graphic novels

All posts in the graphic novels category

Review Roundup!

Published October 10, 2017 by admin

Time to see what I’ve been up to this week!

anyasghost

I’m looking at some creepy YA graphic novel offerings this month, so of course I had to go with the classic Anya’s Ghost for Books by Violet! A tale that really hits on the outsider theme in school/teen years, it also includes a really unique ghost and some truly unnerving moments. Read the full review here!

 

babyandme

 

I’m back at I Smell Sheep with another manga review! This time it’s the shojo-tastic, downright adorable Baby & Me. If you want a decent-sized series that’s full of cute to take your mind off your troubles, this is definitely one to check out. Read the full review here!

 

 

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Free Flash Fic, Reviews, & More

Published September 26, 2017 by admin

New stuff for your Tuesday! Note – I’m still catching up on personal correspondence from the last week. I’m working on a few possible future things lately, so I’m balancing that with trying to get media organized again, and some other things, as well. So I am getting there.

Congrats to the winner of the birthday caption contest – Rie Sheridan Rose! Thanks for participating, and I’ll be in contact about ze prize.

 

littlefishcover

New YA graphic novel review up for Books by Violet – this week I’m looking at the illustrated memoir of a small-town girl going off to art school: Little Fish. 

 

 

Fruits_Basket_manga

I accidentally missed the second of my manga reviews for I Smell Sheep, so here it is. I’m starting everyone off nice and easy with a feel-good shojo story with some interesting twists and turns: the classic title, Fruits Basket!

saturn

This is the most recent manga review for I Smell Sheep – a shorter series at only seven volumes, but still really interesting. Think Snow Piercer mixed with sci-fi mixed with a more kid friendly rating. It’s excellent, I swear. To read my full review on Saturn Apartments, go here!

 

hornguy

I participated in this month’s Ladies of Horror flash picture project – and was given the above image. To see what I did with it (and to read it and other free flash horror stories), go here!

 

 

 

SJ Reads: Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things

Published September 4, 2017 by admin

 

courtney crumrin

So since September is my birthday month (I will take your adulations in the form of praise, reviews, and other related worship), this month’s SJ reads will cover stories that have really reached up through the nostrils and grabbed me by the soul.

Today, we look at the Courtney Crumrin series by Ted Naifeh.

It took a few years of reading book one, not finding it again, and tracking down the actual title to read the rest of the series to really figure out what this is. And wow. Just…wow. Although its aim is a YA audience, I fell in love.

The plot is Courtney and her yuppie moves in with her Uncle Aloysius, who lives in an upscale town. She’s the typical new kid being bullied up until the moment she tries to take a shortcut through the woods and her only friend gets eaten by a goblin.

Obviously, this thing was meant for me.

You see, Uncle A is actually a warlock, and through her own explorations, Courtney learns magic, herself.  There are a lot of fun tropes explored in new ways, and a lot of heartbreaking stories, as well, like Courtney trying to protect a simple forest creature caught between the woods and Faerie, a human torn between her own life and the one her heart yearns for, and the complex relationship between Courtney and her uncle. The whole town is secretly prosperous because of the witches and warlocks who run it, and there’s a lot of internal politics that are fascinating, too. The stories are grounded in amazing folklore, from changelings to Tommy Raw-head, to Goblin Town/Faerie, to a trip to eastern Europe where we run into werewolves and vampires. Everything slowly winds things up a notch and throws the relationship between Courtney and her uncle and their abilities to deal with emotions into question.

I love that a lot of different kinds of people are represented in this. I love that Courtney is somewhat unlikeable and you still pull for her. I love that a lot of your assumptions in the first book are suddenly turned in the last. I love that there are actual high stakes and permanent consequences. I love all the little asides that you catch if you’ve grown up reading folk and faerie tales. I just plain love it.

I also love the art and if I had money would totally have Ted Naifeh draw on all my walls, because now I want nothing more than to hang out with Butterworm and run around Goblin Town. I love most of his work, but he really, truly shines when he’s illustrating his own stories. It’s just such a whole other level it isn’t even funny.

Totally recommend this for middle school on up. If all you can find is the first volume, Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things, it actually reads pretty much like it’s own thing. The other volumes run the gamut between being episodic and arcing more together as you go along.

Find the first volume here!

