Graphic Novel Review of “Fell, Feral City” by Warren Ellis #bookblogger #bookbloggers #amreading #graphicnovel

“Ain’t no Jesus in Snowtown, Detective.”
― Warren Ellis

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Stats

4 out of 5 stars

Paperback, 128 pages

Published June 5th 2007 by Image Comics (first published September 2005)

Original Title Fell (issues 1-8)
ISBN 1582406936 (ISBN13: 9781582406930)
Edition Language English
Series Fell #1-8

Awards

2006 Nomination – Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series

2006 Nomination – Eisner Award for Best New Series

“Ain’t no Jesus in Snowtown, Detective.”
― Warren Ellis

About

From the publisher, “Detective Richard Fell is transferred over the bridge from the big city to Snowtown, a feral district whose police investigations department numbers three and a half people (one detective has no legs). Dumped in this collapsing urban trash zone, Richard Fell is starting all over again. In a place where nothing seems to make any sense, Fell clings to the one thing he knows to be true: everybody’s hiding something.”

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My Thoughts

“Cause a cop asking a guy for a discount on his crack, that’s screwed up.
Sign of the goddamn apocalypse is what that is.”
― Warren Ellis, Fell, Feral City

“Fell” was written in 2006 as an experiment by author Warren Ellis to make serial comics more affordable. Sadly the experiment was short-lived, and no episodes have been published since the original 9. That being said, Fell is a worthy ready. Each book is a single story that takes place in Snowtown centered around Detective Richard Fell. It is dark and gritty, and very bloody. There is no real story closure or central theme other than watching Detective Richard Fell. Imagine a pseudo-Sherlock Holmes mixed with Spider Jerusalem from “Transmetropolitan”. It’s absurd but effective read and worthy of consideration. Check it out. Fair warning though, right now there are a lot of hard and awful things going on in the world. If you do not want to briefly delve into some of the dregs of humanity in story form I might give this story a pass.

Review of “The Thing Beneath the Bed (The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss” #bookblogger #bookblog #kidsbooks @PatrickRothfuss

If you are looking for this title, it can be found on worldbuilders.com

About

“This is not a book for children.

It looks like a children’s book. It has pictures. It has a saccharine-sweet title. The main characters are a little girl and her teddy bear. But all of that is just protective coloration. The truth is, this is a book for adults with a dark sense of humor and an appreciation of old-school faerie tales.

There are three separate endings to the book. Depending on where you stop, you are left with an entirely different story. One ending is sweet, another is horrible. The last one is the true ending, the one with teeth in it.

The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle is a dark twist on the classic children’s picture-book. I think of it as Calvin and Hobbes meets Coraline, with some Edward Gorey mixed in.

Simply said: This is not a book for children.”

My Thoughts

First and foremost, an honest disclaimer, This is not a kid’s book. It is delightfully wicked fun, but in no way shape or form should you read this to your unsuspecting child. Unless of course, you are a bit of an asshole. In that case, read on. I had the fortune of hearing a live reading of this by Mr. Rothfuss himself a few years ago.

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Image courtesy of goodreads.com

You would think by the sweet saccharine pictures that there was nothing menacing underneath it all, but oh god you will see. I don’t want to give it all away because of spoilers. But this sweet saccharine girl is not what she seems.

The fun part of this book is once you finish it, go back and reread. See what you missed. It is hilarious what we readers gloss over. Try to get your hands on a copy of this, it is out of print I’m afraid. The library has a few copies. Do it. I would give it six stars if I could.

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Rothfuss, Patrick. The Thing Beneath the Bed. Subterranean Press, 2010.

You can also find copies of this and it’s sequel on worldbuilders.com

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

Theological Musings in a Polemical World

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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)

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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.

The End of the Year TBR Pile

Ten off the Top

I am so excited as I have found some much sought after copies of novels from around the world. Some of these books have been really hard to source.  Can I get an “AMEN” for libraries?


