Category Archives: Comics and Graphic Novels

My Brother’s Husband, Volume 1 by Gengoroh Tagame . Translated by Anne Ishii

51rq4hPobXL Title: My Brother’s Husband, Volume 1
Author: Gengoroh Tagame
Translated from the Japanese by
Publisher: Pantheon Graphic Novels
ISBN: 978-1101871515
Genre: Graphic Novels
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

“My Brother’s Husband” is a graceful manga by Gengoroh Tagame. It handles homosexuality, homophobia and xenophobia (to some extent) very tenderly and not once did I feel berated being a gay man or an insider looking out while reading this manga. Tagame tells the story of parents and in turn of children and how important it is for children to learn, believe and accept alternate sexualities. At the same time, this manga doesn’t get preachy at all. It doesn’t sermonize or ask you to change yourself. It provides different perspectives and that’s that to it.

Yaichi – a single Japanese dad is forced to confront his painful past when an affable Canadian named Mike Flanagan shows up at his door, declaring himself to be the widower of Yaichi’s estranged gay twin Ryoji. Mike wants to explore Ryoji’s past, his family and his growing-up years. Yaichi takes him in reluctantly and thus begins a relationship of understanding, apprehension and fear not only between Mike and Yaichi but also between Mike and Yaichi’s young daughter, Kana. It is how Kana begins to question and understands Mike and at the same time Yaichi’s overcoming of homophobia is what the manga is all about.

Japan as a country is quite conservative when it comes to the question of homosexuals. It isn’t easy to talk about it in the open – more so in traditional societies of Japan. Maybe that is why this manga is needed now more than ever. Tagame explores each aspect – alienation, small incidents of homophobia, questions about the relationship that wasn’t mainstream and the differences of perception between the East and the West tenderly and with much insight.

There are multiple viewpoints, which is great because he then doesn’t give only one point of view and leave it at that. It also talks of how relationships can alter feelings and how life as it goes along, gives you the opportunity to keep embracing the new, no matter how different it might be. The story is beautiful and the characters are so well-rounded.

This book is definitely for those who want to understand what the LGBT people face, no matter how basic it seems in the book. This could however be the perfect guide and also not just for adults but children as well. “My Brother’s Husband” embraces differences and talks of cultural clashes at the same time. I cannot wait to read the second volume soon.

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