#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 2 Fave Graphic Novel/Comic

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Day 2 – Fave Graphic Novel/Comic:  Ok who doesn’t love The Boondocks?!  I love this comic for it’s laugh out loud humor and it’s pertinent social commentary.  The Boondocks explores the world through the eyes of two African-American brothers from the inner city of Chicago that are living with their grand-father in quiet suburb.  I started reading A Right to Be Hostile on Sunday and hope to have it finished at some point this month.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading The Boondocks I recommend this one and another one of my favorites The Boondocks:Public Enemy #2.

“Here’s the first big book of The Boondocks, more than four years and 800 strips of one of the most influential, controversial, and scathingly funny comics ever to run in a daily newspaper.”

“With bodacious wit, in just a few panels, each day Aaron serves up—and sends up—life in America through the eyes of two African-American kids who are full of attitude, intelligence, and rebellion. Each time I read the strip, I laugh—and I wonder how long The Boondocks can get away with the things it says. And how on earth can the most truthful thing in the newspaper be the comics?”
—From the foreword by Michael Moore (back cover of A Right to Be Hostile)The Boondocks McGruder

Aaron McGruder, Chicago born, started The Boondocks as a comic strip on an online music site called Hitlist.com.  McGruder is a jack of all trades since he is a cartoonist, writer, and producer.  He was also involved with screenwriting for the movie Red Tails, which covers the story of the prestigious Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, executive produced by George Lucas.  McGruder is also known for his frankness, his leftist views, and controversial statements made about BET (Black Entertainment Television) and attacks on black conservatives.  He often invited to speak on cultural and political issues.

My copy: A Right to Be Hostile, paperback – 256 pages

I’m an affiliate for The Book Depository. It would be much appreciated to click the link below if you’re interested in picking up any of my recommendations. It will help fund my incessant book buying.
http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading

 

A Month of Favorites: 5 Faves by Theme

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2 – 5 Faves by a Theme {eg. Audiobooks, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Mysteries, Books with Surprise Twists, Surprise Endings, Non-Fiction, Books That Made You Cry, Laugh Out Loud, Cringe, Book Boyfriends That Stole Your Heart, Apocalypse, Dystopian, Best books with kick ass girls, favorite siblings, couples, friends, most hated and loved villains} – link-up hosted at Estella’s Revenge.

 

5 Fave Graphic novels/Comics:

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1.  Chroniques de Jérusalem is an excellent way to become better acquainted with the complexities of Israel through the eyes of Guy Delisle.  He and his family move to Jerusalem because his wife is working for Médecins sans Frontière (Doctors without Borders).  There he finds out things up close and personal in this true account. It’s frustrating, shocking, funny, and informative.  The schematic black and white artwork contains loads of detail and is more and more endearing as the story develops.  You can read it in English too. The title is called Chronicles of Jerusalem.

 

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2.  Storm is a comic which recounts her life and the beginning of her powers.  I enjoyed this one but I didn’t love it.  Storm is drawn as a twenty something when in fact through most of the book she’s about thirteen years old.  That was a bit strange.  Otherwise the artwork is well done with beautiful colours. I mostly picked it up because I wanted to see how Eric Jerome Dickey was going to handle writing a comic. Not too bad Dickey.

 

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3.  Saga is one of the most popular comics read this year.  This fantasy/science-fiction comic follows two soldiers from two different races and planets that fall in love and betray the expectations of their people by having a baby and trying to make a solid family.  Interesting commentary on society while dazzling the eyes with creative colourful beings and monsters from the two worlds.  Who won’t like Saga?  Those who prefer linear stories with normal looking people doing normal things and without too much sex. Personally I loved it!

 

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4.  Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth was picked up on a whim.  I had heard a few people mention it and decided to try it out.  I was surprised by Chris Ware’s ability to convey so much sensitivity through the artwork, the graphics, and the mise en page.  It’s an autobiography about an ordinary man who one day has the possibility of meeting his father who abandoned him so many years before.  Every centimetre of this graphic novel has been thought out methodically to convey the emotions and themes of the story.  This is a really worthwhile graphic novel to pick up, especially if you haven’t yet found the style of graphic novel that speaks to you.  The cover and book size are very original.  This one is definitely a keeper.

