You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Graphic Novels’ tag.

Scan 7I absolutely love HP Lovecraft; I gave a bit of background to my adoration when I reviewed one of his short stories during an ill-fated challenge to read 100 short stories in a year, and that still stands. He got to me young and I haven’t even tried tear myself away from the eldritch world of Cthulhu and the Elder Ones.

At the Mountains of Madness is probably my favourite Lovecraft novella and I was excited when the Book God pointed out that a graphic novel of said tale had been published and of course I had to get it. Rather good it is too, capturing the horror of the ill-fated Miskatonic University expedition of 1930 without being too gruesome.

At the same time I came across a short e-book called Ice Cores, a set of essays on ATMOM which look at the influences on Lovecraft which may have had an impact on his writing of the novella , as well as the context in which he wasIMG_0064 writing, and a bit on the story’s publication history. The author links fascination with the polar regions right back to Frankenstein, some of Poe’s stories (Arthur Gordon Pym for one) and in turn some works that Lovecraft himself influenced. An interesting diversion, though much of what he covers is necessarily speculation. Gets you thinking though.

All of this makes up a tiny bit for my disappointment that, for the moment at least, it doesn’t seem the movie version of ATMOM planned by Guillermo del Toro and set to star Tom Cruise will be made. Let’s hope that changes soon; I would love to see what he might do with this atmospheric tale.

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This is part of the Treasury of Victorian Murder series, and was the one I was always going to get first simply because I have been fascinated by the Jack the Ripper, and indeed serial killers of all sorts, since I can remember, all the way from Gilles de Rais to Ted Bundy.

A bit morbid, I know, and the sort of admission that immediately gets you marked as the obvious suspect in any decent American crime series. Especially when coupled with the kind of books on the subject that I have in the stacks.

Can’t explain it, just once of those things, no need to be afraid, honest.

So Jack; well, iconic killer largely because his murders not only remained unsolved but have spawned the wildest of theories about his identity, from the Duke of Clarence to Walter Sickert to Sir William Gull, which in turn has led to some great books, both fiction and non fiction. And of course the movies; my particular favourite being Murder by Decree with the great Christopher Plummer.

But I digress.

This is a great little book, which tells the basics of the story as it happened as if through the diary of a contemporary who had access to the police. I loved the artwork which managed to give a real sense of place and conveyed the gruesomeness without dwelling on it, probably helped by being in black and white.

A very nice addition to my true crime library.

I’ve been fairly quiet recently, partly due to stressful stuff at work (more of that on another occasion perhaps) but mostly because I have had a really nasty, horrible, debilitating cold for a few weeks and am only just beginning to feel that I’m properly recovering. I managed to struggle through one review last week and that took so much out of me that I had to go and lie down in a darkened room. Or something.

When I was first developing said cold, two weeks ago today in fact, I really didn’t feel like doing very much, couldn’t settle to TV or reading anything that required huge amounts of concentration and anything with more than one syllables was definitely out of the question.

But I was bored and had to do something in between medication and naps, and decided that graphic novels were just the thing.

Started with Amphigorey by one of my heroes Edward Gorey. This is a collection of  (I think) fifteen of Gorey’s works and was ideal because the ratio of pictures to words was high (or do I mean low – more of the former than the latter, anyway) and of course Gorey’s wonderfully gothic sensibility is just the ticket when you’re feeling a bit under the weather. Loved it as much as I knew I would.

I then moved on to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (I actually wanted to call him the Ancient Manager, which is how I feel at the moment), and this was great fun in a very different way. The poem is one of my favourites (though over the years I’ve singularly failed to memorise it, though not for want of trying) and I have loved Hunt Emerson’s cartoons in Fortean Times which I have subscribed to for years. And the image of the albatross with a rubber-suckered arrow stuck on his head still tickles me.

So picture books good for early stages of a cold. When I actually gave in, stopped struggling in to work and flumped, I at least didn’t have a headache and could read more words I actually read more over that few days than I had in the weeks before so every cloud has a silver lining. But more of those later.

