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Archive for the ‘Graphic Novel’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: February 2022] The Village Teacher

This book came to my work and it was quite a challenge to catalog.  Cixin Liu is a Chinese science fiction writer.  These are graphic novel adaptations of his short stories.  But he did not write the graphic novels.  However, I wanted them linked together because there are going to be sixteen of them and they should all go together.  If you put them under Liu, then they go into the Chinese authors section.  But these are American books created for American audiences.  (I wound up making it an American series under Liu’s name).

Anyhow, I had never heard of him before, but these books are blurbed by none other than Barack Obama.

So I decided to take a look at them.

This book is also called The Rural Teacher in translated form.

After the complex intensity that was The Wandering Earth, this story is much more simple.  But it is not less intense.

There are two storylines.  I’m not sure if in the written work it’s less clear that the story lines are at the same time.  It felt like for a powerful effect, they would not be obviously simultaneous, but I’m not sure how he could have done that.

The story starts on a school in a rural village.  The teacher is teaching the kids about outer space. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: February 2022] The Wandering Earth

This book came to my work and it was quite a challenge to catalog.  Cixin Liu is a Chinese science fiction writer.  These are graphic novel adaptations of his short stories.  But he did not write the graphic novels.  However, I wanted them linked together because there are going to be sixteen of them and they should all go together.  If you put them under Liu, then they go into the Chinese authors section.  But these are American books created for American audiences.  (I wound up making it an American series under Liu’s name).

Anyhow, I had never heard of him before, but these books are blurbed by none other than Barack Obama.

So I decided to take a look at them.

This second one is also a dark story about the destruction of the earth (actually, all three are).

The story is also more complicated with a lengthy timespan and a few surprises thrown in.

As the story opens we learn that three hundred years ago scientists discovered that our sun was using up its hydrogen and converting it to helium–it was going to explode.  So the scientists began a plan.  Using rockets, they would stop the earth’s rotation and then using those same rockets, they would propel the earth into a habitable part of the galaxy.

Obviously, this would take many generations and would result in the destruction of the earth as we know it.

The book begins with a baby born on the day that the earth had stopped rotating.  We quickly jump to the boy in school learning about everything that happened (a great way of doing exposition).  These students are high-tech and scientifically very smart.  Art and philosophy and everything like it have basically been done with because it’s all hands on deck for saving the planet. (more…)

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[READ: February 2022] Sea of Dreams

This book came to my work and it was quite a challenge to catalog.  Cixin Liu is a Chinese science fiction writer.  These are graphic novel adaptations of his short stories.  But he did not write the graphic novels.  However, I wanted them linked together because there are going to be sixteen of them and they should all go together.  If you put them under Liu, then they go into the Chinese authors section.  But these are American books created for American audiences.  (I wound up making it an American series under Liu’s name).

Anyhow, I had never heard of him before, but these books are blurbed by none other than Barack Obama.

So I decided to take a look at them.

This first one is a dark story about the destruction of the earth (actually, all three are).

The story opens on an Ice & Snow Arts Festival.  The artist Yan Dong is completely wrapped up in his sculpture which is abstract and wild unlike every other one.  While people are looking at the art, a giant ball comes out of the sky and hovers above the ground.  The creature calls itself a Low Temperature Artist.  It states that only art matters in the universe–everything else is trivial.

It scoffs at the realistic art pieces and says that only Dong’s is worth considering.

Then it says that it will create the greatest ice-based art.  And it slowly begins sucking up all of the water from the earth.  It freezes the water and begins preparations for its installation which will remain in space protected by a membrane that will prevent the ice from melting.

Pretty cool.  Except of course, that soon, the planet is completely dried out. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus.

[READ: February 2, 2018] Amulet: Supernova

It has been SIX YEARS since I read the previous book in the series and the final book isn’t even out yet!  When I finished book seven I wrote “How can I wait a year for book 8?  [Word has it Book 8 will come out in 2018].”   And in that year I totally forgot about this series.  Whoops.

So it was a little hard catching up to what was going on, but I managed.

