#MusicMonday – Sea Lion by Sage Francis

The force of my love was strong
The sea lion laying down on
The song in the air
Was fritting her care
With singer can be among song

I must have listened to this song a thousand times this year. The smoothness of the voice sets it off. If you dig it, listen to “The Best of Times.” Let me know what you think!

Graphic Novel Review of “Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus” by Chester Brown

Theological Musings in a Polemical World

220px-Chester_Brown_(2016)_Mary_Wept_Over_the_Feet_of_Jesus_(cover)
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56243974

Awards

None that I can find, however, Chester Brown is a highly acclaimed author for many of his other works.

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Stats

3 out of 5 stars

Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus by 
Chester Brown

Hardcover, 280 pages

Published April 12th, 2016 by Drawn and Quarterly

ISBN 1770462341 (ISBN13: 9781770462342)

imageedit_2_4317882437
http://www.pastemagazine.com

About

From the publisher, “The iconoclastic and bestselling cartoonist of Paying for It: A comic-strip memoir about being a john and Louis Riel returns and with a polemical interpretation of the Bible that will be one of the most controversial and talked-about graphic novels of 2016. Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus is the retelling in comics form of nine biblical stories that present Chester Brown’s fascinating and startling thesis about biblical representations of prostitution. Brown weaves a connecting line between Bathsheba, Ruth, Rahab, Tamar, Mary of Bethany, and the Virgin Mother. He reassesses the Christian moral code by examining the cultural implications of the Bible’s representations of sex work.”

Mary Wept 2

Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus is a fitting follow-up to Brown’s sui generis graphic memoir “Paying for It”, which was reviewed twice in The New York Times and hailed by sex workers for Brown’s advocacy for the decriminalization and normalization of prostitution. Brown approaches the Bible as he did the life of Louis Riel, making these stories compellingly readable and utterly pertinent to a modern audience. In classic Chester Brown fashion, he provides extensive handwritten endnotes that delve into the biblical lore that informs Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus.”

My Thoughts

This novel is a fitting followup to Chester Brown’s “Paying For It;” a practical and positive look at what it is being a John and hiring a prostitute. Paying For It is hailed by sex workers for its advocacy of Prostitution and normalization thereof.

Brown has been a vocal advocate for many years for sex workers, and it is evident in many of his works. He reminds me of a guy who is obsessed with Star Trek, or bugs, or 16th-century weaponry used in northern France. Nothing wrong with being passionate about something, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to be stuck on a road trip with him. He seems very very intense…

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This collection is fascinating in how he approached nine individual Bible stories, completely turned them on their head, and presented them in a new way. All the while threading them together into a cohesive thesis on his beliefs. Some of the stories featured are of Bathsheba, the prodigal son, Cain and Abel, Ruth, Rahab, Tamar, Mary of Bethany, and the Virgin Mother. One of his stories shows Mary as a prostitute but still very much loved by God and fit to be the mother of Jesus.

Prostitutes, who often are demonized by the Christian church and society are shown as people who just have a job to do. The novel is definitely polemic, and if you are an easily offended reader or prefer to not read something that has religious overtones, maybe this book is not for you.  However, it is a quick read, and sometimes stories need to be turned on their side to see things from a new angle. Whether or not you believe them to be the truth, much as the author does, it doesn’t matter. Enjoy the well-written stories and the simple but still elegant graphics. If these stories intrigue you, and you would like to know more there are 100 pages on notes at the back of the book detailing why he made certain literary and artistic decisions and the research behind them.

I didn’t necessarily like this graphic novel, but it was indeed interesting. Sometimes interesting and thought-provoking are good. I have one of Brown’s other works, Ed the Happy Clown sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. We will see what kind of rabbit hole it leads me down.

Guest Post – Webcomic Review of Schlock Mercenary

“Right now I’ve got just two rules to live by.
Rule one: don’t taunt elephants.
Rule two: don’t stand next to anybody who taunts elephants.
-Sergeant Schlock”
― Howard Tayler, The Tub of Happiness

This is the front cover art for the book Schlock Mercenary written by Howard Tayler. The book cover art copyright is believed to belong to the publisher, The Tayler Corporation, or the cover artist.

