I’ve been working backwards in my journey with Snowpiercer. I started with the TV series, watched the movie, and then tonight I read volume 1 and 2 of the source material, the graphic novel translated from the French. Black and white artwork helps to underscore the stark landscape and even more grim future that humanity survives in, on Snowpiercer, one thousand and one carriages long. If you’re into graphic novels and have enjoyed the series, this is a great read. I think the TV show is still my favourite out of all of the versions of this story so far, but I really enjoyed reading the origin in these two volumes, and am looking forward to the third one arriving soon. For my TL followers, this one probably isn’t a good YA read – it’s mature, adult and graphic in multiple senses of the word.
Sandman is arguably one of Neil Gaiman’s most well-known and wide-ranging creations. A stunning comic series, it’s been republished in a few different formats, and the Omnibus edition is one of the most treasured items in my collection. My ex-husband gave me volume one as one of the last gifts of our relationship – and, it must be said, as one of the only gifts he gave me that showed he knew what mattered to me. The second volume was a gift to myself, shortly after our divorce was finalised and I decided to treat myself to something I really wanted. And volume 3? Well, my wonderful partner gave me that for Valentine’s Day this year. So, it’s safe to say that the whole collection is meaningful to me in more ways than just the epic and fantastic story it contains.
The wonder that is Dirk Maggs is responsible for another fantastic incarnation of Sandman – the audiobook adaptation. It’s sensational, and I’ve been listening to parts of it each Sunday since it came out, and reading along with the comics. So far I’ve listened to the chapters that would have comprised Volume 1 and 2 of the graphic novel editions – Preludes and Nocturnes (#1-8 of the comics) and The Doll House (#9-16). I’m counting the graphic novel editions towards my book tally, rather than the Omnibus, which is 4 graphic novels combined, and also longer than the first installment of the audiobook.
The audio cast is stunning – a who’s who of the entertainment industry. Standouts for me so far have been Kat Denning as Death, the fantastic quirky goth girl who is one of my favourite characters, James McAvoy as Morpheus, and Michael Sheen as Lucifer. The stunning audioproduction is tied together with narration from Neil himself, sometimes reading the narrative elements of the original comic, and sometimes filling in additional details that are needed for context without the visual elements on the page. It’s a masterpiece, and I’m very glad I have it – even if it meant I had to break my self-imposed Am@zon ban, as it’s only available on Audible.
Title: Labyrinth: Coronation Volume 1 and Volume 2
Genre/ issues: Graphic novel. Fantasy. Prequel.
Jim Henson’s Labyrinth was one of my favourite movies growing up, and Bowie’s Jareth was, not surprisingly, my favourite character. I’ve just finished reading the first 2 instalments of Labyrinth: Coronation, a great comic series about how Jareth came to be goblin king. Told through a series of flashbacks whilst he waits impatiently for Sarah to either find the castle or give up, it dives into the nature of generational trauma and class. What do I think of it? Well, I’ve enjoyed the flashes of scenes from the movie that are interspersed throughout. The art is stunning. I like it enough that I’ll read volume 3, and I’ll be glad to have it in my collection. But, truth be told, that’s probably as much for nostalgia purposes as anything else. It probably won’t make any top 10 favourite reads lists for me this year – and that’s probably lucky, quite frankly, because it’s getting pretty crowded at the top of the 2020ReadingChallenge leaderboard.
Title: Love is love: A Comic Book Anthology to Benefit the Survivors of the Orlando Pulse Shooting
Genre/ issues: Comics. Love. Queer fiction. Pulse nightclub shooting.
Blurb: The comic industry comes together in honor of those killed in Orlando. Co-published by two of the premiere publishers in comics—DC and IDW, this oversize comic contains moving and heartfelt material from some of the greatest talent in comics, mourning the victims, supporting the survivors, celebrating the LGBTQ community, and examining love in today’s world. All material has been kindly donated by the writers, artists, and editors with all proceeds going to victims, survivors, and their families. It doesn’t matter who you love. All that matters is you love.
It’s pride month. A year ago, my daughter and I were at Stonewall, the place where a black trans woman threw a brick, and a revolution was sparked. 4 years ago, the Pulse nightclub shooting happened. Today, we are surrounded by Black Lives Matter protests, as black and indigenous people continue to be more likely to suffer institutional and systemic racism, and queer people are more likely to be attacked or discriminated against. If all lives matter, can we as a society start acting like it please?
I read Love is Love today, a comic anthology by a tonne of artists which raised money for the survivors of the Orlando Pulse shooting. I am so done with racists and bigots, and I’m not the target for any of their hatred, as a fairly privileged white cis-het woman. I can only imagine how the queer community, and BIPOC, are feeling.
