cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Heyer, Georgette: Venetia.

Bujold, Lois McMaster: The Sharing Knife: Passage
(the more I read in this series, the more I like it).

Graphic novels/cartoons:

Various: The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker.


Ashihara Hinako: The Sand Chronicles vol. 2

Nakamura Yoshiki: Skip*Beat vols. 12-13.

Tsukaba Sakura: Penguin Revolution vol. 5
(I've having some trouble maintaining my suspension of disbelief vis a vis the implausibly successful cross-dressing. But it's still utterly charming).

Akino Matsuri: Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo vol. 2.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Graphic novels/cartoons:

Decker, Timothy: Run Far, Run Fast
(rather lacking in plot or direction. The blurb on the inside cover mislead me into thinking that it would have some, which is why the absence bothered me. The art reminds me of Edward Gorey, with everybody's faces represented by simple, undecipherable slashes, withholding any sense of connection into the minds of the characters, who are only externally described by the narration. I do not mean that as a bad thing, as it is appropriately unsettling, with a fearful tinge to it. This is a book about the Black Plague; a sense of horror is not out of place).

Chast, Roz: The Party After You Left
(the aggressive disinterest towards life outside New York is the most annoying export of the city; material glorying in the ability to live inside a bubble that sneers at not-New York whenever it pauses in ignoring not-New York doesn't resonate with me. But since I'm not from New York, and I'm okay with that, Roz Chast is not interested in having me as an audience. I will solve this dilemma in the future by not reading her cartoons, and we'll both be happy.).

Sfar, Joann: Little Vampire Goes to School, Little Vampire Does Kung-Fu
(cute! they've got that bemusing Sfar accessibility).


Otomo Katsuhiro: Akira vol. 3.

Bouquillard, Jocelyn, and Christophe Marquet: Hokusai: First Manga Master
(eeeee! What a lovely selection of pieces. Um, it's just a selection of works from Hokusai's volumes of manga--manga being a term I think he did not invent himself, but which was not in common use at the time he published his instructional art books--accompanied by a couple of contextual essays and blurbs before each thematic section. It's lovely, and beautifully printed, and worth looking up if you have any interest in Hokusai).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Graphic novels/cartoons:

Kim, Derek Kirk: Good As Lily
(Minx title, the second I've liked. I freakin' loved this. Kim comes highly recommended, but I'd read a review that lowered my expectations of this book, so I feel I approached it from a balanced viewpoint).

Addams, Charles: My Crowd
(it took me, like, five minutes to read this, since I've read several Addams collections already, and this was drawn partly from those).

I don't know if it counts, but while I was in the library, sitting next to one of the graphic novel shelves and reading, I was approached by a five-year-old who pulled a volume of JLA Year One off the shelf and, after identifying The Flash for me--as I learned later, his favorite superhero--asked me to name the other people in the picture (as in, he didn't know who they were; it wasn't some kind of geek identification ritual; the kid was pre-literate. He's going to need at least another five years before he learns to hang out on those kinds of message boards). I did so, and somehow this led to him pulling Spiderman: House of M off of the shelf and having me coach him through it. I didn't get a chance to read any of it, per se, but I think I followed the plot well enough based on the art. He, thank god, did not appear to absorb much of the dastardly tale of lies, violence, MPD, and suicide. Have you ever tried to explain burning in effigy to a five-year-old? It's not easy.


Mashima Hiro: Fairy Tale vol. 1
(I liked this so much more than I ever expected to. It's not revelatory anything, but it's sort of gosh-darn fun).

Toriyama Akira: Dragonball vol. 2
(I always swerve back and forth between being highly amused and deeply bored with Toriyama, often in the same chapter. I like to keep myself entertained by comparing this to Minekura's Saiyuki).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (chiaki)
Graphic novels/comics/cartoons:

Barnes, Bill and Gene Ambaum: Unshelved: Book Club
(this is addictive).

Clugston-Major, Chunna: Blue Monday: Absolute Beginners
(another Oni press. I've heard Chunna Clugston-Major's name a lot in good circumstances, and I had high expectations of this that were not fulfilled. This is not the intro work, and although it's supposed to be a stand-alone mini-series, the total lack of introduction to the characters or setting left me confused about where and when it was set for most of the book; I still have no clear idea why various characters speak in different dialects.

