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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Reader's Diary #1983- Duncan Tonatiuh: Undocumented A Worker's Fight

Most ratings and reviews of Duncan Tonatiuh's Undocumented: A Worker's Fight have been so favorable that I'd really had my hopes up for this one. Especially with the current prejudices against immigrants, I thought it could be a very timely, important story.

I'll grant that the art is quite good and interesting, the tale itself is so rushed it's underdeveloped. It begins with Juan's life in Mexico before sneaking across the US border. Finally in the US he is beaten and mistreated and taken advantage of, especially being underpaid. I really felt the need for more in the first half. There was such an opportunity to humanize this person that was blown. If life is that bad in the US, why go? What was his original motivation? I think we needed to see how bleak and desperate his life was in Mexico to fully appreciate the full story.

Likewise, I liked the characters voice and got some sense of his personality, but it was too short to really connect. It felt like a pamphlet.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Reader's Diary #1982- Cassandra Clare (writer), Cassandra Jean (artist): The Mortal Instruments 1

I'd heard of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series before but not read it. However, I wouldn't say that a familiarization is necessary to enjoy the graphic novel adaptation. (Perhaps if you did enjoy the originals it would even work against your enjoyment?)

I liked the fantastical blend of religion (angels and demons) and other mythology (vampires, fairies, werewolves, etc) and the art, very manga-ish with exaggerated swirls which complemented the goth-feel.

I did wish a bit more time was spent exploring the whole "fish out of water" trope with Clary the protagonist adjusting rather quickly to a sudden bizarre world around her, but the trade off was a fast paced story with mystery and danger.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Reader's Diary #1981- Mabry Hall: Rudolph

I'm not sure who caught the Saturday Night Live episode this weekend hosted by Jason Momoa but there was a darkly comedic sketch starring Pete Davidson as Rudolph. Mabry Hall's flash fiction piece "Rudolph" is similar to tone to that but with a bit more noir feeling.

It's entertaining, well-written, and though it has a cliffhanger ending still feels complete in and of itself.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Reader's Diary #1980- Wilfrid Lupano (writer), Gregory Panaccione (artist): A Sea of Love

Like Mel Tregonning's Small Things which I read just a month back, Wilfrid Lupano and Gregory Panaccione's A Sea of Love is another gorgeous wordless graphic novel.

This one is about a man separated from his wife from being lost at sea. It's more mature than Small Things but not risque or inappropriate by any means. It's amusing, has adventure, and there's a sweet love story to boot. The married couple seem a bit stereotypical in their gender roles at first, though the wife has a bit of an adventure of her own and seems to overcome her domestic, doting role somewhat. (She reminded me a little of Lady Jane Franklin, actually.)

But where the books shines is the art. The characters are exaggerated caricatures that reminded me of old French animation, while the backdrops are immaculately rendered in heavy, atmospheric water colours. Maybe these two styles should clash, but they wind up balancing out the story.


Saturday, December 08, 2018

Reader's Diary #1979- Cherie Priest (writer), Tara O'Connor (illustrator): Agony House

Just recently marked the 26th Literary Review's Bad Writing in Sex Award and as always these were a real treat to behold. So bad they're at the very least entertaining. But of course, it doesn't have to take a sex scene to come on a piece so spectacularly bad that it haunts you. There are plenty of books that I didn't enjoy this year but none had the distinction of having a memorably bad passage... until now.

He wasn't paying a lick of attention. He was too wrapped up in the chase, following his nose like a cartoon bird on a cereal box.

It's meant, I suppose, to be a funny simile, but man, is it ever corny and awkward. And it's particularly so since she seems to go out of her way to avoid referencing the actual character or the cereal. Yet elsewhere she name drops McDonald's and Wendy's. Would mentioning Toucan Sam and Froot Loops been that difficult? Not that it would have been a great sentence even with it, but it's just laughably bad this way.

To be fair though, the rest of the book isn't terrible to this extreme. I did find friendships rushed to the point of implausibility and the book's plot could have used some work (the worst for me was that it took a character the entire book to read a comic that, had she read it at any normal speed, could have probably solved the whole predictable mystery remarkably fast). But there were some aspects I liked; the comic parts themselves were well done and I enjoyed how they connected to the textual story, I enjoyed the New Orleans setting, and there were hints at least of weightier themes (gentrification, police racism, and so on).

Friday, December 07, 2018

Reader's Diary #1978- Sergio Ruzzier: Fox + Chick The Party and Other Stories

Sergio Ruzzier's Fox + Chick: The Party is an odd collection of 3 comics concerning a pair of friends known simply as Fox and Chick. The entire book is just 45 pages and formatted more to look like a traditional picture book, though it has panels and speech balloons.

What makes it odd though is the stiff dialogue and stories that just feel a little... off. In the first one for instance, Chick asks to use Fox's bathroom and doesn't come back out. When Fox checks on him, it turns out that Chick has invited his friends in through the bathroom window for a party.

The whole thing, the art and dialogue, feels old fashioned in a way. I wonder of some of this is cultural as Ruzzier originally hails from Italy.

Quirkiness aside, it was cute and amusing.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Reader's Diary #1977- Shea Fontana (writer), Yancey Labat (artist): DC Super Hero Girls Date With Disaster

I'm glad there are female lead superhero titles and I'm glad that there are some more child-friendly superhero comics, but Shea Fontana and Yancey Labat's DC Super Hero Girls: Date With Disaster isn't exactly memorable.

The story is fine and fun, though some of the girls on the team seem to be poor fits as superheros for those familiar with their more complex mature story lines. Still, I guess some of their personalities and attributes are kept in tact (Harley Quinn's accent for example) and I was exposed to some characters that I'd not come across before (such as the Wasp knock-off, Bumble Bee).

The art, though bright, was also not my cup of tea. All the characters looked like Bratz Dolls (especially off-putting for Commissioner Gordon), and looked done by a computer; which is not a problem per se just not my own personal preference.