Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Graphic Novels Read in June 2013

Depending on whether or not you count the two volumes of Maus separately, I only read three or four graphic novels in June, but those few were stellar. 

Maus, Vol. 1: My Father Bleeds History (1991) - Art Spiegelman

Maus, Vol. 2: And Here My Troubles Began (1993) - Art Spiegelman

There’s not much I can tell you about Maus that you haven’t already heard. What I will tell you is how I saw a group of guys react to it for the first time. The Guys Book Club that I lead at our library read the first volume for our June selection. Most of these guys (ranging in age from teen to guys approaching their 80s) had never read a graphic novel of any kind. We talked about the story itself and how graphic novels work. Several of the guys said that the format took them awhile to get used to, but they soon realized how the format made the story more powerful than it perhaps would’ve been in a text only format. 

We also had some great conversation about the themes of the book, including family, survival, guilt, how difficult it is to escape from the past, and of course, the Holocaust itself and everything connected with it. Although I had only asked them to read Volume 1 (our library system has several copies of Volume 1 and not as many of Volume 2), most of the guys went ahead and read Volume 2 anyway. If nothing else, these guys now have a greater appreciation of what the graphic novel format can do. I’m quite happy with that. 

5/5 for both volumes

Peter Panzerfaust Volume II: Hooked (2013) - Kurtis J. Wiebe & Tyler Jenkins

Volume I and Volume II previously discussed. 


The Complete Terry and the Pirates, Vol. 2: 1937-1938 (2008) - Milton Caniff

Hands down, Terry and the Pirates is my favorite comic strip of all time. I didn’t think the first volume of reprints from IDW’s The Library of American Comics series could be equalled, let alone surpassed, but Caniff outdoes himself here. The artwork is even more detailed, more spectacular, and more jaw-dropping. The detail in his depictions of China, ships, pirates, fights and more is simply incredible. Added to this are the Sunday pages, which resonate with life using a color pallet both rich and intricate. Comics don’t have to be this good, but Caniff obviously cared a lot about his art and it shows. 

I’ve spoken before about how difficult it must be to produce a daily strip. You have to quickly summarize what happened the day before, add to it, and provide a cliffhanger all in three or four panels. Caniff usually creates four panels, and although that means he’s working with less space on each panel, the detail remains sharp and intoxicating. Caniff was amazing at moving stories along quickly, yet keeping large arcs in place, never allowing them to become dull or tiresome. If you’ve never read these strips, I urge you to find a copy of Volume 1 and dive right in. You won’t regret it. 


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