Review of “Paper Girls, Vol. 1 (Paper Girls #1) by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang (Illustrator)”

“I’m not going to stand here and be eaten by some bitch’s dinosaur. I am finally doing something with my life.”

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Vaughan, B., Chiang, C., Wilson, M. and Fletcher, J. (n.d.). Paper girls.

Stats

4 out of 5 stars

Paperback, 144 pages

Published April 5th 2016 by Image Comics (first published March 30th, 2016)

Original Title – Paper Girls, Vol. 1

ISBN 1632156741 (ISBN13: 9781632156747)
Edition Language English
Setting Cleveland, Ohio (United States) 
Awards

Harvey Awards for Best New Series (2016)

Lincoln Award Nominee (2019)

Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for Best New Series & Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team (for Cliff Chiang) (2016)

Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Graphic Novels & Comics (2016)

“I’m not going to stand here and be eaten by some bitch’s dinosaur. I am finally doing something with my life.”

― Brian K. Vaughan, Paper Girls, Vol. 1

Summary

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From the publisher, “In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.”

My Thoughts

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I am just starting this series, so my review is limited to the first volume. With that said, I can tell you volume 1 is an absolute rabbit hole. Half the time I had no idea what was going on. There are dinosaurs, and crazy disfigured teenagers from the future, and some old dude with an Apple logo on his shirt. I have no idea what the four girls names are that star in the story. All I know is one is a Vietnamese, one is adopted, one Jewish, and one is a spirited red-head on her way to being a criminal. I wish I had a bit more than cliches to tell you, but I honestly have no idea.

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“…you girls… reminded us… of us…

…kids just trying… to make a living…

are always… the good guys…”

― Brian K. Vaughan, Paper Girls, Vol. 1

Here are the things I absolutely know for sure. First, this series is an absolute nod to the 80’s and pop culture. The book is full of Bon mot’s about 80’s fashion, movies, music, language, and general attitudes about the world. This speaks to me. I remember being one of these girls in the eighties. Secondly, this book is no Saga, but that is ok. It doesn’t have to be. It has badass girls, friendship, space, time travel, and dinosaurs. I mean cmon. It is pretty damn impressive. Thirdly, it has tons of room to grow and develop. The first book is apparently setting the stage for more awesome. I am not in love with it, but the characters are fresh and exciting, the story is rad if not slightly confusing and the graphics are clean. Lastly, don’t get too deep into why this series is called Paper Girls. It isn’t some clever allusion to young girls with paper thin identities or emotions. The girls run a paper route… I am on to volume 2. Looking forward to it. It can’t get any weirder or more confusing but it sure is fun.

Novel Review – “Tales from Outer Suburbia” by Shaun Tan

Not really for children, but for adults who remember what it was like to be a child in suburbia.

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“Tales from Outer Suburbia” by Shaun Tan

Hardcover
96 pages
Published October 28th, 2008 by McClelland & Stewart (first published 2008)
Original Title: Tales from Outer Suburbia
ISBN:0771084021 (ISBN13: 9780771084027)
Awards
  • World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Collection (2009)
  • New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award Nominee for Patricia Wrightson Prize (2009)
  • Ditmar Award for Best Artwork (2009)
  • Western Australian Premier’s Book Award for Young Adult (2008)
  • Children’s Book Council of Australia Award for Older Readers Book of the Year (2009)
  • Aurealis Award for Illustrated Book / Graphic Novel (2008)
  • Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis for Bilderbuch (2009)
  • Tähtifantasia Award (2016)
  • Australian Independent Booksellers Indie Book Award for Children’s (2009)
  • The Inky Awards Nominee for Gold Inky (2008)
  • Adelaide Festival Award for Children’s Literature (2010)
  • Australian Book Industry Award (ABIA) for Illustrated Book (2009)
  • Literaturpreis der Jury der Jungen Leser for Sonderpreis (2009)
  • The Inky Awards Shortlist for Gold Inky (2008)

About

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‘water buffaloes are like that; they hate talking.’

From the publisher, “Breathtakingly illustrated and hauntingly written, Tales from Outer Suburbia is by turns hilarious and poignant, perceptive and goofy. Through a series of captivating and sophisticated illustrated stories, Tan explores the precious strangeness of our existence. He gives us a portrait of modern suburban existence filtered through a wickedly Monty Pythonesque lens. Whether it’s discovering that the world really does stop at the end of the city’s map book, or a family’s lesson in tolerance through an alien cultural exchange student, Tan’s deft, sweet social satire brings us face-to-face with the humor and absurdity of modern life.”