The book opens with Trellis in a dream.  he meets an old woman traveler who guides him through his dream.  Before he wakes he asks if he will see her again–she says sooner than you expect.  When Trellis wakes, he is told the elf army has made landfall.

But when we see the army, led by a small creature named Logi, Logi tells the commander that their plan is surrender.  Trellis can’t believe it, but it appears to be true and they take the army into lock up. The city celebrates Trellis, but he is suspicious and he has every right to be because Logi has a token of the Elf King’s affection–a glowing object,

Which turns out to be a bomb of sorts.  (more…)

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[READ: January 2022] Rivers

I’m quite the fan of Top Shelf Comics.  Their stories are usually off the beaten path and have a satisfying indie feel.  I hadn’t heard of either of these two writers before though

This book is full of different stories that don’t seem connected. I really applaud the creators for making the story this way because there were times when I wondered if this was meant to be little short pieces instead of a full narrative.  It was a bold decision and it pays off handsomely.

The book opens on yellowish pages (each storyline has a color scheme).  Two boys are reading a comic book in 1992.  The next page shows the book they are reading–a sci-fi story about evil creatures named Ghoulors and the man and do who hunt them.

The boys are very funny and appear throughout the story with deep conversations like “I think if your life is not great you should just take drugs all the time.” “Me too.”  And “What do you think you’ll be doing when you’re 25?” “I’ll be in a band on guitar and occasional synths.  The lead singer will leave and I’ll make the band into an instrumental outfit and we’ll do soundtracks to foreign films with subtitles.” “Cool.”

Then we cut to a blueish story about a girl and her dad.  The girl’s parents have split up and she and her dad spend their weekends at the dump throwing rocks at TVs. She enjoys it (and becomes quite accurate), but enough is enough. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 15, 2021] The Prox Transmissions

I had recently seen Starset live and decided to check out lead singer Dustin Bates’ books (which I had gotten for my son for his birthday and I think he hasn’t read).

All of the CDs have a theme and the story of the Prox Transmissions is meant to tie into the album called Transmission.

My understanding was that the graphic novel was an adaptation of the novel.  I couldn’t find the novel in his room, but I did see the graphic novel, so I started with that (even though I’m sure it would have ben smarter to read the novel first).

The most impressive thing about this to me was that it was published by Marvel.  Not because I’m a Marvel fan boy but because I just assumed it was self published.  That being said, I think a thing or two was lost in the abridgement.

There are double crosses and possibly triple crosses and seemingly minor characters come to have major roles without a very satisfying explanation.  Basically it feels like a story that has has a lot removed (which it is).

The actual story line is pretty cool though. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 12, 2022] The Bad Guys Episode One

A movie is coming out about this book series (Scholastic must have SO MUCH MONEY!).  S. brought it home from the library and I figured I’d give it a read.  And five minutes later I’d finished it.

It’s pretty funny (although not as funny as I would have liked).

It’s also clearly designed for young readers since there are usually no more than five words per page.  I guess it’s a graphic novel, although there are chapters.

The book opens with Mr Wolf staring at us and telling us to come closer.  But we are smart, we know he is a monster so we do not get any closer. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: August 2021] Secrets of Camp Whatever

I’m not sure who brought this book home, my wife or my daughter, but I was pretty delighted to read it.

Two kids are heading to the town of Nowhere with their parents. They are moving into their father’s mother’s old house on the outskirts of town.  It’s a small town and when they pull into the local diner, the waitress tells them to turn around and go back home… that place is haunted.  But the local museum owner, Henry Person, tells them not to believe that nonsense.

He says that Nowhere is known for unusual things–monsters in the lakes, elves in the forest, even a bigfoot sighting.  But the fog is so thick no one can confirm anything.

Willow is going to summer camp and is not particularly pleased about it.  Her younger brother Gryphon is not going to camp, but he really wants to.  Where’s the justice?  When their mother hears about the fog and the creepiness around the camp she wonders whether they should even send WIllow.