I don't go much for teen sexy comedy as a rule, but this teen sex comedy really didn't click with me; I literally did not even chuckle once for the whole book. I had to struggle to care even a little bit about the female protagonist and her foul-mouthed, violent best friend; I utterly loathed their male friends, who are the sorts of slimy, cruel manipulators who would not only spy on their shy female friend while she was bathing, but videotape it, lie about erasing it when she begged them to erase the tape, tell everyone at school about the tape, and then eventually publicly distribute it, deliberately and maliciously humiliating her in the worst possible way and for no stated reason. The female protagonist is unpopular at school, by the way. These male friends also subject the female protagonist to constant, unwelcome sexual harassment and wonder why she's not more receptive to their sexual advances, since for no reason I could decipher, it is assumed by all the characters that the female protagonist is interested in dating one of them. This felt less like a teen sex comedy and more like a gang of kindergarten bullies who hit puberty about eight years too early.

There is also, inexplicably, pointlessly, uselessly, a pooka (sic) in the form of a giant otter, running around creating chaos which isn't as funny as the author thinks it is. Someone with a seafood allergy is deliberately fed seafood, which gives him hives, but in circumstances in which the person pranking him had no reasonable way to know that the allergy in question was not systemic, making it not just a nasty prank, but a potentially life-threatenting nasty prank.

I hate everyone in this book, including the pooka.

The blurb on the back of the book says that the first miniseries won several awards, including an Eisner and a Friends of Lulu. I assume that it was better than this, or that the competition was light that year. The art, for the record, is excellent, being expressive and lively; character designs are clearly manga-influenced, although it's otherwise western in style).

Murphy, Mark: House of Java
(good art, stupid and uninteresting writing, with no consistency of theme or subject or atmosphere across the stories, which are too short to be bundled together this way with nothing binding them together).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Heyer, Georgette: They Found Him Dead
(Heyer's mysteries are as lively and lovely as her Regency romances. I enjoyed this one particularly, not for any special reason).

Graphic novels/comics/cartoons

Watson, Andi: Little Star
(more Oni Press. I almost put this one down without finishing, although not because it was a testosterone-drenched adventure with a jeep--about the only thing it could be said to have in common with the testosterone jeep adventure was that it was a story about a man trying to find himself. Little Star is a book about a man struggling for balance between his part-time job as a ceramics painter and his role as the father of a fussy toddler and husband to a full-time wife. It is poignant, nuanced, intelligent, genuine, well-crafted, and I didn't love it. I don't really know why, I just didn't).

Runton, Andy: Owly: The Way Home & The Bittersweet Summer, Owly: Just A Little Blue, Owly: Flying Lessons, Owly: a Time to be Brave
(these are horrifically cute. The whole time I was reading these--I think it took me about twenty minutes total--I kept complaining to the friend who owned them about the worm who carries around umbrellas and slings things over his shoulder even though as a worm, he lacks a spine, shoulders, and hands. My friend informed me that there were magically invisible robots to do these things for Wormy. However, I'm a little concerned that the target audience, i.e. kids, will not pick up on this important fact, and will be as confused as I was).

Petersen, David: Mouse Guard: Fall 1152
(gorgeous art; I was distracted while reading and did not pay attention the plot, which may have been gripping).

Morse, Scott: Magic Pickle
(the lame vegetable puns, ow).

Barnes, Bill and Gene Ambaum: Unshelved, Unshelved: What Would Dewey Do?, Unshelved: Library Mascot Cage Match
(this is like a series of really awesome textbook cartoon inserts on how not to handle the reference interview. Don't do what Dewey would do. Plus, WWDD has a foreword by Nancy Pearl, Action Librarian).


Gakuen Alice vol. 1
(it's sufficiently in line with the anime that I didn't feel a need to keep reading. It's a bit wacky and sketchy cute, and I do recommend it).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/Prose books:

Heyer, Georgette: Pistols for Two
(I was wondering why the plot was proceeding at such a breakneck pace until I reached the end of the title story, and realized I was in fact reading a book of short stories. This was nowhere indicated in the cover text, back cover blurbs, art, or anywhere else that I could find; though there was a table of contents listing the stories, those pages were quite stuck together when I began reading. They're decent stories, but too breezy for real satisfaction; I like the layered plots and slower-paced emotional arcs of Heyer's novels better--her novels are tiramasu; these stories are cotton candy).

Graphic novels/comic books/cartoons:

Norrie, Christine: Cheat.

Addams, Charles: Homebodies, Charles Addams and Evil, Nightcrawlers, Black Maria
(Charles Addams was a brilliant cartoonist with what can be inadequately described as a twisted sense of humor and also an unfortunate penchant for really racist cannibal cartoons. Read his work with qualifiers. Life is just full of things that need qualifying).

