Review of “I Killed Adolf Hitler” by Jason

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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 “Mouse Guard Fall: 1152” by David Peterson

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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.

Graphic Novel Review – What Makes Girls Sick and Tired by Lucille De Pesloüan

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Stats

Paperback 

48 pages

Expected publication: March 18th, 2019 by Second Story Press

ISBN 1772600962

About

From the publisher, “What Makes Girls Sick and Tired is a feminist manifesto that denounces the discrimination against and unfairness felt by women from childhood to adulthood. The graphic novel, illustrated in a strikingly minimalist style with images of girls with varied body types and personalities, invites teenagers to question the sexism that surrounds us, in ways that are obvious and hidden, simple and complex. The book’s beginnings as a fanzine shine through in its honesty and directness, confronting the inequalities faced by young women, every day. And it ends with a line of hope, that with solidarity, girls will hurt less, as they hold each other up with support and encouragement.”

My Thoughts

I had the opportunity to review this through Netgalley, and I wasn’t disappointed. Although feminist fiction is not my usual repertoire, I am actively seeking out writers and books to learn and become more aware of it as a literary movement. This is a worthwhile example of feminist fiction that is well done and accessible. 

Let’s start with the good. This is a very approachable book for a young teenager. The imagery is simple, honest, and direct. The minimalist approach to the illustrations helps in keeping its punchy and biting style. Rather than come off as simplistic, the author comes off as personal and has obviously experienced these things first hand.  She makes the reader think and question the everyday sexism felt by women of all cultures, races, and sexual orientation. Furthermore, as approachable as this is it is also important for teenagers. Male, female or queer.  It is a good straightforward look at the complexities of sexism and feminism.

One of the things that I struggled with was each page was its own separate idea individual idea that had little to do with the page before it or after it. It felt disjointed in a way that was a jarring to me as a reader. I understand that this book is not a story, but rather single thoughts that are coherently joined together by the unifying discussion about discrimination and unfairness. Even with a unifying idea, it was too disjointed for me to be able to flow from one page to the next. 

All that being said, this is good. It took much of what women deal with on a daily basis and brought it to the forefront. I can absolutely see teenagers reading this and getting some perspective on the plights of women globally. Great read. 

Review of “A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge” by Josh Neufeld

 

“Seeing my books and comics was the hardest, it made me think that it would have been easier if a tornado simply hit the house and flung it to another city. At least then we wouldn’t have to walk atop the things I cared most about. “

Neufeld, J. (2009). A.D: New Orleans After The Deluge. New York: Pantheon Books.

Awards/Recognition

#929 on the 1001 Comic Books to Read Before You Die

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Book Summary

From the publisher, “A stunning graphic novel that makes plain the undeniable horrors and humanity triggered by Hurricane Katrina in the true stories of six New Orleanians who survived the storm.

A.D. follows each of the six from the hours before Katrina struck to its horrific aftermath. Here is Denise, a sixth-generation New Orleanian who will experience the chaos of the Superdome; the Doctor, whose unscathed French Quarter home becomes a refuge for those not so lucky; Abbas and his friend Mansell, who face the storm from the roof of Abbas’s family-run market; Kwame, a pastor’s son whose young life will remain wildly unsettled well into the future; and Leo, a comic-book fan, and his girlfriend, Michelle, who will lose everything but each other. We watch as they make the wrenching decision between staying and evacuating. And we see them coping not only with the outcome of their own decisions but also with those made by politicians, police, and others like themselves–decisions that drastically affect their lives, but over which they have no control.

Overwhelming demand has propelled A.D. from its widely-read early Internet installments to this complete hardcover edition. Scheduled for publication on the fourth anniversary of the hurricane, it shines an uncanny light on the devastating truths and human triumphs of New Orleans after the deluge.”

My Thoughts

I think much like those who lived through 9/11 can remember where they were or what they were doing the moment the plane hit The World Trade Center, those who saw the heartbreaking images coming out New Orleans and Biloxi also remember the time and place. I know I did. Both are significant watershed moments in American culture and history. For 9/11 it was the start of what has been deemed fear culture. For Katrina, it was a stark look at race and poverty relations in the US as well as knowing that American relief efforts can fail you. Despite best efforts to the contrary. It is hard things to talk about, and hard things to convey on paper. But as they say, a picture can tell a thousand words…This graphic novel certainly did.

ad_pr02p12.jpgA.D depicts seven different stories from seven different people and perspectives. Each experienced the hurricane first hand in one way or another. Some stayed, some fled, some went to the Silverdome, and some rode it out on top of a convenience store. A single story couldn’t tell a true tale about the people of New Orleans, but taken in aggregate, the reader definitely achieves a good understanding of what the city went through. It is both powerful and visceral and a tad unsettling.

