Thursday, January 11, 2007

Don't worry, I'm not going to talk about X-men...

But, I am going to talk about comics.

Some of the more astute readers of this blog will have noticed that I've stopped doing my weekly comic reviews. That's because, the latest research has shown that this blog has three regular readers. And that, of those readers, exactly 0.34% of them (the heel of Sarah's left foot, I believe) have interest in reading a blog entry in which I wax poetic about Wolverine ...again.

So, instead, I've moved back to posting my comic reviews at where the people reading them have at least a foggy notion of what I'm rambling about. And where I can verbally abuse any fanboy that dares disagree with me.

Because, I'm just hardcore like that.

But, I still think its worth mentioning some of the interesting graphic novels (y'know, comics for those who are afraid to read comics) I received for my birthday and/or Christmas. So, let's take a look at those. And -don't worry- while some do contain monkeys and deformed teenagers, there is a complete absence of spandex.

The 9/11 Report (Graphic Novel Edition)

God Bless America! Probably the only nation in the world that would publish a comic book adaptation of a government report detailing the nation's worst terrorist attack ever. But, if you can get past the surreal nature of the entire undertaking, its amazingly interesting. I'm sure that the whole thing reads like a Cliff's-Notes version of the actual report; but still, I feel like I've got a much better understanding of 9/11 itself, the reports findings, and the administrations failure to follow through on the reports suggestions. Both the layout and the subject matter can be frustrating at times, but still its audacious and essential reading.

Chicken With Plums

Marjane Satrapi's fourth book to be translated to English is heartbreaking in the best way. Significantly less dense than the 9/11 Report, Chicken With Plums packs a stronger emotional wallop with her distinctive minimalist art style and prose. It's the true life story of one of her distant relatives (a great uncle, I believe) who is a musician that resolves to let himself die after his tar (a musical instrument) is broken and he cannot find a suitable replacement. The ending for this one snuck up on me a bit, and left me reeling.

Black Hole

If Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight was my favorite novel of the year, I would argue that Charles Burns' Black Hole was probably my favorite graphic novel (thought -technically- I might have read it after the New Year). It's the story of teenagers growing up in Seattle during the 1970's, in a world where there is a strange STD that gives those who get it strange and deforming mutations (less X-men, more Sloth from the Goonies). What could have been a sort of soft Sci-Fi style novel instead becomes more of an allegory about the isolation, self-exploration and strange sexual energy that comes with being an adolescent. A great story filled with beautiful ugliness... or ugly beauty, maybe.

Monkey Vs. Robot

With a title and cover like this, you'd expect a light, fun-filled, all-ages tale about monkeys and robots engaging in all sorts of hi-jinks, right? Well, you'd be half wrong. Writer/artist James Kochalka never ditches the sense of whimsy and fun, but also isn't affraid to up the body count, as legions of awkward, stoic robots and playful, charming monkeys engage in a full on war for control of the jungle. By the end of the story, as the jungle burns to the ground and the robot factory crumbles, you begin to wonder if there is a message. Maybe James is saying something about the inherent conflict between nature and science. Or maybe he is illustrating the futility of war. Or maybe, just maybe, he's pointing out that when monkeys and robots go do battle... they both loose. But, we win.

And finally, I'd like to leave you with this little video gem, which I'm sure will make a believer... or something... out of anyone who watches it. Enjoy!


s.i. michaels said...

It's too bad all of your stuff is packed because your post has made me want to read all of these things. And even 'Don't Let Us Go to the Dogs Tonight' again.

The General said...

Actually, I think that all the graphic novels are still on my book shelf. Since I just got them all, I figured I'd pack them last, so I could enjoy them longer. If you come by our apartment again sometime soon (SETTLERS OF CATAN!!!!!) maybe you can borrow all or some of them.