Category Archives: Comics and Graphic Novels

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

ghosts-by-raina-telgemeier Title: Ghosts
Author: Raina Telgemeier
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-0545540629
Genre: Graphic novel
Pages: 256
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

Another graphic read of the month. A tear-jerker of sorts, well not really, but it did choke me up for sure. Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novels hit home. They are not just graphic novels, but the ones with a lot of heart and soul. Whether it is “Sisters” or even “Drama” for that matter, and the same goes for her latest release “Ghosts”. It is the kind of book that will make you laugh, perhaps even make you identify the sibling behavior you shared with your brother or sister and most of all, it will make you want move to a ghost town for sure. At least, it did that to me.

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her sister Maya is sick. Maya has cystic fibrosis and the air that comes in from the sea will do her good. Cat hates leaving her friends and the town she was used to, but Bahia de la Luna will be good for her sister and Cat loves her sister way too much to make this change. The new home and new town come with one caveat though: There are ghosts in the new place and Cat wants nothing to do with them but Maya loves the idea of interacting with them and Cat would have to look at doing one more thing for her sister.

The book is simple. It has a simple plot and it doesn’t reek of the usual graphic novel smartness which some people have come to expect. There is cheer, sadness, courage, fear and love in this book for children and teens like no other graphic novel I’ve read in the last couple of months. It is a heartwarming book and that’s that to it. I would urge you to read it, smile and give it to someone else who could use a smile or two.

The Book of Memory Gaps by Cecilia Ruiz

The Book of Memory Gaps by Cecilia Ruiz Title: The Book of Memory Gaps
Author: Cecilia Ruiz
Publisher: Blue Rider Press
ISBN: 978-0399171932
Genre: Comic Strips, Graphic,
Pages: 64
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

The fourth book read this month and let me tell you, that while it may be a short book, it certainly will linger in your memory for a while. Funny how I used memory there when the book is about memory gaps. It is a tribute to Jorge Luis Borges and his meditations on memory and time.

Ruiz tells tales of individuals whose memories have failed them. These individuals’ tales are short – a few lines and the rest of the talking is done by the illustrations accompanying them. These stories have to do with false memories, memories that keep getting renewed each day and getting nowhere, memories that are not wanted and memories that keep going in circles. The instances of not remembering are also witty sometimes – also heartbreaking to a large extent.

Some characters suffer from dementia. Some are just lost. Some are searching endlessly. It is almost like the collection of these small tales represents one emotion: Melancholy. The illustrations also go so well with the text – they are dusky and have this dreamlike quality attached to them. The book resonated with me long after. It is the kind of book that stays with you. I am still reeling from its effect.

Trees: Volume 1: In Shadow by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard

Trees - Volume 1 - In Shadow by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard Title: Trees: Volume 1: In Shadow
Writer: Warren Ellis
Illustrator: Jason Howard
Publisher: Image Comics
ISBN: 978-1632152701
Genre: Comics/Graphic Novels
Pages: 160
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

This graphic novel or rather comic had been laying around for a while on my shelf gathering dust. I don’t know what prompted me to pick it up. This came in mail I think two years ago (if memory serves me right) and I read it now. But then again, better late than never.

“Trees: Volume 1: In Shadow” – written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Jason Howard is a science-fiction comic set in the near-future. Before I move on, I must let you know, I absolutely adore such comics. They bring out the best in me and I cannot help but turn the pages till it’s done. Warren Ellis is the doyen when it comes to comics – whether they are about superheroes (mostly they are about superheroes) or sci-fi, he dons the hat, like no other.

So what is “Trees” all about?

It is about a bunch of aliens who have landed on Earth, in the form of what looks like vertical objects – hence they are known as trees. They are spread wide and far and are hundreds of feet tall. No one knows anything about them and they have never moved. They are just there.

Till one day things start changing (which of course I am not telling you) and people in various parts of the world, with different agendas can sense the change. There is Tian, a young painter from a small village who has moved to a “special cultural zone” of an Asian city and he is unsure of his place in the world and what he wants to do.

Cut to Eligia in Italy, whose boyfriend Tito runs a gang and keeps the town of Cefalu under him, till Eligia meets an old man who teaches her how to take care of herself.

Last but not the least is an Arctic research station where Marsh discovers small plants growing next to a tree and this is where is all begins – well almost.

Ellis’s storytelling skills are something else. The plot unravels itself but not all that much. There is always something hidden (after all a series has to be based around it) and something so beautiful to tell. Howard’s illustrations match the story-line to the tee and that’s how a comic should be – the joint effort of the writer and the illustrator. “Trees” is something different altogether that I have read in a while. Thank God, I finally got to it! I cannot wait to start the second volume. From what I hear, even the third one is out!