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Graphically, it isn’t spectacular concerning picture quality. But Neufeld conveys his thoughts with sober integrity.  Each of the simply colored sections actively and effectively conveys the message of each story section. The graphics are not there to distract the reader from the story, they are more like icing on a literary cake.

One of the great things about this story is the pacing. Each of the characters has hard and6a00d8341c627153ef017d3e181073970c-600wi.png intense moments, and light and fluffy everyday moments. If the reader is inundated with nothing but intense hard moments they would get bogged down in the dreary. The author switches the pace to keep the story moving because after all.. life is full of all kinds of moments.

Conclusion

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I think this story would be a prime candidate to read in high school. It shows that comics and graphic novels can be an earnest form of narrative and should be taken thoughtfully. Some of the great stories of the twentieth century where graphic novels. V for Vendetta anyone? So read it, it is a damn fine story that by the end of it you will feel wrung out emotionally but satisfied mentally.

You Can’t Go Home Again

 

 

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Image courtesy of visitlasvegas.com

When I stepped off of the plane last week and into my hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, I was assaulted by a familiar cacophony of noise, blaring light, and a hair dryer worth of heat. I felt at both times exhilarated and full of dread although that dread had a helpful tinge of fondness and nostalgia. I left home eight years ago after living in Vegas for 30 years. I had to. I was out of a job, and my husband and I needed to live, so we ripped Las Vegas out of that place in our minds and hearts that held what home is and made for parts unknown. It was one of the most painful and scariest things I have ever done.

 

Now looking back, it is so odd. I am in a sorta limbo. Portland, my new home,  does not have the hometown feel that I used to get from Vegas, but Vegas doesn’t have it either. Vegas is so changed now that I get lost here. The vegas I new is now gone.

It is ok though. The new things to discover are like icing on a nostalgia cake. There are new restaurants, new parks, new things to try and do. So maybe you can’t come home again, because home is not a static place. It lives inside you, in your memories, with your family,  and your past. It has been quite the adventure. I will be here for another week due to a family emergency. Hopefully, I will have a chance between panic attacks to try some new exciting things. Here’s to hoping. Cheers.

 

 

 

Thank You Mr. Rogers

32106This post will be a mite more serious than my usual lighter fare. I haven’t written anything this week because I wanted to write about this thing that happened to me, and I didn’t have the words. I think I might have some words now, but it might be that I will never know exactly what to say.

Recently while driving home from my almost daily coffee run, Starbucks makes a lot of money off of me, I came across a dead body. At least I think he was dead. I was too scared to actually check for a pulse. But, he certainly looked like he had passed into the beyond, and his chest wasn’t moving.

Not where you think I was going with this.

A man lying in the middle of the sidewalk, face down behind a grocery store. He had a box of Venezia wine and a 24 pack of beers next to him like they came tumbling from his arms as he fell. Before I am asked, he wasn’t homeless, not that that matters in the slightest. He wasn’t just some dude deciding that a nap in the middle of a cold sidewalk sounded awesome. He was a man lying down in the middle of the sidewalk. Face down, and not moving. The part that bothered me so

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

much, is not that he was dead but that people were walking around him seemingly unconcerned about this person. He was a non-entity that did not exist in their world. That bothers me. As in existential crisis bothers me. Have we as a society become so inured to horrible things that someone who is dead is not given a second thought? We care about Kim Kardashian, couldn’t we care a little about the guy on the sidewalk.  I was stunned by what I was witnessing.

Mr. Rogers came to my mind and offered me comfort. All was not as bleak as it seemed. Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” So I did.  I looked for the helpers, and then I endeavored to become one. There was a man across the street, who I had originally not seen,  on his phone calling 911. I asked him what he was doing. His reply was, “trying to get him some help.” He was a helper.

