Tuesday, December 10, 2013

IRON or The War After

Today I will be reviewing a book called Iron or The War After by S.M Vidaurri. It takes place in a world that is always winter - cold and snowing. It's about a group of anthropomorphic animals who were in a gang war with each other. Some of them still feel hostile towards each other. One rabbit named Harden steals important papers from his old enemy, a tiger named Calvin. A lot of betrayal  happens involving Harden and his children, Patricia and James, who end up getting put in an orphanage by Calvin and his followers. Important things happen within the first chapter, so it would be hard to tell you what happens without spoiling it for you.

The art in this book is very beautiful and surreal. The use of colors is like something you would see on the cover of the New Yorker. The heads of the animals look really cool. All of them look really tough and rough. Whenever a character is about to get into a fight, you see a side view of their gritted teeth. It looks amazing. This book should get an award for its drawings.

I like the scene where Harden's children's nanny is selling Harden out to Calvin. When she hesitates to tell him where Harden and his children are, Calvin pulls a gun. I like this scene because it shows how much is at stake. One little mess up could be the difference between life and death. One piece of false information could have you dead in a ditch. I would also like to mention the beautiful lighting in this scene. It looks like the scene from the beginning of The Godfather, with the blinds pulled down and the smoke from Calvin's cigar filling the room. It really gives you that mafia feel. 

 This book is perfectly appropriate for anyone who doesn't mind fist fight violence and can handle a complex plot. It has memorable characters, especially the tiger named Calvin. I think that it's really underrated and deserves to be much more well known. 

In all, I think Iron or The War After is really well done. I would give it 4 3/5 iron ingots out of 5. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

Today I will be reviewing a book called Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff. It's about a Turkish lieutenant named Selim in early 19th-century Istanbul. He is tasked with interrogating a prisoner, Delilah Dirk, who was arrested for stealing precious Turkish documents. She tells him these outlandish tales about how she was born to a very important English father. She learned archery with the finest marksman in France. She learned to survive in the Indian jungles. She
learned acrobatics in Indonesia. She spent seven years in a Japanese monastery perfecting her sword technique. She even traveled to the American West. When Selim relays what Delilah told him to his commander, his commander doesn't believe that a woman could do all that. (This book takes place in a sexist time period.) Then, just to make things worse, Delilah escapes. The commander assumes that Selim let her escape and sentences him to death. Just before Selim is beheaded, Delilah saves him. They escape the city in her flying dingy. The rest of the book tells of all the adventures that they go on.

The artwork in this book is beautiful, especially the landscapes. There is a scene where Delilah and Selim are climbing an aqueduct. The aqueduct doesn't look real, but it looks very, very beautiful. Delilah is also very beautiful. She has a humongous ponytail with a tie at the top and a tie at the bottom. Her face is always so expressive.

 A scene I like is when Delilah first gets Selim into the flying boat. Selim's expression is one of pure shock. Then there's Delilah, who just looks so pleased with herself. I really like this scene because of the character's expressions. The artist captures what's going on in every characters head perfectly. I know what each character is thinking from just the looks on their faces.

This book is perfectly appropriate for anyone who doesn't mind mild violence and sword fighting. It's pretty funny. I love the character of Selim. I really love the character of Delilah. But most of all, I love how Selim and Delilah are complete polar opposites, but they still get along really well. I would give Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant 4 flying boats out of 5.    

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Today I will be reviewing the book series Amulet by Kazu Kibushi. It's about a girl named Emily who finds a very powerful magic amulet in her great-grandfather's house. Soon after she finds the amulet, her mother is kidnapped by strange octopus creatures who take her to an alternate dimension that's a mix between steam punk and fantasy. When the creatures leave, Emily and her brother, Navin, follow them, in an attempt to save their mother. In this world, she meets her great-grandfather on his deathbed. His robot servants agree to help her find her mother.

I think the first book is a bit too slow because there isn't enough time spent in the alternate dimension, but after that, everything is perfectly paced. There are four story lines that are constantly switching and coming together. The story of Emily, the story of her brother, Navin, the story of one of the villains, Max, and the story of Miskit, Emily's great-grandfather's main robot.

 The art in these books is pretty good. It looks like an American version of manga. I also love all the steampunk things like robot houses and zeppelins.

