Stern, Volume 1: The undertaker, the tramp and the assassin by Frédéric Maffre and Julien Maffre (Illustrator)

I was provided a free copy of this novel from NetGalley.com for an honest review.

“1880. Kansas. Elijah Stern, the local undertaker, leads a calm and solitary life, until one day he is asked to carry out an autopsy on a man found dead in a brothel. Taking on the role of forensic pathologist, he discovers that the man had not died of natural causes and finds himself involved, against his better wishes, in the middle of a bonafide investigation. But Stern has no idea that the key to this case lies in his own past…”

36557183
Image courtesy of goodreads.com

This is a great graphic novel, albeit slow paced. It isn’t plodding or lazy but instead the text meanders from one frame to the next.  Much how I would think a cowboy of the old west would mosey. I don’t know if that is a stylistic choice by the authors, or just how the authors write, but it is effective.

I think there is a great need for graphic novels set in the old west. It was an interesting era and it is rife with historical misinterpretation. Really, the past is interesting and exciting enough without having to dress it up in silver spurs and the OK coral. The authors really did justice to the time frame. Plus the lead character is likable without being annoying, and flawed enough to seem realistic. All and all a great read and I am looking forward to reading more from this author duo.

Advertisements

ARC – Jimmy’s Bastards Vol. 1 by Garth Ennis, Mike Marts (Editor), Dave Johnson (Artist), Russ Braun (Colorist), John Kalisz (Cover Art), Rob Steen (Letterer)

 

I was supplied with an ARC of this novel from netgalley.com for a honest review.

Well jesus-riding-a-pogo-stick.. that is a weird take on James Bond mythos.

First lets talk about what is completely awesome about this story. It is offensive (in a good way), ribald, crazy, and exceptionally well drawn. The writing is comedic and dirty but still very smart. Typical of Ennis’s books, of which I am a huge fan. Specifically It reminds me a lot of the style of “The Boys.” Gratuitous sex and violence.

What I found to be not so hot was stories pacing. It didn’t seem to get anywhere till the very last part of the book. The rest of it was some lead up and a lot of dick jokes, Eh I really think Garth Ennis could have done better in that department.

All in all I would recommend this series to readers after they have read some of Ennis’s better work: Preacher and The Boys specifically. He really shines in those and the characters are spectacularly put together. Also this has to be said, you really should not read this book if you are not an adult and even then it’s iffy. I felt like I needed a shower to wash some mental grime off from reading some of his other stories, and this story is not an exception. However for this series there is more story to be written maybe it will get pulled together in one glorious climax (he he). We shall see where it goes.

 

ARC of Blame! Volume 1 (Blame! Master’s Edition # 1) by Tsutomu Nihei

I was provided a free copy of this novel from NetGalley.com for a honest review.

32321
Image courtesy of Goodreads.com

I am flummoxed. I very much wanted to like this book. I feel like it would increase my “cool” factor exponentially if I did, but alas I was confused and slightly perturbed.  As a reader I don’t have a whole lot of experience with Manga as a genre. I have dabbled in it, but never went swimming. That being said, I have quite a bit of experience in reading the cyber punk genre which is one of my favorites. Manga absolutely excels in it. “Ghost in the Shell,” and “Akira” are bonafide classics and rightly so.  But “Blame!” just didn’t do it for me. I can appreciate the quality of the artwork and the simplicity of the dialog: the dialog is minimalistic and it relies on the stark visuals to convey meaning and tone. But, I think it reached to far into starkness and loses any sort of context for the story. I got lost repeatedly and the characters ended up meaning nothing to me. Any die hard manga fan should check out this novel but the average reader trying to branch out would be well served to check out “Akira” or “Ghost in the shell”.

Eh maybe I am just not cool enough.

Not-Cool

Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Dog Men #1 (Dresden Files: Dog Men #1) by Jim Butcher (or Alternative Title, “My Crush Continues on Harry”)

 

34932084
Image Curtesy of Goodreads

 

 

I was provided a free copy of this novel from NetGalley.com for an honest review.
Butcher writes another slam dunk in the Urban Fantasy genre with everyones favorite anti-hero and total pain-in-the-ass wizard. This go around is in the form of a graphic novel.

