Monday, March 24, 2008

Terse Review of Graphic Novels

I've been grabbing a lot of graphic novels from the Central library lately. I thought the teen section was the only collection of graphic novels, but I found many more in an Art/Literature area, more adult-themed. That doesn't necessarily mean sexy, mind, it encapsulates the pioneers and the greatest talent in the field, from Geoge Herriman to Alan Moore. I just want to keep track of what I've been reading lately.

Identity Crisis, Brad Meltzer - DC Universe story about the sordid past of some superheroes, questionable methods, and multiple layers of mistaken identity. The artwork was excellent and the story was very solid and compelling.

Escapo, Paul Pope - Paul Pope just cannot congratulate himself enough. His artwork is pretty good, his philosophy is unsophisticated, his influences are apparent. He just really likes to compliment himself in text, it's hard to get past that.

Best of American Splendor, Harvey Pekar - This was good, honest, solid storytelling. I love that Pekar's charmed with the innocuous little instances that happen every day. I appreciate that he bothered to record them, because they are charming and valuable. And the depth of his self-exploration is harrowing and brutally honest. I'm not saying anything that hasn't already been said a hundred times over by better-educated minds than mine.

Sin City: Hell and Back, Frank Miller - The same brutal, confusing artwork, the same noir dialogue, new story. It didn't distinguish itself like Family Values did, but it was a great story and perfectly suitable for your needs if you like the Sin City series.

Doom Patrol: The Painting That Ate Paris, Grant Morrison - The artwork was unmasterful and, at times, lazy. The dialogue was trite and the story was careless. This was a waste of an hour.

Hawkman: Endless Flight, Rags Morales and Patrick Gleason - Excellent artwork, and surprisingly in-depth story behind Hawkman. I always felt he was one of those obscure "filler" heroes, scraping the bottom of the idea barrel, but I was surprised to learn there actually was a story behind him and it's pretty interesting. This story in particular was pretty satisfying. I'd certainly read more in this vein.

After the Rain, Andre Juillard - This is the kind of work I look forward to. I love the European design, and the character development and plotline are sufficiently sophisticated. This is closer to a good movie than a comic book, that's what I like. I read somewhere that this was a kind of sequel, I'll have to find the original book for a sense of completion, though this story can stand on its own.

Uzumaki, Junji Ito - This manga promises to be horror in the same vein as The Ring, but mostly it's just silly. It starts out with an interesting premise but soon spirals out of control, breaking quite free of any reasonable constraints. Ghosts? Fine. Spiral warts that turn humans into carnivorous hedgehogs of doom? Not so much. Street fighting with curly hair? That's enough for me. Being manga, the artwork was excellent, but the story was ridiculous. The plot devolved into a collection of short stories recounting things that happened in town.

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