Lavie, et al. – The Divine

The Divine by Boaz Lavie; art by Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka
Date read: 22 May 2017; re-read 12 June 2017
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2017gnc

Cover image of The Divine by Boaz Lavie; art by Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka

Paperback, 149 pages
Published 2015 (First ed.) by First Second
Source: Interlibrary Loan, Summit [Univ. of Oregon PN6790.I73 L38 2015]

[5 June] Great! I don’t even remember most of this book. Just spent time flipping through it and not much is triggering anything.

[13 June] My body has been betraying me for a couple weeks and the day I read this was one of the worst. I was doing a lot of self-medicating then so it seems fair. I am sure I don’t remember much of anything I read that day. So I re-read it last night. As I actually re-read a good portion came back but a re-read definitely made a review possible. Thankfully it only took me about 40 minutes.

The contributors’ statement gives a good overview. The artists (Asaf and Tomer Hanuka) are also twin brothers:

“In January 2000, Associated Press photographer Apichart Weerawong took a photo of two twelve-year-old twins. It was taken immediately following the raid of a hospital by the Thai army, where those twins held 800 people as hostages. Weerawong’s photo was quickly distributed all over the world, becoming and unparalleled image of childhood without childhood: chain-smoking child-soldiers, their eyes as tired as if they were fifty years older. Like many others, we were captivated by this photo. For several years we would take a look at it from time to time, trying to decipher it, learn something about childhood, about life in extreme circumstances, and about ourselves.

The twins in the photo are Johnny and Luther Htoo. During the late 1990s they led a group of hundreds of Karen refuges from east Burma, called “God’s Army,” and fought the Burmese army for dispossessing them from their lands. The Htoo twins were surrounded by legends: it was said that they had magical powers, that they were invulnerable to bullets and mines, that they knew the Bible by heart without even reading it once. When we started working on the book, we drew our very first inspiration from these legends and from Weerawong’s photo, but we took it to a place which is completely our own: it has become fiction. Luther now lives in Sweden, and Johnny lives in a Thai refugee camp, waiting to reunite with his mother in New Zealand. For us, however, they will always be twelve-year-olds, in a photo we’ll never quite understand.”

Asaf, Boaz, and Tomer, 2014

The artist twins [1974] were ~26-years-old when the photo was published, for context.

As they said, it is a fictional riffing off of “God’s Army.”

For an even less rosy view, see Wikipedia: God’s Army (revolutionary group)

From the story itself:

About the twins:

“Everyone calls them “The Divine.”” … “They are brothers to dragons and companions to owls.” 78

Right before all hell breaks loose:

“I love Quanlom nights?”

“You know what they say about the nights here?”

“Tell me.”

“Night is a blessing, until you come across someone with better eyesight.” 102

Recently married explosives expert with a pregnant wife takes a hush hush government contract job in a remote country with which we have no diplomatic relations for a goodly sum of cash.

A dragon. Magic. Belief. Naming. Justice. War. Greed. The fallout.

I did quite enjoy this. Both times I read it. Recommended but not for the faint of heart. Features/contains cruelty, callousness, child-soldiers, wanton killing and some torture.

This is the 11th book read and 12th reviewed in my 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [2017gnc]

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Designed by Nicola Mansfield

 

Lasko-Gross – Henni

Henni by Miss Lasko-Gross
Date read: 24 May 2017
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2017gnc

Cover image of Henni by Miss Lasko-Gross

Paperback, 155 pages
Published 2015 (First ed.) by Z2 Comics
Source: Interlibrary Loan, Lane Community College [PN6727.L3683 H46 2015]

I quite enjoyed this tale as the 5-star review shows.

Henni lives in a very restrictive society but she dares to question, which is often a dangerous thing.

“But aren’t you at all curious?”

“”The mouse who peeks in the viper pit is eaten.””

“Yes. People often quote me that proverb.”

“Seriously Henni, “Quiet obedience is the very source of our unity.””

“But are we truly harmonious / or simply skilled in crushing dissent?” (25-26, emphasis in original)

Driven onward by conformists of various sorts, Henni acquires a mission during her search for truth and the application of reason to find someone important to her who is “dead” to the world, their world, just as she now is.

Not a lot of words with quite effective artwork. The color palette is mostly black and white with a bit of blue, blue-green and purple. I am not a great judge of age but perhaps 10-12-year old and up might be a suitable target age.

