Visual language: or a new wander

In which I begin a new intellectual wander amongst the idea of visual language, particularly in comics, or at least that is how I got interested in it in a roundabout way.

My son and my friend Dave will probably laugh at me as this is the kind of thinking they’ve both done for much of their lives. They are visually arty. And musically. I am neither.

Past wanders

I am not sure that I am going to continue homebrewing and I am, after my last session of doing so, seriously reconsidering my beer judging. But those are different stories. This is about a new rabbit hole. “Psst, over here. “

Context

As my Thursday AM coffee shop book, I am currently reading Smits, Rik. The Puzzle of Lefthandedness. Translated by Liz Waters, Reaktion, 2011, and it is fascinating! At least to a left-hander from a family of left-handers. Old enough that my parents were “seriously discouraged” from using said left hand and that even my doing so was looked down on, at the least, at school. Yes, I smeared a lot because that stupid non-smearing way to supposedly hold your pencil was dreamt up by a right-handed zealot with a sadistic streak. [That’s my story.]

Anyway, fascinating book! It is a series of 38 essay-ish pieces (I am about halfway through) about left-handedness but also about the concepts of left and right and their symbolic meanings, and so on. Sort of like 38 takes at tossing a dart at the dart board of the topic from 38 different points in space from all around the target. So, thus, not a coherent, long-form, argument, but a truly interesting way to break off into related topics.

The last couple chapters I read started with one on left and right in the murder genre of Western painting. Because of course “we” have one! ::sigh:: Then there was one on the violence towards women—almost always sexual—in Western painting. This also included the object of the male gaze, the “harlot.” Next was one on left and right in married couples portraits, and single portraits also, which also translates into where the woman stands in a traditional church wedding and which side she exits on, etc.

Interspersed throughout these chapters were talk about how all this depiction of movement [arriving vs departing, messengers with good news versus bad news, etc. transferred to most other forms of art and much of culture, including the stage, the silver screen, comic books and graphic novels, advertising, and so on. Much of this was also looked at cross-culturally; in literate cultures, much hinges on direction of writing and reading.

The point

All this really got me thinking as I have been reading so many graphic novels, comics, and some manga and I am often lost by the artwork and I am self-aware enough to know that sometimes it isn’t simply me or bad art but that I just don’t understand the conventions; especially true regarding manga and other forms of Japanese comics/anime.

Neil Cohn

Over the past weekend I discussed this with my wife and she started poking the Interwebz and found the the following article: Cohn, Neil. Comics, Linguistics, and Visual Language: The Past and Future of a Field. http://www.visuallanguagelab.com/P/NC_Comics&Linguistics.pdf. Accessed 6 Mar. 2018.

Yesterday I got a chance to print it and read it and it was mind-blowing how perfect it was for me. It isn’t exactly a practical lexicon of comics art, if you will, or not at all, which is what I sort of wanted: something to the point without being overly theoretical or way too wordy or …. I wanted the perfect “document” for me. This is a very close second and, in many ways, better, in that it provides a great entry into what I am looking for.

The article is exactly what the title purports to be: Comics, Linguistics, and Visual Language: The Past and Future of a Field. It shows why “a language of comics” is the wrong object of study and that it is actually “visual language,” akin to “spoken” and (I forget what he called them, but) “manual,” that is signed languages.

Lots of great citations, as he has a good lit review early on, and then looks at the topic from most angles of study in linguistics, covers the research done in that area and the research needed, along with what the proper questions and concepts are in that area, and how they map, if at all, and whether that matters, to other forms of language (for instance, photology versus phonology).

Scott McCloud

The heaviest cited piece he uses is: McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. First HarperPerennial edition, HarperCollins Publishers, 1994, of which he says, “…, contemporary works on comics in a linguistic light—both in America and abroad—have exploded since the publication of comic artist and theorist Scott McCloud’s (1993) graphic book Understanding comics.” and “McCloud’s approach has permeated nearly all linguistically-driven studies since its publication” (4). Ten total cites to it. The author has 20 cites to his own work. But that is spread across 11 different titles versus one. [Not saying that isn’t fair as he seems mighty prolific. I still need to check out Cohn’s website, http://www.visuallanguagelab.com/] But McCloud’s book seems to be the object to engage with in the article and in linguistics and comics since 1993.

