Transmetropolitan is a Cyberpunk Technicolor Fever Dream and Why We Need It Now More Than Ever

Synopsis

After years of self-imposed exile from a civilization rife with degradation and indecency, cynical journalist Spider Jerusalem is forced to return to a job that he hates and a city that he loathes. Working as an investigative reporter for the newspaper The Word, Spider attacks the injustices of his surreal 23rd Century surroundings. Combining black humor, life-threatening situations, and moral ambiguity, this book is the first look into the mind of an outlaw journalist and the world he seeks to destroy.


Stats

  • 5 out of 5. I mean c’mon this is a classic.
  • Paperback
  • 144 pages
  • Published February 1st 1998 by Vertigo (first published January 1998)
  • Original Title Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the Street
  • ISBN1563894459 (ISBN13: 9781563894459)
  • Edition Language English
  • URL http://www.dccomics.com/vertigo/graphic_novels/?gn=1719
  • Series Transmetropolitan (Collected Editions) #1, Transmetropolitan (BR) #1
  • CharactersSpider Jerusalem, Channon Yarrow, Mitchell Royce, Fred Christ
  • Setting United States of America

A side note. This is a reread for me that I had the utmost fun doing it with Paul at Paul’s Picks. It was terrific to see Spider through the eyes of someone else, and I want to thank Paul for taking a chance on one of my favorite books.

My Thoughts

“TRUTH comes easier when you’re nine years old, too. Everything’s a lot less complicated. This or that. Us or them. Truth or lie.” 

Warren Ellis, Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the Street

Spider is the hero you did not know that you needed. Brash and deranged, Spider yells at the top of his lungs things that make you uncomfortable. And, if you are nervous? Good. Scared to exams painful truths? Good. Because the truth is coming for you, and Spider is going to bringing it with the fervor and intensity of a bulldog on crystal meth.

Transmetropolitan was written twenty-one years ago, published by DC Comics between 1997 – 2002, but it might as well been written yesterday for how current and prescient it is. The story is built around the antics of our protagonist and antihero, an investigative journalist named Spider Jerusalem. He is tattooed, brash, brilliant, sarcastic, caustic, drug addicted, and a wild man of journalists fervor. Often drawn wearing a pair of stereoscopic sunglasses, one red lens, and the other green while streams of smoke curl out of his nostrils and usually sporting a scowl of discontent while gesticulating wildly at the idiocy of passers-by. Describing him, he sounds like a lunatic when in actuality he is the reincarnation of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson dropped into the 23rd century.

The first six issues of the 60 issue story make up Vol. 1 Back in The Streets. It is written as Spider is getting his feet under him after a five-year voluntary sabbatical. Called back to finish his book deal with his editor, lovingly known as Whorehopper, he unwillingly reenters The City and society and is equal parts horrified and fascinated by it. The City, as it is referred to, is Id and hedonism run amok puked out in a cyberpunk Technicolor fever dream. If you can dream it, and have the money, you can do it. All of which sounds impressive when tempered with wisdom and ethics. However, The City is neither of those things. Spider is constantly reminded of why he hid in the wilderness and eschewed all human contact.

Issue three of Volume 1 talks about Spider’s first story back into the throes of journalism. He is covering a pseudo-alien messiah named Fred Christ, as he represents the Transcience movement. The Transience movement being a subculture of body modification fetishists who use technology to change themselves to something resembling a new species. In this case, adapting aspects of an alien species. Fred Christ’s base is located in the Angel 8 district of The City. After Spider burns a transient guard in the eye with a cigarette, Spider notices how tense the Transient population is. It is a powder keg ready to blow. Spider finds Fred Christ and has a brief interview with him where Spider basically eludes that Fred is puffed up with fake power and that the government is going to come down and stomp out this little movement of Freds.


“There’s one hole in every

revolution, large or small.

And it’s one word long— PEOPLE.

No matter how big

the idea they all stand under,

people are small and weak

and cheap and frightened.

It’s people that kill every revolution.” 


Warren Ellis, Transmetropolitan,
Vol. 1: Back on the Street

Here is where the writing shines. Eventually, the government does get with the stomping, and Spider gets right in the middle of it and live blogs. He brings the gritty moment to moment of the brutal beating of the Transient population by an uncaring police authority to the people. Eventually, this sways the audience gawking at this display via Spider’s writing and causes a public outcry shutting down the beating. Spider helped. I don’t think he intended to help but to speak the truth as he saw it; however, his truth saved some transient people.