Highly recommended. Quick read. Important commentary on society.

By the by, I absolutely adore that the subject headings for this are:

  • Dissenters, Religious — Comic books, strips, etc.
  • Reason — Comic books, strips, etc.
  • Teenage girls — Comic books, strips, etc.

This is the 12th book read and 11th reviewed in my 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [2017gnc]

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Brubaker, et al. – The Fade Out

The Fade Out, Deluxe edition by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, colors by Elizabeth Breitweiser
Date read: 9-12 May 2017
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2017gnc

Cover image of The Fade Out, Deluxe edition by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, colors by Elizabeth Breitweiser

Hardback, 400 pages
Published 2016 by Image Comics
Source: Central Oregon Community College Barber Library [PN6727.B77 F33 2016]

I quite enjoyed this even though noir is not my normal fare. I doubt I have read more than 3 or 4 noir books in my life, although I am familiar with several of the film classics.

Highly recommended. Lots of period research went into this and besides the author and illustrator’s own research, they hired Amy Condit, “a Noir Film and Hollywood crime expert,” to assist them. Lots of good touches are brought in both narratively and visually.

The story revolves around the death of a famous actress, which in many ways is just another routine day of cleanup in old Hollywood. The producers, directors, security men, screenwriters, starlets, and others all make up the seedy underbelly of Tinseltown.

Recommended for noir and old Hollywood fans, in particular.

I have also read both Fatale, v1, Death Chases Me and Fatale, v2, The Devil’s Business by the same authors. Those I gave 3 stars each. They have done other work together including, Sleeper, Criminal, and Incognito.

This is the 10th book in my 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [2017gnc]

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Seems I got off count in these too between books finished, reviews in progress, and reviews posted. This is number actually number 10 posted.

 

Sowa – Marzi

Marzi: a memoir by Marzena Sowa, with art by Sylvain Savoia; translated by Anjali Singh
Date read: 23 February – 12 March 2017
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2017gnc, 2017nfc, 2017trans

Marzi: a memoir by Marzena Sowa, with art by Sylvain Savoia

Oversize paperback, 230 pages
First American edition published 2011 by DC Comics. Published by arrangement with Mediatoon Licensing, France. Original title: Marzi – L’Integrale 1  – La Pologne vue par les yeux d’une enfant
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Graphic Novel SOWA MARZENA]

I quite appreciated and enjoyed this memoir of young girl growing up in 1980s Poland. While Sowa may have experienced them quite differently, many of the topics and events that she covers are also touchstones for me as I spent much of my time in Europe in the 1980s and both of my children were born there (1980 and 1983).

These are some of the big events/topics she covers and dates from Wikipedia:

  • The Polish Pope, John Paul II       16 October 1978 – 2 April 2005
  • Solidarity / Solidarność                  founded on 17 September 1980
  • Martial law Poland                          December 13, 1981 to July 22, 1983
  • Chernobyl                                       26 April 1986
  • Tiananmen Square                         04 June 1989
  • fall of the Berlin Wall                       began the evening of 9 November 1989

I was in Germany the first time when Pope John Paul II was elected and for the rise of Solidarity. I quite well remember the declaration of martial law in Poland. I was stationed on a nuclear missile site in then West Germany and the entirety of the US military in Europe went on high alert.

When Chernobyl happened I was stationed in Belgium and well remember not being able to eat certain food products for months.

I found her young, but lived, experience of and reactions to TV, religion, visiting rural relatives for farming and vacation, living in a high-rise and stairwell culture, American toothpaste, food lines, and so on to be interesting and empathy building. I, too, have experienced sides of many of these but certainly not all and often not to the extent she did.

Highly recommended!

This is the 21st book in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge 2017 [2017nfc] and the 9th reviewed.

This is the 2nd book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge [2017trans]. Whoa! I am way behind on this!

This is the 9th book in my 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [2017gnc]

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Dembecki, et al. – Trickster

Trickster: Native American Tales: a Graphic Collection by Matt Dembecki and many others
Date read: 12-13 February 2017
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2017gnc

Cover image of Trickster: Native American Tales: a Graphic Collection by Matt Dembecki and many others

Paperback, 231 pages
Published 2010 by Fulcrum Books
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Graphic Novel TRICKSTER]

Sara brought this home a while back and it looked interesting. It was.