Mack, David: Kabuki, vol. 1 : Circle of Blood
(Um. There are so many directions I could go here. Let's start with the art is impressive, and the writing is adequate, but I am leery of the violence and the...I do not feel up to the task of processing the implications of the cadre of female assassins who go around in masks and fetish wear, being very professional and efficient at assassinating people, but always posing in sexy ways and mostly being naked while they do so. Because if I do get started on Mack, I owe it to everyone to excoriate Addams for the racism, which leads me to questions of racism in Mack, and my head hurts. So I'm going to let it go and just not read any more Mack. I will read more Addams, though, because he's funny and Mack overwrites to the point of making my eyes cross).


Kuroda, Iou: Sexy Voice and Robo
(highly recommended on all counts. The art and writing are excellent and support each other; the chapters are more like a series of short stories about the same person, but they are not disconnected from each other. It is different than most of the manga you're likely to have read if you're reading this LJ entry, which in my mind is a plus. It features one of the more interesting and cool female characters I've read lately, although you should be warned that she gives herself the codename "Sexy Voice" because she makes money as one of those women who flirt with lonely men on dating hotlines (it's not a throwaway thing; I could dig very deep into that aspect of her character, were I attempting to write a real review). Anyway, Nico, aka Sexy Voice, is clever and unconventional and capable; I think you will like her, so apart from all its other merits, I recommend this to manga readers who are feeling a lack of good female characterization).

Shaman King vol. 1.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Novels/prose books:

Christie, Agatha: The A.B.C. Murders: A Hercule Poirot Mystery
(I liked Roger Ackroyd better, but this was pretty good).

Graphic novels/comics/cartoon collections:

Barron's editors: Barron's Book of Cartoons.

Addams, Charles: The Groaning Board.

Spiegelman, Art: Maus I: My Father Bleeds History
(yes, it's everything it's cracked up to be. I am having an Eisner moment, where I have the rare experience of reading a classic work that has been so highly praised so universally that I've begun to doubt it can live up to my expectations...but it does.

Maus is such a personal, specific work about people with distinct personalities that it's in no danger of feeling generic, no matter how much other material exists on the same subject. It's both the story of Spiegelman's father, Vladek, a Holocaust survivor, and the story of Spiegelman hearing the story from Vladek. There's a bit early on, after Vladek has described an early love affair that predated his marriage to Spiegelman's mother, Anja, when Vladek asks Spiegelman not to put that part in his work. Spiegelman replies, no, that it's good material, and it will help to make the rest of the story more real.

He's absolutely right. It's the context of his parents' lives that make the story worth telling, and not just a stock rendering of historically recorded atrocities. Knowing about Vladek's textile business, his love affairs, the post-partum depression suffered by Anja after the birth of the elder brother that Spiegelman himself never met--this is the stuff makes them people.

Thinking about this helped me to finally make sense of something I'd read about while researching a paper on oral history for class this semester--the life narrative as a form of oral history. I'd dismissed it as being of little importance to my focus, which was the historical value of oral history as a source, but I realize now I made a mistake. Oral history as testimony on the recent past gives you focus on the historical events, which is useful and helps to bypass some of the issues with evaluation and reliability. But life narrative is about contextualizing history within individual people's lives. When you take any history, including historical atrocities, out of the context of people's lives, it loses power. Maus--which is, among other things, Vladek's life narrative as told to his son--has power because it places the overwhelming historical events of the Holocaust--events so massive and horrific they create a narrative that eats up everything else--within the context of Vladek's entire life. It is not the story of how Vladek survived the Holocaust, it is the story of Vladek. History is lived by people. That's important.)


Kanari, Yozaburo, author, Fumiya Sato, artist: Kindaichi Case Files: The Legend of Lake Hiren
(Kindaichi Case Files are like popcorn--pre-popped popcorn from supermarket with the greasy bad cheese on it; not that good, but you keep eating it anyway).

Tamaki Chihiro: Walkin' Butterfly vol. 2.

Miki, Tori: Anywhere But Here
(I only wish I were smart enough to get these. I got maybe one out of ten, I think?)
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (tea weevil)
I was rendered absolutely unable to take Owen's nihilistic rage-angst seriously by, immediately prior to watching this episode, having read a book of cartoons from 1951 themed on the childishness of men who've been rejected by their lovers. ("Mama, mama!") It doesn't help that Owen's a git. I'm sorry, but nobody cares about you and your pixie angst.

On a side note, I've noticed that the 1950s seem to have been a very good decade for cartooning. I've read quite a number of cartoon collections and prose works illustrated with cartoons from that era, and Im awfully fond of the style. Anybody who is actually under the impression that the '50s were staid and repressed should hunt some contemporary cartoon art down for an eye-opener.

January 2017

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