Reading graphic novels is such a pleasurable experience and can be an excellent way to convey simple to complex ideas. Many avid readers have a tendency to ignore graphic novels for they are perceived as maybe too simple and not profound enough. Reading them is surely very different from reading books, but it’s all a welcome challenge and can even pull readers out of deep reading slumps.
In May and June I read quite a bit but only 3 graphic novels. The first on the list was Storm. You guys must know who Storm is. She the black superhero featured in the Marvel comics’ Ex-Men. With her white long tresses and blue eyes, we find out the life of Storm as a young twelve-year-old trying to survive with a group of young people stealing in the streets, somewhere on the plains of Africa. They are being led by an adult master thief, Storm calls Teacher. Storm is already aware of some of her powers but not all of her capacity. She is learning slowly but surely about who she really is and what she is capable of.
The story was written by bestselling author Eric Jerome Dickey. He’s an African-American author who is known for having written contemporary fiction novels with relationship themes containing African-American characters. Some of his popular novels are Milk in My Coffee, Sister, Sister, Between Lovers, and the four-part Gideon series(detective series). I felt that Dickey was an interesting choice to breathe some life into this neglected superhero.
The comic was beautifully published and the story was interesting, however some explanations aren’t fully clarified. Nevertheless, the comic did its duty which was to help me escape and provide me with a light read. The artwork is detailed and colourful, while the artistic depiction of Storm as a twelve-year-old left me perplexed. She looked to be 20+ years old. I don’t know why, but comics are usually drawn by men who enjoy all their women in comics depicted with overtly shaped bodily features (even if they are supposed to only be 12). Even though, check it out. Storm is such a wonderful character that deserves to have her own X-Men film. Hint! Hint! For anyone out there that could actually make that happen. Please do.
My next adventure read had me travelling through space to a futuristic world in the popular growing comic Saga vol. 3. Hesitant to jump on this bandwagon at the beginning of this year, I decided to give it a try. The first volume introduces the reader to Marko and Alana. These 2 fantastic characters are described as the Romeo and Juliette of space. Although I feel that analogy is a simple version of a well put together graphic novel that combines societal commentary, science-fiction, creative uncanny characters, and high quality artwork.
The story is being recounted by Hazel the daughter of Alana and Marko. So, we know that in the end she will survive all the trials and tribulations of her parents, who are having a relationship that is forbidden and trying to escape from all the people who want them dead. Alana is from the Continent and Marko is from the Crown. In this real futuristic world they aren’t meant to be together. Hazel is a product of their love (a miracle she’s survived) and they spend each volume trying to protect her and to give her a good life. On their journey they encounter many strangely unique looking characters that give the story sentience. Through each episode we get closer to understanding the worlds of Marko and Alana and why their people are warring and have been for aeons. We root for them to finally find peace and happiness in this tragically war ridden world. Their adventures are what keeps the reader wanting more.
Volume three opened up so many new angles to the story that when it was over I would have liked volume 4 to already be by my side ready to devour. The artwork is done by Fiona Staples and the story is written by Brian K. Vaughan – the Dynamic Duo if you will! Definitely a series to pick up if you’re not squeamish about sex in comics and stories that take place in far off futuristic worlds.
The last but absolutely not the least of the graphic novels/comics I read in May and June 2014, was Chroniques de Jérusalem (Chronicles of Jerusalem in English) by Guy Delisle. This is a non-fiction graphic novel about Delisle’s stay in Jerusalem with his wife and children. While his Médecins Sans Frontières= Doctors without Borders wife performs her medical duties in Gaza and other citiess in Israel, Delisle discovers the complexities and idiosyncrasies of this vibrant, in constant movement country Israel. Delisle tries to record events and places through travel and meeting people, but soon realises that things are never as simple as they should be. He conveys to the reader the good, the bad and the ugly of Israel and he does it with a certain sense of humour that keeps the reader wanting more. I could have read this graphic novel in one day but it was so interesting and informative that I found myself reading slower to savour the moment. I visited Israel for about a week 16 years ago and there were stories that brought back memories for me. I also learned a lot about the culture that I didn’t know and hadn’t heard of before.
Delisle’s black and white simple style of drawing puts the accent on what he’s trying to say, but is pleasing to the eye. His artwork isn’t dark and gloomy like a lot of black and white comics. He’s managed to capture the essentials of the story harmoniously in 333 pages. This is a must read for everyone, especially those that don’t know much about the Middle East conflict. Check out this five-star winner of the best graphic novel in the Angloulême, France competition in 2012.
So what about you? Are you lovers of graphic novels, comics, or manga? Let’s chat below on why you are or aren’t. I definitely prefer graphic novels to comics, but hate manga. Shhh! Don’t let my daughters hear me saying that.