Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What I read this week... Oct 19

I didn’t think that I read that much this past week but apparently I was wrong.  I ended up finishing a series of books that I half started.... I also wasn't feeling well so I spent more time in my private reading room than I would have liked.  Oh well, lots of good stuff this week.

Mr. Natural written and illustrated by Robert Crumb, published by Fantagraphics
If you’ve never experienced Crumb’s work this is one of the better ways to do it.  It collects all of the Mr. Natural stories from his first appearance in ’67 through the 90’s.  I’d recommend this book over some of the other Crumb books out there because it covers such a broad period of work.  You can see how Crumb’s style develops over the years and his cynicism becomes, if anything, sharper than ever.  While there’s still sex and drugs, it’s tame when compared to some of his other works from the late 60’s/early 70’s. 

John Lord, written by Denis-Pierre Filippi, illustrated by Patrick Laumond, published by Humanoids.
This is a fantastic crime noir tale that takes place at the turn of the century.  Filippi pulls off a difficult trick of telling two stories at once; one involving the origin/motivations of the murderer and the other about the present-1910ish day inspectors trying to solve the crime.  Crisp art and a tight story made this a ‘can’t put down’ book.

The Man Who grew His Beard, written and illustrated by Olivier Schrauwen, published by Fantagraphics
Have you ever read a book that went by so fast you felt like the publisher screwed you?  But, then the more you think about it the more you realize there was a lot going on that you just missed.  So you read it again and realize ‘oh crap’ there really is a lot going on here.  And after that, you realize you need to read it again because there were high concepts in it that you can sense but can’t articulate?  Yeah, that’s this book.  Schrauwen is a Belgian cartoonish and this collects seven of his short stories.  It’s well worth reading to see how the comic book medium can be stretched.  Great if you want to think about it, not so great if you’re looking for fluff.

The Armed Garden, written and illustrated by David B., published by Fantagraphics
David B. is one of the great indie creators and author of one of the all time great graphic novels “Epileptic.”  In this case, he illustrates an old Persian, and a couple of German-Eastern European myths with some loose basis in facts.  Entertaining and bloody as only old myths can be this was a breezy and entertaining read.

Ruse: The Victorian Guide to Murder written by Mark Waid, illustrated by Mirco Pierfederici and Minck Oosterveer, published by Marvel.
Ruse was one of the few really exceptional series that Crossgen produced in it’s short time and I was glad to see Marvel bringing it back.  But, I was worried that a heavy handed editorial mandate might crush this.  Such was not the case.  Waid is at the top of his game and produces a Victorian age cop-buddy movie on paper.  Full of snappy dialogue and quick action this was worth every penny.

Sidekicks written and illustrated by Dan Santat, published by Arthur A. Levine Books
I ended up reading this with Tiny… once I got it back from the older two.  A truly outstanding all ages book that really is all ages.  It has enough action for little kids, enough plot and positive message for middle kids, and backgrounds full of injokes for the bigger kids.  I may as well buy another copy now because this is going to be dog eared and beat up in no time.

Supergod, written Warren Ellis, illustrated by Garrie Gastonny, published by Avatar
It’s Ellis, need I say more?  No, but I will.  It’s great and has all sorts of high concepts in it but… and there is always a but… it can be dry.  The entire story is flashback told in third person.  If you like long histories and narratives, then you will love this.  If you want more character interaction and development, then look elsewhere.

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