SJ Reads: American Vampire

Published August 28, 2017 by admin

 

So, as we all know, I love vampires in general, especially when they’re done well. I’ve mentioned American Vampire on here before, but I recently reread/caught up, and this just affirms that more people need to read this series.

american vamp

The concept of vampires through history isn’t a new one, but it’s really interesting how this series just goes for it, as well as picking some interesting moments. Sure, in some cases it goes for the obvious ones (WWII being the easiest choice), but a lot of times it explores stuff I wouldn’t have thought of, like 1920s Hollywood, Boulder Dam in the 30s, various parts of the 1800s, the space battle of the 60s.

Oh yes, there are vampires in space. The thing is, though, that even when you think things are going off the rails and it’s going to completely crash and burn…somehow the next volume pulls it out and makes it amazing again. Things that could be completely corny like a greaser slayer or the mentioned vampires in space really explore parts of characters in ways that I didn’t see coming.

So basically the whole plot is Skinner Sweet is this vampire turned in the 1800s – in this comic, vampires have powers specific to where they’re located and how they’re turned and Skinner is the first “American” vampire, having attributes that are different and stronger than what’s come before. It’s also interesting that instead of exploring other paranormal creatures like werewolves and the like, the mythology makes them a type of vampire that people /assume/ to be man-wolves or whatever. So basically everything paranormal is vampires. Which is gutsy. Sometimes it works better than others, but it does help to tie the universe together. There’s also a parallel plot exploring an organization bent on stopping vampires, so you have the slayer element as well. The downside is it’s sometimes hard to keep the timelines and characters straight, especially in the volume format. Honestly, though, at the end of the day, it’s still a really fascinating series. The series is really good at exploring society – be it segregation, class warfare, immigration, modernization, the works. You do have some jump the sharky moments – there’s an anthology volume that I’m not particularly fond of, the Dracula arc seems a little random, and while I’m fascinated by the current Gray Trader arc, it also kind of seems like cheating to introduce a whole other big bad to make Skinner more heroic.

Because, at the end of the day, yeah, there are a lot of great and interesting characters, but Skinner is the best in this thing, with maybe Pearl as competition. Whereas Pearl’s battle focuses more on the traditional vampire vs what’s left of her humanity, Skinner has always been a self-serving bad dude, from his outlaw days to the current arc. He does do some heroic things, but I would hope that the writers keep to his core nature – brutal, self-serving, side-switching, and inadvertently hilarious. And somehow, you still end up feeling for him.

The art is also just incredible – the variety of vampire art used throughout the series is diverse and insane, as well as all the research that must have gone into planning all the historical details.

Find vol 1 here

Any other vampire fans get into this series? How far have you gotten? What are your thoughts on all the changing arcs? Favorite vampire type?

Stuff I’m doing

Published August 22, 2017 by admin

A short one this week, since the other link of what I’m up to isn’t live yet. There will be a new flash piece from me for the Ladies in Horror project soon – I’ll likely have that to post next week. I’m also back working with I Smell Sheep to do regular manga reviews geared to non-manga readers. Ie, I read it and spell it out for you so you know if you like it or not. So be on the lookout for that, soon.

In the meantime, I’m back at Books by Violet to bring you my weekly YA graphic novel reviews. This week is a series near and dear to my heart – The Adventures of Superhero Girl. This is one of those that I read when I’m down, and I’ve been getting a lot of mileage from it lately. To the point where I may have tweeted Faith Erin Hicks asking if Superhero Girl would let me move to Canada and be her roommate. I was fast reminded of SG’s tendency to not pay rent, but I’d just like to point out that that wasn’t a complete no…

Fangirling aside, this is a super-cute (ha, see what I did there) series, and one that’s great for all ages. Check out my full review here!

SJ Reads: The Unwritten

Published August 21, 2017 by admin

Today’s SJ reads is another graphic novel/comic series, since that’s our theme this month. I’d heard the title The Unwritten kicked around for a while, but not really taken the chance to investigate it. Then, when I had worked my way through a two-month long manga binge and was craving something else, I checked out the first couple of volumes from the library.

Holy. Guac.

I mean, it’s Mike Carey, so it’s not going to be bad, but seriously, guys, this series is amazing. Picture Harry Potter mixed with Christopher Robin mixed with every genre ever (including children’s lit), mixed with conspiracy theory, mixed with Jung, and you might come close to describing The Unwritten. Maybe.