This is a guest post by Mark Tabler, who by day turns Chinese food into Ruby code and by night is a webcomic aficionado. Also, he is a licensed locksmith, blacksmith, wordsmith, and pretty much any other smith you can think of. You can find his marvelous words on everything from gaming to slot machines here;  Mark on Quora. 

Stats


Author(s)
Howard Tayler
Websitehttps://www.schlockmercenary.com/
Current status/scheduleActive / Daily
Launch date12 June 2000; 18 years ago[
Genre(s)Science Fiction, Comedy

About

 From Wikipedia, “Schlock Mercenary is a comedic webcomic written and drawn by Howard Tayler. It follows the tribulations of a star-traveling mercenary company in a satiric, mildly dystopian 31st-century space opera setting. Since its debut on June 12, 2000, the comic has updated daily, begun to support its author, and been nominated for five Hugo Awards.”

My Thoughts

Schlock Mercenary, the Comic Space Opera by Howard Tayler, is a masterpiece of modern webcomics. It’s also a masterpiece of ancient webcomics. Some interesting dates: Its first strip was published on June 12, 2000. On April 29, 2002, Tayler wrote a blog post in which he reaffirms his commitment to his readers: “Fresh Schlock, right here, every day, forever, or until I die.” And below the strip of June 12, 2018, there is a note from the author: “Today’s installment is the six thousand, five hundred and seventy-fourth installment of Schlock Mercenary.” If you count the days between 6/12/2000 and 6/12/2018, you get 6,574. For nearly two decades, Tayler has not only kept his promise, but has kept it on a daily schedule – and with zero gaps, zero backfills, and zero “guest” or “filler” strips. I bring this up for two reasons: the first is that if you follow any webcomics at all, you’ll recognize this feat as clear evidence of a true artistic passion coupled with a work ethic that can only be described as legendary. Independent of all else, 6,574 updates in 6,574 days is worthy of a lifetime achievement award strictly on its own merit.

“Maxim 3: 
An ordnance technician at a dead run outranks everybody.

-The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries” 

Howard Tayler

The second reason I bring this up is so you know how strongly I must feel about the work, when I say that I rank its sterling publishing schedule as only third or fourth on a list of its most impressive qualities.

https://www.schlockmercenary.com/

Tayler is a master storyteller. I’ll grant (and so will he) that if you start from Strip #1, you will not find the work of a master artist. But the story begins to unfold in curious, interesting, and unpredictable ways right from the start. I believe that one of the hallmarks of a brilliant writer is to craft stories where the events are a surprise as they unfold, but seem inevitable in hindsight. Tayler nails this aesthetic: every single book stands in equal support of its series, in a format of “I had to tell you that story so that I can tell you this one.” And, by the time you get to book 5 or 6, the art will have progressed to “solid competence,” and not long after that into “work of a legitimately talented artist.” 

“Where’s your sense of adventure?
It died under mysterious circumstances. My sense of self-preservation found the body, but assures me it has an airtight alibi.
-Captain Tagon & Captain Andreyasn” 

― Howard Tayler, Resident Mad Scientist

Schlock Mercenary is both an epic saga with a long story to tell, as well as a comedy strip with a rock-solid gag-a-day tempo. Most of the punchlines are well-crafted and worthy of at least a grin or a short chuckle, and Tayler manages to pull of more than his fair share of laugh-out-loud moments. In somber moments, the punchlines soften into wistful quips. (After telling a horrific war story, a commander is offered a refill of a stiff drink by a sympathetic lieutenant. The commander declines: “They don’t make bottles big enough for this kind of empty.”) It’s this amazing balance that turns this into a classic for the ages, in my estimation. Whether I’m in the mood to follow the adventures of some of my favorite career-sociopaths, or to philosophize about the social ramifications of longevity in a post-scarcity world, or simply giggle about how different people react to Schlock’s unusual biology. (Required to wear a costume in support of a mission, Schlock complains about his appearance. A supportive crewmate says she thinks he looks handsome, but Schlock grouchily huffs that he “looks like a pile of crap under a tarp.” His crewmate takes a second look, and replies “Okay… but don’t go blaming the tarp.”)

