Graphic Novel Review of “The Prince and the Dressmaker” by Jen Wang


  • Paperback 
  • 288 pages
  • Published February 13th, 2018 by First Second
  • Original Title The Prince and the Dressmaker
  • ISBN162672363X (ISBN13: 9781626723634)
  • Edition Language English


  • Harvey Awards for Best Children or Young Adult Book AND nominated for Book of the Year (2018)
  •  Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Graphic Novels & Comics (2018)


From the publisher, “Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart”

My Thoughts

This book follows the story of two main characters, The Prince Sebastian as he comes to terms with who he is and what he enjoys doing. Sebastian enjoys dressing up in beautiful woman’s clothing. Francis is a talented dressmaker and Sebastian’s best friend that creates works of art for him to wear. Together they explore friendship and navigate what it means to love someone unconditionally.

I fervently wish that books like this existed when I was a preteen/teenager. I think that if I have had access to literature of this quality and subject content, maybe the world would have not seemed so strange and foreign when I left my protective bubble as a child and became an adult. Not only is this book well written and beautifully executed, but it is also an important subject because people are people, no matter how small… how they want to dress, or how they see themselves.

“My whole life is other people deciding what’s acceptable. When I put on a dress, I get to decide what’s silly.” 

This book primarily deals with being different and how people will love you an except you given half the chance. The prince is a crossdresser, he likes big and beautiful dresses, specifically those of a seamstress that he has befriended. Together they form a partnership based on friendship and eventually love. This story is the perfect blend of sweetness, authenticity, joy, sadness and ultimately love overlayed with Jen Wang’s gorgeous illustrations.

Even though this book is marketed to teenagers and young adults, I whole heartedly recommend this book to anyone. It is beautifully done, and a short read. You won’t be disappointed in it’s content.

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


“Tales from Outer Suburbia” by Shaun Tan

96 pages
Published October 28th, 2008 by McClelland & Stewart (first published 2008)
Original Title: Tales from Outer Suburbia
ISBN:0771084021 (ISBN13: 9780771084027)
  • 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)


‘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

suburbia_diver_web (1).jpg
‘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.

‘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.

‘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.

‘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


About 1

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


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.”

Courtesy of

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.

Kill Hitler.

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. (” Jason nailed this style.


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,

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

“Now show me the pig.”

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


  • 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


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. 

Graphic Novel Review – Flood!: A Novel in Pictures by Eric Drooker, Allen Ginsberg (Introduction)


  • 4 out of 5 Stars
  • Paperback, 138 pages
  • Published October 1st, 1992 by Four Walls Eight Windows (first published 1992)
  • Original Title Flood!: A Novel in Pictures
  • ISBN0941423794 (ISBN 13: 9780941423793)
  • Edition Language – English


American Book Award (1994)

#612 on The 1001 Comics to Read Before You Die


From the publisher, “An American Book Award winner and an Editor’s Choice of the New York Times, Flood! is the powerful first graphic novel by Eric Drooker, frequent cover artist for the New Yorker. Flood! is a modern novel written in the ancient language of pictures, with an expressionist, film noir edge. This “definitive edition” of Flood! is a unique record of our country’s turbulent past – and corporate present – and a must-read for students of graphic storytelling. This third edition also features a new cover by Drooker and a complete re-design. Flood! A Novel in Pictures was followed by Drooker’s acclaimed book, Blood Song: A Silent Ballad.”

My Thoughts

First, let me say right off the bat that this is a pure graphic novel. It is graphic storytelling in its unadulterated form as there are little to no words. Drooker tells his tale almost entirely with panels. This style of work is a throwback to the depression era and the 1930’s woodcut and printmaking art of Lynd Ward and Otto Nuckel. When pairing Drooker and Ward’s work together you can immediately tell that Drooker was heavily influenced by this era of artwork and of silent movie filmmaking. 

Drooker is a politically impassioned artist and who, while being a long-standing fixture in the East Village art scene in New York, has been drawing art and comics for the New Yorker for years and worked with Allen Ginsberg on an animated version of Howl. Ginsberg did the introduction to “Flood!”. 

The overall story is told in two parts. The parts are small short stories all around a common theme, “The City”. In the story “The City” is not identified as New York City, but anyone familiar with common sights knows that this is where the story takes place. ‘The City” has a sense of place. It has an aura around it that the author evoked throughout the book.