When I looked up McCloud’s book to see if we had it at COCC—which we did—I saw that we had a 2nd McCloud book so I grabbed it too when I went up to get Understanding comics. It too is a graphic novel, McCloud, Scott. Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels. Harper, 2006. And next to it was another early classic, also cited by Cohn, so I grabbed it as a possibility: Eisner, Will. Comics and Sequential Art: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist; [Incl. New and Updated Material. Norton, 2008.

 I have read his fiction graphic novel, The Sculptor.

Wissenschaft

Of course there is language to this kind of thing but at what level of analysis and so forth? Or is it all practical versus theoretic and where and how have they influenced each other? I need a Wissenschaft on visual language.

Seeing as I do not have one—although that linguistics article went a long way towards portions of theory, and McCloud’s books, along with possibly Eisner’s, will hopefully provide some great practical knowledge—I will have to construct my own.

But that is par for the course:

“Wissenschaft incorporates science, learning, knowledge, scholarship and implies that knowledge is a dynamic process discoverable for oneself, rather than something that is handed down. It did not necessarily imply empirical research.

Wissenschaft was the official ideology of German Universities during the 19th century. It emphasised the unity of teaching and individual research or discovery for the student. It suggests that education is a process of growing and becoming.” (Wikipedia, “Wissenschaft.” Emphasis mine; spelling mistake Wikipedia’s)

I love Wissenschaften since they are, amongst others things, intellectual histories and that is my favorite kind of history by far. I also agree with the philosophy of education.

A New Wander

I have been needing a new rabbit hole—a new intellectual wander—and I do believe I have found it. No idea how far I will go but there are still a handful of citations to look into from Cohn’s article. I mean, seriously, how could I, with my assorted background(s) not read “Impossible Objects as Nonsense Sentences”? A title like that is like an opiate to me. And I have a few books to begin with; two of which are nonfiction graphic novels, my favorite kind.

2017 Books and Reading Follow-up

Intro

I am going to try and follow-up on all of the goals and things I set myself to track in my 2017 reading.

First though, I am going way minimal next year. I really found that I don’t give a crap about much of this—especially the writing of reviews and the godawful amount of data tracking. Who needs it? Life is way too short. [More on this soon.] I am happy enough with my reading and need less pressure; especially so regarding self-pressure.

The writing of reviews : several of my challenges involved writing and posting reviews as part of the challenge but fairly early in the year I decided I simply did not care. If a book sparked a well-done review out of me then “Woohoo!” But if not then move along, quickly. And let the pressure go. …

2017 Reading Challenges & Goals

http://marklindner.info/blog/2017/01/01/2017-reading-challenges-goals/ 2017curr #2017poss #2017look #2017gnc #2017nfc #2017transl #2017reading

Generic goals: [# finished in 2016 : # finished in 2017]

  • More poetry; re-reading encouraged here [2 : 8 [3 re-reads]] Excellent!
  • More erotica, sex & gender [3 : 9 + 1] Also excellent.
  • More literature [1 : 6] Also excellent.
  • More librariana [1 in progress; slowly : 3] Better.
  • Translations same-ish [14 : 6, gave up on 1] Oh. My. Perhaps a little commitment here next year.
  • More ebooks [8 : 27] Very excellent.
  • Nonfiction same-ish [54 : 53] Cool.
  • More essays and short stories [1?, unknown for sure : 4 + 3] Also excellent.
  • [Fiction 48]
  • [Total books [F / NF / Poetry] 48 + 53 + 8 = 109]

Books currently reading being read [2017curr]

Finish all 4 of the books I am supposedly currently reading.

Finished 1 of 4 : Glushko, et al. – The Discipline of Organizing

2017 Books To Read Challenge (personal) [2017poss]

2017 Books To Read Challenge (personal) post

Total of 85 books (which includes some 8 on pause) I challenge myself to complete 2 from each of the 16 categories and a total of 35

Finished 17. Currently reading one together, of which we are on page 258 of ~307. So not so good. But I also don’t care. [See below for breakout.]

2017 “the looking all around list” Self-Reading Challenge [2017look]

2017 “the looking all around list” Self-Reading Challenge

At least 30 of 40 categories read in.

Finished 28 categories, with a possible 1-2 more if seriously scour list. A total of 21 titles met these 30. Not shabby. [See below for breakout.]