https://www.schlockmercenary.com/

Now is a great time to catch up with the strip. We’re somewhere in the middle of Book 19, now, and Book 20 will end the current 20-year mega-arc of the story. Tayler has promised two things about a post-Book-20 world: that there will still be new Schlock every day, and that it won’t be the beginning of another 20-year arc. As of right now, you’ve got about 18 1/2 graphic-novel-sized books to catch up on, which would give you the chance to follow along as this story finishes up in real time. I’ve been reading Schlock almost-daily since before I was legally old enough to drink. My *reading* schedule is gappier than Tayler’s *publishing* schedule, but in all that time, I’ve never been disappointed: not in writing, not in the stories, not in the drama or the humor or the philosophy. I think that if you have any love of graphic novels or webcomics, you owe it to yourself to at least take Schlock Mercenary for a spin.

Much of the biographical information for this post was taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schlock_Mercenary

Graphic Novel Review of “Mouse Guard Fall: 1152” by David Peterson

“Take no duty of the Guard lightly. Friends must not be enemies
Just as enemies must not be friends.
Discerning the two is a life’s work.”

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Stats

Hardcover, First Edition, 192 pages
Published July 21st 2009 by Archaia (first published May 30th, 2007)
Original Title
Mouse Guard: Fall 1152
ISBN 1932386572 (ISBN13: 9781932386578)
Edition Language English

Awards

Winner of “Best Publication for Kids” Eisner Award, for Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 and Mouse Guard: Winter 1152.

Winner of “Best Graphic Album-Reprint” Eisner Award, for Mouse Guard: Fall 1152.

#87 on the Goodreads Best Comics Ever List

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Book Summary

“Take no duty of the Guard lightly. Friends must not be enemies
Just as enemies must not be friends.
Discerning the two is a life’s work.”
― David Petersen

From the publisher,” The forest is a dangerous place for any animal, especially one as small as a mouse. In the past, the mouse world endured a tyrannical Weasel Warlord until a noble band of mouse soldiers fought back. Ever since the Mouse Guard has defended the paces and prosperity of its kingdom. For generations, this league of scouts, weather-watchers, trailblazers, and protectors has passed won its knowledge and skills.

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Now three of the Guard’s finest have been dispatched. The mission seems simple: They are to find a missing mouse, a grain merchant who never arrived at his destination. But when they see him, they make a shocking discovery—one that involves a treacherous betrayal, a stolen secret, and a rising power that has only one goal: to bring down the Guard…”

My Thoughts

“The best solution is always found at the point of my sword.”―Saxon’s belief

If you were walking around a bookstore and came across this book sitting on a shelf you would think that with its cartoonish depictions of animals wielding swords and bright colors that it was a children’s book. You could not be further from the truth. This is a very nuanced story about betrayal, bravery, endurance, and sincerity; it is most certainly not a children’s story.

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artstation.com

To start off, imagine what it is like to be a mouse in the first place they are small, weak, and fearful. Mice are prey animals in nature. Their entire lives are spent in fear of the unknown next predator around the bend. Almost every creature in the forest could be a predator to them. In response, you build your home in the most protected and sheltered spot you can find and hope for the best. Now imagine you are a guard mouse. You are weak and small by nature. However, you have learned to be strong because you have to be.  You must be brave because the smaller you are, the more bravery means and there are mice to protect. Thus flows the story of mice who are brave sent out into the forest to protect the weaker.

Stylistically, the panels are superbly drawn. The illustrations look as if they glow from within like light shining through the trees in autumn. Wind could rush therough my room as a read this and I would not be more convinced that it was fall. The illustrator completely nailed what fall is supposed to feel like.

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Conclusion

I would recommend this to anyone over the age of ten. I think if a child tried to read this before that age, much of the subtleties would be lost on them. But, I would especially recommend this to any comic book/graphic enthusiasts out there. This is a graphic novel that graphic novel lovers, love.

Blogmas Day 6 – The Christmas Stocking tag

All the books for all those Christmas moods.

The lovely Katie at Reading Through Infinity Tagged me with this wonderful Christmas Tag.  So here goes:

Rules

  • Link to the person who tagged you.
  • Link to me, as I’d love to read your answers.
  • Answer all 10 questions, choosing books for each theme.
  • Tag five people to do this.