All Quiet in Vikaspuri

by Sarnath Banerjee


Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine

(BITCH PLANET (COLLECTED EDITIONS) #1)

by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Taki Soma (Illustrator), Valentine De Landro (Artist), Robert Wilson IV (Artist)


Color Engineering

by Yuichi Yokoyama


Flood!: A Novel in Pictures

by Eric Drooker, Allen Ginsberg (Introduction)


Garden

by Yuichi Yokoyama


Gods’ Man / Madman’s Drum / Wild Pilgrimage

(Woodcuts #1-3)

by Lynd Ward, Art Spiegelman (Editor)


Hip Hop Family Tree, Vol. 1: 1970s-1981

(Hip Hop Family Tree #1)

by Ed Piskor


The Living and the Dead

by Jason


The Boxer: The True Story of Holocaust Survivor Harry Haft

by Reinhard Kleist


Skin Deep

(Legion #2)

by Brandon Sanderson (Goodreads Author), Jon Foster (Illustrator)

Graphic Novel Review – Lost Cat by Jason

Crime noir and lost animals.

Stats

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Hardcover, 160 pages
  • Published August 3rd, 2013 by Fantagraphics (first published June 19th, 2013)
  • Original Title “Savnet Katt”
  • ISBN1606996428 (ISBN13: 9781606996423)Edition Language English
  • URL http://www.fantagraphics.com/lostcat

Awards

  • 1995: Sproing Award, for Lomma full av regn 2000: Sproing Award, for Mjau Mjau 10: Si meg en ting
  • 2000: Urhunden Prize for the best translated graphic novel, for Vänta lite…
  • 2002: Inkpot Award 2002: Harvey Award, Best New Talent, for Hey, Wait…
  • 2005: Brage Prize, Open Class for La meg vise deg noe…
  • 2007: Eisner Award, Best U.S. Edition of International Material, for The Left Bank Gang 2008: Eisner Award, Best U.S. Edition of International Material, for I Killed Adolf Hitler 

About

From the publisher, “A detective is walking down the street. It is raining. He sees a “Lost Cat” poster. A minute later he sees the cat from the photo. He picks it up and goes back to the poster. He calls the number. A woman answers. He turns up at her place and gives her the cat. She invites him in from the rain for a cup of coffee. They talk and find out they have a lot in common: both are divorced and living alone. Some days later he invites her out for a dinner. She accepts. He shows up at the agreed time. She doesn’t. He calls her home and knocks on her door. No answer. He asks the neighbors. They haven’t seen her. She has disappeared. He makes some phone calls and investigates, but can’t find her. He gets a new client and has to start working on a new case. In his head, he continues their conversation. Lost Cat, the new graphic novel by Jason (after years of “graphic novellas” of less than 50 pages, arguably his first genuine graphic NOVEL) is both a playful take on the classic detective story, and a story about how difficult it is to find a sister spirit, someone you feel a real connection to–and what do you do if you lose that person?”

My Thoughts

An Anthropomorphized Sam Spade like character.

As “Criminal” by Ed Brubaker is crime noir at its finest,  as it “Lost Cat” by Norwegian writer Jason. Where “Criminal” concentrates on the more violent aspects of the crime noir genre, Jason concentrates on more human emotions and interactions all within the context of a crime caper. He is a master at delving into the loneliness and isolation of his characters and despair and you see that if you read some of his other works. However, as his characters wallow in despair his writing always has a glimmer of hope at the end of the day. 

“The Lost Cat” is about finding that perfect person, the person that understands you. That person that you connect with and what happens if you let that person go? What do you do with the yearning and unrequited feelings that you feel? His anthropomorphized lead detective character finds his person, lets her go, and seeks her out again. He searches her out and finds many other people all searching for that thing that completes them. Each of the characters at one point in time experience a form of loss; a person, a painting, and a lost world.  Each of them reacts to that loss in one way or another. Just like the real world, we are all different and we all search and react differently. Jason is that he is able to take that idea and create fully realized characters with minimal language that the reader can identify with. 

Here is the weird thing about this story, I have no idea what happened over the course of it. The characters interact, there is loss and despair and there is hope but I do not understand the ending of this story or how everything comes together. I’ll save the big reveal in case you read it. Maybe I don’t need to understand it? It could be an open-ended interpretation of human isolation and longing. 

