Tag Archives: graphic novel

Groot by Jeff Loveness and Brian Kesinger

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Since the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie came out in 2014, comic fans everywhere fell in love with this previously little-known superhero team. Out of the whole group of loveable misfits, my favourite is probably Groot, the sentient alien tree. I think I’m not alone in this because Marvel Comics decided to give Groot his own solo adventure, written by Jeff Loveness and drawn by Brian Kesinger.

 

Even though he’s been to Earth many, many times, in Groot’s opinion he’s never really experienced Earth. So he talks his friend, Rocket Raccoon, into going on a road trip to Earth. The pair take the slow route, starting their adventure by hitchhiking through space (after their vehicle explodes). Along the way they encounter a bounty hunter named Eris who wants the enormous bounty on Groot. When Eris accidentally captures Rocket instead, she decides to use him as bait. But no one accounted for Groot taking his time. He comes to Ricket’s rescue in his typical slow way, having many adventures and meeting many new people on his journey to save his friend.

 

While Groot is a crazy and fun adventure (as befits a superhero story), it’s also a very touching tale about friendship. Groot always finds the best in everyone, no matter who they are and what they can do. He’s also filled with a rather childlike sense of wonder at seeing the beauty of space and the marvels of our own planet; his outlook will have you looking at the world around you with fresh eyes. Groot made me love this big-hearted tree more than I thought possible, and I’m sure you’ll feel the same if you give this graphic novel a chance

Magic: the Gathering Volume 1

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magic the gatheringWhen I was younger I played a lot of Magic: the Gathering.  But as time has passed, I’ve kind of lost interest in the actual card game.  But that doesn’t mean I’ve lost interest in the world of Magic.  The multiverse and the various planes they’ve created have been fascinating and a lot of fun.  And some of their planeswalkers (people who can move between the worlds of the multiverse) are incredibly interesting, too.

Take Dack Fayden, the hero of IDW’s Magic: the Gathering comic series which is written by Matt Forbeck (the first issues are collected in Magic: the Gathering Volume 1).  Fayden is a thief.  But not just any thief: he can move between worlds.  So when he steals something, no one can catch him unless they, too, can move between worlds.  How cool is that?

But when Fayden steals a nasty-looking dagger from Ravnica’s Cult of Rakdos, it sends him on a journey to the plane of Innistrad.  There he hopes to pick up the long dead trail of the woman who murdered his entire village.

Magic: the Gathering Volume 1 was a very fast-paced and fun read.  It shows off three planes in the Magic: the Gathering multiverse and hints at a fourth (which we’ll get to see in Volume 2).  The story was unfortunately a bit short, but I’m definitely looking forward to reading more!

iZombie

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izombieIn the middle of this zombie craze, most people are reaching for The Walking Dead.  But if you’re not interested in a gritty and often depressing story, you might want to give iZombie a try instead.  iZombie is the story of Gwen, a zombie who needs to eat at least one brain a month or she’ll become a drooling monster.  She works at a graveyard, burying bodies during the day and digging them back up at night for snack.  But the brains come with memories and desires from the deceased; to quiet their voices, she has to finish up whatever the dead left unfinished.  And so she goes off with the help of her two best friends, Ellie, a ghost from the 1960’s, and Scott, a were-terrier, to lay the dead to rest.

iZombie has an almost Scooby-Doo-like feeling, thanks to both the mysteries Gwen and company are often solving and the art work of Michael Allred.  iZombie is a campy and fun read; it’s definitely worth checking out if you’d like a different kind of zombie story.

The Walking Dead

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walkingdeadgraphicI wanted to know what all the fuss was about The Walking Dead so I started reading the graphic novels.  The Walking Dead follows Rick, a cop who was shot on the job and awakens from a coma to find that the nursing staff have abandoned the hospital (and him).  Wandering around he finds undead monsters have taken up residence in both the hospital and  his town.  He manages to make his way home only to find his family missing.  And so he sets off to Atlanta, the one place he think his wife would have gone.

I’m really enjoying The Walking Dead because like any good zombie story, it’s not about the zombies.  The Walking Dead is about the survivors and how they cope in this terrible world.  Death is everywhere, possibly waiting for them around the very next corner.  And it’s not just from the zombies either; those left behind need to find food and water, too.  And with other people competing for resources, the survivors are having a hard time trusting others.  So if you’re looking for a good zombie story, give The Walking Dead a try.

Cowboys and Aliens

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I was really excited to see the recent movie “Cowboys & Aliens.”  Starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, I knew that whatever else it may be, it was going to be entertaining.  And in that regard, it totally lived up to my expectations; the movie starts out as a Western and then aliens attack.  It is a lot of fun, and Harrison Ford’s performance alone made the movie well worth watching.