To preface, Harry is seething in anger and anxious about past dealings that are coming to haunt him. He is a man holding on by how fingernails. But then he gets an unexpected request for help from a member of the White Council. This takes Harry out of his comfort zone of Chicago and the reader to an unfamiliar location. Harry attempts to do what he does best, protect the innocence and cause hate and discontent for some rather nasty baddies that are attempting to shit on Harry’s evening. As always, things definitely do not go as planned.
Typical for Jim Butcher, the writing is excellent. The language and imagery are crisp and interesting with out being to verbose. In a not so typical fashion for Butcher’s writing the pacing seemed off. I found that at the start of the novel the pacing was lugubrious and slow. Maybe that was a writerly choice for tone setting, but I found that off putting. Especially in a format such as a graphic novel. Where pacing and imagery are literally at the forefront. The story picks back up in a typical Dresden fashion and ends in some very interesting ways. Overall a very good read and I would recommend it to anyone. This series has a big place in my heart and I am always so excited with Jim releases new stories.I can’t get enough of this world and  I believe that everyone needs a little Harry Dresden in their lives.

ARC of Peanut Butter and Jelly (A Narwhal and Jelly Book #3) by Ben Clanton

I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley and I am new to the series. But, oh man this book has made me a believer. It is just adorable. Not adorable in the annoying cutesy – fart way, but adorable in an uncluttered and visually appealing way with great characters. I bet this series launches a lot of memes for adults and  yet it still retains a silly and approachability for young readers. I enjoyed the lighthearted tone, the graphics, and occasional interesting science fact thrown in. (Good for trivia night as an adult.)

Did you know that Humpback whales work together and make bubble nets to catch fish?

I would highly recommend this novel to the 2nd-5th grade reader and an adult who enjoys lighthearted fun.

As a side note, I can definitely empathize with Narwhal’s obsession with his new favorite food. I too find myself feeling like Narwhal. You may now call me Madam Von Peanut.

 

35138181
Image curtesy of goodreads

Let’s Talk Graphic Novels

I know a whole lot about a few things, not that it has done me a whole lot of good being able to quote and/or extemporize on the glories of early american science fiction or why “Galapagos” by Kurt Vonnegut is so relevant today. I could teach a class on Science Fiction and Fantasy. This makes me either really annoying, and irritating when talking about books or absolutely fascinating because I am so picky. I am going with fascinating here. Don’t burst my bubble. I am wicked smaht in this one thing.

tenor (1).gif

I started to get bored. I thought to my self, “self why don’t you branch out and learn something new.” Get wicked smaht in another branch of the literature tree.  I thought graphic novels. Yay! Then I thought. LISTS! ALL THE BOOK LISTS! I can lord my love of the highlighter and crossing stuff off with reading cool books. SCORE! Then I looked around and made sure no one else was looking and gave myself the highest of fives.

tenor.gif

 

Of Course I have a list semi-prepared, because what is life if you don’t have direction and they aren’t picture books. Get that crap out of your head. I have included the first thirty off of my list because typing is hard. I actually have 100 on the list.  You can find a full list here. According to goodreads I have read a cool 60 of the 100.