But the kids’ dad when to Camp … Whatever like a million years ago and he is pretty excited for Willow to go.  He can’t wait for her to hear all about the camp at the opening campfire.  Even if a kid did go missing the year he was there… and was never heard from again.

But Mr Person says the camp hired a new camp director … Clarence Tooter, a big game hunter.  He’ll keep the place safe.

A nice touch is that Willow uses a hearing aid, but it’s not a big deal to the story.    Except that Mr Tooter believes she is deaf and so he yells at here whenever he sees her.  And that sign language is very important to the story (although the reader doesn’t need to know it). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: August 2021] World Piece 1

I saw this book at work and thought it looked really intriguing.  I liked Agroshka’s drawing style immediately and then the story really captured me,

It opens in a basketball game. Lucas Densen is a decent (but not great) player for his high school team (the Pulsars).  He makes a nice block, but he threw a terrible brick.  However, he’s really cute and quite popular with the ladies.

However, he’d really rather be spending time at his mother’s archaeological dig.  They haven’t found much stuff in this dig, but while Lucas is there the crew has a small discovery.  Lucas’ mother tells him not to touch anything, but when he sees something, he can’t help but grab it which sends him through a portal to another world where he is left holding the earth like it’s a basketball. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: mafmadmaf“Rapture” (SXSW Online 2021).

I never intend to go to SXSW–I find the whole thing a bit much.  But I also appreciate it for the way it gives unknown bands a place to showcase themselves. NPR featured a half dozen artists online this year with this note:

This year, the South by Southwest music festival that takes over Austin, Texas every spring happened online. Couch By Couchwest, as I like to call it, was an on-screen festival, with 289 acts performing roughly 15-minute pre-recorded sets across five days in March.

This list was curated by Bob Boilen.  He also notes:

 I didn’t enjoy hearing loud, brash music while sitting on a couch the way I would in a club filled with people and volume, so I found myself engaging in more reflective music instead.

I’m going in reverse order, so mafmadmaf is next.

mafmadmaf is a Chinese modular synthesizer artist. I’m not sure I ever saw his face onscreen, but it didn’t matter: This seductive and spellbinding set was perfect in my living room. Seeing his modular synthesizer and its many patch cables set up in a beautiful garden was more entertaining than simply watching some knob-turning on its own. Artfully done.

Anyone who knows Bob knows he loves modular synths.  I really have no sense of how they work, so this is all a mystery to me.  But I agree that the setting is wonderful.  And the music is very cool.

This piece is 13 minutes long and while it is mostly washes of synth sounds, there’s some melodies (synthesized sounds of water drops and chimes).

The song morphs in interesting ways, especially after 4 and a half minutes when the musicians enters the screen and you start to see him do something to his setup.  This adds new sounds and even a pulsing almost-beat.

At around ten minutes things slow way down.

[READ: July 15, 2021] Naturalist

I saw this book in the library and grabbed it because I love Jim Ottaviani’s work.  He has written and illustrated a number of non-fiction graphic novels and they have all been terrific.  I love his drawing style–very clean lines and excellent detail.  I also love his ability to compact big ideas into small digestible chunks.

But I had never heard of Edward O. Wilson, which, after reading this, surprises me. He is not only a Pulitzer prize winning author, an innovator in the field of biology and a writer of a massive book about ants, he is also controversial (as we see later on) and a devoted environmentalist.

The book opens with a young Wilson growing up in Alabama.  From when he was little he was obsessed with ants.  There were lots of fire ants where he grew up and there are few things more fascinating than fire ants (the book is chock full of all of the scientific names for all of these ants).

When he was still young, playing around in nature, he went fishing and when he pulled a fish out of the water its spines poked him in the eye giving him a traumatic cataract–he wound up with full sight in one eye only.   But this seemed to get him to focus more minutely on smaller things–ants.

Staring in fourth grade  his father was shuffled around the country a lot so Edward made his home in many places around the south, eventually settling in Florida.

There he met a friend who was obsessed with butterflies–they were two budding entomologists. (more…)

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