God, I love Spider Jerusalem. He is everything I wish Journalists still were. Raw, uncut assholes who search for the truth as they see it no matter what they have to go through. In the politically charged climate of now, it seems that those who speak truth to power are not the journalists as we used to know them, but bloggers and users of Twitter.


“- You know what this is?
– Nope
– It’s a bowel disruptor.

And you are just full of shit.”


WARREN ELLIS, TRANSMETROPOLITAN,
VOL. 1: BACK ON THE STREET

The question is “Should you read this?” Should you delve into the gritty world of Spider and meet with the truth on his terms. I am of a resounding yes, there is a reason why he is a classic graphic novel series. I think the world needs Spider Jerusalem’s even if he is just ink and ideas. All Hail Spider Jerusalem!


Paul and Myself’s Running Issue Commentary

Paul – #1. What the hell had Beth got me into?!?! Transma-What?!?! Ok. So there’s this guy who lives in a house on a mountain. Spider Jerusalem been there for 5 years, sorta paranoid, hermit style. He was an author/journalist, but still owes his publisher 2 more books on the contract. He needs money and inspiration.He gets in his car and drives back to the rat race in the big city, and yes, he has a rat as a passenger and bombs his local bar on the way… yet, as he crosses the city line, his journalistic blood starts pumping. Itching for a story.
What a character! I’m not really sure what the story will bring, but I know I will like Spider’s vicious one-liners and outlandish ravings. I can already tell that Ellis and Robertson have created a crazy-clever future world of greed, vice, and dark speculation…

Beth – #1. It’s crazy! Spider is who I think most journalists want to be. He is living on all sorts of edges trying to get the truth, the real story. I think #1 and most of #2 are just giving you background on who he is and where he comes from. Hirsute crazy dude living on a mountain, no human contact because he hates people. Has to come back to “The City” two write two books, plus earn enough money to love. Earning money means finding stories. The one-liners are amazing.

“My household appliance is on drugs.”

Warren Ellis, Transmetropolitan,
Vol. 1: Back on the Street

‘you worthless scrap of frogshit with a pulse and a bit of authority.” I agree this world is greed, and vice run amok. It is if you took the Id of the general population and laid it out on the table for everyone to see. It reminds me a lot of this scene from Fear and Loathing



Paul – #2. Spider’s first story is an investigation into transcience… a body mod movement that has spliced alien genomes into people and created humanoids who are ‘between bodies.’ Not allowed jobs and forced to live in slums, the transcients are two steps away from government annihilation. An interview with their leader, Fred Christ, gives Spider the insight he needs. This is a story arc with mordern-day implications. An ‘other,’ a people who have chosen to have body modification and are deemed different and illegal. I’m wondering what role Spider will play in this as a journalist. And how he will help these people. Lots of thoughts going on. Can’t wait to get read another issue tomorrow night.

Beth – #2. It is current, right? The things spiders sees and the insight he has can be directly laid on top of our current political climate.

“I don’t have to put up with thus shabby crap! I’m a journalist!”

Having read this before, and with the reread I am catching so much more than I did the first go through. It is almost like I am reading a brand new story.


Paul – #3.

‘Journalism is just a gun.

It’s only got one

bullet in it, but if

you aim right,

that’s all you need.’

Warren Ellis, Transmetropolitan,
Vol. 1: Back on the Street

A transient riot has been manufactured and Spider speeds to the neighborhood to report the brutality handed down by the police. The power of Spider’s pen is about to be unleashed!
This is a great issue that really helps the reader see past the image of the main character to what he is actually capable of. His ‘superpower’ of reportage. The ability to expose corruption, and we find that the plot will not be as simple as we maybe first thought. 

Beth – #3. Yes, the power of the written word and of truth. For all of spider’s bluster and screwing up things and people, he has a real gift of getting t the heart of a matter and explaining it to the people. He isn’t all bluster and bravado. I think if he were his publisher would not give two shits about him. I am so glad this is connecting with you. Spider is one of my favorite characters. 