I have been very quiet on the blog recently, simply because I haven’t been reading that much, due to an increase in social activity (it’s that time of year, lots of cocktails, what can I say) and also because I have been distracted by my new toy, the iPad which I bought myself  as an early “didn’t I do well in 2010” present.

I have always been easily diverted by bright and shiny things.

So I will not reach my target of 52 books this year but will attack the same goal with renewed vigour in 2011. At least, that’s what I’m saying now.

And I will be helped by the bookish spoils received from the Book God and others this Christmas:

  • My Favourite Dress by Gity Monsef and others – a beautiful big fashion picture book, full of talented designers picking their favourite frocks, none of which I can ever afford or indeed hope to fit into…
  • 100 Years of Fashion Illustration by Cally Blackman – absolutely gorgeous book with wonderful examples of fashion illustration from Paul Iribe in 1908 to Kareem Illya in 2005. Has made me realise that I would have liked to have been a wealthy Edwardian
  • Britten & Brulightly by Hannah Berry – a graphic novel to add to the collection “There are murder mysteries and there are murder mysteries, but this is a noir where nothing is black and white” sayeth the blurb
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, in graphic form by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young – exactly what you might think, absolutely lovely and wished for solely because I liked the illustration of the Cowardly Lion on the cover….
  • Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King – it wouldn’t be Christmas without a new Stephen King purchase though in terms of reading I am about 5 books behind (not to mention the Dark Tower series (so let’s not and say we did))
  • Blow by Blow by Detmar Blow with Tom Sykes – the story of Isabella Blow, muse to Alexander McQueen – yet more high fashion
  • Paperboy by the lovely Christopher Fowler – won the first Green Carnation prize and looks like it will be brilliant – to be saved for the dead grey days of January
  • Dark Matter by Michelle Paver – a ghost story “Out of nowhere, for no reason, I was afraid”
  • Phantoms on the Bookshelves by Jacques Bonnet – I love books about books
  • The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley – another one of my favourite authors. “A boy, a mysterious guardian and a haunted house with a terrible secret”.
  • Gaslight Grimoire: fantastic tales of Sherlock Holmes – Fantastic tales. Sherlock Holmes. What’s not to like?
  • A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore – shortlisted for the Orange Prize, don’tcha know. Audrey Niffenegger says its full of perfect sentences and that would be good enough for me even if I didn’t already like Lorrie Moore
  • The Existential Detective by Alice Thompson – on my wish list simply because I read about it at Lizzy’s Literary Life and it sounded right up my street
  • The Thoughtful Dresser by Linda Grant – more fashion; “the thinking woman’s guide to our relationship with what we wear”
  • A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd – WWI mystery novel
  • The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova – can it live up to The Historian? I hope so…
  • Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan – “Three strong women. Two feuding families. A singular story of enchantment…”

Not a bad haul, I have to admit. And there’s also The Pattern in the Carpet by Margaret Drabble (a personal history with jigsaws) which I have already started.

Despite a TBR list that is in danger of constituting a library in its own right I haven’t stopped buying books, although I’m about to enter the pre-Christmas moratorium where the Book God and I swap our wish lists and sit on our hands until Santa has been.

And in advance of that looming date I really have been unbelievably bad on the purchasing front:

