In Comics, English, Posy Simmonds on 2013/04/19 at 08:57
Everyone is always saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. And I get that it’s supposed to be a kind reminder that looks are not the most important thing, blah blah blah. But when it comes to actual books, and not just the metaphoric placeholder for people, I judge the hell out of covers. I am a very cover-judgey person. I am an eyeball-rolling, vocal critic of book covers. There are so many bad ones. So, so bad. Especially among, but not limited to, indie publications and self-published books. Seriously, indie publishers of the world, you do your books and your authors a great disservice by taking that book by its cover thing to heart. Judge them!
I say this in particular today because I should’ve judged the cover of Tamara Drewe more closely. I only bought it at the recommendation of P. over at The Beguiling, who generally has interesting taste and who has never steered me wrong before. But the cover looked dull as hell and a quick flip through the insides did not do anything to dispel this first impression. And so it has languished on the shelf of books to be read, always passed over for something with a better cover. But then one day, I was looking for something that would lay flat while I read it (a book to eat a sandwich with, basically), and it was either this or a French non-fiction book about military strategy. You see how much the cover put me off? Read the rest of this entry »
In Carla Speed McNeil, Comics, English on 2012/10/05 at 09:00
My brain and I attack our fair share of books, but as a person of the lady persuasion, I worry sometimes that I am not reading enough books by others of said persuasion. I know those books are out there, but sometimes I get sidetracked by the names that everyone is tossing around and wind up reading far too much Neal Stephenson and Shigeru Mizuki, while neglecting lesser-known, but equally awesome lady writers like Mieko Kawakami and Carol Lay. And given the sad, sad state of representation for my fellow vagina owners, I am pretty much one hundred percent behind shining a spotlight on these ladies. My brain’s already battling the books; why not take up arms against sexism at the same time?
Fortunately, I have friends who are able to respond with five authors I’ve never heard of when I say I am looking for some new ladies to fall in love with. So when I strolled into my favourite comics shop The Beguiling in need of some lady love, they were there for my voracious brain. “Like science fiction?” P. says to me. “You should try Finder.” And the one thing my brain likes more than battling books and sexism is enormous tomes of SF comics goodness. So I paid the man his money and hauled the thing home. And it is a thing. Seven hundred or so pages including notes and original covers, it is easily the largest comic occupying my shelves. Read the rest of this entry »
In Anthologies, Comics, English on 2012/09/14 at 09:36
I am not a big fan of marriage. I don’t really get the point of maintaining an archaic institution. I mean, marriage had its purposes (mostly as a way to formally hand over ownership of a woman from her father to another man, or as a way to cement some kind of business or otherwise advantageous relationship by handing over a woman from one man to another), and when women were not free to actually have jobs and live by themselves, it was either get a husband or become a nun. So I get that marriage has had its place in various societies, but I don’t really see that it has a place anymore. And as a woman living in a Western country, even after all the hard-won advances for women over the past century, the idea that you will at some point get married still dominates. And then you will have kids, but first you will buy a house. And you will stop construction-papering your friend’s window with a sunny construction-paper adventure to cheer her up. And you will get ugly, expensive furniture. Basically, all of the traditional trappings of adulthood.
And I am not interested in those trappings. So when people I know tell me about their impending nuptials, my reaction is generally, “You’re getting married. Why?” Partly because I actually want to know what inspires people to marry each other, and partly because I would like it if people actually thought a little more about these things. Too often, people just do what is generally expected of them, which is a hell of a boring way to live. (This paragraph also applies to having children.) Read the rest of this entry »
In Comics, English, Vanessa Davis on 2012/06/22 at 08:59
If there is a post that I am going to get hate mail about, it’s probably this one. It’s not that I didn’t like the book. I did, a lot in some ways. I like Davis’s drawing style, all elbows and knees optional. So reminiscent of Lynda Barry and I am a huge fan of her. (I took a writing workshop with her once, and when you read your work out loud, she would crouch down in front of your desk so she was a bit lower than you, listen attentively and then say, forcefully and somehow encouragingly, “Good, good!” That lady is more than alright.) Her work is less cluttered than Barry’s and definitely more realistic looking, but still, all those rubbery joints made me so happy.