We first meet our protagonist in his dreary life. He dreams of things he is not doing and instead watches TV. There are multiple panels of him traversing the city and wanting to become apart of it, but he has to stand aside. Drooker drew the city panels as more than just background fluff. They have a looming and almost omniscient presence on the pages. This goes back to the sense of place that Drooker is diligently trying to create. “The City” itself has a personality. We later see the protagonist lose his job and his purpose. He wanders aimlessly amongst the city rabble almost losing himself on the streets, something that he has always wanted. “The City”, once drawn grand in scope has been reduced to a microcosm of itself. We see our protagonist start living his life the way he always wanted to, he drinks and meets women and subsequently having sex. However, all of this leaves him feeling more alone than ever.

The next part of our story is called, Flood. This section makes me think of the old adage of a frog in a pot of boiling water. Our protagonist goes about his daily activities. The viewer has an almost voyeuristic view of his life all the while, the rain falls. The protagonist is trudging through knee-deep water, but is unable to bring himself to leave “The City.” It is almost as if he believes “The City” will save him. He sets to drawing at his drafting table. The images he draws are almost prophetic in nature detailing the rise of the water and the fall of “The City.” Water, in the beginning, is shown to have cleaning and cleansing powers but now it has become destructive. A great aside from all this is the protagonist’s cat. He is seen in many of the panels, almost wondering “what the hell is he doing?” This plays out in the end in a great way.  

This book was not a fun book to read, I say “read,” but maybe pour over is the correct word usage. However, this book makes the reader question and think in each panel and it is an evocative read and at the same time, it is beautiful. The images are gorgeously and painstakingly rendered and it is worth the trouble looking at the images Drooker has created. It is a book that takes itself really seriously, maybe too serious. Almost to the point of being a parody. If you have read this, let me know what you think.

Graphic Novel Review – All Quiet in Vikaspuri by Sarnath Banerjee

“Isn’t it heartbreaking when people at the margins still believe in the legal system?”

All Quiet in Vikaspuri by Sarnath Banerjee


  • 4 out of 5 Stars
  • Paperback 152 pages
  • Published 2015 by Harper Collins
  • Original Title All Quiet in  Vikaspuri
  • ISBN9351775747 (ISBN13: 9789351775744)
  • Edition Language English


From the publisher, “Scintillating graphic fiction from the master of the genre A Homeric tale of a man’s journey to the centre of the earth in search of the mythical river Saraswati, this graphic novel is set against the fictitious yet ever-so-real Water Wars of Delhi. It is a dystopian landscape where neighborhoods fight brutal battles against each other and even victory must end in defeat.”

My Thoughts

“Twitter doesn’t bring revolution, hunger does.”

All Quiet in Vikaspuri by Sarnath Banerjee

Banerjee uses a climate-centric approach to tell a story blending dystopic ecological narrative with a graphic novel format. The story follows Girish, a plumber who has been displaced by the privatization of Bharat Copper Limited (a thinly-veiled stand-in for Hindustan Copper Limited).  Girish seeks work all throughout his hometown, though there is none to be found.  He soon meets a mysterious businessman.   This businessman tells Girish that he “…funds expeditions into the Earth’s core in the hope that one day we will discover the mother of all rivers, the mythical Saraswati.” Girish is aided by a water diviner as he sets out on an epic quest to find the digging spot for the river, earning the nickname “Psychic Plumber” from the media.   Though feeling more than a little doubtful, Girish starts digging.

During his time underground Girish encounters many subterranean dwellers. All of which have in common the crime of wasting water in one way or another. These dwellers play a pivotal role in the developing plot and denouement. While Girish is underground, a water war breaks out on the surface. It is led by a disaffected businessman Rastogi who is destroying the city, the people, and the land to increase real-estate prices. 

There are two levels of this novel. The first surface level is of a “cli-fi” story about the devastation brought on by water wastage in Delhi within the backdrop of Modern India. It is an epic tale of a man tasked with the impossible and the people he meets along the way. However, I think the more profound story that Banerjee tells so well is one of slow destruction and degredation of the environment for financial gain. Whether it is of one’s city, home, climate or culture, it is all for a financial increase to stockholder prices.  Banerjee reflects on that often throughout the story through small details or asides. 

Graphically, this story isn’t spectacular. Each of the pages is drawn simply and with a limited palette.  This is absolutely fine within the context of the story. It explains everything it needs to explain. 