  • The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse – “It’s 1928. Freddie Watson is still giving for his brother, lost in the Great War. Driving through the foothills of the French Pyrenees, his car spins off the road in a snowstorm. Freddie takes refuge in an isolated village and there…..” I have her two previous books but haven’t read them yet, and this looks like it might be fun (and is far less chunky than the others)
  • Nancy Mitford: The Biography by Harold Acton – “This intimate biography draws a witty, real-life portrait of Nancy, based on the letters she intended to use for her autobiography…….” Sparkling and irresistible, apparently, and totally part of my current obsession with all things Mitford.
  • Changeless and Blameless by Gail Carriger – novels of vampires, werewolves, dirigibles and afternoon tea…… Again I have the first one in this series about Alexia Tarabotti but haven’t read it, so this is a bit of a chance, I suppose (what if I hate it??).
  • Blue Eyed Boy by Joanne Harris – “Once there was a widow with three sons, and their names were Black, Brown and Blue. Black was the eldest; moody and aggressive. Brown was the middle child; timid and dull. But Blue was his mother’s favourite. And he was a murderer.” Couldn’t resist it.
  • Sourland by Joyce Carol Oates – it’s a new book of short stories by the great JCO so of course I was going to get it.
  • Dreadnought by Cherie Priest – the sequel to Boneshaker which I got for Christmas (I think, may have been my birthday, too close to call) and still haven’t read. But I feel that I’m going to enjoy it when I get there.
  • Plain Kate by Erin Bow – I saw this on another blog but can’t remember whose (sorry); loved the cover and bought on impulse when in Forbidden Planet with Silvery Dude just after Hallowe’en (I bought The Unwritten 2 at the same time)
  • Decca edited by Peter Y Sussman – see Nancy above. I’m sure I’ll grow out of this at some point….
  • Coco Chanel by Justine Picardie – there was absolutely no way that once I’d got my hands on a copy I would be able to walk out of the bookshop without it. It’s important to recognise one’s limitations….
  • Tamara de Lempicka by Laura Claridge – “Born in 1899 to Russian aristocrats, Tamara de Lempicka escaped the Bolsheviks by exchanging her body for freedom, dramatically beginning a sexual career that included most of the influential men and women she painted.” Irresistible.

I have been a huge fan of Posy Simmonds for many a long year; used to read her strips in The Guardian on the women’s page when I was a student, and have a number of her children’s books because I love her drawing style so much.

Tamara Drewe also appeared in The Guardian as a serial but it has been reworked for publication as a graphic novel, and is a very enjoyable look at the lives of the chattering classes in a countryside setting, where the members of a writer’s retreat are affected by the reappearance of Tamara after her nose job and with a successful career as a newspaper columnist. Tragedy strikes, as it inevitably must.

I’m not sure I really liked any of the characters much, and I’m not sure whether I was supposed to or not. The writer’s retreat lot were very middle class, pretty smug and deserved most of what they got. The locals, especially two teenagers, Jody and Casey, are also caught up in all the stuff around Tamara, and what happens to them is not so deserved. But it’s enjoyable as a black comedy, well written and looks fabulous.

If I was still taking part in the Graphic Novel Challenge 2010 then this would have been a read for that, but to be honest the reason I picked this out of the stacks where it has been languishing for a while is that Silvery Dude and his Good Lady saw the film version (fluff, forgettable but not awful was I think what he said), and thought I’d prefer the source to the movie.

And I’m probably right.

This is going to be a tiny wee review of Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life which I read because (a) I heard it was really good and (b) I was going to see the movie this weekend based solely on a mixture of stuff I’d picked up from the internet and stuff I’d seen in movie magazines and had a sudden panic that I should probably try to find out a little bit more before I parted with my hard-earned cash.

So loving comic books, all things Canadian and pretending that I am at least 25 years younger than I actually am, this was just up my street being a comic book set in Toronto about a 22 year-old who has to fight the evil exes of the girl he’s fallen in love with.

And it’s really good, and even though I have now seen the movie I expect I will get the rest of the comic book series because I can be a bit of a completist if I don’t watch myself. Not that that’s a bad thing.

Annabelle is a small rag doll who doesn’t know whether she is the cause of or merely a witness to the suffering of those people into whose possession she falls.

For suffering and misfortune are certainly all around her, and try as she might she cannot always warn or protect the innocent.

Or something along those lines.

Nightmares and Fairy Tales: Once Upon a Time is a creepily inventive little book of new horror stories and twisted re-tellings of fairy tales, all in graphic form. Wicked nuns, cruel parents, and even poor old Cinderella get the full treatment.