 

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5.  L’Arabe du Futur (The Arab of the Future) is an autobiographical graphic novel that follows the life of the author Riad Sattouf.  The reader follows Riad and his parents (Syrian father and French mother) as they move from living in Libya under Khadaffi’s rule to the countryside of Syria in Homs.  It’s edifying seeing what it was like to live in Libya and Syria from 1978-1984.  I read this one in French, however it is available in English.  Those who have read this one can’t wait for part 2.

 

5 Fave Non-fiction:

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1.  Buck is the memoir of MK Asante.  He writes his story with a lot of passion and lyricism.  It’s like reading music.  If you’re interested in reading how someone who was spiralling downward manages to take control of his life and discover art, music, and the desire to create you should check this one out.  I liked it and I’m not always a fan of reading memoirs.

 

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2.  Red Dust Road is Jackie Kay’s search for her biological parents (her father a Nigerian and her mother a Scottish woman from the Highlands).  It’s poignant, sensitive, and uncomfortable in places.  It’s beautifully written and we as readers are really along for the ride as she searches for her parents. This was my first full length novel by Jackie Kay.  I first learned about her from Claire over at Word by Word.  She spoke to me about Kay’s poetry.  If you don’t know Jackie Kay you should definitely check her out because she’s a wonderful writer of color from Scotland. I can’t wait to read Trumpet and Reality Reality.  You can read her poetry online free of charge.

 

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3.  The Hare with Amber Eyes wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be but it is an interesting story of an extremely wealth Jewish family’s journey through Europe, and their netsake collection from Japan.  This is a story full of plush architectural descriptions to the idiosyncrasies of Edmund De Waal’s family.  From Russia to France to Austria and the United Kingdom, this story will teach you many things.  If you’re a history and art lover and appreciate intricate storytelling about real people and historical happenings you’ll love this one.

 

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4.  In the shadow of the Banyan is the stunning fictionalised true story of Vaddey Ratner’s years in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. This story is so well written it really took me aback.  The emotion described in this book was phenomenal!  All told through the eyes of a child and it’s this aspect that makes the story so special.  It will shock you and break your heart but this book is definitely a must read for those that want to know more about this dark period of Cambodia.

 

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5.  March is the first volume of the life of Congressman John Lewis.  This comic details the budding years of the Civil Rights Movement. March could be used as a teaching tool and is an excellent tribute to a great African-American.  The artwork is well done and has a unique style of mise en page.  I can’t wait to read volume 2!

May-June 2014 Reviews of Graphic Novels

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 IMG_0373eyes, 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 IMG_0282this 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 IMG_0156without 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.

22. Persepolis

A while back I watched a snippet of Persepolis with my family.  I immediately stopped when I realized it was written originally as a graphic novel.  I always prefer reading the book before seeing the movie.  This is a first for me reading a graphic novel and I got lucky and picked it up at WH Smith’s in Paris for only 9€.  I don’t usually read manga or comics but I found Persepolis a real pleasure.  So glad I read it!  So much so, I began reading at a slower pace to savor it longer.

This version is the complete version and has two books – The Story of a Childhood and The Story of a Return.  In essence Persepolis is the story of the Islamic revolution in Iran told by a precocious and free-speaking little Iranian girl.  It’s touching, shocking, humorous, surprising, and melancholy.  This amazing story shows that among all the extraordinary changes that happened during the revolution the Iranians were trying and fighting to live their lives as normally as possible, in spite of all the new laws and oppression.  People were falling in love, trying to study, getting married, working, surviving…….

Satrapi has written what she calls a fictionalized memoir.  She details the difficulties of life under the regime and life as a young Iranian living in Europe and being misunderstood, insulted, and mostly alone.  I think most people have their opinions about Iran but they would need to read this book to comprehend how these changes altered Iranians everyday lives forever; not to mention how their past culture has been thrown away and replaced by repression and fear.  What I took away from this book is, everybody wants to be happy and live life freely.   I give Persepolis 5 golden stars and strongly urge you all to read it.  You just might learn something.

Marjane Satrapi is an Iranian born French national.  She is a graphic novelist, illustrator, and animated film director.  She is multilingual and although her maternal language is Persian she additionally speaks German, Spanish, Swedish, French, and Italian.  She won the Jury Prize for Persepolis at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007.  Unfortunately, Persepolis was not in contention for the Oscar of Best Foreign film which frankly was an injustice.  It remained in the running for the Best Animated Feature Film at the Oscars where it lost to Ratatouille.  She has written other novels such as Chicken with Plums (film released in October 2011) and Embroideries.

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