What can I do?  how can I be a helper in this situation? The only thing I did the only thing I could think of, I went and got a blanket out of my car and threw it over the man. Not over his face, but around him.  It was a cold damp day, if he was alive, maybe a blanket would keep him a little warmer. When I got close to him, his chest wasn’t moving. Maybe the breathing was imperceptible, and it was there but I couldn’t see it. I hope so. There wasn’t much else I could do for this man. The paramedics were coming, so I left him the blanket and got back in my car. When I got home, I sat in the car for a long time trying to process what I had just seen and later I talked to my mom about the whole thing.  She said that I did a good thing, and I was a good person by giving him the blanket. Did I? I feel like I did the absolute minimum that a person should do. I felt bad, and cowardly that I did not do more. I still do. But what could I have done?

Later on that afternoon, I drove by where the man was laying out of morbid curiosity. Was there a chalk outline to be found like out of a detective novel? There wasn’t. There was nothing. Like he was never there.

Here I am writing this blog, not sure how I feel about the whole situation, but I do feel better for having written something. I will always endeavor to try and be the helper. Even if it is scary, it often is. Thank you, Mr. Rogers for helping me that day. Your lessons go on and on.

Graphic Novel Review of “The Arrival” by Shaun Tan

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Image courtesy of goodreads.com

Stats

5 out of 5 stars
Hardcover, 132 pages
Published October 12th 2007 by Lothian Books (first published 2006)
Original Title The Arrival
ISBN 0734406940 (ISBN13: 9780734406941)
Edition Language English

Awards

  • Hugo Award Nominee for Best Related Book (2008)
  • Locus Award for Best Art Book (2008)
  • New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award for Book of the Year & Community Relations Commission Award (2007)
  • Western Australian Premier’s Book Award for Overall Winner & Childrens Book (2006)
  • Children’s Book Council of Australia Award for Picture Book of the Year (2007)
  • Moonbeam Children’s Book Award (2007)
  • Rhode Island Teen Book Award Nominee (2009)
  • Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Short Story & Golden Aurealis for Best Short Story (2006)
  • Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis Nominee for Bilderbuch (2009)
  • Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Special Citation (2008)
  • Australian Book Industry Award (ABIA) for Older Children (2007)
  • Literaturpreis der Jury der jungen Leser for Sonderpreis (2009)
  • Plano Nacional de Leitura for (Portugal) (0)
  • The Inky Awards Shortlist for Gold Inky (2007)

About

Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. Lothian Books, 2007.

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Dinner time in the new place. Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. Lothian Books, 2007.

From the publisher, “In a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean. He’s embarking on the most painful yet important journey of his life- he’s leaving home to build a better future for his family.

Shaun Tan evokes universal aspects of an immigrant’s experience through a singular work of the imagination. He does so using brilliantly clear and mesmerizing images. Because the main character can’t communicate in words, the book forgoes them too. But while the reader experiences the main character’s isolation, he also shares his ultimate joy.”

My Thoughts

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 

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A man prepares to leave in search of a better life for his family. Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. Lothian Books, 2007.

Do you think an can image speak a thousand words or maybe ten thousand words? Do you think that an image could speak for you when you don’t know the language and the only way to communicate is through hastily drawn art on scrap paper? That is what Shaun has done. He created a graphic novel that speaks to the immigrant experience. What it is like moving to a foreign land, faced with alien food, language, buildings, and pretty much everything else, but uses no language, expect the language of imagery and absolutely incredible imagery at that. Reading this book, I felt like I was sitting down to watch a silent movie, popcorn in hand. The imagery is so poignant, so much so that it seems like the pictures could move right out of the pages.

The focus of the story is about a man leaving his small family in search of a better life for them all. The book moves quickly, but he arrives at the new land and he is examined, cataloged and labeled. Everywhere he goes, there is something new for him to learn. It is exhausting and boldly exciting at the same time.

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Immigrant arrival. Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. Lothian Books, 2007.

I can’t speak for other people, but I can definitely speak for myself when I say when people step outside their comfort zone and do something as scary and bold as move to another country in search of something they should be lauded. This book was a great reminder of that. A beautiful reminder. It should also be noted, that this book is not political in nature at all. It isn’t about politically what it means to be an immigrant, but more of what beauties and joys are found in the discovery.

Conclusion

If you can’t tell already, I love this book. I think it is an important work for the world right now and I highly recommend anyone to read it. Come on over, I have a copy of it sitting on my bookshelf I’ll loan it to you.