /ending/.

I hate that. Oh I hate that so MUCH...

It doesn't /need/ one... but I like my stories to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. We have to guess at the end in this one...

Even so, This is a definate four stars out of five, because with VERY few words and a lot of very simple drawings, James Sturm has managed to tell us an a
Gregory Han
Apr 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Artistically, James Strum's latest is hauntingly beautiful, capturing the day in a life of a rug artisan...from his nervous few steps out in the morning light journeying to the market till the shroud of night falling around him. My favourite moments were of the hustle and bustle of an early 1900's market illuminating the personalities and energy of artisans and market shoppers, which quickly fades away into the dark realizations of an uncertain world and an even more uncertain future predicted o ...more
Sep 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Completely heartbreaking. And completely stunning.

A fine rug maker in early 1900s eastern Europe finds he can no longer get good prices for his work. As I read, I found myself thinking about how isolated this society was (he walks everywhere), thinking about management theory, thinking about the loss of quality, and my knowledge of the horrors of WWII just loomed in the background.

Really amazing illustrations, with nice use of full-spread bleeds, demonstrations of this artistic mind to create ru
Dec 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Market Day is a very moving, sad, and subtle graphic novel for older readers. Set in a European Jewish community of the last century, Market Day shares one day in Mendelman's unraveling life. A rug maker of distinction and a father-in-waiting, Mendleman goes to the Market town to sell his rugs, only to find his supply chain is upended and nothing is as it was. This book makes me wish I had an "Economics" tag. . . it's contemplative and sad. ...more
Matt Graupman
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm currently working my way through a gigantic book celebrating Drawn + Quarterly's 25th anniversary (which is excellent so far, by the way) and it references James Sturm's "Market Day" as one of their early successes in bringing unique graphic novels to the public. Having never read the book before, but intrigued by the description in the D+Q retrospective, I snatched it off the library shelf the other day. I can see now why it blew away the prosaic idea of what kind of comics an indie publish ...more
Frank Garland
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I bought this because I could not put it down after opening it and seeing the artwork, and I read it as soon as I got home. I'm not sure what I think about the ending, and I sometimes wonder why I keep it when the bookshelves are straining at their splintering limits but, when I open to any page, it's like turning on the t.v. and finding a film halfway through and watching it even though you've seen it many times before.
The page design, each frame's composition, lines and tonality are so very si
Adam Witt
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
James Sturm's illustration is beyond reproach. The atmosphere he puts together in Market Day will really wrap you up; the crowd scenes feel open and airy like you're watching a film, and the deep, dark scenes creep up and induce exactly the kind of dread one imagines he was aiming for.

The blurbs on the back of the book note things like Sturm being a "master of suggestion," and make note of the ending's ambiguity. These don't necessarily translate to strengths of the book. The characters suffer a
Andres Eguiguren
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
The story is simple, but this is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel with subject matter and location (a small village somewhere in Eastern Europe in pre-World War II 20th Century) that would not be out of place in an Isaac Bashevis Singer short story. The hardcover edition has unnumbered pages and is gorgeously bound. I don't read many graphic novels, but Drawn & Quarterly is a first-rate publisher of the genre as far as I am concerned. ...more
Vinayak Hegde
Oct 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Dark, melancholic and gloomy and the color palette of the graphic novel refelects that. James Surm covers the story of a rug merchant as he struggles with a lack of demand for his fine artisanship in the market and new life changes.

The artwork is fabulous with the darkness of the story reflected in the panels. The use of grids of panels is done effectively whether to show a rush of emotions or to dwell on the dark mood of a scene (both well drawn and narrated)
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I am at heart an absurdist, so a book where nothing happens but bad things, is OK by me. It is gorgeous.
Naomi's Bookshelf
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
The storytelling was impactful and relevant for a book set in the 1900s. I felt touched by the struggles portrayed.
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
The art is wonderful.
It captures a mood in a soulful way.
Great sense of place.
And strong character work.
Amy Faulhaber
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
3.5 stars
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This sober tale is beautiful and well crafted, but I’m afraid it may have trouble finding a customer. I look forward to finding more of Sturm’s work.
Kelli Trei
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A perfect melding of illustration and text to create a seemingly simple tale that is actually quite a meaty fable and commentary.
Oct 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I loved the art, but the story was so grim. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't quite what I was expecting. ...more
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish, read-comics
Dark. Haunting. Dreary. <3 <3 <3
Bill Cass
May 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Bleak and directionless. Seems like there was a good story in there somewhere that fizzles out to nothing near the end. Beautifully drawn though and the first half was enjoyable.
Nikki Sojkowski
A bit too bleak for my tastes, but an interesting read about the turn to and consequences of industrialization nonetheless.
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James Sturm is the author of several award-winning graphic novels for children and adults, including James Sturm’s America, Market Day, The Golem’s Mighty Swing and Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow. He is also the founder of the Center for Cartoon Studies and the National Association for Comics Art Educators. He created Adventures in Cartooning with collaborators Alexis Frederic-Frost and Andr ...more

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“His absence has only made him more present.” 1 likes
“A few years ago we discussed when Sabbath truly begins. When is the precise moment of the setting sun? So I made a rug weaving together black and deep purple. When the light faded enough, and one could no longer tell the difference between the two colors, then Sabbath had begun and prayers could be made.” 0 likes
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