This story is about fist clenching stomach churning anger. Anger at the system that we are all involved in, the mass media, commercialism – but mainly I think this story is outrage and a desire to not just lash out but to make things better. Spider at his venomous little heart wants to use the truth to set people free. Whether that truth is painful or not. It is still the truth, and because of his journalistic integrity and his give no fucks attitude he wants to rip the band-aid off peoples wounds and sally forth. 


Paul – #4. A new assistant and a meeting with the president. Spider has a chance to mentor a young journalist in the art of The Truth. And then during an unexpected chance meeting with the president, he gets a couple shots in.
The entrance of a tutee enables Ellis to open up Spider’s many thoughts on the role of the press… and yes, Beth is correct, even though published 20 years ago, Transmetropolitan is buzzing with current issues. Spider’s accusations of the presidents nefarious behavior is a front page story in many present-day newspapers.
I’m wondering where this will go. What is Jerusalem’s endgame? 

Beth – #4. I really like the young journalist. She makes a perfect counterpoint to Jerusalem’s antics. Where spider is spastic, Channing is more measured. Probably no less nuts, but at least she is more measured in her actions.

I am not sure at this point Spider has an endgame except to expose the truth from as any nefarious characters as possible. It doesn’t even phase Spider that the president might not be a person who he should screw with. Or the cops as we found out the last issue. Bring them all down!


Paul – #5. This issue doesn’t move the plot forward too much, but it certainly utilized Spider/Ellis’s fangs when it comes to popular culture and media. Jerusalem decides he needs to hunker down and really do some research into the culture of The City. So, he promptly turns on the TV and starts flipping through the channels. Reality TV shows like Cops and the sexualization of advertising are parodied and lampooned to the extreme. He also takes some shots at the talk show circuit. Funny stuff!!!
And I definitely agree with Beth. Spider’s assistant is perfect. She gives it right back to him and then some. He was attacked by angry police a couple issues ago, and she seems to know that his antics will garner only more recourse from the authorities. What protections will he have and will his words be enough to combat the powers that be? 

Beth – #5. This issue is pure holding pattern, very funny but I think it is setting us up for the next issue. It doesn’t move the plot forward as it is for having Spider acclimate back into popular culture via TV. Which is pretty much the cesspool of popular culture. Spider responds in the typical Spider fashion by lashing out and attacking lies that he hears. This time via call-in radio/television shows. My favorite part of this issue is where an advertising bomb exploded in his head so he dreams advertisements. I know that I have gotten jingles stuck in my head for days at a time so I can relate.


Paul – #6. The New Religious Movement Convention! Oh boy. What’s Spider going to do here? ‘Fucking Vampires…’Many ‘truths’ out there and our man has decided to rough up the convention goers. Shake em up and crack some skulls while he’s at it. Whoa!Quick aside. I was very happy that Channon punched Spider in the nose in this issue. Ok, maybe not literally, but she got him to shut up for a minute and listen.

The first six issues have established Spider and Channon’s characters, and given them at goal/ mission. His character develops further while he flings his philosophy around the city, and we are exposed to the currents in society… media, religion, and alien infusion. A mindwarping title that I suspect is only going to get better. And I dare say that as Beth and I have discussed, this comic will hold up for a long, long time.

Beth – #6 This is Spider in his element. Ample opportunity to dissect the masses and fling his philosophy around like he is sprinkling the masses with holy water. It would be preachy if it weren’t so damn good. The writing is fantastic. Ever see that scene on Newsroom where the lead answers a question that generally would be verboten. “Why is American the greatest country in the world?” It would be preachy or awful as if the writers of the series going on a rant, but it isn’t. It is amazingly well written, so good that you are stunned into silence.

That has been this volume for me. It could have gone the preachy, ranty path but instead, we have a crazy character, great journalism, and writing. 

Questions

Do you think there are any gonzo journalists left?

What would a city look like if it was all hedonism and money? How would someone speak truth to power?


Procurement

I checked out a copy of this from the library as a buddy read with Paul.


