It’s been a while since I’ve posted a review of a comic book. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve read a comic book. I haven’t done so since October last year. Well, I’ll rectify that with this post.
Here I have two graphic novels. The first is a YA fantasy story about a girl seeking the witch from folklore, Baba Yaga, because she no longer feels welcome at home, and the second continues a middle-grade fantasy story about a pig who manages his town’s dam to keep back a deadly black fog.
Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola, illus. by Emily Carroll
When Masha sees an advertisement for an assistant position with the fearful witch from folklore, Baba Yaga, she decides to apply. Masha had recently lost her beloved grandmother, her source of love and support, leaving her with just her dad, who has found a new family.
Masha grew up listening to her grandmother’s stories about Baba Yaga, so she doesn’t balk at answering the advertisement and seeking out the witch. Afterall, Masha reasons, Baba Yaga may be a witch, “but she’s a grandma too.”
I tried Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series for the first time back in 2015. I was introduced to him through the Harry Potter books because he’s the illustrator of my favorite editions — the 15th anniversary editions. I love the illustrations, the scenes Kibuishi chose to highlight, and his use of color to tap into the emotion and tone of a scene or to highlight certain things. This made me want to sample more of his work, so I tried The Stonekeeper, the first book in his popular middle-grade fantasy graphic novel series.
I wasn’t blown away by The Stonekeeper, but I was interested enough to want to return to the story and, finally, I have. Recently, I reread the first book and read books two, three, and four — The Stonekeeper’s Curse, The Cloud Searchers, and The Last Council, respectively. With each installment, my interest in the story grew until I read book four and was left wanting more since I don’t have the fifth book.
Amulet, bks. 1-4 by Kazu Kibuishi (illus.)
The Stonekeeper (book 1)
The Stonekeeper’s Curse (book 2)
The Cloud Searchers (book 3)
The Last Council (book 4)
Emily and her brother Navin move to their old family home with their mom after their father died in a car crash. While fixing up the house, which is in dire need of repair, Emily and Navin find a peculiar necklace that Emily takes a liking to. One night while sleeping, the family is woken by a noise that the kids’ mom investigates. She’s kidnapped and taken to a different world where Emily and Navin encounter queer creatures such as monsters, robots, and talking animals. There, the kids learn more about their family, Emily learns about the necklace she inherited, and they make new friends who help them to rescue their mother.
In an attempt to clean up my bookshelves, I decided to spend a day reading and reviewing all the comic book samples I got on this year’s Free Comic Book Day back in May. Here are my thoughts on the samples. Some of them I’ll certainly get when my piggybank is once again full.
The Metabaron, Book 3: The Meta-Guardianess & the Techno-Baron by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Jerry Frissen, illus. Valentin Secher
Pubbed: September 2018
What it’s about:
The bit I read is about an android who visits a planet in a parallel universe to learn more about Epyphite, a substance that is used as fuel and seems to have many other properties. The story is narrated by the consciousness, or rather the robotic memory, of the protagonist’s apprentice (well, the narrator refers to the protagonist (the Metabaron) as “master,” so I assume the narrator is the apprentice).
This is a fail for me and I knew it would be when I picked it up because a) it’s not a genre I usually go for (I don’t mind sci-fi stories sometimes but I can’t do this hardcore sci-fi with all the robots and bots and parallel universes and things) and b) this is the third volume, so I’ve missed much of the story.
I was confused when I started reading this. On the plus side, I slowly began to understand what’s going on because the narrator spends a lot of time catching up the reader on where the story is now, but because I don’t know what happened before this volume, certain things didn’t have an impact on me, so I lost interest.
And here’s the first graphic novel I read this year.
Geis: A Matter of Life & Death by Alexis Deacon (illus.)
Geis (book 1)
As the great chief matriarch lay dying, she gave one final decree: Upon her death there would be a contest. Having no heir of her own blood she called on the Gods. Let fate decide the one truly worthy to rule in her place. The rich, the strong, the wise, the powerful; many put forward their names in hope of being chosen. But when the night came . . . only fifty souls alone were summoned.
Here by Richard McGuire (illus.)
Here is Richard McGuire’s unique graphic novel based on the legendary 1989 comic strip of the same name.
Richard McGuire’s groundbreaking comic strip Here was published under Art Spiegelman’s editorship at RAW in 1989.
Built in six pages of interlocking panels, dated by year, it collapsed time and space to tell the story of the corner of a room – and its inhabitants – between the years 500,957,406,073 BC and 2313 AD.
The strip remains one of the most influential and widely discussed contributions to the medium, and it has now been developed, expanded and reimagined by the artist into this full-length, full-colour graphic novel – a must for any fan of the genre.
Here is so far the most unique graphic novel I’ve read. The title fits it well. The story focuses on a section of a room and shows us how it has changed over time: from prehistoric days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, to Colonial times, to modern day, to what the room could be in the future.
The Dam Keeper by Robert Kondo (illus.) and Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi (illus.)
September 2017; but it was first an animated short film, which aired in 2014
Life in Sunrise Valley is tranquil, but beyond its borders lies certain death. A dangerous black fog looms outside the village, but its inhabitants are kept safe by an ingenious machine known as the dam. Pig’s father built the dam and taught him how to maintain it. And then this brilliant inventor did the unthinkable: he walked into the fog and was never seen again.
Now Pig is the dam keeper. Except for his best friend, Fox, and the town bully, Hippo, few are aware of his tireless efforts. But a new threat is on the horizon—a tidal wave of black fog is descending on Sunrise Valley. Now Pig, Fox, and Hippo must face the greatest danger imaginable: the world on the other side of the dam.
With this, I complete a second book published by Nobrow Press. I own a few books by this publisher on my bookshelves, but it’s my nature to pay more attention to books I don’t own. Hence the two book I’ve read by this publisher were both borrowed from the library. But I don’t mind that. I’m just happy that I’ve finally read books published by Nobrow Press to confirm that they are one of my favorite publishers. I’ve always admired the books they feature on their IG account and now it seems that I’ll probably always like their content. 😊
Audubon: On the Wings of the World by Fabien Grolleau, illus. by Jérémie Royer, trans. by Etienne Gilfillan
Audubon: On the Wings of the World is a biography of John James Audubon (born Jean-Jacques Audubon in Haiti in 1785), the noted artist, naturalist, and ornithologist most known for his book Birds of America, which contains 435 paintings of different species of birds in America observed in their natural habitat. Written and illustrated by Fabien Grolleau and Jeremie Royer, respectively, this graphic novel portrays Audubon as a passionate, determined man striving to paint and record all the birds of America in the 1800s.
Though Audubon’s persistence and efforts are admirable, the book does not shy away from showing less savory aspects of the man, such as his disdain for his mentor Alexander Wilson, the long lengths of time he spent away from his wife and children as he pursued his passion, the immense debt he gained from failed business ventures, and that he hunted and killed many birds in his pursuit to document and study them.