I don’t know what Jason’s intent was when writing this, but I only know how I feel after having read it. I am affected by it. His writing affected my emotions and made me think. So in that, it was a successful book for me. But, with the lack of cohesive plot, it is missing something. Maybe in six months I’ll go back and try it again with a semi-fresh set of eyes and feelings. But as it stands, it is a solid three stars. 

Tag – Book Beginnings

Superluminary and I See Darkness.

I saw this wonderful tag on a wonderful blog I follow called, Imagine Amalee. Someone you should follow too. This tag is pretty simple, “invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.”  I tend to read a couple books at a time. Both of the ones I am currently reading are dope. But in seriously different ways. 

Superluminary

(Powered Destinies #1)

by Olivia Rising

This is a novel that I have gotten the opportunity to read through NetGalley. I have been really enjoying it. Once finished, I will do a proper write-up. The first line is:

“A thousand voices called out to the worlds only healer in a rhythmic chant.”

Superluminary by Olivia Rising

I had no idea how long this was, and at 970 pages this book is a whopper. It is taking me a bit to get through it. 

The second book I am currently reading is a check-off on my 1001 Comics to Read Before I Die list. 

Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness

by Reinhard Kleist

The Man in Black. Yeowwww. As I cannot include the first page easily, I will include one of the panels so that you can get a feel for it. It is drawn almost like Sin City, which is very fitting for the man in black. 

Folsom Prison blues all the way. My 1001 list has yet to let me down, I’ll keep you posted. 

Graphic Novel Review – Guinea Pigs by Benacquista Tonino, Barral Nicolas (Illustrator)

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Stats

Paperback

Published February 14th, 2018 by Europe Comics (first published January 17th, 2014)

ISBN13 9791032805107

About

From the publisher, “A pharmaceutical testing center. Three human test subjects. Three pills a day for twenty-one days. And at the end, a check for 3,500 euros. Our three guinea pigs begin the test thinking they’re in it for the money. Three weeks later, they leave transformed. Have their dreams come true, or will their lives become living nightmares?”

My Thoughts

The premise of this story is one of those simple but not easy things. A pharmaceutical company has created a revolutionary drug they want to test in drug trials, subsequently, choosing three people as their guinea pigs. This drug takes individuals and frees them from their deepest inhibitions. If you are shy, you would become bold. If you are cowardly you would become courageous. The story is what happens to these three individuals and how they change morally from the effects of the drug. No, this is not some run-of-the-mill superhero story. They don’t receive powers from their magic pills. Imagine mixing the movie, “Limitless” with a moral tale. That’s these three.  The story progresses to testing, subsequent side effects, and societal changes. How does the world change around them once they have changed? Madness doesn’t ensue. Instead, the individuals get everything they wanted, good or bad.  

One of the drawbacks for me as a reader is I didn’t care about the characters. I wanted to, but it did not feel as if there was a true protagonist to the story to care about. Yes, the characters change. Yes, they do get their most “deep-seated” desires. But, although they change psychologically it does not necessarily equal to them being a protagonist. The only character I felt connected to in this was Daniel Martinez. Even then, in the story I do not understand his progression from family man, to living at home with his mother, to spy? It is all a bit hazy. 

One thing this story absolutely excelled at was flow. The pages read like a movie or TV show and moved from scene to scene effortlessly.  At the beginning of the story, before it got a bit hazy, I could see this being a TV series or movie. It read that well. 

Graphically, it is drawn very well. Kudos to Barral Nicolas. He nailed the characters and the settings. Instead of being a detractor, his use of a minimum colored palette helped define scenes and details. The coloring and illustration are solid completely throughout the story. 

In conclusion, I know this is a rather short write up and I wish I had more to say about this but I think the story lacked the meat for a weighty analysis. In the end, I liked it. It was a quick and good read. Is it the best thing I have ever read? No, but it is a worthy endeavor for an hours worth of reading. Check it out.