  There are some characters in Amulet who are very strong and some who are not. At first, Navin is just the generic little brother, but later on in the series, he becomes a perfectly supportable character. He becomes less like the generic annoying nine-year-old brother and more like a mature fully grown warrior. I think that Emily is a great character. She's just enough badass hero and just enough immature teenager. I like how she's not invincible like some main characters.

In all, I think that Amulet is a wonderful book series. It's enjoyable for all ages and I've read each book multiple times. I can't wait for Book Six. I would give Amulet 4 1/4 robot houses out of five.    

Monday, October 7, 2013

Boxers and Saints

Today I will be reviewing Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang, the writer ofAmerican Born Chinese. It's a two book story about the Chinese Boxer Rebellion. Boxers is from the point of view of Bao, a leader of a group of Boxers. Saints is from the point of view of Vibiana, a Chinese Christian convert.

The story for Boxers is that Bao's town is being modernized by "foreign devils" or Western Christians. Bao's father goes to complain to the town magistrate in response to a Westerner smashing a sculpture of a god that was important to the village. On the way, he gets into a fight with a group of foreign solders. He comes home beaten and bruised. It becomes clear that Bao's father not only received physical damage, but mental damage as well. The author shows this by having Bao's father sit in a window with
scrubbily lines in word bubbles above his head. After four years, a man comes into town who knows Kung Fu and is a member of the Boxer Rebellion. He trains all the teenage boys in town and secretly trains Bao who is too young to be allowed to learn Kung Fu. Bao becomes a Kung Fu master and leads a group of vicious Boxers who transform into gods of the Chinese Opera when they fight.

The story for Saints is about a girl who is unwanted at home and converts to Christianity because her Christian acupuncturist shows her kindness. Soon after she converts, she is visited by Joan of Ark. Joan represents a role model. When the local French priest moves to a fort that protects the Christians from the Boxers, she follows him and he becomes a stern father figure for her. She is given the duty of being a teacher for the fort's orphans.

I think that the characters in Saints are more likable. As for the people in Boxers, I lost all sympathy for them in the first quarter of the book. They murder truckloads of men, women and children, Chinese and Western alike. Throughout most of the book, I felt like Bao deserved to die. No matter how regretful or hesitant he is, his bloodthirsty side always wins out. He may imagine that there is an Opera God telling him that he's doing a righteous thing, but that god is a figment of his imagination.

The art in these books is wonderful. I liked it a lot. It looked very similar to American Born Chinese. I loved how Saints is all black and white, except for Joan of Ark, who is bright gold. I also liked all the bright colors in Boxers, especially when the Boxers transform into opera gods. 

 Boxers and Saints are both very, very good. I've already re-read them 10 times. They're very dark, but I like dark. I would suggest that you read Saints before you read Boxers, because the ending to Saints is spoiled in Boxers. Also, Boxers and Saints are definitely not books for small children. There are some very violent scenes in both of them. I would give Boxers and Saints 4 Chinese Operas out of 5.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Metamorphosis

Hello readers of the Graphicnovelologist. I'm sorry that I've been away for so long. I was out of town all summer. I went camping for 3 1/2 weeks, then I went to Cape Cod for another 3 1/2 weeks. When I got back I just needed to rest for a while. Now without out further ado, enjoy my next review.

This time i'm reviewing a graphic novel of a famous story called the Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. It was adapted by Peter Kuper. If you haven't heard of it, I will give you a brief summery. A traveling salesman wakes up in his bed to find that he has transformed into a giant cockroach. His family tries to take care of him and keep him hidden, but in the end the cockroach dies from starvation.

I love all the the characters in this book. The cockroach's father is very intimidating, his mother is very kind hearted, but frail, and his sister is just very very likable. I also like the side characters, like the three rude house guests and the old teasing cleaning lady.

I really like the art in this book. The scratchy woodcut style, which I enjoy very much, perfectly fits a story about people who are desperate and poor. I also like how Peter Kuper made the eyes so surreal.

The Metamorphosis has been made into another graphic novel by R. Crumb, a dance and a DLC for a video game called Spore.

The Metamorphosis is appropriate for all audiences and is a wonderfully tragic tale. The old dimly lit house makes for a deliciously dark mood. It is now one of my favorite urban legends. I would give the Metamorphosis 5 giant cockroach out of 5. If you know where to find it, check it out.