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 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.”

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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.

Review of “The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck” by Rodolphe Töpffer

 

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Töpffer, R., & Crayon, T. (2014). The adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck: Done with drawings by Timothy Crayon, gypsographer, 188 comic etchings on antimony. Place of publication not identified: Leopold Editions.

Awards

#1 in 1001 Comics to Read Before You Die

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Mr. Oldbuck is in love.

He seeks to conquer his passion in study

Book Summary

The plot is the continuing exploits of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck including falling in love, courting his love, being ignored, becoming a monk and attempting suicide multiple times.

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Mr. Oldbuck, in despair, commits suicide. Fortunately, the sword passes below his arm.

For eight-and-forty hours he believes himself dead.

He returns to life dying of hunger.

 

My Thoughts

Although the book summary of this work sounds like a downer, it isn’t at all. This book is pure satire much in the same vein as Candide by Voltaire. Candide is described as, “Never has rape, mutilation, murder, amputations, public burnings and cannibalism been as funny as this!”

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Thinking great thoughts.

Although it is never said directly, stylistically Töpffer works seem to draw much from Candide. It has a very similar flow, hopping from one utterly absurd situation to another one.

Töpffer is considered to be the father of modern comics, he utilized the use of paneled pictures and words independent of images, which hadn’t been seen before his first publication. Additionally, he influenced many up and coming artists and illustrators who then wrote great works expanding the fledgling genre.

Plus, it is funny as hell. The absurdity of Mr. Oldbucks plights are self-caused, and the reader basks in schadenfreude while reading it.

Conclusion

download.jpegThis book might not be for everyone, but it should definitely be read by comic enthusiasts and anyone reading the genre hoping to get some history of how it founded. It is funny and short and well done graphically. If you are interested in reading it, the Dartmouth Library has digitized one of the few remaining copies of it. You can read it for free. However, if you are the purchasing type, you can buy a copy of it if you can find one for sale, anywhere from 10,000 for an FR copy to 20,000 for a VF copy.

 

ARC of The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York by Peter J. Tomasi, Sara DuVall (Illustrations)

I received this as an advanced copy from Netgalley.com for an honest review.

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There are countless stories rich in history interlaced in the concrete, wire, and foundations of human civilization;  whether it be a tower in Pisa or a bridge that spans the waters between New York City and Brooklyn; every brick, trestle, and pylon could tell a story.  It is up to us, the stewards of the past, to recognize, learn from, and appreciate these works.  We would not be where we are as a society without people like the Roeblings. I can now say after reading this novel the Roeblings are added in my mind to the likes of Guggenheim, Olmstead, and Vaux.

The novel is not the dry telling of pounds per square inch of pressure in the caissons or the tensile strength of the wires; It is the story of a monumental project and the people who dedicated their lives to see it through. Specifically, a husband and wife team whose love and respect for each other are tantamount, as well as their mutual intelligence shines throughout the story much to the credit of the author Peter J. Tomasi. Graphically it is beautiful. They set the historical tone without being overly fussy and fastidious to detail. Sarah Duvall did her research into the period. Pictures of the bridge are not overly technical. I would assume this is a stylistic choice, yet they convey all the necessary information to the reader. This allows the story to move at a good place and pause when necessary for reflection. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who appreciates a good history lesson that is so intriguing it could be written as a work of fiction. I look forward to reading many more works by the author and enjoying the art of the illustrator.