You get up on Christmas morning and your stocking is full! You take it down and start to unwrap the treats inside. The first thing you see is…


An orange! Which book is refreshing and vibrant, both inside and out?

This series made me laugh so hard I guffawed. Laughing to me is the ultimate refresher. 

The next thing you see is a bag of chocolate coins. (Yum) Which book have you recently bought that was expensive but totally worth the high price?

I found a first edition hardback signed edition of this in a second-hand shop and purchased it. It is the most expensive book I own. It is a gorgeous, funny, and worthwhile read. Vonnegut really knows how to capture us humans in prose. 

You also pull out a bath bomb. Tell us about a book that had explosive action scenes.

The zombie chase scenes in this are grabbing on to the edge of your seat exciting. 

Next is a pack of playing cards. Which series won you over?

Absolutely one of my favorites. The first book is slow going and it took me a couple tries to get into it. But, once I was there it became one of my favorite books. Talk about a BAMF.

You also get a candle. Which character is a symbol of hope in their story?

Such courage and fortitude is demonstrated by the nameless main character in this visual story. It exemplifies the strength it takes to be an immigrant in a foreign land. It is a crazy beautiful book. 

There are socks inside too. Is there a book that you think really encompasses all the distinctive tropes of its genre?

God I have a love hate relationship with this series. I loved the first books, but the series eventually fell into disrepair. It almost became a parody of itself. Sex, problems, sex, stupid situation no normal person would find themselves in, sex, and then voila the end. 

There’s also a notebook. Which author’s writing process do you find most interesting/inspiring?

I don’t know of many writers’ progresses but I do find a lot of authors interesting people.  I enjoy the ranting and raving of Christopher Moore and Stephen King quite a bit. 

To go with the notebook, there’s a fancy pen. Is there a book or a series that you’d change if you’d written it yourself?

Yes. The Iron Druid’s series by Kevin Hearne. Hearne is a great writer, but that last book felt phoned in. It was a rush to conclusion and a bit of a downer when the rest of the series was very positive. I would have changed the tone of the last book.

There’s also a small bedside clock. Which book took you a long time to pick up but was worth it in the end?

This book took me awhile to get going in. Most of the first fifty pages I was scratching my head saying “what the hell.” Get into it, keep reading and you will see. It is so good. 

Your pile is getting really big. You reach in to pull out the last gift and it’s… a lump of coal? You’re a little disappointed. But you look closer and realize there’s a seam running through the coal. You crack it open and sitting inside is a tiny golden snitch. Tell us about a book that surprised you in some way.

Shustermen does not get the glory and recognition he so richly deserves. I started reading this on a lark having no idea what it is about and it was well worth the read. It surprised me how damn good this book is. 

Kaili –  @entertaininglynerdy

 Elaine –  @elainehowlin

 Kaleena@readervoracious

Katie – Reading Through Infinity

Graphic Novel Review – Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman #1) by Neil Gaiman

“What power would hell have if those imprisoned here would not be able to dream of heaven?”

“You get what anybody gets – you get a lifetime.” 

 Neil Gaiman, Preludes & Nocturnes

Stats

  • 5 out of 5 Stars
  • Hardcover
  • 233 pages
  • Published December 1st, 1998 by Vertigo (first published 1989)
  • Original Title Preludes & Nocturnes
  • ISBN 1563892278 (ISBN13: 9781563892271)
  • Edition Language English
  • Series The Sandman #1

Awards

“What power would hell have if those imprisoned here would not be able to dream of heaven?” 

Neil Gaiman, Preludes & Nocturnes
  • #5 on Goodreads Greatest Graphic Novels Ever Written
  • #558 on 1001 Comics to Read Before you Die
  • #2 on CBH Best Comics To Read
  • Sandman has won numerous awards.  Too many to list. It is one of the most decorated series in existence. 

About

From the publisher, “New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision.

In PRELUDES & NOCTURNES, an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman.

This book also includes the story “The Sound of Her Wings,” which introduces us to the pragmatic and perky goth girl Death.

Includes issues 1-8 of the original series.”


My Thoughts

Preludes and nocturnes are a reread for me. I am ending the year as I started it; with one of my favorite series. Sandman is considered by many readers and educators as one of the most important graphic novels ever written. It is also one of the most important series in my life. It literally showed me how great and beautiful the genre could be. 