And I like the mix of pieces in this collection, a variety of full-colour stories several pages long, stand-alone drawings (usually of a woman or women looking hot or rocking out somehow), and diary comics done in pencil where you can see the erased lines. I like seeing the various stages of her work, the various levels of her comics, and as a diarist, I am pretty charmed by her doing diary stuff in comics form. I am tempted to try that myself, but my drawings all end up looking the same. Years from now, when I looked back on my journal, I’d wonder which big-headed, dot-eye person was which. Read the rest of this entry »
In Comics, English, Jim Ottaviani, Leland Myrick, Science on 2012/06/08 at 09:09
My full-on love of all things science has been documented here before, but some of you may be doubting my science nerd credentials. I mean, sure, I have that degree in mathematics and everything, but all I ever write about here is comics and fiction with a side dish of social justice oriented non-fiction. Just where is the science? you might be wondering. Never fear, I am about to destroy you with my combined nerd powers: Science plus comics!
Here is how deep my science nerdism runs: This year at TCAF, the glorious festival of all things comics here in Toronto, I was interpreting for Kanata Konami, author of the adorable and slightly diabetes-inducing, but ultimately thought-provoking Chi’s Sweet Home, which meant that I spent the entire festival making sure her, her editor and her husband had someone to speak English for them at all times. (I also made sure they were fed new foreign treats with trips to an Ethiopian restaurant and a falafel place. Yes, as an interpreter, it is my duty to ensure that Japanese guests all taste the chick pea goodness that is the falafel.) And as much fun as I had with Team Konami (including the delightful discovery that Konami herself is also a huge fan of Ekoda-chan. We bonded), trailing them meant I had little to no time to check out the many great exhibitors and buy a ton of books myself. This is good for my long-suffering wallet, less good for my book-battling brain. Read the rest of this entry »
In Comics, English, Simone Lia on 2012/04/06 at 08:51
The reign of the lady comics continues! Long live the lady comics! Although Fluffy stars a man and a bunny of unknown gender. Nonetheless! Simone Lia is definitely of the lady persuasion and she wrote the book, and thus, it joins the ranks of the lady comics in my brain. And yes, I have The Beguiling to thank for this one too. I’m starting to feel like their unpaid PR team (my brain and I, we are a team). At least they let me have access to all their books. Mwa ha ha! I am drunk with book power!
… Ahem. Fluffy, yes. My brain recently took on the tiny rabbit known as Fluffy. It’s never really made clear just how Fluffy came to live with Michael or why the ridiculously adorable mammal thinks Michael is its father. The story just starts with Fluffy cozily sleeping in a box in the living room, a box that was clearly specially prepared for Fluffy, all pillows and blankets. Fluffy wakes up to the slamming of a door and rushes out to tell Daddy, “I’m awake!” But runs into thon (bringing back ye olde gender neutral pronouns here!) nursery school teacher hurrying out the door for a walk of shame. So you know, this isn’t your average fuzzy bunny story. Read the rest of this entry »
In Comics, French, Nine Antico on 2012/03/30 at 09:48
And yet another great read I owe to The Beguiling. (I swear, I am not on their payroll.) Also, the first book in French I’ve talked about here? Huh. Clearly, I need to get through that stack of French books on my shelf (some great-looking stuff from Éditions de Ta Mère waiting patiently to be read). But oddly enough, although Coney Island Baby is a French graphic novel written by a very talented French woman, the subject matter is decidedly English. Or rather American, starting as it does with a full page of Hugh Hefner in 1999 looking smug as hell.