My Thoughts

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‘He was saying the same sentence over and over, ending with “tasoo-ke-te, tasoo ke-te.”‘

This review may come off as a bit biased because I love “The Arrival.” Honestly, it isn’t so much as an “apple to oranges” kind of comparison between the two books, but maybe a comparison of two of the most glorious pieces of fruit one can eat. Each is wonderful in their own ways.

Both of these novels are excellent, but they are different in a slight, albeit essential way. There are words in “Tales From Outer Suburbia”… The experience of Shaun Tan’s illustrations is a bit more on the nose.

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‘It opened into another room altogether… an impossible room somewhere between the others.’

“Tales From Outer Suburbia” is a collection of fifteen nuanced short stories. All are threaded together with an exploration of the vapidness, bewilderment, joy, sorrow, and enlightenment of living in the suburbs; specifically the suburbs of eastern Australia. Each of the stories is captivating and a hell of a lot deeper than the two or three pages devoted to each. For example “Stick Figures,” is a story about wooden stick figures that are part of a suburban landscape. They move unimaginably slow, and their purpose is not precisely known. However, if you think about suburbia and the little bits of nature that come through the manicured lawns and the shopping malls, nature could very much seem like an unknowable creature that exists, but we have no idea the purpose of. As someone who has spent much of their life living in the suburbs and had to travel to visit nature, I get what he is trying to say. Nature can become the unknowable.

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‘How great it must have been long ago, when the world was still unknown.’

Another glorious story was “No Other Country.” This story explores what it means to be a person of two ideals. The unexplored model of what a place should be as one ideal and the current situation you live in as the other.

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‘The fire burned with astonishing intensity.’

What if you could escape to the ideal place at your leisure? Would that change how you felt about your current living situation? Again this taps into a lot of what Shaun Tan writes about in “The Arrival.” The idealized world and the reality. Would you appreciate your reality if you could escape it once in a while? It is a powerful short story, and absolutely worth the read.

I feel like reading a Shaun Tan book is meditative. They are never boring, beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated. However, his work is saturated with a calmness and purposefulness. His words and images are impactful without being jarring. You don’t see that often in any type of literary work. It speaks to a mastery of craft that I as a reader feel privileged to partake in. As you can probably tell, I am a fan and recommend his work. However, it isn’t for everyone. It is fanciful and calm and deep. Sometimes, that is not what one needs in their books. So my suggestion is that if you are feeling self-reflective or full of ennui, give one of his novels a try. I doubt that you would regret the experience.

Review of “I Killed Adolf Hitler” by Jason

“I got to get rid of the body”

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About 1

Jason. I Killed Adolph Hitler. Fantagraphics, 2007. Print.

Awards

2008: Eisner Award, Best U.S. Edition of International Material, for I Killed Adolf Hitler 

#62 on CBH Greatest Graphic Novels of all Time

Book Summary

From the publisher, “In this full-color graphic novel, Jason posits a strange, violent world in which contract killers can be hired to rub out pests, be they dysfunctional relatives, abusive co-workers, loud neighbors, or just annoyances in general — and as you might imagine, their services are in heavy demand. One such killer is given the unique job of traveling back in time to kill Adolf Hitler in 1939… but things go spectacularly wrong. Hitler overpowers the would-be assassin and sends himself to the present, leaving the killer stranded in the past. The killer eventually finds his way back to the present by simply waiting the decades out as he ages, and teams up with his now much-younger girlfriend to track down the missing fascist dictator… at which point the book veers further into Jason territory, as the cartoonist’s minimalist, wickedly dry sense of humor slows down the story to a crawl: for long patches absolutely nothing happens, but nobody can make nothing happening as riotously entertaining as Jason does… and finally, when the reader isn’t paying attention, he brings it together with a shocking, perfectly logical and yet completely unexpected climax which also solves a mystery from the very beginning of the book the reader had forgotten about. As always, I Killed Adolf Hitler is rendered in Jason’s crisp deadpan neo-clear-line style, once again augmented by lovely, understated coloring.”

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Courtesy of goodreads.com

My Thoughts

Spoiler alert, Adolph Hitler dies… Big shocker I know.  The title is very much in the writing style of the novel: minimalist, terse, and concise. No need for grand allusions or literary whatnot; Jason writes very well and does not need to be wordy. The writing could almost come off as cold, but it isn’t really. It is just succinct. Why write a paragraph, when one word will work. Using this terse writing style, he explores themes of love, loss, moving on, and assassination and morality in equal measures throughout the book.

You would think that with a plot like the assassination of Adolph Hitler through time travel via a for-hire assassin, it would be difficult to add in a romance element to it. But Jason makes it work rather well. Again the romance is bare bones, but the emotions are subtle, raw, and very thoughtful.

His protagonist is an interesting choice for the story. He set him as an assassin who kills without qualms on a daily basis without the worry of legal or moral ramifications. However, throughout the novel, he shows morality, and empathy and even longing in other areas of his life. The leads the reader to think of him as a walking, talking, killing contradiction. How can the reader have compassion for his plights and cheer him on in his quest to assassinate Adolph Hitler at the same time? It is a conundrum, but it happens very quickly. Although, calling him a likable character would do him a disservice. You do kinda like him. He has a very macabre sense of humor that we get little wisps of throughout the story. Even with his sparse lines, he says much in the “in-between” panels.

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Kill Hitler. http://www.goodreads.com

What humor there is very macabre and very dry, skimming the line of the ironic. In one scene the assassin is working in his office, that looks very much like a doctors office. He has a line of customers (patients) waiting patiently to see him. The whole scene is bathed in irony and macabre humor.

Graphically, again the panels are very spare. A limited color palette is used, as well as a very sparse, very flat linework. The main characters are humans, with cartoonish animal heads. You can tell that Jason was very much influenced by the Ligne Clair comic style, à la “Adventures of Tin Tin.” “(Ligne Claire) Uses clear, strong lines all of the same width and no hatching, while contrast is downplayed as well. Cast shadows are often illuminated. Additionally, the style often features strong colors and a combination of cartoonish characters against a realistic background. All these elements together can result in giving comics drawn this way a flat aspect. (wikipedia.com)” Jason nailed this style.

Conclusion

Read it, it will take you an hour at most. Jason comics are among the best graphic novels have to offer right now. They are profound without being egotistical and pompous. Jason gets you thinking about things without it clouding over your day. They are perfect.

“Ligne Claire.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 June 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ligne_claire.

Graphic Novel Review – 100 Months: The End of All Things by Johnny Hicklenton, Pat Mills

I have come to kill the pig god.

“Now show me the pig.”

100 Months: The End of All Things by Johnny Hicklenton.

Stats

  • Four out of Five stars
  • Hardcover
  • 170 pages
  • Published April 1st, 2012 by Cutting Edge Press (first published November 18th, 2010)
  • ISBN 0956544525 (ISBN13: 9780956544520)
  • Edition Language English

About

From the publisher, “The final work of a comics visionary, this intense, hallucinatory story with artwork of breathtaking intensity is a true graphic novel, engaging ultimate themes of life, death, and salvation
 The late John Hicklenton was one of Britain’s leading comic book artists, famous for the brutal, visceral draughtsmanship he brought to the 2000AD/Judge Dredd titles and Nemesis the Warlock. His final graphic novel is a parable of environmental devastation, depicting the quest of Mara,
Warrior and Earth Goddess, as she seeks revenge against the Longpig: a Satanic personification of capitalism, red in tooth and claw, whose followers, a legion of the damned, look quite a lot like us. The world of the Longpig is rich in killing fields and scenes of mass crucifixion that recall Goya, Blake, and Bacon, and represents a true crossover of the graphic novel form with fine art. John took his own life with the help of an assisted dying group, following a heroic struggle with multiple sclerosis. This book was drawn and written in foreknowledge of his imminent death, and its insight into universal themes of life, death, salvation, and damnation seems to come from a place between worlds. Its words those of a prophet, its artwork transcending the comic book form, 100 Months will redefine the adult graphic novel.”

My Thoughts

I am raised upon the breeze my love…

100 Months by John Hinklenton

100 Months: The End of All Thing Is John Hinkletons final brutalistic adieu to the world, and it is by far the hardest book I have ever had to review. I have spent the last two months mulling over how to say what this is without sounding vapid and constrained. Because this story is everything, and in the end, it is nothing because John is gone. 

Fear me. 