I think that if I had more of an understanding of Indian culture and heritage I would be able to appreciate and understand some of the references and language used in the book. However, even from a complete outsider standpoint I really enjoyed it. It is well done and should be read. Plus it has sparked a thorough interest in the burgeoning graphic novel scene in India for me. I look forward to reading more from this author. 

Graphic Novel Review – “Habibi” by Craig Thompson




“The Sufi saint Rabi’a Al-Adawiyya was seen carrying a firebrand and a jug of water – the firebrand to burn Paradise, the jug of water to drown Hell…

So that both veils disappear, and God’s followers worship, not out of hope for reward, nor fear of punishment, but out of love.”
― Craig Thompson, Habibi


5 out of 5 stars
Hardcover, 672 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Pantheon (first published September 2011)
Original Title Habibi
ISBN 0375424148 (ISBN13: 9780375424144)
Edition Language English


  • Harvey Awards Nominee for Best Graphic Album-Original
  • Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for Best Writer/Artist (for Craig Thompson) (2012)
  • IGN Award for Best Original Graphic Novel (2011)
  • CBH – Best Comics of All Time #94



“From the From the internationally acclaimed author of Blankets (“A triumph for the genre.”—Library Journal), a highly anticipated new graphic novel.

Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern industrial clutter, Habibi tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them. We follow them as their lives unfold together and apart; as they struggle to make a place for themselves in a world (not unlike our own) fueled by fear, lust, and greed; and as they discover the extraordinary depth—and frailty—of their connection.

At once contemporary and timeless, Habibi gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling.”

My Thoughts


“You’re more than a story.”
― Craig Thompson, Habibi

When trying to make an argument about why graphic novels are richer, deeper, and more complex than the spandex-clad superhero saving the day; this is the book I hand you. A tome that is nearly 700 pages long and it is filled to the brim with an intricately woven tapestry of middle eastern lore, myth, and culture. It isn’t perfect, but it is incredible.


First, let us talk about the good and when I say it is good, it is really good. This book, if it is anything else is an ode to calligraphy. Calligraphy or caligraphic images permeate the story and the pages. The shape of calligraphic characters is just as important as the number itself.  The flow and richness of characters and words change form with the direction of the plot. For example, The word for bird changes the shape of the characters and flows into the shape of an actual bird. Caligraphy fills the scenes, gives shape to the plot, gives meaning to the characters struggles, and fleshes out their personality.  The abstractions are weighty and deep but at the center of the swirling calligraphy is a love story. One that spans decades.


It revolves around Dodola and Zam. Two individuals who at the beginning of the story are eking out an existence on a ship buried in the sand stranded in the desert. To feed them, Dodola prostitutes herself out to traveling caravans to bring food to their home. Zam is said to have the power to find water so his family job is to bring water home to them. Both jobs are equally necessary and symbolic in keeping them alive. Like two halves of a coin, this duality is present in much of the book. Armstrong deftly jumps from character to character creating this universe that they live by switching back and forth chapter by chapter. As the story progresses Dodola and Zam are parted after Zam witnesses Dodola getting raped. Zam, contextually, does not understand what he has seen so he renders himself psychologically. This culminates in a choice that he can never come back from.


After their parting, each individual desperately yearns to be with the other so that they are complete. By themselves, they represent only half a person or half a soul. Again the theme of duality is present.

It is hard to believe that Craig Thompson does not know calligraphy, nor has he extensively traveled the middle east. His book is a love note to the beauty of calligraphy as much as it is anything else.

Let’s talk about the not so good. This book is long. Exhaustingly over-long. Even worse, it is so intricately detailed that putting it down will culminate in a lost plot for the reader. I feel like he suffers from what I call Jordanism. Aptly named for Robert Jordan who can never get to the damn point. For me, it was too many side stories and rehashing of similar events. But It could have been edited down and it still would have punched me in the gut. But exhaustive detail is an Armstrong characteristic. It was present in “Blankets” and it is present here. It isn’t bad, just know what you are in for.


Also, there have been write-ups about this being orientalism. I am not going to pretend that I can talk about that effectively. I do not have the experience to be able to relate or review it in that light. However, if you are interested there are scads of articles written about that and regarding Armstrong’s other works. Check it out.

By the end of this book, I guarantee it will be like nothing that you have read before. Whether classifying it as a love story, religious text, or historical doctrine; the story will resonate.  Just know what you are in for. You will be rung out by the end of it.



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