2017 A Novel Idea selection (Deschutes Public Library, Bend, OR)

Homecoming by Yaa Gyasi [A Novel Idea] I finished this on 01 January 2017 and it was excellent.

2016-2017 Author! Author! Literary Series

Finished 1 of 3.

  • Dave Eggers : 19 January 2017 [not reading anything for this]
  • Anthony Doerr : 4 February 2017 : All the Light We Cannot See
  • Siddhartha Mukherjee : 10 April 2017 : The Emperor of All Maladies [gave up]

Categories I am tracking in 2017:

  • fiction 48
  • nonfiction 53
  • ebooks 27
  • translations 6
  • beer 18
  • biography / memoir 10
  • Central Oregon 1
  • cookery 2
  • erotica 9
  • essays 4
  • graphic novels 37 : 29 F / 8 NF
  • history 16
  • language 4
  • librariana 3
  • literature 6 [but, oh the counting thereof …]
  • on pause Bagan with 4; ended with 6 [others?]
  • philosophy 3
  • photography 2
  • poetry 8
  • post 2016 election 9
  • renewal 4
  • re-reads 7
  • science 8
  • sex & gender 1
  • short stories 3
  • tech & software [2016poss only] 2
  • together
  • wander 7
  • YA & children 12
  • [gave up 4]

Challenges hosted elsewhere

2017 Goodreads Challenge

My goal is 100 this year, same as last year.

Finished 108, but seems 1 is missing. Should be 109.

2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [2017gnc]

24 for Silver Age [all needed reviews]

Read 37. Reviewed 12. Yay! Not yay.

Nonfiction Reading Challenge 2017 [2017nfc]

Read a minimum of 50 nonfiction books and review a minimum of 25 of these.

Read 53. Reviewed 9. Yay! Not yay.

Books in Translation Reading Challenge 2017 [2017trans]

Read a minimum of 16 translations and review a minimum of 12 of these.

Read 6. Gave up on 1. Reviewed 2. Not yay. At all.

2017 Books To Read Challenge (personal)

2017 Books To Read Challenge (personal) http://marklindner.info/blog/2016/12/17/2017-btr/

Finished 17 out of 35 challenged from a total of 85 books (which includes some 8 on pause). I also challenged myself to complete 2 from each of the 16 categories.

We are currently reading one together, of which we are on page 258 of ~307, but won’t finish it tonight [31 Dec 2017].

Beer and Brewing [4: 18 total]

Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers (Brewing Elements) – John J. Palmer and Kaminski [own] Read 25 February – 24 March 2017

New Brewing Lager – Noonan [own] Read 13-18 February 2017

The Brewer’s Companion – Mosher [own] Read 7-8 February 2017

The Homebrewer’s Companion – Papazian [own] 21-25 January 2017

Central Oregon [*1 : 1 other]

*Hiking Oregon’s History – William L. Sullivan [DPL] [own] [currently reading]

Erotica [0 : 9 others]

History [1 : 16 total]

Hip Hop Family Tree, v. 1 [have Lib] Read 24-26 April 2017

Librariana [1 : 3]

Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age – Alex Wright [own]Read 2 February – 27 April 2017

Language [Language and related] [1 : 4]

Integrationist Notes and Papers 2014 – Roy Harris [own] Read 27 January – 3 February 2017

Literature [(lit, poetry, essays, short stories) and literary theory] [ 6 + 8 + 4 + 3 = 21]

Imagination in Place: Essays – Wendell Berry [own] Read to Sara 11 January – 06 March 2017

Philosophy [loosely defined] [2 : 3]

Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals – Mark Edmundson [own]

Philosophy on Tap – Lawrence [own] Read 21 May – 7 June 2017

Post 2016 Election [0 : 9 others]

Renewal [0 : 4]

Soul: An Anthology – Cousineau [own] Read 1 January – 6 March 2017

Sex & Gender [0 : 1 other]

Tech & Software [2 total]

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation – Pollan [own ebook] 16 January – 14 February 2017

Abuse of Language—Abuse of Power – Josef Pieper, Lothar Krauth [translation] [library]

Wander [1 : 7 total]

Selected Stories – Walser [translation, short stories]

Assorted/Too Lazy to Classify [0 of 4]

Re-reads [3 : 7 total + 1 in progress]

*Reverence – Woodruff [renewal] [own] [reading]

On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year – Roripaugh [poems] [own] 17-30 March 2017

What Do We Know – Oliver [poems] [own]

Winter Hours – Oliver [poems] [own] Read 6-16 March 2017

On Pause [0 of 8]

2017 “the looking all around list” Self-Reading Challenge [2017look]

At least 30 of 40 categories read in.