As far as reviewing goes, I am at a bit of a loss. What can I add that hasn’t been said a thousand times over? 

Let me tell you a little bit about how Sandman has affected me as a reader.
As far as the graphic novel genre goes, I came to it a bit late in life. I didn’t “discover” comics until my early thirties. I have however read many, many books. As a child, I was a voracious reader. A habit that continued into adulthood and played no small part in shaping who I became as a person. You can learn much from fiction, as much or more than you can from non-fiction. But, like many readers out there I deemed comics childlike and inappropriate for the discerning reader.

 I was a snob. I was wrong. Comics are a combination of two of my favorite things: art and words. They can be as childlike or adult as the author sees fit. Sandman is an adult comic with adult themes steeped in dark fantasy. Gaimon took legends and mythos from various religious and mythological backgrounds and cobbled them together into a cohesive plot. It is definitely dark, adult, and a perfect book to jump into the genre from.

“CHORONZON: I am a dire wolf, prey-stalking, lethal prowler.

MORPHEUS: I am a hunter, horse-mounted, wolf-stabbing.

CHORONZON: I am a horsefly, horse-stinging, hunter-throwing.

MORPHEUS: I am a spider, fly-consuming, eight-legged.

CHORONZON: I am a snake, spider-devouring, poison-toothed.

MORPHEUS: I am an ox, snake-crushing, heavy-footed.

CHORONZON: I am anthrax, butcher bacterium, warm-life destroying.

MORPHEUS: I am a world, space-floating, life-nurturing.

CHORONZON: I am a nova, all-exploding… planet-cremating.

MORPHEUS: I am the Universe — all things encompassing, all life embracing.

CHORONZON: I am Anti-Life, the Beast of Judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds… of everything. Sss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?

MORPHEUS: I am hope.” 

Neil Gaiman, Preludes & Nocturnes

Preludes and Nocturnes follow Dream also known as Morpheus, who is the younger brother of Death. As an Endless, one who lives forever,  he becomes trapped for seventy years in an evil magician’s basement. The evil magician thought he was trapping Death to live forever, but what he conquered instead was “little death.” Dream escapes captivity after 70 years and searches out his lost tools; The helm, the sand, and the ruby. He is much weakened from his years trapped, but once he regains his strength he begins his quest to require what was stolen from him and in the process rebuild his crumbling realm.

Preludes and Nocturnes is an opening book to many stories to come. This story reads fairly straightforwardly. However every page is setting up the future books; Dream loses power, dream gains power, and Dream seeks revenge. As straightforward as that seems there are overarching themes about family and what death and sleep actually are. Death is very secure with herself, while Dream lacks that security. Often he questions himself and his actions. There is a beautiful sequence later in the volume where Death and Dream are talking. Death mentions how everyone fears her while the same people go into Dream’s realm with no complaint. His response, “And I am far more terrible than you, sister.” Highlighting that Dream holds incredible and terrible power while Death is a release from pain and could even be seen as a kindness.  The irony is not lost on either of them. Dreams relationship with family and specifically his older sister Death play a large part in how Dream views the world and how future stories play out. Death’s opinion of dream’s actions and who he is are one of the few opinions that he cares about.

There is much more to this story. It is stacked with beautiful but subtle nuances. However, it is up to the reader to find those subtleties for themselves. I don’t think that this series is for everyone, but it is a great place to start reading and appreciating graphic novels. Stick a toe in, see how the water is.

Ten Book Quotes to Live By

“Cofishes-other fish in a group, coworkers, cohorts, etc. Shut up, it’s a word.”
― Christopher Moore, Fool

“By Aladdin’s lamplit scrotum, man! Everything is a story. What is there but stories? Stories are the only truth.” 

Christopher Moore, Practical Demonkeeping



“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

Stephen Chbosky


“People living deeply have no fear of death.”

Anais Nin

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” 

J.K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


“I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.” 

Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Stories

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” 

Rob Siltanen

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” 

Dr. Seuss

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost. 
From the ashes, a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.” 

J.R.R Tolkien, Fellowship of The Ring

“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.” 

Neil Gaiman, The Kindly Ones

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” 

Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt