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 “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.

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 “Mouse Guard Fall: 1152” by David Peterson

“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.”

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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.

O’ Children – The Orphans of Harry Potter

The influence of a song on a scene in Harry Potter

I was laying in the tub today trying to grasp a slippery thought. I have most of my semi-deep, to semi-ridiculous ideas while neck deep in the suds. Goes back to my deep and unabiding love of bath bombs from Lush. The problem was that I had had a song on repeat in my head for two days. It was maddening. Especially when it is only a few bars of it. It was as if the thought was made of eel and Vasoline in equal parts, and every time I got just enough of it to push the song into coalescence it slipped through my mental fingers. By the time I had become sufficiently pruned, and the last of our sad little hot water heater was sputtering its last blessed drops, I had figured it out. I had the epiphanic moment.

The song was “O’Children” by Nick Cave, and the Bad Seeds and the scene was the dance scene from Harry Potter 8.

The connection that had been bouncing around my neurons for two days  Weird right. But I

Hey little train! Wait for me!
I was held in chains but now I’m free
I’m hanging in there, don’t you see
In this process of elimination

have funny thoughts pass through my brain a lot while nackt in der Badewanne (naked in the bath – practicing my German). There is a scene in Harry Potter 8 that is both lovely and mellow; until this point, I wouldn’t have described it as brilliant.  But it is utterly brilliant, and wonderfully written now that I think about it. When Harry and Hermione are waiting together in their tent. Ron had just left their expedition in a fit of madness and rage. Both Ron and Hermione are feeling down in different ways. It is an exceptionally well-acted scene, showcasing the talents of Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliff. They are listening to the radio, waiting for news, for death, for anything, when Nick Cave comes on. His voice is melodious but dark and deep and slow.  This is definitely not music you would usually dance to.

Do you remember where you were when you saw this scene? Did you hate it? Love it? In the Harry Potter film universe, it is one of the most divisive scenes ever written. On first watching, you could assume that it is hinting at a possible romantic connection between the lead characters. But, not everything has to be about romantic love. Harry and Hermione are completely worn down like butter scraped over to much bread. The body language of the scene suggests this. Hermione is almost fetal while Harry is at the far edge of the scene. The lighting of the scene suggests a somber dark and shadowy environment. Harry walks over to Hermione and takes her hand and begins to dance in a goofy way. For one blissful moment, they escape their lives

O children
Lift up your voice, lift up your voice
Children
Rejoice, rejoice

and dance together in the joy of friendship. A way that two friends would do to cheer themselves up. To bring a moment of levity into their world that is falling apart. The music is, for me, one of the best selections in a cinematic scene ever done. Bold words.

Here me out, and take a look at the lyrics.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – O’ Children

[Verse 1]
Pass me that lovely little gun
My dear, my darling one
The cleaners are coming, one by one
You don’t even want to let them start

They are knocking now upon your door
They measure the room, they know the score
They’re mopping up the butcher’s floor
Of your broken little hearts

O children
Forgive us now for what we’ve done
It started out as a bit of fun
Here, take these before we run away
The keys to the gulag

[Chorus]
O children
Lift up your voice, lift up your voice
Children
Rejoice, rejoice
Come on, come on, come on, come on

[Verse 2]
Here comes Frank and poor old Jim
They’re gathering round with all my friends
We’re older now, the light is dim

And you are only just beginning

O children

We have the answer to all your fears
It’s short, it’s simple, it’s crystal clear
It’s round about and it’s somewhere here
Lost amongst our winnings

[Chorus]
O children
Lift up your voice, lift up your voice
Children
Rejoice, rejoice

[Verse 3]
The cleaners have done their job on you
They’re hip to it, man, they’re in the groove
They’ve hosed you down, you’re good as new
And they’re lining up to inspect you

O children
Poor old Jim’s white as a ghost
He’s found the answer that we lost
We’re all weeping now, weeping because
There ain’t nothing we can do to protect you

[Chorus]
O children
Lift up your voice, lift up your voice
Children
Rejoice, rejoice
[Outro]
Hey little train! We are all jumping on
The train that goes to the Kingdom
We’re happy, Ma, we’re having fun
And the train ain’t even left the station

Hey, little train! Wait for me!
I once was blind but now I see
Have you left a seat for me?
Is that such a stretch of the imagination?

Hey little train! Wait for me!
I was held in chains but now I’m free
I’m hanging in there, don’t you see
In this process of elimination

Hey little train! We are all jumping on
The train that goes to the Kingdom
We’re happy, Ma, we’re having fun
It’s beyond my wildest expectation

Hey little train! We are all jumping on
The train that goes to the Kingdom
We’re happy, Ma, we’re having fun
And the train ain’t even left the station

The lyrics talk of a world being destroyed by the adults of the system, and it is up to the children to sort it out. It is hopeful. The bombs may be dropping, the world might be ending, but lift your voice children for there is always hope. Rejoice in that.

This is what the Harry Potter story is. I think it is even more powerful when you think of Harry and Hermione as lone orphans. Harry against his will, and Hermione to protect her parents. Both children, fighting a battle and losing. Alone in the world, and now abandoned by their third. Lift your voice children and dance.  Rejoice.

