Friday, December 5, 2014

Comics Friday Mini-Reviews: The Arrival, My Friend Dahmer, Hark! A Vagrant, March Book One

From Goodreads:
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.
 
 It's hard to come up with a lot to say about a book that doesn't have any words in it - but this one is absolutely gorgeous and worth reading.  Do you call it reading if it's pictures only?  Or do you say it's totally worth looking at?  Anyway, this is something you'll see again soon on my best of list.  It's gorgeously drawn.  The world Tan imagines is full of magical realism and is a delight to see.  And the story itself is just perfect.  It totally captures everything you would expect to find in an immigrant story without saying a single word.  Just gorgeous.

From Goodreads:
You only think you know this story. In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer — the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper — seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, “Jeff” was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides.

In My Friend Dahmer, a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the deep recesses of his psyche — a shy kid, a teenage alcoholic, and a goofball who never quite fit in with his classmates. With profound insight, what emerges is a Jeffrey Dahmer that few ever really knew, and one readers will never forget.
 
This one was, to be honest, something of a let-down.  I grabbed it on impulse from the library and was expecting to hear, as promised, the other side of Jeffrey Dahmer as a teenager.  The book is, in actuality, more about Derf Backderf, who is kind of a jerk.  Not in a serial killer kind of way, but in a high school jerk kind of way.  It wasn't poorly done, but I felt like it was a weird attempt from someone who spent a lot of time making fun of Dahmer to cash in on kind of knowing him.  I wasn't impressed.

From Goodreads:
Hark! A Vagrant is an uproarious romp through history and literature seen through the sharp, contemporary lens of New Yorker cartoonist and comics-sensation Kate Beaton. No era or tome emerges unscathed as Beaton rightly skewers the Western world's revolutionaries, leaders, sycophants, and suffragists while equally honing her wit on the hapless heroes, heroines, and villains of the best-loved fiction.
History and literary-based comics?  Yes, please!  These are absolutely hilarious.  I recommend anyone who is a history or literature buff pick this book up right away and also to add Beaton's blog to your blogroll because it's equally amazing.  If you're not into history or literature, you might not appreciate all of these, but honestly they're just tons of fun.  It's very smart humor and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.

Book One spans John Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.
First of all, a copy of this book (and I'll preemptively say the rest of the series) belongs in every library, especially middle school and high school libraries.  It's beautifully illustrated and the writing is done so well.  Not only is it significant artistically, but it's hugely important in terms of highlighting a hero of the Civil Rights movement in a way that's extremely accessible to teens and young readers.  I'm looking forward to the release of Book Two in January.

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