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Monday, July 15, 2019

Reader's Diary #2064- Bridget Canning: Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Maintain its Romance


Bridget Canning's "Newfoundland and Labrador Considers How to Maintain its Romance" is actually part 2 of a series of flash fiction stories from Canning, but I think it largely works as a standalone.

I say largely because I did find it jarring when I first realized that the province is being personified. Not that there was anything wrong with that (Wayne Johnston also did it pretty effectively with Colony of Unrequited Dreams) I just wasn't expecting it and I wonder if Part 1 set it up better.

Still, it definitely captures it. The line "Those who've left you get served a lifetime of nagging desire, a leaky faucet of yearning they can't turn off" particularly resonated with me.

I'm also a sucker for stories written in the 2nd person.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Reader's Diary #2063- Seanan McGuire (writer), Rosi Kampe (artist): Spider-Gwen Ghost-Spider

Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider is an off-shoot of Christo Gage's Spider-Geddon run. There's a scene in the latter in which Spider-Gwen is zapped away and trapped in another parallel universe and this tells her her time away.

In this reality, she encounters another version of herself who has succumbed to the dark side, become a villain in the vein of the Green Goblin (Gwen-Goblin). Spider-Gwen agrees to help Peter Parker and Mary Jane capture Gwen-Goblin and revert her back to hero-dom. In return, they agree to get back to the universe where she left to help all the other Spider-people defeat the Inheritors.

The Gwen-Goblin story line is okay. And I suppose there's something to be said about how we can can be pushed or pulled by life into good/bad directions, even a message about redemption-- but really that's been explored in the Spider-Verse stories before. I thought the collection worked best, however, once that Gwen-Goblin arc ended and Spider-Gwen returned. It maybe didn't work as well at that point as a standalone but as an extension of Spider-Geddon, it revisited some of the deaths that occurred and gave them more emotional heft than we'd been given previously.

The art wasn't my favourite. It reminded me somewhat of Howard Chaykin's work, of which I'm not a fan. His line work especially looked rushed. For the most part it wasn't that bad but some panels were real doozies.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Reader's Diary #2062- D. Boyd: Chicken Rising

When my wife first started coming home from university with and meeting my parents, she was taken aback somewhat by our tone with one another. We were loud, snippy, and some mornings if we were up before her, she'd awake thinking, to our surprise, that we were in an argument.

In D. Boyd's memoir about growing up in New Brunswick, she doesn't mention the volume of her parents voices, but they seemed loud. They also seemed, at times, a bit cruel. Usually finding fault, that sort of thing. I related to that as well.

But Boyd recalls it all with lots of humour, glimpses of insightfulness, and love. Her mother eventually develops more as a character and we see the softer side. Her dad, not so much, though nothing comes across as bitter even if it's clear that Boyd still doesn't agree with many of their parenting choices.

The art is great, simple but with just enough exaggeration and expressiveness to sell the emotions and humour and great use of details and shading to highlight her great talent.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Reader's Diary #2061- Jody Houser (writer), Stefano Martino (artist): Stranger Things the Other Side

Yes, like many others, I'm a fan of Netflix's The Stranger Things. Still working my way through the third season, but it's been great so far. The third episode may be one of the best they've ever done.

Wondering what we'll do when it eventually ends, I was pleased to see that Dark Horse comics picked up the comic book rights as the sci-fi/fantasy/80's homage series seems tailor made for comics.

And so far so good with Jody Houser and Stefano Martino's The Stranger Things: The Other Side graphic novel. This story revisits the first season of the show, but from a different angle; showing Will's adventure in the Upside Down. A couple of notes on that:

1. If you haven't seen the show, you likely have no idea what I meant by "the Upside Down" and likewise, I'm not sure that the book can standalone.

2. Houser totally nails the tone of the show. I am curious though about stories beyond the show and if they (Dark Horse, Jody Houser if she's still on board) ability to tell brand new stories. This one's plot doesn't break new ground.

Monday, July 08, 2019


Reader's Diary #2060- Gay Degani: Abbreviated Glossary


Gay Degani's "Abbreviated Glossary" is a flash fiction unlike no other. Well, maybe. I was reminded in a couple of ways of Hemingway's classic "Baby Shoes." Imagine that story as a blink in a series of life.

It's powerful and speaks volumes about life's rapid fires. It's told in chunks but they fuse together almost miraculously.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Reader's Diary #2059- Christos Gage (writer), various artists: Spider-Geddon

I do enjoy the Spider-Verse, the idea of many Spider-People, variations on a Spider-Man theme across multiverses coming together. I enjoy it actually a lot more than I thought I would, initially fearing it would result in a too-crowded world and losing sight of solo characters. The movie especially showed that such concerns could be overcome, but I also enjoyed the Spider-Verse comics collection from a few years back.

I didn't, however, find Spider-Geddon to be as successful. First off, it's really just a rehash of Spider-Verse. There are a couple of new fun characters (a favourite is Spiders-Man, a massive mound of live spiders in the shape of Spider-Man and collectively acting, er...somewhat, as the singular hero) but this time around it does feel too busy. It's hard to even care about the familiar ones when their masks never come off and they only get a line here or there let alone connect to the newbies. Even the villains, the vampire-esque Inheritors are lackluster this time around. Especially annoying was their tendency to dismiss the Spider-people as non-threats when clearly they were defeated before. Now instead of making them seem threatening, they just come across as stupid.

More appealing for me were the one-off stories in the Spider-Vault at the end, showing some of the new Spider variations in action in their own universes. These felt more creative and finally meant to do some character development.

)As a side note, has their ever been a Spider-Man variation who was LGBT or Q? How about one that wasn't able-bodied?)

Friday, July 05, 2019

Reader's Diary #2058- Tasha Spillett and Natasha Donovan: Surviving the City

Tasha Spillett and Natasha Donovan's Surviving the City isn't long at 54 pages; more of a comic than a graphic novel, but like a good short story manages to fit a lot of great ideas in.

It deals with two teenage indigenous girls in Winnipeg, best friends. But one of them runs away, leaving the other devastated and worried. The streets are full of dangers.

It touches on a lot of themes and topics including Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, systemic/colonial racism and danger, friendship, and cultural customs. In that regard, there's no doubt that the book was intended to educate. But the story is strong and enthralling and the art is rich and engaging in terms of colours and symbolism.