Sunday, December 07, 2008

A mess o' graphic novels

I spent my reading time over the last few days on graphic novels. I quite like reading them, but I have a devil of time telling which ones to read. I have been relying on Amazon best of lists for awhile. I also have found luck with Powells end cap displays and the featured comics at the Multnomah County Library. Here are the recent reads.

Apocalypse Nerd by Peter Bagge. I know Bagge's work mostly from Reason magazine where his comics tend take potshots at both the right and left in an amusing way. This book is much darker than that work. The story focuses on two Seattle guys returning from a camping trip to find that Seattle has been nuked by North Korea. They quickly go into survival mode and find that morality is dependent on civilization. The light, goofy art is at odds with the subject matter although it helps lighten the tone quite a bit.

Too Cool to be Forgotten by Alex Robinson. In this book, a 40 year old goes into hypnosis to stop smoking and wakes as a teen in the 1985. Once there he recalls that in 1985 he smoked his first cigarette, so that if he says no he will be cured. Of course, there may be other reasons he started smoking. I found the best parts to be the adult recalling with regret the choices made in high school.

Strangeways: Murder Moon
by quite a few people. This one is a werewolf story set in the post-Civil War Wild West. The art is black and white, which makes for some confusion in places, but is otherwise excellent. The story is underdeveloped with frequent unresolved allusions, but it should please horror fans.

Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill. The name is terrible, but this is a great graphic novel. It collects the first six issues of the Locke and Key comic, hence the subtitle. The art in this book is excellent with great transitions, horrific images and characterizations. Hill is an accomplished novelist and short story writer, so it isn't surprising that the story here is excellent. The final pages are clearly a set up for the next set of stories, but this is a complete, and satisfying, story in and of itself. The book has a trailer which you can see here.

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