John Hinklenton died of MS in 2010. He chose to end his own life and his own battle with MS on his terms. Along the way he described his struggle the only way he knew how to, he drew it. A struggle between two unstoppable forces. In the Introduction to 100 Months, Hicklenton’s friend and colleague Pat Mills wrote “. . . [we would] never ask Jimi Hendrix to turn down the volume . . . and [we should] never ask John Hincklenton to turn down the netherworld, the examination of his soul and the loss of himself.” Hinklenton battled MS with every cell of his body, with every memory, emotion, moment, and power that he could muster.  What 100 Months is, is that struggle, the struggle of every cell put into pictures. It is his opus. 

I am the destroyer

The first page of this novel sees the release of The Beast. A daughter of pain and suffering released into the world after 100,000 years. This beast has no face and an androgynous body. She ultimately thirsts for annihilation. She vows to kill the Swine God. Throughout the course of the story you see The Beast lay waste to cities, step upon the skull of the fallen, and seek out the seed of the long pig to destroy it at its source. These are not the rantings of a wild man, but the calculated thought of man whose body is slowly being torn asunder from the inside. All brought forth by his pen. It is a powerful and unsettling book. 

Should you read this? That is entirely up to you. What I look for in literature is to be emotionally affected. This is effective in that regard. Was it pleasant to read? Absolutely not. But, the author’s death was neither friendly nor easy. It was pain and suffering. By reading this, I paid homage to his craft and to his last moments. In that, I am grateful to have read this. 

TAG: BOOK BLOGGER CONFESSIONS

Fun tag to find out more info about my book loves and hates.

Tags are so much fun to do, and I want to thank the lovely Alliee at Alliee Reads for tagging me.

The Rules…

  1. Answer all questions truthfully
  2. Nominate five other book bloggers 

The Questions…

1. Which book did you most recently DNF?

I put up the good fight, but I could not finish “Weapons of Mass Diplomacy” by Abel Lanzac. It was well written and illustrated, but I could not get into the story, and it dragged and dragged. I finally patted myself on the back, wished it well, and moved on.

2. What book is your guilty pleasure?

This may come as no surprise to anyone reading my blog, but I have a thing for Mira Grant/Seanan Mcguire’s writing. The Newsflesh trilogy is one I pick up every year and plow through. It makes me so happy.

3. Which book would you throw into the sea?

That is a toss up. I loathe “Parable of the Sower.” I literally loathe it. No offense to Octavia Butler, but there is something about this story that makes me both angry and depressed and I would like to throw it into a tidal bore.

The second is “Into the Forest” by Jean Hegland. Hey look, wonderful strong characters facing hugely difficult odds? No. I spent much of the book thinking that the two girls were idiots.

4. Which book have you read the most?

Newsflesh and probably the entire October Daye series. I am predictable as hell.

5. Which book would you hate to receive as a present?

Don’t get me any exercise books or any self help books. I appreciate the thought, but my neurosis and weight are my own business. If I am interested in something like that, I will pick it up myself.

Also, Alliee mentions the Fifty Shades series. I am going to have to agree. Sorry, there are so many inaccuracies about both BDSM and characterization of people with traumatic pasts that it is disgusting. I have read them and I seriously spent most of the time saying “What in the fresh hell is this nonsense.”

6. Which books could you not live without?

Wow. This is a tough one.

I have a Six-star folder on my Goodreads. Each of the books affected me in entirely different ways and I don’t think I could live without any of them.

My Shelf

7. Which book made you the angriest?

OMG Anita Blake will you shut up and stop whining.

8. Which book made you cry the most?

“On The Beach” by Nevil Shute. Jesus. Maybe not crying, but abject and complete despair for a solid week. That is a rough book.

9. Which book cover do you hate the most?

I am coming up a blank. I don’t think I have ever looked at a cover and thought, “wow this is crap.” I have felt some seemed really low budget and could do with a facelift, but that is it.

My Nominations

  1. Mani at Mani’s Book Corner
  2. NS Ford at NS Ford Writer
  3. Shiv at Shiv Lives in Books
  4. Lauren at Northern Plunder
  5. Jessica at Book and Broadway

I can go on and on about wonderful people to tag, but here is five. No pressure!

2019 Reading Goals

I am going to have a busy year!

