Author: Alison Bechdel
Title: Are You My Mother?
Publication Info: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2012)
Previously Read By the Same Author: Fun Home
Summary/Review: The follow-up to Fun Home, Bechdel’s graphic biography of her father, this book deals with Bechdel’s complicated relationship with her mother. It’s actually about a lot more than that as center to the story is the process of Bechdel writing the story about her father and how that was troubling to her mother. Psychology is also central to the narrative as Bechdel details decades of sessions with her therapists and the book is heavily illustrated with quotes from the writing of the psychologist Donald Winnicot. My favorite aspect of Fun Home was how Bechdel worked in literary allusions into her story and that is at play here, most fantastically in she compares Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own with the plexiglass dome in Dr. Seuss’ Sleep Book. The psychology stuff is rather heavy and kind of weighs down the story that it makes it less perfect than Fun Home for me, but nevertheless an excellent examination of the human condition.
Recommended Books: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Author: Tony Lee
Title: Doctor Who. Series 2, Volume 1, The Ripper
Publication Info: IDW Publishing (2011)
Summary/Review: The Eleventh Doctor accompanied by Amy and Rory visit Victorian Whitechapel and find themselves in the midst of the Jack the Ripper killings where the Ripper is <SPOILERS> an alien! </SPOILERS> Another enjoyable comic adventure for Doctor Who.
Author: Tony Lee
Title: Doctor Who. Volume 3, Final sacrifice
Publication Info: IDW Publishing (2011)
Summary/Review: The conclusion of the story begun in Fugitive and Tesseract finds the Tenth Doctor, his allies and enemies on a planet caught in endless civil war. The actions of the Doctor will determine whether the cycle will be broken but requires confounding choices and sacrifice. The comic format allows for a visual imagination that would not likely be convincing in a televised format but on the other hand the dialogue seems spare and simplistic. Still, this is a great adventure and addition to the Doctor Who oeuvre.
Title: Empire State
Publication Info: Abrams ComicArts (2011)
Previously Read By Same Author: Bookhunter
Summary/Review: This sweet but sad graphic novel tells the story of two friends separated by a continent and their bittersweet reunion. I can relate to the antagonist’s shyness and hopefulness as the world opens before him while his heart is broken.
Author: Anders Nilsen
Title: Big questions, or, Asomatognosia : whose hand is it anyway
Publication Info: Montréal : New York, NY Drawn & Quarterly ; Distributed in the USA by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2011.
Summary/Review: This massive graphic novel grapples with some deep philosophical issues through the stories of a flock of tiny birds, a mentally retarded orphan, and a crashed jet pilot. I can’t say that I actually “got” what the author was depicting but the illustrations were beautiful and it did make me think a lot. Once I got into the book, I couldn’t put it down, or I wouldn’t have it the tome weren’t so heavy that my arms got tired.
Recommended books: Hope For the Flowers by Trina Paulus
Author: Jason Shiga
Publication Info: Sparkplug Comics (2007)
Summary/Review: This graphic novel is a crime procedural set in an alternate universe of 1970s Oakland where the public libraries have a criminal investigation unit. Many of the procedures used to solve crimes are totally antithetical to librarian ethics, but otherwise it is an enjoyable adventure where the clichés of detective stories are mimicked in a library setting.
Recommended books: Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde and Rex Libris Volume One: I, Librarian (Rex Libris) by James Turner
Title: The Walking Dead Book 2
Publication Info: Image Comics (2007)
Previously read by same author: The Walking Dead Book 1
Summary/Review: The second collection of this graphic novel about a zombie apocalypse finds the small band of survivors taking shelter in a prison. They are literally surrounded by a wall of zombies and must maintain constant vigilance as the coherence of their own group begins to shatter. The strength of this series is its focus on interpersonal relationships under the most trying of circumstances. The illustrations are good as well although I do find it difficult to distinguish the characters and wish there was a key to the main characters somewhere in the book.
Author:Tony Lee, Al Davison, & Matthew Smith
Title: Doctor Who. Volume 1, Fugitive
Publication Info: IDW Publishing (2010)
Summary/Review: My Doctor Who obsession continues into graphic novels. Here the Tenth Doctor enjoys an adventure in 1920s Hollywood, gains two new companions, and a new nemesis, The Advocate. The comic format allows for a visual imagination that would not likely be convincing in a televised format but on the other hand the dialogue seems spare and simplistic. Still, this is an enjoyable romp.
Author: Neil Gaiman
Title: The Sandman : Preludes & Nocturnes
Publication Info: Vertigo (2010), Edition: Reprint
This is the first collection of the legendary comic book series about Dream, the personification of dreams. In this story he his captured and held prisoner for 70 years, avenges himself on his captors, and sets forth to rebuild his kingdom. Gaiman’s writing is dark and Dream is cruel but still at times a sympathetic protagonist. The illustrations are rich and often gruesome but always effective. It appears with the groundwork set in this volume that the series could really take off from here.
Author: Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill
Title: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Publication Info: America’s Best Comics (1999)
This novel brings together several fictional characters – Mina Harker, Captain Nemo, Allan Quatermain, Dr. Jekyl, and the Invisible Man – to solve mysteries in an alternate universe London. The tone of the book is dark and the characters are highly-flawed and untrustworthy. Moore unsettling writes in style that reflects the racist and jingoistic attitudes of the time. On the other hand Mina is a strong female lead, and although the other characters grumble about her, they still follow her lead. I’ll definitely read more in this series.
Recommended books: Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel by Paul Guinan, The Remarkable Worlds of Professor Phineas B. Fuddle by Erez Yakin, and Five Fists Of Science by Matt Fraction