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/210.Best_Graphic_Novels

  1. Watchman by Alan Moore (Mr. Moore tends to be on here a lot.)
  2. The Complete Maus (Maus, #1-2) by Art Spiegelman  
  3. V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
  4. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi 
  5. Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman, #1) by Neil Gaiman (God you are beautiful Neil)
  6. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (The Dark Knight Saga, #1)
    by Frank Miller
  7. Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
  8. Saga, Vol. 1 (Saga, #1) by Brian K. Vaughan (My favorite I think)
  9. Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned (Y: The Last Man, #1) 
    by Brian K. Vaughan 
  10. Blankets 
    by Craig Thompson 
  11. Batman: Year One
    by Frank Miller
  12. Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile 
    by Bill Willingham 
  13. The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye 
    by Robert Kirkman 
  14. Scott Pilgrim, Volume 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life 
    by Bryan Lee O’Malley 
  15. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic 
    by Alison Bechdel 
  16. Bone: The Complete Edition 
    by Jeff Smith 
  17. Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye (Sin City, #1) 
    by Frank Miller 
  18. Batman: The Long Halloween
    by Jeph Loeb
  19. Preacher, Volume 1: Gone to Texas 
    by Garth Ennis 
  20. Ghost World
    by Daniel Clowes
  21. Death Note, Vol. 1: Boredom (Death Note, #1)
    by Tsugumi Ohba
  22. Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the Street (Transmetropolitan, #1) 
    by Warren Ellis
  23. From Hell
    by Alan Moore
  24. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 
    by Alan Moore
  25. The Arrival 
    by Shaun Tan 
  26. Batman: Arkham Asylum – A Serious House on Serious Earth
    by Grant Morrison
  27. Black Hole 
    by Charles Burns 
  28. American Born Chinese 
    by Gene Luen Yang (Goodreads Author) 
  29. Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft 
    by Joe Hill (Goodreads Author) 
  30. Hellboy, Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction (Hellboy, #1) 
    by Mike Mignola 

I don’t tend to read the first book in a series, because no fun. I try to read the whole thing. Some are better than others like any piece of literature. I love this particular list because it runs the gamut in terms of story type. Autobiographical to high fantasy.

I also want to make sure I say it out loud that I don’t actually believe I will be any kind of expert on graphic novels after finishing this list. Seriously. It’s a place to start and a direction to take.

The Spice Must Flow

Dune is a ridiculous book. Don’t hate on me for saying it. I only read the first book, so maybe in the sequels it gets less “odd.” I am not honestly sure. It is probably the perfect book for the sci fi lover who likes out there works like Dune and Octavia Butler. But, seriously. It was so ridiculous in parts that it made me giggle uncomfortably. The movie with Sting did not help much. Even if it was true 1980’s in all it’s glory.

That being said, the book has some seriously kick-ass quotes and the sand worms are awesome. I decided that the, “The Spice must flow,” is the quote for my spice wall. I have a lot of spices, some of which I have never used. But it is like tools, eventually you get around to using it for something. Besides, it gives me a chance to go out and make odd dishes for the hell of it. The moral of this story is “Must have many odd spices.”

I decided to make a wall of spice. I still want to get a picture of a sand worm instead of the cooking picture. But you get the point.

12984027_10207943715004845_1621803152599909414_o

Remember, “Fear is the mind killer.” Or whatever…

Expert? Me? Nahhh

“And watch out for Molly. See if she does anything unusual. There’s something I don’t trust about the way she exploded and then came back from the dead like that.”
David Wong, John Dies at the End

2147312-web01cover
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

 

Alright, alright I might be a very slight expert in “science fiction and fantasy” novels. But saying I am an expert in something makes me sound pretentious as hell. So lets just say I have read a hell of a lot across all sub-genres of sci-fi and fantasy, I used to run my own book club, and I cried when I got to hug Neil Gaiman. Like literal tears. Take what you want from that and I won’t feel like a douche. With all the reading I have done in sci-fi/fantasy, I feel like maybe I have tapped the genre for awhile. I have wanted a new challenge.

Become an “expert” in graphic novels you say?! Challenge accepted my friend. Last year I set a goal for myself to read 50 graphic novels. What that actually means is that I read 50 and than the series following the first book. Turned out to be a whole lot of freaking books. There were really… really bad ones. Twilight.

 

Twilight_The_Graphic_Novel
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Why did I do that to myself?

And some exceptional, incredible, not enough epithets in the english language for how good these books are, ones. Saga, and Transmetropolitan I am looking at you. It is a crying shame how much maligned this genre is. Ohhhhhhh comic books… how deep. You can suck it.

So of course, because if you haven’t noticed my not so buried neurosis about lists, you are starting to now. I found a list and started working on it. I want to finish it this year. I’ll write some posts about my favorites and see if I can turn a few of you to the dark side of comics/graphic novels and become and semi-knowledgeable person in the process.