It is a really damn powerful scene, and I have so much more appreciation for it now that I can look at it through the lens of time.

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. 

Novel Review – Cities in Flight by James Blish

A book about the boundary of real and unreal with flying cities soar through the cosmos.

“The end cannot justify the means; but if there are no other means, and the end is necessary…”
― James Blish, Cities in Flight

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Courtesy of https://davidmattingly.com/scifi/

About

Originally published in four volumes nearly fifty years ago, Cities in Flight brings together the famed “Okie novels” of science fiction master James Blish. Named after the migrant workers of America’s Dust Bowl, these novels convey Blish’s “history of the future,” a brilliant and bleak look at a world where cities roam the Galaxy looking for work and a sustainable way of life.

In the first novel, They Shall Have Stars, man has thoroughly explored the Solar System, yet the dream of going even further seems to have died in all but one man. His battle to realize his dream results in two momentous discoveries anti-gravity and the secret of immortality. In A Life for the Stars, it is centuries later and anti-gravity generations have enabled whole cities to lift off the surface of the earth to become galactic wanderers. In Earthman, Come Home, the nomadic cities revert to barbarism and marauding rogue cities begin to pose a threat to all civilized worlds. In the final novel, The Triumph of Time, history repeats itself as the cities once again journey back in to space making a terrifying discovery which could destroy the entire Universe. A serious and haunting vision of our world and its limits, Cities in Flight marks the return to print of one of science fiction’s most inimitable writers.

A Selection of the Science Fiction Book Club

Awards

Posthumous Awards and nominations

  • 2001 [1951] Retro-Hugo Award nomination for Best Novelette, for “Okie”.
  • 2004 [1954] Retro-Hugo Award for Best Novelette, for “Earthman, Come Home”.

My Thoughts

141805I don’t often do reviews of classic science fiction. It is not that I haven’t read a great deal of it nor am I not interested in it, quite the contrary. I LOVE golden era science fiction. I think some of the greatest literature that has ever came about came out of that era. Early novels are staggeringly important to how science fiction is written now. Tropes and all. Where would we be without books like, “Brave New World,” now more poignant and prophetic as ever? Like with anything in life, if you are trying to garner a true embracement of the genre, look to the roots of it.  I am no expert by any means in science fiction. But, a few years ago I set myself a challenge of reading as many of these classic science fiction novels as possible. I wanted to learn, embrace, and understand. I am so glad I did. This is one of the beauties that was recommended to me by my father, a lover of old science fiction himself.

1003150All of this chatter is a great big segway into the sheer coolness that is “Cities in Flight.” It is considered one of the benchmark hard science fiction novels of the 1950’s and also considered one of the granddaddies of modern hard science fiction. Having garnered Retro Hugo awards in the process.  This books takes two of my favorite things and slams them together into an architecture/science fiction sandwich. Whole cities lift off the Earth and race towards the stars searching out work from other planets. He took the concept of an okie and turned it on its ear.  Each one of these cities still specializes in their main product. Pennsylvanian mining cities now astro-mine and asteroids. New York is a seat of culture for the universe as we know it. Washington DC is the politics. These cities escape a Soviet-dominated rule on earth by heading to the stars via a spindizzy. A spindizzy is the Deus ex Machina of the story.  It is a propulsion and shield system that allows faster than light travel simultaneously making an impenetrable shield.  This is a typical story trope of that time with the fear of communism and McCarthyism ages and dates the story a bit. At the same time as the discovery of the spindizzy; humans create an anti-aging drug that allows humans to travel great distances and pretty much never die unless they choose to. We now have all the factors for unlimited travel. Humans do not age, with a ship that is powered by a machine that needs no batteries, it goes faster than light speed and is completely shielded.

The book, “Cities in Flight” is technically 4 small books that Blish wrote and released independently that eventually became one large book; “They Shall Have Stars,” “A Life for the Stars,” “Earthman Come Home,” and “A Clash of Cymbals.”  Collectively called the Okie Chronicles or Cities in FlightTogether they follow the creation of the spindizzy, the adventure of sixteen-year-old Chris deFord who accidentally ended up on ship Philadelphia, book three is the adventure of ship New York, and book 4 follows the traveling of New York and the new spindizzy planet “He” that undertakes the first intergalactic transit.

While traversing these four books know a few things. The first book is a slog. Matter-a-fact there are no cities yet that have lifted off. It does set the stage for future books, however. Book 2 is a bit juvenile. It touches on McCarthyism and many of the fears of the mid-1950’s. Book three is where it gets interesting. The characters, specifically Amalfi (Mayor of New York) are well written. Some of the characters are harder to read than others. Especially women. Writing in this genre has come a long way. If you can step back from how this story has aged and character flatness, the plot is such a grand idea.

I say try it if you want to leap to the golden era. If you like it there is a literal treasure trove of stories that await you: “Day of the Triffids,” “Slaughterhouse Five,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” “I.Robot.” I can go on and on.

If you have any suggestions for books to check out leave a comment in the comment section!