Finished 28 categories, with a possible 1-2 more if seriously scour list. A total of 21 titles met these 30.

  • A book about the production of a favorite beverage, or one of great interest : began Alworth’s Cider [intend to get back to it] but let’s be honest, I read ~15 books and beer and/or brewing this year. This is ticked.] 9-17 January 2017 Sustainable Homebrewing by Loftus
  • An ethnography
  • A biography or memoir : 02 January 2017 Johnny Cash by Kleist
  • A work of classic literature
  • A book with more than 500 pages : 09 January 2017 All the Light We Cannot See
  • A book published this year (2017) : 08 February 2017 The Lunar Chronicles 1: Wires and Nerve
  • A book with a number in the title
  • A book by a female author : 01 January 2017 Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • A book of short stories : 23 February – 12 March 2017 The Slab by Glen Humphries
  • A book of essays : 01-10 January 2017 Ways of Seeing by John Berger
  • A book set in a different country : 01 January 2017 Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet : 27 January – 3 February 2017 INP 2014 by Roy Harris
  • A book a friend recommended : 12-13 January 2017 March, Book One – Three by John Lewis, et al. Recommended by Angel Rivera
  • A book at the bottom of your to-read list
  • A book more than 100 years old [1917] {older, yes, 150 is 1867} : 19 June – 14 August 2017 Selected Stories by Walser [1916]
  • A book you can finish in a day : 01 January 2017 Howl: a graphic novel
  • A graphic novel : 01 January 2017 Howl: a graphic novel
  • A book by an author you’ve never read before : 01 January 2017 Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • A book you own but have never read : 01 January – 06 March 2017 Soul: An Archaeology
  • A book that takes place in your home town : 14 December 2017 Eat, Play, Lust by Fenske
  • A translation : 02 January 2017 Johnny Cash by Kleist
  • A book about war or a battle : 09 January 2017 All the Light We Cannot See
  • A book about feminism : 20-21 May 2017  We Should All Be Feminists
  • A self-published book : 3-6 January 2017 Beer, in So Many Words, Adrian Tierney-Jones, ed.
  • A book about the region you live in [Central Oregon]
  • A book of poems or about poetry : 01 January 2017 Howl: a graphic novel
  • A book of erotica : 14-21 March 2017 The Naughty Pleasures Bundle
  • A book on sex/gender : 20-21 May 2017 We Should All Be Feminists by Adichie
  • A book about your professional realm [librariana] : 2 February – 27 April 2017 Cataloging the World
  • An ebook : 16 January – 14 February 2017 Cooked
  • A re-read : 16 March 2017 Winter Hours
  • A book for post-election understanding [fascism, race, economic disparity, social justice, …] : 12-13 January 2017 March, Book One – Three by John Lewis, et al.
  • A book from an opposing viewpoint
  • A book by an author of a different race : 01 January 2017 Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • A book about a different faith or religion
  • A book from a genre you don’t normally read : 09 January 2017 All the Light We Cannot See
  • A book about Puerto Rico
  • A book about Cuba/Castro
  • A book of Latin American history or literature
  • A microhistory : 12-13 January 2017 March, Book One – Three by John Lewis, et al.

Wrap-Up

So that’s it for my reading in 2017.  I also read 2 issues of Lapham’s Quarterly [Magic Shows and Communication] and they are in Goodreads but how to count them?

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]

Image for 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Reading Challenge

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]

Image for 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Reading Challenge

Designed by Nicola Mansfield

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]

Image for 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Reading Challenge

Designed by Nicola Mansfield

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]

Image for 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Reading Challenge

Designed by Nicola Mansfield

 

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]

Image for 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Reading Challenge

Designed by Nicola Mansfield

 

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]

Image for 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Reading Challenge

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]

Image for 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Reading Challenge

Designed by Nicola Mansfield

 

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]

Image for 2017 10th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Reading Challenge

Designed by Nicola Mansfield

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.