In order to get myself out of a bit of a reading slump, I’ve been smashing though some books that are new styles and genres to me. Graphic novels and comics have been high on my list lately, but I usually pass right on by sportsing books. This one looked interesting though, and that first impression was upheld by the wonder contained in its pages. A graphic novel from the point of view of the author, a teacher at a school whose basketball team were headed for a State championship, and who was looking for a new story, Dragon Hoops is fascinating. Part personal narrative, part historical exposition, part cultural analysis, it doesn’t shy away from dealing with difficult topics, like the former coach of the school who faced historical sexual assault charges, or the questions about whether treatment of individual players may have been the result of unconscious racial bias. It’s self-reflective, thoughtful, gently humorous, and so compelling that it had this non-sportsing geek girl sitting on the edge of her seat hoping for a last minute win at the championships – even though, really, that’s not what the game is all about. It’s still satisfying though, right?
The recurring motif of the importance of a single step, small but so powerful, really struck me, and had me thinking about all those steps I’ve taken in my life.
This is a compelling graphic novel. I thought I’d read it and then pass it along to someone else, but I loved it so much that I’ve just added it to my newly-created graphics shelf on my bookcase. Off to stalk the author, and get everything else he’s worked on. I love his style.
Title: Ms Marvel, Vol.1: No Normal
Author: G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona (Artist)
Genre/ issues: Graphic novels. Comics. Superheros. Culture, religion and identity.
“Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey!”
When I said I wanted to get back into reading comics, this was on my list, and I was thrilled to open the mail this week to discover that Jacob had lent me his copy! I LOVED this. Smart, funny, beautiful artwork and some really thoughtful reflections on religion, identity, individuality and the way we value people in society. Definitely getting some more Ms. Marvel in my life!
Title: Paper Girls 1
Author: Brian K. Vaughan (Goodreads Author), Cliff Chiang (Illustrator), Matthew Wilson (Colorist), Jared K. Fletcher (Lettering)
Genre/ issues: Graphic novel. Comic books. Mystery. Sci-fi. Coming of age.
Another installment of Tamara Reads Comics tonight, with Paper Girls 1. A suburban supernatural mystery, with stunning atmospheric illustrations and some really interesting commentary on life in the late 80’s. It represents the 80’s aesthetic really well, both in terms of the visuals and the attitudes, and I felt very much like this could have been set in my smalltown Australia as much as it was smalltown USA.
I felt like this one a much slower burn than my previous comic reads – I was just feeling like I was getting a handle on what was happening and was starting to feel invested in the story when we hit the end. Regardless, I really enjoyed this, and will be checking out the next volume, as much for the art as for the story!
Title: Lumberjanes Vol1: Beware the Kitten Holy
Author: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Faith Hicks, Brooke A. Allen (Illustrator), Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh, Carolyn Nowak (Illustrator), Carey Pietsch (Illustrator)
Genre/ issues: Graphic novel. Comic books. Fantasy. Mystery.
I’ve been wanting to get back into reading comics again for a while now. I remember loving them when I was a kid, but I grew up in a town with no comic store so was limited to whatever Archie and Casper comics the newsagents would occasionally get in. I’ve seen so many great comics released in recent years, and whilst I want to read them, it’s quite overwhelming to figure out just where to start! So, in my “supporting independent stores” focus for #iso2020 I hit up some comic nerds for advice, signed up for a Kings Comics gold card, and ordered me some comics!
Lumberjanes is one that I’ve been hearing about for a while, so it was the first that I delved into when my parcel of comicky goodness arrived. Volume 1, Beware the kitten holy, is a collection of editions 1 to 4 of the Lumberjanes comics, and I adored it. The blurb reads:
“At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.”
It’s quirky, funny, a great balance of mystery and action, with some fab positive representations of female characters of all kinds. I’ll definitely be going back for more of this female-created comic about the creepy happenings at the summer camp for “hard-core lady types”. An utter delight, and a great place to start back into my comic reading adventures!
Genre/ issues: Graphic novel, middle grade, science, history, space.
I’ve always been interested in space, and I’m sure my childhood fantasies of being an astronaut led to my strong sci-fi leanings as a teen and adult. This book is a fab graphic novel which looks at the history of women’s involvement in the space program. It tells the compelling narrative story of Mary Cleave, one of the first women to complete NASA space training and then go on to complete 2 space missions and eventually lead the NASA Science Mission Directorate. Her personal story serves as a frame for the political and feminist history of women in space, and we see the story of the Russian space program and how it got there first. I particularly love how they employ a different font on the panels which depict the experiences of the Soviet space program. It’s a great visual cue to help differentiate these opposite yet parallel narratives.
The illustrations are charming, the science is fascinating, and the message is powerful – women can do anything, despite the men who try to tell them no. There’s some serious historical research that went into this book, and the librarian in me loves the source list at the end. The insight into the committee hearings which almost saw the Women in Space Program sidelined permanently was fascinating too – “of course we’ll need women eventually if we are planning on colonising another planet!” I loved this book, and will be on the lookout for their other graphic novel, Primates, to read soon!