Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Arrival rewrite

The Arrival is a beautifully illustrated wordless comic created by Shaun Tan.  The gorgeously done realistic pencil drawings help Tan create a very believable, realistic world. The tiny square panels he uses through out most of the comic feel like snapshots from a film. The story is very clear and even through it is set in a surreal fantasy world, it is a story that we know. It is a story of immigration. The sepia tone adds to the feeling of the piece. It feels old. Like photographs of immigrants from the early 1900’s.
The format for the comic is very clean and simple. The panels are neatly organized and only include information that is necessary to understand the story. I feel this is part of why the comic is so successful even without dialogue. Tan saves his detailed images for his splash pages. Which are works of art.  The comic is also very broken down. All the actions and emotions are shown in several beats. It reads like storyboards for a film.
The comic had a lot of charm and beauty to it, from the interesting animals that cohabit the city, to the wacky clothing and everyday items he invented for the world. Tan created a very complete and engaging universe that. I would love to see it be made into a film, or perhaps just another comic involving it. I think that is a testament to its success, when you leave the audience wanting more of your world.

Persepolis Volume 1

Persepolis was a really interesting graphic novel. Having no knowledge of the Iranian culture before reading it, I found the book it quite fascinating. I can't imagine what it must have been like to live through a war. Reading about it makes me feel like the events of my life are so easy and trivial. Marjane is so strong in the book. she is just a kid in most of the first volume but she is bolder and more firm in her beliefs than most adults I know. I admire her for it. I guess going through a war would make you like that. She had to see a lot of her friends and family die. I was sad about her uncle that she looked up to dieing. He seemed like such a good person. 
I can't imagine at 14 being sent away to another country where you don't even know the language. It must have been one of the hardest decisions her parents ever had to make. It shows just how much they love her. 
I liked the art style a lot. The thick black lines makes it feel more Iranian... whatever that means. It's not cartoony but its not realistic either. I'm not sure how to classify the art style. It reminds me a lot of a comic called Epileptic. It also had a similar thick black line style.
I heard that the movie is done in a similar style, but that they skip over some stuff covered in the book. I think I'll have to watch it sometime and find out for myself.

Monday, April 16, 2012

JTHM and Webcomics

I have been a fan of Johnen Vasquez’s works since I was around 15.  I had read all of the Johnny the Homicidal Maniac comics around that time, so it was a bit nostalgic to revisit them. The comics are pretty dark. It has sort of a dry dark comedic quality. I don’t think I find it as entertaining as I did when I was younger. It’s still pretty funny. Mostly how matter of fact NNY’s attitude is about the violence he commits.  The art style is very dingy and ugly and it plays in nicely with the subject matter of the comic.
 All of the comics have side comics within them, like Noodle Boy. I like some of them but I never liked Noodle Boy. I didn’t find him funny. I do however love Squee. The Squee book is my favorite in the JTHM series. I love that NNY and Squee have this sort of friendship thing. I’m glad that Johnen Vasquez never had NNY kill squee… that would have made my stop reading the comic.  

I am a big fan of web comics. I have several regulars that I read and I often will come across a new web comic, devour it and move on. My three regular comics that I keep up with are FAMIB, Kagarou, and Paranatural. FAMIB and Kagarou are comics I’ve been following since I was a teenager. Paranatural is a new one that I’ve added to my mix this past year.

FAMIB, which stands for Fire Always Makes it Better, is a dark comic that takes place in an alternate futuristic reality. It follows the journey of a quiet dark boy named Thomas who is somehow linked to a murderous dragon. In the world of the comic, dragons are like any other animal on the planet, but the one that is linked to Thomas is different. It can talk and has the same intelligence as a human. The world that Britt C. H. has created is very complete and it draws you in.

Kagerou is about Kano, who is a psychotic red headed wimp who gets pulled from the normal world into an alternate dimension. Kano is pulled there by the Gods of that world who have chosen him as their savior. Kano is very wimpy and mentally unstable so he doesn’t really make a good savior. He is also possessed by other people who pop up from time to time and cause havok. It’s a very long, and very interesting comic. It sadly doesn’t update to regularly. Sometimes the author will start updating weekly and other times you can go a few months waiting for something new.