About the Author

Warren Ellis is the award-winning writer of graphic novels like TRANSMETROPOLITAN, FELL, MINISTRY OF SPACE and PLANETARY, and the author of the NYT-bestselling GUN MACHINE and the “underground classic” novel CROOKED LITTLE VEIN. The movie RED is based on his graphic novel of the same name, its sequel having been released in summer 2013. His graphic novel GLOBAL FREQUENCY is in development at Jerry Bruckheimer TV for the Fox network, and his GRAVEL books are in development for film at Legendary Pictures, with Tim Miller attached to direct. IRON MAN 3 is based on his Marvel Comics graphic novel IRON MAN: EXTREMIS. He’s also written extensively for VICE, WIRED UK and Reuters on technological and cultural matters, and is co-writing a video project called WASTELANDERS with Joss Whedon that will appear some time before we both die.. He is serialising a new graphic novel, TREES, with artist Jason Howard, through Image Comics. Warren Ellis is currently working on a non-fiction book about the future of the city for Farrar Giroux Straus. His newest publication is the digital short-story single DEAD PIG COLLECTOR, from FSG Originals. His next book will be the novella NORMAL, also from FSG.

A documentary about his work, CAPTURED GHOSTS, was released in 2012.

Recognitions include the NUIG Literary and Debating Society’s President’s Medal for service to freedom of speech, the EAGLE AWARDS Roll Of Honour for lifetime achievement in the field of comics & graphic novels, the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire 2010, the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and the International Horror Guild Award for illustrated narrative. He is a Patron of the British Humanist Association, an Associate of the Institute of Atemporal Studies, and the literary editor of EDICT magazine.

Warren Ellis lives outside London, on the south-east coast of England, in case he needs to make a quick getaway.

Review of The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins

Synopsis

The job of the skin is to keep things in.

On the buttoned-down island of Here, all is well. By which we mean: orderly, neat, contained and, moreover, beardless.

Or at least it is until one famous day, when Dave, bald but for a single hair, finds himself assailed by a terrifying, unstoppable… monster*!

Where did it come from? How should the islanders deal with it? And what, most importantly, are they going to do with Dave?

The first book from a new leading light of UK comics, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil is an off-beat fable worthy of Roald Dahl. It is about life, death and the meaning of beards.

(*We mean a gigantic beard, basically.) 



Stats

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Hardcover
  • 240 pages
  • Published June 17th, 2013 by Jonathan Cape
  • Original Title The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil
  • ISBN0224096281 (ISBN13: 9780224096287)
  • Edition Language English

Awards

  • Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Nominee for Best Graphic Album-New, Best Writer/Artist (for Stephen Collins) (2015)
  •  Waterstones Book of the Year Nominee (2013)

My Thoughts

“Because” is a word used

by ordered, order-loving

beings about a world which

they like to think is ordered.

“Because” is for storybooks.

This is… Well, I know this is

difficult to understand,

but what we see here is

becauselessness itself.”


― Stephen Collins, 
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil

It was lustrous, it was hedge-like, it was so, so very untidy. Where once a single, black and twitchy hair grew on the face of our protagonist, Dave now grows an avalanche of hirsute proportions. Stephen Collins first outre graphic novel features the weird and compelling often underappreciated affect a random occurrence such as a beard can have on a tidy community. Similarly, how the effect of a book about an unkempt beard can have on the graphic novel community.

Dave is about as average a person as someone could be in the town of Here. He is a bald fellow with a single stubborn hair on his chin that when shaved, grows right back. Dave works in a job that he doesn’t understand that it is boring. Everything is boring. Imagine a life tuned to Muzak elevator music. His only differ from the norm is his penchant for voyeuristically sketching street life outside his window and listening to The Bangles Eternal Flame on repeat. (side note – I have to admit that, that is an underappreciated song.) One day something bizarre and untidy happens. Dave’s feels “a roaring black fire” climb through his face. Suddenly and without provocation, Dave’s beard of epic and unruly proportions is born.

Dave attempts to shave, cut, burn, pare, peel crop and slash at his beard. He cannot work or eventually move because of the torrent of beard hair pouring from his face. The community and tourists began to watch him now. He becomes an attraction. Soon the government sends in barbers and stylists to help tame the mane. Scaffolding is erected around the beard as it begins to take over his block. Soon balloons are added to the mix, lifting sections of the hair off of the ground and suspending it midair.

The beard must come from the place of There. There being everywhere around the Island of Here. It comes from a place of the unruly and the untidy. What will happen to our quiet community is a beard like this is allowed to exist? We must stop it! We must protect ourselves from its influence! Soon the beards presence spreads out in slow ripples. First, a man who is never late to work comes in late to work. Next, a man who has typically very tidy hair could not make it the barber, and his hair became overlong. Small ripples turn into large ripples. Things evolve.

