Thursday, August 12, 2010

Graphic novel round-up

I'm really loving all of the graphic novels that I've been reading lately. Here are some mini-reviews of them. Are there other graphic novel fans out there willing to give me recommendations?

Skim by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki - After a boy at school takes his own life, teen-witch Skim's fragile world seems to topple and turn upside down too. In witty, moving and painfully honest diary entries Skim confides the frenzy of grief that surrounds her, while deep down she struggles with her own loneliness and the secret inner stirrings she feels when falling in love for the first time.

I'm not sure what I was expecting with Skim, but this wasn't it. It was slightly strange.. I felt like the boy at school who committed suicide would have more of a role to play in the story but it isn't until late into the story when we found out the boy's motivations for suicide that we can see the relevance to Skim's story. 'Skim' is a bit unusual main character, a mixed race goth girl, a bit overweight, who practices Wicca and has a crush on her teacher, Ms. Archer. I really enjoyed it, the illustrations are really beautiful, and even though I didn't quite know where everything was going, I find it an interesting journey to take along with Skim.

Maus II by Art Spiegleman - In a comic-book-style tale of the author's parents, Vladek and Anja, Vladek survives Auschwitz, is reunited with Anja, and sires young Art.

I was finally able to read the second part of Maus. I was hoping that it would answer some of my questions about Anja's suicide but as you'd expect, a lot of the story focuses on how Vladek manages to survive Auschwitz and a lot of the harrowing experiences that he went through. I wish that I'd read the two volumes closer together, as I only remembered the feelings I felt when reading the first Maus and not many of the details. I remember feeling a bit heartbroken at the first, and it was the same, if a little more with this second volume.

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life vol. 1 by Bryan Lee O'Malley - Scott Pilgrim's life is totally sweet. He's 23 years old, he's in a rock band, he's "between jobs," and he's dating a cute high school girl. Nothing could possibly go wrong, unless a seriously mind-blowing, dangerously fashionable, rollerblading delivery girl named Ramona Flowers starts cruising through his dreams and sailing by him at parties. Will Scott's awesome life get turned upside-down? Will he have to face Ramona's seven evil ex-boyfriends in battle? The short answer is yes. The long answer is Scott Pilgrim, Volume 1: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life.

I admit to not having heard of Scott Pilgrim or these graphic novels before I saw the trailer for the new movie (Michael Cera!). But once I got past the movie trailer and realised it was based on these graphic novels (more volume 2), I started my hunt to track them down. I've only managed to find the first volume and sadly, if you've seen the movie trailer (there I go with the movie trailer again!) you know the basis of the plot for volume 1. It's still fun to read as we're introduced to Scott, his friends, his girl friend and his new love interest. And the first of the Evil exes. I laughed out loud on more than one occasion. And the fight scene at the end was worth the wait!

It really is quite fun and I am definitely looking forward to reading more!

Twilight: the graphic novel, volume 1 - When Isabella Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edward Cullen, her life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With his porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edward is both irresistible and impenetrable. Up until now, he has managed to keep his true identity hidden, but Bella is determined to uncover his dark secret... Beautifully rendered, this first installment of Twilight: The Graphic Novel is a must-have for any collector’s library.

Like I said, I picked this book up on a whim at the library the other day. I was in a bit of a book reading slump at the time, and I thought something with lots of pictures and a story that I was familiar with would help. I did enjoy the illustrations, though Bella and Edward look very different in my head. And I think the graphic novels would be a great stepping stone into the series, if readers are a little unsure if they'll enjoy the plot. And for Twilight-collectors, of course.

But as I was familiar already with the novel, I found myself focusing on the parts that were missing. Some scenes and conversations have been reduced to the basic functions and I can understand that. It's a bit like when books are turned into movies and the die-hard book fans keep complaining that little details are left out. It's very much the same when a book is turned into a graphic novel, I feel. It's telling the story, just in a different medium and with different techniques. I found myself slightly annoyed with the missing details, so I don't feel like I'll be reading the other volumes. But the pictures were pretty!

I have a stack of graphic novels laying about, would anyone be interested if I hosted a giveaway?


  1. I guess you've already read Sandman? And Alan Moore? (Watchmen & From Hell are my favourites) I also enjoy the Fables series. I'm always interested in recommendations.

  2. i loved the twilight graphic novel - i want the picture on the front as a print for my wall but can't find it as a poster anywhere

  3. Yay for pretty pictures and Twilight!!

    Hmm..I though the main character in Skim was a boy..but it stills sounds fab! Will have to pick that up sometime! :)

  4. Skim looks very interesting! I'll have to go down to my library and find a copy!
    I never really got into comics as much as I did manga but I gave Twilight a try and it was okay and I found out the art was done by a Korean manhwa artist.
    Very cool recommendations! Thanks!

  5. I want to read the Scott Pilgrim series. I think the move looks adorable!
    I would be interested in a graphic novel giveaway!

  6. This is very ignorant of me but I never realised graphic novels were on such deep issues. Whoa!

  7. I'm very curious about Skim--that's one I hope I'll be able to find at my library in the near future. :)

    Recommendations--I'm sure you've heard about Craig Thompson's Blankets, which is very good; Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis is also wonderful. There's a newish series called The Unwritten, by Mike Carey (among other people), which I have been enjoying a lot. If you like fairy tales, you can't go wrong with Bill Willingham's Fables series. If you can find Manu Larcenet's Ordinary Victories, it's superb; ditto Jeremy Love's Bayou (unless you are not a fan of magical realism, in which case maybe not). And oh, Gunnerkrigg Court is charming. The latter two were webcomics originally and should still be available online. :)

  8. I would definitely be interested in a giveaway! I have a hard time finding graphic novels because I do not buy that many books (and when I do, graphic novels are usually expensive enough that I don't purchase them - I only own two), and my library doesn't have any. :(


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