There are 21 tales represented here by various adaptors and artists. The differing styles of art are either a plus or a minus depending on whether you appreciate more or less of them. I generally did appreciate most of them so it was a bonus for me.

Being Native American trickster tales they generally center on coyote, rabbit, raccoon and raven, although sometimes the trickster does take human form.

At least 25 of the 44 adaptors and illustrators are of Native American descent based on the bios at the back.

Recommended for anyone interested in an assortment of Native American trickster tales.

This met “A book about a different faith or religion” from my 2017 “looking all around” challenge.

This is the 8th book in my 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [2017gnc]

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Piskor – Hip Hop Family Tree, v. 1

Hip Hop Family Tree: 1970s-1981, v.1, Fantagraphics Treasury edition by Ed Piskor
Date read: 24-26 April 2017
My rating: Leaving unrated
Challenges: 2017gnc, 2017nfc, 2017poss

Cover image of Hip Hop Family Tree: 1970s-1981, v.1, Fantagraphics Treasury edition by Ed Piskor

Library binding, 112 pages
Published 2016 by Fantagraphics; Fifth Fantagraphics Books edition
Source: Central Oregon Community College Barber Library [ML3531 .P37 1970-1981 v.1

This is what I wrote in Goodreads regarding this book:

I am not going to rate this as I am completely unqualified to rate it. I recognize a few names and a few song titles but most of this is all new to me and as succinctly as it is presented–is it even really a narrative?–provides me no additional info really. I was looking forward to the other volumes and maybe the narrative gets a bit more expansive but this was the early history and the more important to my [lack of] knowledge, in my opinion, so moving on.

I did enjoy it in a sense but with so little grounding in the culture of hip hop this title failed to provide me any real grounding. I have been using graphic novels the last couple of years to explore topics that I may not be ready or willing (with so many other interests) to read a standard, prose, nonfiction book on; e.g.,

These, and several others, have been variable in their ability to inform [entertain/surprise/…] me, but all were better than this one for me.

Recommended for fans of hip hop or folks with some knowledge of the genre and its artists but who want a bit more. I am not saying it is a bad book, just that it did not do what I needed it to do for me to get a better appreciation (and knowledge) of hip hop. No doubt it works better if you have a bit more of a starting background knowledge/awareness.

This is the 9th 7th book in my 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [2017gnc]

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Designed by Nicola Mansfield

This is the 20th book read and 8th reviewed in my in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge 2017 [2017nfc].

I have read 11 books so far this year in my 2017 Books To Read Challenge (personal) [2017poss] but this is the first to be reviewed. That eleven includes this title and one I finished this morning, though. I have also read from 8 of the 16 different categories so far. Goal is “to complete 2 from each of the 16 categories and a total of 35.” Two categories are “complete” in that sense, re-reads (2) and beer and brewing (3), but that doesn’t mean I won’t read another book on those lists.

 

Meyer – The Lunar Chronicles, 1: Wires and Nerve

The Lunar Chronicles, 1: Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer; art by Doug Holgate
Date read: 08 February 2017
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2017gnc, 2017look

The cover image of Marissa Meyer's Wires and Nerve, volume 1 (The Lunar Chronicles)

Hardback, 238 pages
Published 2017 by Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Teen Graphic Novel MEYER MARISSA]

Sara brought this home from the public library and I decided to read it. I have not previously read any of Meyer’s novels although I have seen them cycle through the house as Sara has read them and we may even have owned the first one for a couple years. I was wondering if this graphic novel adaptation might whet my appetite for reading them. It did not.

This is not to say I did not enjoy it. I did give it 4 stars and if the follow-up were available now I would read it. I see, though, that it is “estimated” to be released in 2018 [per Goodreads]. By then I will have forgotten the characters and their relationships, etc. so will not care.

If you are a fan of the novels and like graphic novels then I can recommend you try it.

I actually did enjoy it. Complex characters and relationships, tense alliances, humor. I mean who doesn’t love a space opera?

Met the A book published this year (2017) of my “looking all around” challenge. [link]

This is the 6th book in my 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [2017gnc]

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Lewis, et al. – March, Book One to Three

March, Book One to Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell (art)
Date read: One 12 January 2017; Two and Three 13 January 2017
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2017gnc, 2017look, 2017nfc

Cover image of March, Book One by John Lewis, et al.Cover image of March, Book Two by John Lewis, et al.Cover image of March, Book Three by John Lewis, et al.