But when doesn’t Hugh Hefner look smug as hell? And it’s only natural that he should be a bit on the full-of-himself side of things here, talking with two young women who want to be Playmates and attempting to show them the darker side of the glamorous Playboy lifestyle. The bunny-eared, nameless women are eager to join the ranks of hot naked ladies, but Hugh wants to make sure that they realize just what being a Playmate means. So he gives them a tour of the mansion, introduces them to the staff, buys them ice cream and tells them the stories of Bettie Page and Linda Lovelace, two hot naked ladies separated by many years who nonetheless followed creepily similar trajectories. According to Antico, anyway. Read the rest of this entry »
In Carol Lay, Comics, English on 2012/03/23 at 08:58
I wish I had gotten a hold of this book when it actually came out in 1998. Because way back then, I was actually really in love with comic strips, the telling of short bursts of story in the strip form. I also used to love the short story a lot more. Not that I despise either form now, but my interests tend to lie in longer narratives that sustain a single story over a period of time/pages. So while I enjoy a story or a strip here and there, what I really want to read is a novel. I feel vaguely unsatisfied or too full too soon with shorter works. Maybe I am getting lazy? Because the shorter burst does tend to force you to think a bit more, find the resolutions right now instead of noodling along with the author for a couple hundred or more pages.
Either way, I’m both glad I read Strip Joint now, and sad that I didn’t read it at a time when I would’ve been more appreciative of its charms. Because it has so many charms. The book collects Lay’s “Story Minute” strip, which (according to Wikipedia) “ran for almost twenty years” in a bunch of US papers. Which is probably why I never got to read it. I didn’t (and actually still don’t) read US newspapers (waaaaaaay too US-centric for the most part). But still, maybe I would have encountered a collection of the strips in a bookstore if I hadn’t left the continent the year this book was published, not to return for a decade. And here I am now, hopelessly unschooled in a bunch of comics history, and working hard to catch up. At least I’m in Toronto where I can get The Beguiling to set me on the right path.
And they always do. I went in, and declared, “I want to read some lady comics!” and lo! Lady comics appeared! (In great piles. So, um, you know, be ready to read more about my adventures in lady comics.) One of these lady comics was Strip Joint, and now we are finally back to talking about the book! Full circle, high fives all around! Read the rest of this entry »
In Adam Hines, Comics, English on 2011/11/04 at 08:59
I have to thank The Beguiling for putting this in my hands. I was wandering the store, looking for something new, something I hadn’t tried, something unexpected and exciting, and P. reached for this enormous tome. After first confirming that I am a vegetarian, and the reasons for my vegetarianism. Which was intriguing in and of itself. What kind of book prefers vegetarian readers? And it was sealed in plastic so all I had to go on was the fact that it wanted vegetarians and the enticing drawing/photograph of a lamb in red on the front, despite the fact that the title so clearly asserted the importance of a dog.
I finished Duncan the Wonder Dog a while ago, and have since been mulling it over, turning the whole thing round in my mind, trying to decide just what to say about it. Not because I didn’t like it, but because there is just so much to say that I honestly don’t know where I should start. Hines is enormously ambitious in Duncan and not afraid to push his story and his art to the limits. The book is huge, almost four hundred, dense pages long, each page twice the size of your average graphic novel, and yet, I felt like he could have filled many more of these enormous pages with collages, cartoon-ish people, haunting landscapes, pure abstractions and all the other million styles he manages to cram here. Read the rest of this entry »
In Chester Brown, Comics, English on 2011/09/23 at 08:58
I know, I know, I’m the last person on the planet to have read this. I think high schools are using this book to teach Canadian history even. It’s one of those books that’s always on my list that I never get around to somehow, even though I really like Chester Brown’s other work and I was fully expecting this to be just as good or better. I even managed to read his latest (Paying For It) before getting around to Louis Riel. It is one of those books that forever lurks in my periphery, never managing to quite make it to the front of the shelf.
But then I gave it to T. for his birthday (yes, I am even giving it to people, knowing as I do that it must be great, and yet I do not read it), and he was shocked to learn that I hadn’t read it yet since of the two of us, I am the comics lover. So he loaned me the book that I gave him and I got to work learning some long overdue Canadian history. Looooong overdue. Like I had the faintest memory of the name “Louis Riel” and something about the Métis from grade school, but they weren’t even connected in my mind. Yeah, they should revoke my passport. Read the rest of this entry »