This is a fairy tale and allegory that everyone can appreciate. It is a story of tidiness and the power of non-conformity. How a single action can cause, ripple effects felt for years and years. But more so, it is about a vast much-belied beard that is called evil when in fact it might be this communities savior.


Procurement

I checked this out from the library


About the Author

Stephen Collins is a UK illustrator and cartoonist. His work has appeared in many publications worldwide, and he has a weekly comic in The Guardian Weekend magazine, as well as a monthly one in Prospect. In 2013 Jonathan Cape published his debut graphic novel The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, which was shortlisted for the Waterstones Book Of The Year award. A collection of his shorter comics titled Some Comics By Stephen Collins was published by Jonathan Cape in 2014.

Review of “Blue Is the Warmest Color” by Julie Maroh, Ivanka Hahnenberger (Translator)

“There is only love to save this world. Why would I be ashamed to love?”

Excerpt from Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh

About

Blue is the Warmest Color is a graphic novel about growing up, falling in love, and coming out. Clementine is a junior in high school who seems average enough: she has friends, family, and the romantic attention of the boys in her school. When her openly gay best friend takes her out on the town, she wanders into a lesbian bar where she encounters Emma: a punkish, confident girl with blue hair. Their attraction is instant and electric, and Clementine find herself in a relationship that will test her friends, parents, and her own ideas about herself and her identity.


Stats

  • Rating – 4 out of 5 stars
  • Paperback, 156 pages
  • Published September 3rd 2013 by Arsenal Pulp Press (first published April 1st 2010)
  • Original Title Le bleu est une couleur chaude
  • ISBN1551525143 (ISBN13: 9781551525143)
  • Edition Language English
  • Characters Clementine, Emma, Valentine

Awards

  • Prix du Festival d’Angoulême for Prix du public Fnac-SNCF (2011)
  • BDGest’Art for Meilleur Premier album (2010)

My Thoughts

“I want to do everything with you. 
Everything is possible in a lifetime. ”

Excerpt from Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh

I think that this is one of those important books that someone should read once in their life.

Just once.

It is too heart-rending to read more than once. This is a story of the hardness and softness of first love. How it can both shred your soul like tissue paper and leave you like a piece of hardened steel.

Le bleu est une couleur chaude Also known as Blue is the Warmest Color is about Clementine. A young girl at the start of the story, a 16-year-old junior and her fascination with Emma. Emma is everything that Clementine is not at the beginning: outgoing, sure of herself, and most importantly… out. They have instant electricity and start a sweet love affair that challenges Clementines preconceptions of herself and helps her become the person she wants to be.

Blue is the Warmest Color talks openly about the challenges of being a homosexual, and finding that love sends chills through your body. What I enjoyed and laud the author over is how she wrote the love story so openly and honestly. Oftentimes when reading about a gay or queer character it can get unauthentic and tropey. This isn’t.

“I can not feel anymore. 
I feel like I’m carrying light in my veins. 
All that happens to me has a name … Emma, ​​her name is Emma. ” 


Excerpt from Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh

Aside from the gorgeous writing, it is stunningly drawn. The scenes are crafted carefully with a limited color palette of grays and the single color blue. Most often found in Emma’s hair. Emma’s hair is almost a blue flame burning through each scene. You can tell why Clementine is so attracted to her. She lights up every room. There are quite a bit of sex scenes dealt with very honestly in this story. I appreciated it and I thought that it enhanced the love story between the two of them without detracting from the overall story. Some readers might not be comfortable with that level of open sex between two consenting adults. Just know that, unlike the movie, this isn’t pornlike. This is a loving depiction of a romantic couple expressing their passion for each other.

Highly recommended


Procurement

I checked this out from the library.


About the Author

Julie Maroh (born 1985) is an author and illustrator originally from northern France. She studied comic art at the Institute Saint-Luc in Brussels and lithography and engraving at the Royal Academy of Arts in Brussels, where she still lives.

These Are My People

About

Soppy meets Sarah’s Scribbles in this sweet collection of comics about the simple, precious, silly, everyday moments that make up a relationship.