Paperback, 121, 179, 246 pages
Published 2013, 2015, 2016 by Top Shelf Productions
Source: Central Oregon Community College Barber Library [E840.8 .L43 A3 2013 v.1 / 2015 v.2 / 2016 v.3]

My timing for reading books is kind of uncanny lately. We started reading Berger’s book the night before he died and thanks to COCC getting these and putting them on the new book shelf I was able to read Rep. John Lewis’ autobiographical graphic novel series just before that jackass Donald Trump attacked this icon of the civil rights movement and American hero.

I truly enjoyed these books. They did a wonderful job bringing together some things I have heard about vaguely over the years of my life but should have known more about.

President Obama’s first inauguration provides the bookends to the series, along with being woven throughout it.

The sense of personal duty to others and to the cause of justice and humanity is in the forefront of these books. One would be hard pressed to not come away with a profound respect for John Lewis and the many others who put their lives on the line to make America a better place.

The march on Washington, the lunch counter sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, Martin Luther King, Julian Bond, Malcolm X, SNCC, the Voting Rights Act, and many other events and icons of the civil rights movement are all here.

U.S. Representative John Lewis represents Georgia’s 5th congressional district which covers much of urban Atlanta. He was elected to this position in November 1986 and has held it ever since. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 by President Obama.

I highly recommend this series. Being graphic novels they are a quick read but provide enough coverage of the people and events of the time that one could easily branch out to learn more about them as one wished.

If you are at all confused as to why people are upset Trump attacked this man then you need to read these books. Trump is the worst sort of jackass and learning about those he attacks will be one of the best ways to understand how truly damaged and damaging he is.

This is the 3rd – 5th books in my 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [2017gnc]

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This is the 3rd – 5th books in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge 2017 [2017nfc]
and 2nd – 4th reviews.

These books count for the categories: A book a friend recommended (Angel Rivera), Post-election understanding, and a microhistory, in my 2017 “the looking all around list” Self-Reading Challenge. With these categories I have now completed 16 of the goal of 30 out of 40 categories. Not bad for the first half of January.

Kleist – Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness by Reinhard Kleist; Michael Waaler, translation
Date read: 02 January 2017
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2017gnc, 2017look, 2017nfc, 2017transl

Cover image of Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness by Reihard Kleist

Paperback, 221 pages
Published 2009 by Abrams ComicArts [Originally published in German in 2006 by Carlsen Verlag GmbH]
Source: Summit via OSU-Cascades

I quite enjoyed this graphic novel biography complete with several songs, such as “A Boy Named Sue” and “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town,” as a sort of illustrated musical interlude at points.

It covers most of Johnny’s history from when he was just a kid up until his death in 2003 and also includes a short bibliography in the back.

Recommended.

This book met 2 of the unfulfilled categories from my 2017 “the looking all around list” Self-Reading Challenge [2017look] : A biography or memoir and A translation. It also meets several already fulfilled categories but they’re already met.

This is the 2nd book in my 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [2017gnc]

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This is the 1st book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge 2017 [2017trans]. It is also the 1st book in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge 2017 [2017nfc].

It is looking like neither of these is happening this year so I will do them my own way and update my challenges post to represent how I intend to handle them.

Ginsberg & Drooker – Howl: a graphic novel

Howl: a graphic novel by Allen Ginsberg; animated by Eric Drooker
Date read: 01 January 2017
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2017gnc, 2017look

Cover image of Howl: a graphic novel by Allen Ginsberg; animated by Eric Drooker

Paperback, 223 pages
Published 2010 by Harper Perennial
Source: Summit via OSU-Cascades

This was not my first time reading the poem series “Howl” but I do believe the artwork helped me to understand the poem better, in a few places at least.

The artwork is both beautiful and moody and fits the poem wonderfully. The artist, Eric Drooker, and Ginsberg worked together on several projects before this as explained in the book.

The typography is like an old typewriter and is thus hard to read at points but it also slows the reader down, which I think actually helps some with grasping the meaning.

I believe this is the version I would get if I were in the market for a copy of Howl.

Lovely. A gorgeous adaptation of a modern classic of American literature. 5 of 5 stars. Highly recommended.

This book met three of the categories from my 2017 “the looking all around list” Self-Reading Challenge [2017look] : A book you can finish in a day, A graphic novel, and A book of poems or about poetry.

This is the 1st book in my 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [2017gnc]

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