My list as well as my running tally on all books that I have read can be found here:

My Goodreads Awesomeness

Here is the particular list I have been following as a primer. Best Graphic Novels

  1. Watchman
  2. The Complete Maus
  3. V for Vendetta
  4. The Sandman – Vol. 1
  5. The Complete Persepolis
  6. Batman – The Dark Knight Returns
  7. Batman – The killing Joke.
  8. Blankets
  9. Y – The last man.
  10. Batman Year 1
  11. Fables – Legends in Exile.
  12. The Walking Dead – Vol. 1
  13. Scott Pilgrims Precious little life.
  14. Bone
  15. Fun Home – A family tragicomic
  16. Saga vol. 1
  17. Sin City Vol. 1
  18. Ghost World
  19. Batman the long Halloween
  20. Preacher – Vol. 1
  21. Death Note – Vol. 1
  22. Transmetropolitan – Vol. 1
  23. From Hell
  24. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Vol. 1
  25. Batman Arkham Asylum
  26. The Arrival
  27. Black Hole
  28. American Born Chinese
  29. Hellboy Vol. 1
  30. Asterios Polyp
  31. Akira Vol. 1
  32. Locke and Key, Vol 1.
  33. 300
  34. Jimmy Corrigan – Smartest kid on Earth
  35. Kingdom Come
  36. Superman: Red Son
  37. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
  38. Habibi
  39. Marvel 1602
  40. Daytripper
  41. Death the high cost of living
  42. Marvels
  43. Allstar Superman
  44. Saga of the Swamp Thing
  45. Pride of Baghdad
  46. Astonishing x-men Vol. 1
  47. Runaways Deluxe Vol. 1
  48. Asterix the Gaul
  49. Palestine
  50. The Umbrella Academy Vol. 1
  51. X-men The Dark Phoenix Saga
  52. Johnny the Homicidal Maniac
  53. Stardust: Being a Romance among Fairy
  54. Batman: Hush Vol. 1
  55. The Absolute Sandman Vol 1
  56. The Lone Wolf Club, Vol 1
  57. Chew Vol. 1 Update 2-23-16
  58. Buffy the long way home
  59. Stitches
  60. Epileptic
  61. Fullmetal Alchemist
  62. A contract with God
  63. The Crow
  64. Planetary Vol. 1
  65. We3
  66. Anya’s Ghost
  67. 100 Bullets
  68. Identity Crisis
  69. Pyongyang – A journey into North Korea
  70. Batman Dark Victory
  71. Persepolis vol 1 and 2
  72. The invention of Hugo Cabret
  73. Astro City, Vol. 1
  74. American Vampire, Vol. 1
  75. Shortcomings
  76. The Dark Tower, Vol. 1
  77. The Ghost in the Shell, Vol. 1
  78. The complete Essex county
  79. Promethea Vol. 1
  80. I kill Giants
  81. The Ultimates
  82. The Maxx, Vol. 1
  83. Goodbye, Chunky Rice
  84. Mouse Guard Fall, 1152
  85. Fire and Flight
  86. The Invisibles
  87. Ex Machina Vol. 1
  88. X-men days of future past
  89. Safe Area Gorazde
  90. DMZ, Vol. 1
  91. Squee’s Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable Horrors
  92. Embroideries
  93. Wolverine: Origin
  94. The Rabbi’s Cat
  95. Top 10, vol. 1
  96. Blacksad
  97. 30 days of night, Vol. 1
  98. Ronin
  99. Castle Waiting, Vol. 1
  100. One Hundred Demons

Whew big list, right? I think it is a good place to start. Honestly, I will be no kind of expert when done with it. But, I will have a greater understanding of the genre and can move forward from there. I also notice some Fabbbbbbulous books /series that unfortunately didn’t make the cut. Namely, The Boys by Garth Ennis.  Good Times to be had. If you have any books that you think might be interesting, I would love to hear about them. I am always on the lookout.