What began as stray doodles on scraps of paper became an internet sensation when Catana Chetwynd’s boyfriend shared her drawings online. Now, Catana Comics touches millions of readers with its sweet, relatable humor. Little Moments of Lovecollects just that – the little moments that are the best parts of being with the person you love.


Stats

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hardcover 
  • 160 pages
  • Published June 19th, 2018 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
  • Original Title Little Moments of Love
  • ISBN1449492975 (ISBN13: 9781449492977)
  • Edition Language English
  • URL http://publishing.andrewsmcmeel.com/books/detail?sku=9781449492977
  • Literary Awards Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Graphic Novels & Comics (2018)

My Thoughts

“This is us,” I thought to myself while reading Little Moments of Love. “These are my people.” The only difference is that we have been married for a decade and I am 6′ and my husband is 6’3. Otherwise, these little moments are highly relatable. Each of the little bonne mots resonated with me hard. I was chuckling, guffawing, and saying “ah” throughout the 160 pages.

The graphics are simple as if she wrote them on a post-it note. Which she totally did. There is no plot, just happy and sweet moments between a couple that most people can relate to. This book brings the happy feels and sometimes that’s the kind of book we need to read. Simple, happy, no agenda, and makes you want to cuddle up and Watch Harry Potter on a date night.

If you enjoy Sarah’s Scribbles, you will enjoy this little book of awesome.

Let Us Celebrate Those Brazen Women Who Stepped Out of Convention and Into History.

Synopsis

Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit. Against overwhelming adversity, these remarkable women raised their voices and changed history.

With her one-of-a-kind wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world-famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.


Stats

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Paperback 
  • 296 pages
  • Published March 6th 2018 by First Second
  • Original Title Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World
  • ISBN1626728690 (ISBN13: 9781626728691)
  • Edition Language English
  • Series Les Culottées #1-2

Awards

  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Graphic Novels & Comics (2018)

My Thoughts

Often when discussing women in history it is the same few women, Joan of Arc, Marie Curie, Jane Austen, or Rosa Parks to name a few. The thing is that these women who are amazing pioneers or brave often overshadow courageous women who stepped out of the norm and should be recognized. That is the magic of this book. It celebrates women who should be celebrated but do not necessarily have a national holiday named after them or a roadway.

Do you want to learn about the first bearded lady or the first gynecologist? Or, Georgina Reid – the woman who set out over twenty years to save a long-abandoned but beautiful lighthouse? You do, you really do.

Georgina Reid was a little old lady who noticed that after finding her and her husbands dream coastal home, they were losing about a foot of erosion off of the cliff face the home perched on. Pretty soon Georgina’s garden would literally fall by the wayside. With no engineering experience, Georgina started to study Japanese terracing techniques. Working tirelessly, sometimes by herself or sometimes with her husband, she remedied the erosion by building terraces of sand and plant. She stopped the erosion of her property while her neighbors eroded away. Next stop, The Montauk Lighthouse. Built in 1795, the lighthouse is a longstanding and loved feature of the community that had been recently decommissioned due to erosion. Georgina began to tackle the problem and it took her 17 years. She worked constantly for 17 years. She saved the landmark and this woman is a brazen rebel lady.

We need role models like this for people to celebrate.

Joan of Arc was an amazing woman. She led a revolution. But she is far removed from mine and my daughter’s comprehension. Georgina Reid is someone I can teach my daughter about and who we can relate to. She is one of many brazen women featured in this graphic novel and worth the celebration.

Each of the selected women has a few page spread giving background on her life and celebrating some big moments. The vignettes also discuss what has happened after they have passed away, if applicable, and the legacy they left. The graphics are simple, but effective and lovely. I read a little of it to my four-year-old, and she loved it but I was into it also. It is stories and graphics for all ages.

Highly Recommend.


Procurement

I checked this out of the library.


About the Author

Pénélope Bagieu, (born 22 January 1982 Paris), is a French illustrator and comic designer. She became known for her comic blog My quite fascinating life.

Penelope Bagieu graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Economic and Social studies, she spent a year at ESAT Paris, then at the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris and then at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design. Multimedia and entertainment, where she graduated in December 2006.

