I dedicate this blog to comics in all forms, manga, autobio, superhero, art books, etc. And of course, since I need a challenge, I've decided that I'll read and write (short) reviews for 365 comics during 2015.
I'm still waiting on a big post on my shojou binge, since I then went on a bit of a shonen fest catching up on Naruto and Fairy Tail. I have many thoughts, about gender, about stereotypes, even about endless war.
Which brings me to today, apparently I'm on a bit of a theme here. This week I've read more graphic novels that seemed to have a theme (sometimes a tenuous one, but still) of conflict and war.
Marzi tells the story of a young girl, Marzi, living during the communist regime in Poland. She lives in a building with many other families, and plays with the other children in the hallways, shouting down the trash chutes, pushing all the buttons in the elevator and of course all children's favorite, the ding-dong-dash.
Marzi has a lot of growing pains, she makes friends and fights with them, she gets in trouble and she worries about fitting in. The difference is that she does all these activities while also standing in line for rations, to get an allotment of toilet paper (which, to her shame, she must carry home totally visible to the rest of the world).
I wondered a little about the author's current situation, and especially about her current relationship with her mother. It looked like often had a difficult time getting along, but I also couldn't help noticing the difference in how she portrayed her two parents. When I first saw her mother and father together I thought that it was Marzi's father and grandmother instead!
There isn't a scene in the whole bio that fails to paint her father as a heroic and loving figure in her life, yet her mother is consistently drawn as a fat, unkempt and angry woman, with gray hair. Marzi precociously pokes fun at her mother's figure at any opportune moment.
Maybe this is just a culture clash, to an American who is drilled in the concept of "one can never be too thin or too rich." Whereas perhaps the Polish maybe a stronger, stouter figure is more admirable, Marzi's main battle with her mother is over Marzi's rail thin body, after all, maybe it's seen as a sign of wealth to weigh more. That may or may not be true, but it didn't seem Marzi thought so at all. I wonder if the two ever came to more of an understanding and what they graphic novel meant to Marzi's parents.
The book was an intimate look at the life of a family during this time period, about the relationships between Marzi and her family members and peers. It is from Marzi's point of view, and she was often unaware of the things going on in the wider scale, but as she grows she becomes more and more aware of the unrest.
Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood is yet another in the Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series, my favorite of which remains Donner Dinner Party.
This children's graphic novel goes through the entirety of World War I in 124 illustrated pages. It's ingenious how Hale packs so much information into the book, yet still keeps it entertaining enough to keep kids interested. Unlike Donner Dinner Party though, I think even with the amusing illustrations with the countries represented by animals, this isn't a graphic I'd recommend to just any kid.
An interest in history, especially wars, would be necessary to get through the book. As for me, I learned a lot. I'd recommend this book to adults as well as interested children, it makes a very convoluted and complicated topic much easier to understand as well as taking such a dark topic and keeping it from getting overwhelming.
I look forward to reading more in the Hale's Hazardous Tales series.
Alright, I lightened it up a bit with some bright children's comics.
The second book in Jeffrey Brown's Jedi Academy series, Return of the Padawan held up to my high expectations. I would recommend this to nearly everyone. Adults who loved Star Wars or Jeffrey Brown's adult graphic novels, kids who love Star Wars or the Diary of a Wimpy Kid would definitely love it.
Returning to Corsucant academy Roan feels prepared to wow everyone with his piloting skills, but nothing seems to go right. First Roan breaks the flight simulator, then he starts fighting with Pasha and Giana his best friends.
The art is wonderful, the characters have great expressions, the handwritten diary-like sections add a text element, yet don't break up the book too much, and other things, like "Yoda Says," Ewok Pilot comics and Roan's grades add a lot to the fun of the story.
Read Jeffrey Brown one has not? Correct this one must! (Thanks Yoda).
This one is bright, colorful, and totally hilarious. Goaded on by his Super Backpack the Glorkian Warrior takes on a new adventure...delivering a pizza! Although he was fine just sitting on the couch examining his feet, the Super Backpack wanted to have some fun, hm...this reminds me a lot of me and my brother. I sit on the couch while he clamors to go out to find excitement. Me, I'd rather examine my feet.
Anyway, this graphic novel is a lot of fun. It's very zany, the two adventurers set off, gaining a new friend on the way and eventually make it back home to enjoy a snack. Kind of like Litwin's Pete the Cat books, no matter what happens to the pizza the Glorkian Warrior doesn't cry, he just keeps going. The twist at the end is quite funny too.
Finally, I also read Maddy Kettle and the adventure of the Thimblewitch.
I was a bit confused when I first started reading this charmingly illustrated steampunk-tinged children's graphic. I felt readers were dropped right into the middle of the action, Maddy and her parents are fleeing the Thimblewitch and her Spider Goblin minions. Maddy's parents have been turned into kangaroo rats and before very long the spider goblins attack the train and steal both her parents and her companion a very special glowing floating toad.
As I read though everything started to make sense and I was absorbed by the quirky artwork and world that makes up the book. It was a lot of fun to read and had a very feel good ending. For kids that like a little creepy, but don't like to be scared, this might be just the ticket.
This is the first graphic novel by Orchard, so I will hope that further Maddy Kettle adventures are in store for us.