I am going to attempt to the Book Riot reading challenge. It will be an enjoyable challenge and broaden my reading horizons. Crazy I know. But, I think I can do it. It has been forever since I read a romance book #16 and I don’t think I have ever read a cozy mystery #14. Hell, I am not even sure what a cozy mystery is? (I am taking advice from my fellow lovely cozy mystery bloggers)

  1. An epistolary novel or collection of letters
  2. An alternate history novel
  3. A book by a woman and/or AOC (Author of Color) that won a literary award in 2018
  4. A humor book
  5. A book by a journalist or about journalism
  6. A book by an AOC set in or about space
  7. An #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America
  8. An #ownvoices book set in Oceania
  9. A book published prior to January 1, 2019, with fewer than 100 reviews on Goodreads
  10. A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman
  11. A book of manga
  12. A book in which an animal or inanimate object is a point-of-view character
  13. A book by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse
  14. A cozy mystery
  15. A book of mythology or folklore
  16. A historical romance by an AOC
  17. A business book
  18. A novel by a trans or nonbinary author
  19. A book of nonviolent true crime
  20. A book written in prison
  21. A comic by an LGBTQIA creator
  22. A children’s or middle-grade book (not YA) that has won a diversity award since 2009
  23. A self-published book
  24. A collection of poetry published since 2014

I am also going to read 100 books this year. This is my standard reading challenge every year. I have been pretty good and accomplishing it except for when I had pregnancy brain. If I don’t hit it, that is ok. It is all about the content of what I am reading.


Additionally, I will be setting up a personal challenge regarding graphic novels. I will be reading one graphic novel/comic from every decade since 1900. There are so many wonderful and beautiful works out there to discover. Lots of fun and discovery in all the beautiful works out there to check out. Let me know if you want to do it with me!

So thats the long and short of it. It looks like it is going to be a remarkable and wonderful year. Cheers to 2019!

Graphic Novel Review of “American Gods Volume 1: Shadows (Neil Gaiman’s American Gods: The Shadows #1-9)”

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Russell, P. Craig et al. American Gods.

Stats

4 out of 5 Stars
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published March 13th 2018 by Dark Horse Books
Original Title American Gods, Volume 1: Shadows
ISBN 1506703860 (ISBN13: 9781506703862)
Edition Language English

Summary

“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.”

― Neil GaimanAmerican Gods

30430From the publisher, “Shadow Moon gets out of jail only to discover his wife is dead. Defeated, broke, and uncertain where to go from here, he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, who employs him to serve as his bodyguard–thrusting Shadow into a deadly world where ghosts of the past come back from the dead, and a god war is imminent.

Collecting the first nine issues of the American Gods comic book series, along with art process features, high res scans of original art, layouts, character designs, and variant covers by BECKY CLOONAN, SKOTTIE YOUNG, FABIO MOON, DAVE MCKEAN, and MORE!”

My Thoughts

“Hey,” said Shadow. “Huginn or Muninn, or whoever you are.”

The bird turned, head tipped, suspiciously, on one side, and it stared at him with bright eyes.

“Say ‘Nevermore,'” said Shadow.

“Fuck you,” said the raven.”

― Neil GaimanAmerican Gods

6050678-07Reading “American Gods Volume 1” was a challenge for me. It wasn’t due to the source material or anything like that. It is hard for me to remove my personal bias towards anything that is not the book. I have a similar difficulty with movies where I love the book. American Gods is a brilliant bit of urban fantasy. I mean it is Gaiman, so of course it is. Everything the man touches is fantastic.  The man could write a jingle for a used car salesman, and it would be magic.

This graphic novel was able to add magic to an already magical and well-done story. Since the prose is pretty much word for word of the source material, the magic was in the form of the stupendous graphics that were done by Scott Hampton and many others.

Much like a cinematographer, Hampton added atmosphere and aura to the words and gravitas of the scenes. He used a combination color palette of muted colors and psychedelic hues.  Some scenes, depending upon the action going on took a somber tone that matched the narrative. Other scenes, when the magic was buzzing, the images blaze off the page like a kaleidoscope of otherworldly colors. The whole story seems like a fever dream in a lot of ways. It is beautifully done and effective.

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Other illustrators took a hand in this volume, and they read like a who’s who in current famous comic illustrators and designers. They drew various vignettes and variant covers in their respective styles. Becky Cloonan from “Gotham Academy” fame and Fabio Moon who designed one of my favorite graphic novels of late, “Daytripper, ” among others.  The story lends itself well to many design interpretations, and this was demonstrated well here.

Conclusion

“All your questions can be answered if that is what you want. But once you learn your answers, you can never unlearn them.”

― Neil GaimanAmerican Gods

Volume 1 is grandly done. If you are a fan of the book or TV show, it can only add to your personal experience, and that is saying something. Most of the time, movies, and graphic interpretations screw it up. “American Gods Volume 1” is thankfully not one of those instances.