Thoughts of the Graphic Sort

A place where I can discuss my addiction to graphic novels.

Posts Tagged ‘Family

Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan & Nico Henrichon

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Oh, Brian Vaughan, I just can’t get enough of you!  After reading Y: The Last Man (posts on that series coming soon), I needed to read everything else his hands have touched.  I came across Pride of Baghdad before I read Y, but it sat on the shelf for a few years.  After I finished Y, I remembered I had it and couldn’t wait to read it.

Pride of Baghdad was inspired by the true story of four lions who escaped from a zoo during an American bombing in Iraq.  Vaughan tells the story from the lions’ point of view as they navigate the war torn streets and try to find freedom.

Not only is Vaughan’s storytelling in top form with this novel, but Henrichon’s artwork absolutely dazzles.   Vaughan and Henrichon pull no punches–the devastation of war is right in your face, through the text and the artwork, which makes the plight of the animals even more intense and gripping.

This is one of those stories where my only complaint is that it is too short.  I wanted more time with the lions, to see more of the world through their eyes, but it is fitting I was denied this request since war has the tendency to butt in where it’s not wanted.

Written by JP Weezey

March 28, 2012 at 8:00 am

I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly & JM Ken Niimura

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I was excited about reading I Kill Giants–the title itself was enough to get my attention.  And then I read the description and was even more intrigued.  Barbara is a loner, an odd kid, who escapes into a fantasy world to avoid dealing with real life.  As the fantasy world starts bleeding into reality, Barbara becomes more and more convinced that something big is coming and it’s her duty to stop it.

Barbara is just enough of a smartass to make you feel sorry for her.  A kid who backtalks like her must be dealing with some major issues, right?  And she really is, but it’s not until much later in the book that you realize what exactly is going on.  Things and situations are hinted at, but it’s never really clear what is wrong until the final confrontation.  And what a confrontation it is: Barbara’s fantasies culminate in one big doozy of a battle that threatens herself and those around her.

The fantasy becoming reality is the most interesting, and also the best, part of the story.  As other people become affected by Barbara’s fantasies, the story perfectly blends reality and fantasy while keeping it all believable.

I was impressed with the final villain, from his true purpose in the story to his overall appearance.  Niimura did an excellent job portraying a monster that brings an important message along with tons of doom and gloom.

Barbara is definitely a character you want to root for and hug at the same time.

Written by JP Weezey

March 26, 2012 at 12:52 pm

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Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

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Satrapi returns to her graphic novel memoir with a tour de force of sex, drugs, teenage rebellion, and identity crises.  Marjane is now a teenager and in Vienna to attend high school.  Although she has left the horrors of revolution behind in Iran, she now has the horrors of adolescence to deal with.  Feeling like an outsider no matter where she goes, Marjane attempts to fit in only to feel like she is betraying her heritage, her religion, and her mother.  Heavy stuff for a teenager alone in a foreign land.

I loved teenage Marjane.  She is troubled, misunderstood, wanting to do the right thing but also wanting to fit in (rarely are these two wants the same when you are a teenager), and lonely.  She is exactly like every other teenager in the world and that is Satrapi’s gift.  She has created a complex, emotional bildungsroman that everyone can relate to and yet still find Marjane’s journey into adulthood interesting and unique.

For me, Persepolis 2 surpasses volume 1 in terms of story telling and narrative arc.  Instead of experiencing the world through the stories of those around her, Marjane is thrust out into the world on her own and she has to find something to hold onto to survive.  As she slowly becomes accustomed to certain aspects of Western culture, she realizes she is an outsider at home and abroad.

The novel follows Marjane for a decade as she progresses from adolescence to adulthood.  Through it all, she continues to struggle with being part of a culture that refuses to acknowledge her basic human rights simply because she is a woman.  But in the end, Marjane stays true to herself and becomes and inspiration for girls everywhere.

Written by JP Weezey

March 19, 2012 at 8:00 am

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Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

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Precocious children walk a fine line between endearing and annoying.  That precocious boy from Jerry McGuire?  Annoying.  Hit-Girl from the graphic novel Kick-Ass and movie of the same name?  All kinds of awesome.  But Hit-Girl is one of only a few precocious children who didn’t make me cringe after every sentence she uttered.

The annoyingness level of precociousness is subjective, and I admit I have a low-tolerance for precocious children, but I was completely annoyed by the child Marjane.  I felt Satrapi tried too hard to make her quirky and she just ended up being irritating.

But that’s not to say I didn’t like Persepolis.  In fact, I rather enjoyed the novel, and once the story moved from Marjane and began focusing more on the world and lives of those around her, I was really drawn in.  Satrapi’s skill lies in explaining complex histories succinctly without making it feel like you’re reading a history book.  Marjane grows up amidst a revolution and turmoils that have been brewing for decades, and we learn about what’s going on in Iran through conversations with her family, friends, and constant protests in the streets.

Check out the artwork:

I love how she uses the monochrome palette to her advantage by effectively filling panels with deep blacks and stark whites.  She has a simple, clean drawing style which really keeps the story flowing.

Persepolis took a while to grow on me but when it did, I was glad I stuck with it.  Satrapi does a great job of bringing a land in the midst of a revolution to life for those who live in a world where torture and bombings are just vague ideas.

Written by JP Weezey

March 16, 2012 at 8:00 am

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