The Only Thing Left is Wrath and Sheep

About

From the publisher, “Ever since Great Grandfather Isom killed a man over some sheep, a black cloud has hung over the Rath family. Now, over a century later, Ira Rath, the coldest hitman ever to walk on Alabama soil, has taken a job that will decide the fate of his cursed family once and for all. Writer Jason Aaron (Southern Bastards, Scalped) and artist Ron Garney (Weapon X, Thor: God of Thunder) reunite, to bring you the story of a Southern family, whose only heirloom is violence.” 


Stats

  • 4 out of 5 Stars
  • Paperback
  • 136 pages
  • Published April 28th, 2015 by Marvel (first published April 14th, 2015)

Awards

  • Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Nominee for Best Writer (for Jason Aaron) (2015)

My Thoughts

Are we captive to our darker biology or can we rise above our inner desire and step away from our baser urges? That is the question that Jason Aaron asks in this powerful southern noir style story “Men of Wrath.” One hundred years ago the patriarch of the Rath family, Isom, stabbed a man in the neck over some sheep. Since then “folks began to take notice of the Raths.”

The Raths have an issue with Wrath.

Since then, for the last 100 years, each generation of male Rath child has expressed their wrath in different ways. Isom’s son, Alford, witnessed his father murder a man in a pasture has had a dangerous mean streak culminating with him catching rabies and murdering his entire family save for one son, Monroe. The son who ended up having to kill him to protect himself. Thus the family line of wrath continues. Monroe begat Ira, a Cynical hitman from Alabama who has no problem with the expression of rage in his line of work. He will murder anything: men, women, children, priests anything that gets in his way of doing his job. Ira, in turn, had a son named Ruben. Here is where the story gets interesting. Ruben is often on the cusp of violence, yet he chooses not to express it. He is in every way the polar opposite of his father. Ira does not care for family when everything Ruben does is to protect them. He fights his natural Rath family tendencies where all Ira does is express them. His sensitivities get him in trouble with the wrong people, and a hitman is dispatched to take care of Ruben. There is no familial love between Ruben and Ira, and Ira goes after Ruben.

“Somethin’ started back then with Isom. Somethin’ that’s been passed down in our family from father to son ever since. Somethin’ that’s gotten a little bit meaner and bloodier with each generation. Used to be folks in Choctaw County never paid much mind to Isom and his kin. They weren’t troublemakers or drunks.Weren’t catholics. Werren’t much of anything at all. Just another bunch of poor white farmers in a county full of ’em. But after that day…The day Erastus Grievers laid down among his sheep and died. Folks began to take notice of the Raths.”

Excerpt from Men of Wrath by Jason Aaron

I want to say that Ira is the protagonist of the story, but that isn’t accurate. Ira is what he is, he neither revels in it or seeks change. He is a murderous bastard who hates everyone. His inner monologue is the narration of the story; the real protagonist is his relationship with his son Ruben. Although I will not give away the explosive climax of the story, know that it is true to the Rath family name.

The artwork of the story, done by Ron Garney, evokes dark and early Frank Miller. The linework is bold, thick and uncompromising. The perpetual darkness and heaviness match the dialog and setting of the story perfectly. Not only do you read the inner monologue of Ira wrath, but you can also feel it from panel to panel.

Men of Wrath is a short and dirty story of man’s inherent darkness, and if one can rise above their baser natures. All told in the dark and gritty southern crime noir format reminiscent of Southern Bastards, Sin City, and Blacksad. It is excellently written and beautifully illustrated/penciled. This is not a story for the easily offended, but if you can keep going through the violent panels, the ending is well worth the journey.

Procurement

I checked this out of the library.


About the Author

Jason Aaron grew up in a small town in Alabama. His cousin, Gustav Hasford, who wrote the semi-autobiographical novel The Short-Timers, on which the feature film Full Metal Jacket was based, was a large influence on Aaron. Aaron decided he wanted to write comics as a child, and though his father was skeptical when Aaron informed him of this aspiration, his mother took Aaron to drug stores, where he would purchase books from spinner racks, some of which he still owns today.

Aaron’s career in comics began in 2001 when he won a Marvel Comics talent search contest with an eight-page Wolverine back-up story script. The story, which was published in Wolverine #175 (June 2002), gave him the opportunity to pitch subsequent ideas to editors.

In 2006, Aaron made a blind submission to DC/Vertigo, who published his first major work, the Vietnam War story The Other Side which was nominated for an Eisner Award for Best Miniseries, and which Aaron regards as the “second time” he broke into the industry.

