Archive for the ‘reads’ category

Something Old, Something New

July 5, 2007

I like comic books (with their eye candy coloring) and I like reading the traditional books (only pages and pages of words are provided as tools in creating that world); graphic novels, however, I have been wary of until now. I’ve finished reading 2, in fact. And both were so good, I re-read them the same night I finished the last pages. This isn’t a review, but a recommendation, so I’m keeping it short (read: I’m lazy).

51vb8ng2ehl_aa240_.jpgWhy I Hate Saturn (1990): “Cranky columnist Anne Merkel is only happy when she’s complaining… about her editors, about being single inNYC, about running out of scotch. But when her long lost sister shows up- claiming to be Queen of Leather Astro-Girls of Saturn, Anne’s going to wish she’d never complained about anything.”

If you like witty/wiseass humor, Kyle Baker is your man; this is your book. Don’t be fooled by the cover– this isn’t superhero/fantastical goofiness, it’s very grounded and realistic– too realistic at times you laugh out loud. It’s almost Seinfeld-esque/Wes Anderson-ique. Some real jabs at life are actually made underneath the snappy dialogue which makes this double the pleasure to read. First glance, his illustrations may almost seem like draft due to the rough, simple style, but it works. It actually lets the writing stand out, deservingly so. I should probably scan some pages, huh? Okay. Lemme see what I can do for preview. Here you go.

Next is the graphical autobiography of Alison Bechdel

Fun Home (2006): “Meet Alison’s father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family’s Victorian home, a third-generation funeral home director, a high school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with his male students and a family babysitter. Through narrative that is alternately heartbreaking and fiercely funny, we are drawn into a daughter’s complex yearning for her father. And yet, apart from assigned stints dusting caskets at the family-owned “fun home,” as Alison and her brothers call it, the relationship achieves its most intimate expression through the shared code of books. When Alison comes out as homosexual herself in late adolescense, the denouement is swift, graphic — and redemptive.”

I cannot express how beautiful I found this book. Poetic and heaps of Bechdelian humor. If Baker’s illustrating style was casual, Bechdel’s is the complete opposite. Each panel is filled with details that almost feels like a treasure hunt per viewing.

This is actually the perfect medium to tell a story like hers, I can’t imagine it any other way. Bechdel is certainly one hell of a cartoonist, writer and a storyteller. This is one novel that’s moved me, funny and heart-wrenching.

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