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Trees: Volume 1

The Gaysi Zine – Issue 04 – Queer Graphic Anthology

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Title: The Gaysi Zine – Issue 04 – Queer Graphic Anthology
Authors and Artists: Various
ISBN: 9770123456008
Publisher: Gaysi
Genre: Queer, LGBT Fiction and Non-Fiction
Pages: 122
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

The fourth Gaysi Zine is out! It is a graphic anthology and let me also tell you that it is the best anthology you might read in 2016. It is of course all about love and other issues but not just limited to the LGBT community (we are very inclusive you see). It is essentially all about different voices coming together, their stories, their losses, their hopes, their loves and all of this told in an all-graphic format.

I could not stop turning the pages and there were times when I also went back right to the top and started all over again. Gaysi Zine is not just a zine or an anthology – to a lot of us it is more than that – perhaps a reason to be hopeful, a reason to come out of the closet and not be pushed back again, a reason to smile and look forward to a new, bright and shiny day.

This anthology has 16 long pieces and so many short posters taken from times gone by – of events, of rebellion, of important landmark moments and more. Like any other reader, I had my favourites and here they are:

1. Going the Solo Route by Soumya Menon – It is okay to be single you know. It is absolutely alright to want to be single till perhaps you are found. This piece will liberate you in so many ways.
2. IlaSudyumna by Nandini and Upasana – a mythological story of man and woman and being androgynous. The art work in this is stunning. There is so much fluidity in this story and yet it is so stable.
3. Sexist things people say by Anushka Jhadav – kuch toh log kahenge…ab unka muh chup karao. Learn from this piece on how. It is funny and tongue-in-cheek.
4. The Case of the floating woman by Ravi, Adarsh and C G Salamander – this has to be my most favourite story. I don’t know whether this really happened or not but it is most heartbreaking and of course about love that still cannot be spoken about between two men. I could feel my eyes a little moist at the end of the story.
5. Bites by Karan Vohra – Love and its angst told in two pages. I have nothing else to say about this, but just this: Go! Pick up the anthology. Read this. Soon.
6. A Timeline of events in LGBT History: Educating the uneducated. You need to know.

Priya, Sreejita, Sakshi, Anuja, and Ojoswi (he also designed this awesome cover) together as a team have brought out yet again an issue to cherish and keep for years to come. I had so much fun reading this and more than anything else, as a gay man of course I could relate to each and every piece. It will be great to see this being bought and talked about as much as possible, after all we all need a chance to love and live the way we want to and every step in that direction counts. Go buy. Go read.

You can buy the zine here

The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984 by Riad Sattouf

The Arab of the Future by Riad Sattouf Title: The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984
Author: Riad Sattouf
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
ISBN: 978-1627793445
Genre: Graphic Memoir
Pages: 160
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I had chanced upon this graphic novel, just by surfing, as I chance upon most of my reads. I read stuff on the internet and then pick and choose by reads. Like most reads that I come across this way and read it this year – the first book of 2016 and what a way to kick-start the year!

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“The Arab of the Future” is a graphic memoir of Riad Sattouf and is the first in the two part series. It is about his childhood spent in Libya, France and Syria – and how he and his family kept shuffling between these three places. It is about the confusion that Riad goes through as a child, given the different cultures and perspectives. It is almost as if it is the miseducation of a child in an Arab world. It is world where little boys defecate on streets, women have no voice, stray dogs are killed with pitchforks and where religion is of supreme importance and you are definitely in for trouble if you aren’t Muslim.

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Riad Sattouf, a French-Syrian cartoonist has drawn just more than what seems to be a graphic memoir on the surface. It is a juxtaposition of values and how each culture is and what they stand for. Riad’s Arabic father believes in a lot things that his French born and raised mother does not and in all of this there is Riad, trying to make sense of the worlds he has been thrown into – where his relatives on both sides seem to be very different and act differently as well. He cannot figure what is going on and is forever confused as he makes his way and understands the world a little better.

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For me while reading this book, a new world opened – that of Sunnis and Shias (though the discussion points about this aspect are few), about Israel and Palestine and what is the conflict all about (again this is briefly touched upon) and how even family members deal with each other sometimes in the most brutal manner.

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The graphic memoir is beautifully illustrated with a lot of tongue-in-cheek comments and indications as you go along. It is done in sepia tones, which you get used to as you turn the pages. I was fascinated with how Riad’s education took place right at home amidst his cousins and their fascination for his toys to how religion politics even affect childhood to a very large extent in these areas – may be that is just how it is with them – catch them young and watch them grow.

The book in a graphic form touches on so many issues that it is difficult at a point to treat it as a graphic novel. You wish he had written a non-fiction text which had more details. “The Arab of the Future” also has a sequel to it which I am most eagerly awaiting – it will take some time given that it will be a translation just like this one. To all graphic novel enthusiasts: Do not skip this one. A must read.

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The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984: A Graphic Memoir