Paranatural is a new comic. It’s not very far into the story yet, but I am interested by it. It’s about a kid who moves to a new town and he starts to see ghosts. The art for the comic is just great. The characters expressions are hilarious. I wont say much about the plot since it’s not to far into the story and I don’t want to ruin anything.  It’s a fun read though.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Arkham Asylum

Arkham Asylum is done in such a cool and creepy way. In a lot of the panels its hard to tell exactly what I am even looking at. It's dark and dirty and contains muted and super vivid colors simultaneously. I love it, but it makes me uncomfortable at times to read. I haven't really read any of the traditional batman comics, though I know the story from the movies and the TV show. This comic is so much cooler than I had imagined a batman comic to be. The story line helps I think. It's less of action crime fighting and more psychological thriller.
The comic is a work of art. It is so different than what you normally see; in some panels there are photographs, in others thick paint, and others are done in rough pencil. All of this really adds to the feeling of the comic. You feel the madness that lives in the Asylum. It's done in such a way that I find the comic scarier than a horror movie. The comic feels more real than most too. I think this has to do with the use of photographs and realism.
I knew almost instantly that Arkham's kid and wife were going to be murdered by the mad man when they mentioned him. I wish there had been a way to hold that knowledge off a bit. I enjoyed the end. There was no big resolution which I guess fits a story like Batman, since the fight between him and Joker goes on forever. I enjoyed that they ended it on Twoface making a decision to let Batman go.
I'd love to see this made into a movie somehow. It would have to be done in a way that would preserve the intense style. I'm not sure if that's possible, but it would be certainly cool.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fun Home

So I read Fun Home this past week and I have to say it was my favorite things I have read all semester. I couldn't put it down. I was actually almost late for a class because I didn't want to stop reading it! Biographical comics are my favorite genre so that helped peak my interest in it. As soon as I started reading it I felt an instant connection to the family. It is very similar to mine in a lot of ways; how they interact with each other, their constant redecorating, and their booky introverted nature.

I liked how the author/artist did a nonlinear time structure for the comics; it kept it interesting, the constant flipping back and forth from past to future. The art was also really appealing to me. I thought the style worked well with the subject of the book. It was simplified cartoony but not super cartoony and the line quality wasn't perfect, which I liked.

I feel bad for Alison, she has to live the rest of her life thinking that her coming out is what drove her father to kill himself. It seems like an enormous burden. In reality I’m sure there were a million reasons for his suicide.

I was expecting the funeral home to play a larger part in the story, but it was really pretty minor, just another detail of their abnormal life. All the constant literary references in the comic really made me was to go read the books if mentioned.

It was really sad when the comic ended. It’s one of those pieces that you read and it sticks with you for a while.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ghost World

Ghost world was a weird and interesting comic. Having grown up in the 90's I think I can relate to it. It has a familiar feeling. I can also relate to it, having moved away from my home town and leaving my best friend from high school. I guess that is what makes it such a good comic, is the relatability. It can be hard sometimes when you now you have a grow as a person, but you don't want to leave behind someone who might not be ready to enter the next phase of life.
It's funny, the characters were not really likable until close to the end. The main character seemed so mean all the time. I didn't fully understand why the blond girl hung out with her. I did really like how there hobby was watching and analyzing strange people. It made me want to go find a small dinner and do the same. The story had an undertone of sadness throughout the whole thing. The end was definitely bittersweet. It was good that both characters where growing but to do that they had to separate. It was a good ending because it felt real. That's what happens in life, things change, people change, and they move on.
I liked the art style, especially the blue shading. The blue shading was really appealing, and also for some reason to me makes it feel like the 90's. I think that might just be a personal association though. I liked that the artist drew most of the characters as ugly. It added to the "realness" of the comic.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Osamu Tezuka's Buddha Vol. 1

Tezuka's Buddha was an interesting read. It was strange but neat to see an Indian story done in a Japanese format. The art style was ok but not my favorite. It feels like the older 80's manga style, like Astroboy. I found it interesting that there was so much nudity in it, but you really don't notice it. Chapra's mother was half naked and Tatta was fully naked throughout the whole story! I wonder if that's how it was during that time in India.
The story definitely made me want to get the other volumes. It was pretty long, but an easy read. I was sad that they killed off Chapra and his Mother at the end but I guess the next volume probably follows Tatta and the baby that was just born. I was waiting the whole book to see how the other story line was going to tie in, but then it didn't yet so now I practically HAVE to read the other volume.
I found it strange how everyone in the story "adopts" each other as major roles in their lives, like mother and father and brother. Like how a few panels after Tatta has his gang of miscreants pee all over Chapra they declare each other to be brothers now. I noticed the characters do that in the movie Barefoot Gen. Perhaps its a Japanese thing?
My favorite part in the book was how the animals were drawn. They were very cute and I liked the idea that everyone was learning that their lives were worth just as much as the animals. I think this is a lesson that a lot of people should learn today.
The manga is not something I would probably pick out for myself at a bookstore to read, but I really ended up enjoying it.