The only thing that saves this from totally over-the-top-grisly-goriness is the fact that it’s in black and white, but it’s still fairly horrible. And therefore right up my street!

This was my fifth read for the 2010 Graphic Novel Challenge, and did a lot to keep me awake during read-a-thon (largely cos I was too scared to sleep……..)

Signing up for the 2010 Graphic Novel Challenge gave me the perfect excuse (in case I really thought I needed one) to re-read the Neil Gaiman Sandman series from scratch, alongside the fascinating-and-occasionally-dipped-into-but-never-properly-read Sandman Companion by Hy Bender. And of course you start at the beginning, with Preludes and Nocturnes.

The thing about the need for an excuse is that my TBR pile (which with my tendency to be unable to avoid buying books plus all the stuff the Book God has in his possession) has actually become a TBR room, if not taking over the whole house, and so any re-reading has to be carefully thought through because there are just so many new(ish) books waiting for me to pick them up.

This is a problem that will not go away for two reasons:

  • the Book God and I currently have a combined age of 106, and if you assume that we both started buying our own books as teenagers (let’s say arbitrarily 15) then that’s potentially 76 years of book buying

Which brings me to reason number 2:

  • I am constitutionally incapable of getting rid of anything vaguely book shaped. At all. So I almost certainly have just about everything I have bought since I was a teenager

So you can see my problem.

Nevertheless the draw of Sandman was irresistible and I ploughed on, really enjoying the opportunity to get back inside a world that I have always enjoyed. And then  another issue hit me – how do I review this? I mean, I can’t really review this as if I have come to it fresh, because I haven’t, and it is such a well-loved series and so many other bloggers have written about it all so eloquently. So I’m not going to attempt the feat at all.

I love it still, and if you haven’t read the series I urge you to have a go.

———–

I’ve also had a couple of relatively rare outings this week (I don’t count cocktails with Silvery Dude and friend on Wednesday because in my simple little mind that’s the sort of thing I should be doing every day); no, this is proper going out for the evening stuff, involving:

  • on Thursday, the Birmingham Royal Ballet performing Sleeping Beauty at the London Coliseum – wonderful stuff with costumes based on the court of Louis XIV and a classic fairy tale on stage the way it should be done
  • on Saturday, The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers at the Royal Albert Hall, with the full score performed live by the London Philharmonic Orchestra – and lovely to see Howard Shore, the composer, take a bow at the end.

And then home to Dr Who and River Song. What more could a girl want?

So having enjoyed volume one (reviewed here) and just so happening to have volume 2 kicking around the house for some strange reason, I decided to leap straight into the world of Fables once again with Animal Farm.

So after the fall out from the events of volume 1, not to be discussed here in case there is someone out there who has been even tardier than me in coming to the series, the Fabletown Mayor, Snow White, is heading upstate from New York for her annual visit to the Farm. This is the property, hidden by a glamour, where the non-human fables can live away from the prying eyes of the “normal” world. So we have the Three Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, a few dragons and sleeping giants and so forth.

But all is not well; these fables want to take their homelands back from the Adversary, and are fomenting a revolution in order to do so, led by a very different take on Goldilocks than you would have seen before. Can Snow White stop them, and who can she trust to help her?

If anything this was even more fun than the previous story, with some well-known characters from literature (Shere Khan and Baghera, anyone?) involved, plus who could resist animals with weapons? Not giving away what happens but the fable approach to justice is brutal if necessary.

And you have to feel a bit sorry for Colin the Pig.

Will definitely be continuing to follow this series.

This was my third read for the 2010 Graphic Novel Challenge.

Bride of the Book God

Follow brideofthebook on Twitter

Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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My Dad passed away a week ago, on Friday 10 November. This is my favourite photo of him and my late Mum at a wedding in (I think) 1961. Will be heading back home to Paisley for the funeral next week.

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