When the movie was over I decided to watch a few of the behind the scenes features where I discovered that the movie is only inspired by the graphic novel; the movie is telling a completely new story.  So of course I had to go get the graphic novel to see just how different the two are.  Even knowing that these are two different stories, I was completely unprepared for just how different they were!  Yes there are cowboys, Native people and aliens who all end up fighting.  And yes, the cowboys and Native people must work together.  And there’s a helpful alien.  But that’s where the similarities end.

The biggest difference between the two is the narrative.  In the movie, the aliens show up looking for gold.  In the graphic novel, the aliens are compared to the Europeans who came to North America.  The aliens look at the Europeans as savages, much the same way the Europeans looked at the Native people.  The prologue shows the aliens subjugating another planet, enslaving or eliminating those people in much the same way the Europeans interacted with the Natives.  It’s disturbing seeing the images together.

The graphic novel also characterizes the aliens in a way the movie did not.  In the movie, the aliens were big and scary monsters.  The only one who is really characterized is the one who was hurt by Daniel Craig’s character; that alien has a large scar on its face, and clearly wants revenge.  In the graphic novel there are several different aliens who land together on the ship.  Their leader is a total jerk who thinks he’s superior and is damn well going to show it (ie. kill people) using all his technology.  His initial second in command questions his orders, and is swiftly replaced after a “friendly chat” to discuss things.  The aliens were also basically slavers, not bizarre and scary prospectors.  In this way it was much easier to relate to the graphic novel’s aliens; sure they’re different, but their motivations are human.

So if you’re looking for entertainment pure and simple, definitely check out the movie.  The cast and crew did a great job turning the Western on its head with aliens.  But if you’re looking for a much more thoughtful story that is easier to relate to, then the graphic novel is for you.

Bone by Jeff Smith

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Bone is a surprising read.  It starts out rather silly, following the Bone cousins Fone, Smiley and Phoney in their adventures after being kicked out of Boneville.  Phoney Bone, the master of terrible schemes, was run out of Boneville.   His cousins followed him because the three are a family; they look out for one another.  Soon Fone gets separated from Smiley and Phoney, and has to survive on his own in the valley during the winter.  There he meets Thorn and Gran’ma Ben, who agree to help him find his cousins once winter ends.

But all is not well within the valley.  The rat men grow bolder, preparing to wage war against the humans who defeated them years ago.  The rat men are also searching for the bone creature with a star on its chest, putting the three Bone cousins at the center of everything going on in the valley.

Jeff Smith’s art style also really adds to the fun.  The Bone cousins are really cartoony looking, which is in stark contrast to many of the backgrounds of the panels.  Kit Steinkellner, author of the blog Books Are My Boyfriends describes Bone as “Charlie Brown meets Lord of the Rings,” and this is most apparent from the art.

Bone starts out as a light and fun read, then slowly becomes epic in scope.  Overall, it has a fantastic story that people of all ages will enjoy.

Stitches by David Small

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Highly recommended! If you haven’t read a graphic novel before, make this your first!

This memoir is AMAZING. It is so powerful – so heart-wrenching – so disturbing – and so true. Hopefully none of us endured a childhood as devastating as David Small, but he has managed to make his experiences painfully relatable. I haven’t lived precariously, unsure of my relationships to others and especially my own body; but after reading Stitches I have a bit of an idea how it might feel.

David Small’s father treated childhood sinus infections with copious amounts of radiation. Unsurprisingly, he developed a growth on his neck. Shockingly, his parents and doctor responded to this very casually and he wasn’t operated on until three and a half years after his diagnosis.  He woke from the operation to find himself nearly mute with a horrific gash across his neck.

The story begins at age six and the operation isn’t until his early teens. This record of his early life echoes with enforced silence and David’s lack of voice and autonomy even before any surgical intervention.  Family relationships are exposed in their rawest form and the reader is left amazed at how anyone could possibly emerge from such an upbringing to live a positive life.

There are pages of this book that I had to close, put down, and think about before moving on (look out for any dream sequences). The images are so haunting. Some stories are just especially well-served by having accompanying illustrations and this is one of them. The reader experiences the shock of seeing David’s scar for the first time with him and acts as a witness to various other significant images.  Many pages have no words at all and are simply drawings. It sounds trite, but some of these pages say far more than those with dialogue.

This is one of those stories that reinforce our simultaneous belief in the human spirit’s resilience and the human being’s capacity for cruelty. It also serves to remind us that we never really know each other’s stories until we ask. Nothing about Small’s career as a successful children’s author and illustrator hints at the darkness and drive to survive outlined in Stitches.