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So we open with Tom Taylor doing conventions, because his dad is a famous author noted for writing a series that would be similar to Harry Potter in our world, and the main character coincidentally is named Tommy Taylor and looked like him as a boy. Things really get going when an audience member questions if he’s really who he thinks he is during a panel (welcome to every panelist’s worst nightmare). What follows is a long, winding story where Tom struggles to figure out if he’s real or fictional, how his world crosses with the literary or how that’s even possible, all while fighting a strange cabal of people known as the Unwritten, who have lived throughout history making sure that only the write message gets written. He also has to deal with what his father did to him and turned him into. Helped by the questioning lady in the audience who may or may not be sane (or real), and a reporter, and a few other people who may or may not have his interests at heart, this is a fast-paced, intricate romp through not just fantasy, but also a lot of really interesting literary paths. We fall into Moby Dick and other titles, go back and forth in history, go to Hades, go to a kid’s world that is reminiscent of Beatrix Potter or the Hundred Acre Wood – there’s even a crossover with Fables (admittedly, since I’m the one person who absolutely isn’t a fan of Fables and since that volume really didn’t affect the plot one way or the other, that’s the one weak part of the series for me).

Also, this series has balls. I will warn you, there is language, there is violence, stuff gets dark. If you’re going into this expecting Not!Harry Potter fanfic or happy fantasy time, this is not that. At all. The stakes are high. If you ever wondered what would happen if your YA fantasy friends grew up and had to play their adventures straight, this is definitely the series for you. I can’t say much or I’ll give it away, but the ending is also one of the best series endings I’ve ever read. As I went along, admittedly I began thinking that there was only one real possible exit if things were being played out to their logical conclusion…but no way a series author would go there, right?

Oh, he did. He goes there. And it is magnificent.

So yeah, if you want something different, if you feel like you’ve aged out of Harry Potter or want some dark fantasy that also explores some high concepts, check this one out.

You can find vol 1 here

 

SJ Reads: Lucifer

Published August 14, 2017 by admin

At this point I figure most of the people who are reading this are going to at least be aware of Sandman. If you aren’t, let me know, and I’ll cover it in a later post. I’ve found, though, that at least within my own friend/writing circle, not as many people are familiar with Lucifer.

 

lucifer cover

Okay, calm down. Here’s the thing. If you’re familiar with the show, this is not that. If the whole religion in fantasy gets you hepped up, that’s perfectly cool. You don’t have to read it, like it, or agree with me. If that’s the case, you may want to skip this one.

For those who really are into dark fantasy and want a longer title that will take a while to get through, especially if you’ve already done Sandman and loved it, you’ll want to check this out. Picking up where Lucifer is running a piano bar with his Lilim companion Mazikeem, continuing the theme of being bored with the role he’s been cast in.

Things to know:

He is still manipulative and scheming and there is a lot of magical politics and entrapment, so he’s not altogether a hero in this series, even though he’s a protagonist. He definitely does things his own way and plays things hard and fast, and has to deal with the complications of that, even when he wins.

He’s less of the booga booga destroy humanity figure and more along the lines of trying to prove his views to his brother angels and God. At one point, they have to band together to save reality, which is an interesting experience.

Basically, through various machinations, Lucifer creates a side universe parallel to ours which has a lot of consequences and effects. The series also explores what machinations other angels have gotten up to, along with the desires of a living deck of tarot cards and the daughter of Michael, so there’s a lot going on. This is less good vs evil and more free will vs predestination and a whole lot of various characters trying to find their place in the universe(s). There’s a lot of separate adventure arcs, mythological figures, and a lot of interlocking pieces. People that show up in the beginning that you think are gone reappear, and the ending truly had me turning pages at a mad pace.

If you like how detailed and rich Sandman is, you’ll love this. If you like various mythologies being played with and combined, you’ll love this. If you like super entwining plots and really vivid art and dream-like storylines, this is for you.

This has been published in several forms – you’ll find volumes and books on amazon. I prefer by book because you have a lot of content that interconnects, and it’s easier to flip back if you think you’ve missed something.

Find book one here

Have you read this series? Like it better or less than the TV show? Who’s your favorite character or what’s your favorite part? Let me know!