Following this, Vertigo asked him to pitch other ideas, which led to the series Scalped, a creator-owned series set on the fictional Prairie Rose Indian Reservation and published by DC/Vertigo.

In 2007, Aaron wrote Ripclaw: Pilot Season for Top Cow Productions. Later that year, Marvel editor Axel Alonso, who was impressed by The Other Side and Scalped, hired Aaron to write issues of Wolverine, Black Panther and eventually, an extended run on Ghost Rider that began in April 2008. His continued work on Black Panther also included a tie-in to the company-wide crossover storyline along with a “Secret Invasion” with David Lapham in 2009.

In January 2008, he signed an exclusive contract with Marvel, though it would not affect his work on Scalped. Later that July, he wrote the Penguin issue of The Joker’s Asylum.

After a 4-issue stint on Wolverine in 2007, Aaron returned to the character with the ongoing series Wolverine: Weapon X, launched to coincide with the feature film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Aaron commented, “With Wolverine: Weapon X we’ll be trying to mix things up like that from arc to arc, so the first arc is a typical sort of black ops story but the second arc will jump right into the middle of a completely different genre,” In 2010, the series was relaunched once again as simply Wolverine. He followed this with his current run on Thor: God of Thunder.

The World is on Fire

Synopsis

Early morning on Monday, October 9, 2017, wildfires burned through Northern California, resulting in 44 fatalities. In addition, 6,200 homes and 8,900 structures and were destroyed. Author Brian Fies’s firsthand account of this tragic event is an honest, unflinching depiction of his personal experiences, including losing his house and every possession he and his wife had that didn’t fit into the back of their car. In the days that followed, as the fires continued to burn through the area, Brian hastily pulled together A Fire Story and posted it online—it immediately went viral. He is now expanding his original webcomic to include environmental insight and the fire stories of his neighbors and others in his community. A Fire Story is an honest account of the wildfires that left homes destroyed, families broken, and a community determined to rebuild


Excerpt from “A Fire Story by Brian Fies

Stats

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Hardcover
  • 160 pages
  • Expected publication: March 5th, 2019 by Harry N. Abrams
  • ISBN1419735853 (ISBN13: 9781419735851)

My Thoughts

“I inhaled my neighbors’ lives”

Excerpt from “A Fire Story by Brian Fies

I have lived through a few things. I have been robbed, my house has caught fire (twice), and I very nearly floated my car in a flash flood. I had to drive on the wrong side of the road and got swept sideways. I have not yet, thankfully, lived through a firestorm and the aftermath. Brian Fies has, however. A Fire Story is a memoir of the experience, pain, fear, regret, and most importantly…hope. His family lost everything. Everything…from pencil to pillar when the Northern California wildfires of 2017 blew through his home and swept away everything but their lives.

Excerpt from “A Fire Story by Brian Fies

A Fire Story is the real world experience of famous Eisner award-winning comic artist and writer, Brian Fies. It starts with the initial smell of a fire, no alarms rang or phones went off. Just the smell of fire and a burning light out in the distance. Then the escape with his family, his dog and cat, and what few belongings he could remember at the moment. Next, is recovery. Being a nomad, the shock and fear of displacement on his animals and how his family rallied together to help them. He talks of starting over, moving on, and trying to rebuild a home both literally and figuratively.

Excerpt from “A Fire Story by Brian Fies

This is a powerful memoir. It makes you stop for a moment, and think about what is truly important. What would you grab? What would you be ok with losing? How do you move on? Graphically, the panels are simply done. Purposefully, not even fully rendered to give the feeling of incompleteness. Even in his use of simplified panels, never think for a moment that emotion, a sense of place and timing are not conveyed. Fies conveys it all and there is a reason why he has won so many awards in the past.

This is a testament to his work as a writer and worth the read.

Procurement

I received an ebook of this from Eidelweiss+ and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.


About the Author

Brian Fies is a science writer, illustrator, and cartoonist whose widely acclaimed first graphic novel, Mom’s Cancer, won the 2005 Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic (the first webcomic to win the award and inaugurate this new category), the Lulu Blooker Prize for Best Comic, the Harvey Award for Best New Talent, and the German Youth Literature Prize, among other awards and recognition. He lives in northern California.