Category Archives: Drawn and Quarterly

Mooncop by Tom Gauld

mooncop-by-tom-gauld Title: Mooncop
Author: Tom Gauld
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
ISBN: 978-1770462540
Genre: Graphic novel
Pages: 96
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

If you have to read one graphic novel this year (or of whatever year is left), I highly recommend you read “Mooncop” by Tom Gauld. It is a heartbreaking and extremely real graphic novel on loneliness and how we deal with it, even if it is on the moon.

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The year is unknown and pretty far-off into the future. Space has been colonized for mankind – a reach for the stars project, which is now a reality. There are people living on the moon and everything is the same – though it can get very boring and this happens to one of the lunar officers of the law. This colony on the moon is half-forgotten and no one cares about it, so much so that most people are on their way out. The cop is lonely and doesn’t have much to do. The book unfolds beautifully, of which I shall not speak more. It would then mean giving away the plot which I don’t want to.

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We are all lonely and we all try and make do with what we have, which is exactly what the nameless protagonist of this graphic novel does. The life lead is in a bubble, of oxygen-rich air and a metaphorical bubble of bureaucracy. Yet, there is this beauty in which Gauld communicates everything through his drawing and characters. There is humour and there is a lot of hope in it.

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In such a short graphic novel, Gauld says what he has to and that’s the beauty of the graphic form. You don’t need all that space or words to say what you have to. “Mooncop” is one of those rare graphic novels that you have to pick up right after you have finished reading it. It is heartwarming, nostalgic and a beautiful meditation on life and loneliness.

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Market Day by James Sturm

Market Day by James Sturm Title: Market Day
Author: James Sturm
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
ISBN: 978-1897299975
Genre: Graphic novel
Pages: 96
Source: Borrowed read
Rating: 5/5

So this graphic novel came heavily recommended to me by @mentalexotica and I absolutely and most certainly take her recommendations very seriously – more so when it comes to graphic novels. She doesn’t miss them and is bang on with what she likes or loves most of the time. I read the book in half an hour (it was her copy), but the memory of it will stay and linger for longer than that.

“Market Day” as the title suggests is about a day in the market. It is about art and commerce as seen in the market by a Jewish rug-maker in early twentieth-century.

This graphic novel goes deeper than this for sure. The story of Mendleman in an Eastern-European village is exquisite and told with such finesse by James Sturm. The palette is sepia-infused and doesn’t change and yet the changes (if any) are clear. Sturm takes the reader on Mendleman’s journey through the market as he plans to sell his rugs and leads nowhere. Along the way, he meets his friends, is unable to sell his rugs, gets drunk and decides to sell his loom and do something else.

What is most touching and empathic at the same time, is that he will become a father soon – perhaps the next morning and he is in a state of utter confusion – he has to provide for his family and is most certainly disillusioned by what he sees around him and yet he must continue soldering on – if he wants to that is.

The illustrations are beautiful and stark. The pull between life and death, nurture and a sense of nonchalance, the need to keep going and the longing to give it all up – the contrasts are beautifully illustrated and at some point it ceases to be just the story of one man – but of all of us – because we all seem to have experienced it one time or the other: The sense of alienation, to give it all up and yet to keep going because something or the other always will provide for us, in some way or the other. I urge you to read this. Strongly at that.

SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

Supermutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki Title: SuperMutant Magic Academy
Author: Jillian Tamaki
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
ISBN: 978-1770461987
Genre: Comics, Graphic Novel
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I love graphic novels. The genre makes me smile all the time. Well, mostly all the time. There are times when I go all morose as well, but that’s only because of the plot and nothing more than that. So when I received a copy of Jillian Tamaki’s new graphic novel, “SuperMutant Magic Academy” by the publisher, I was overjoyed.

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What is the book about?

It is true to its title. It is about Mutants, who are in an academy, and of course who are magical. That being said, they are almost like any other teenager – bursting with puberty, adolescence making them think otherwise and going through the same old pangs of growing up and deciding whether to love or not and how does one then become popular.

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Why should you read this book?

There is humour in the book, loads of it and also sprinkled with a whole lot of irreverence and not to forget their paranormal abilities that are juxtaposed brilliantly against the everyday teen concerns. The world is but surely familiar and yet it is the abilities that come along in the book, that take you by surprise and sometimes shock.

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I cannot talk about individual characters because there are so many of them, but needless to say that you might just fall in love with each of them and their little quirks. It is a mash-up of Hogwarts and Gossip Girl (I know some of you might be cringing but that’s what it is and it is a delightful read at that).

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Tamaki’s illustrations are almost perfect and invite you to a world like none other. Her characterization is sharp and full of detailing, page after page and that is what also will appeal to the serious reader in some of you. Tamaki has a knack to understand the psyche of her characters and to bring each nuance to life through her illustrations and story-telling capacity. There are just right enough doses of angst, hopelessness and so much hope at times that you will wonder where that came from in the book.

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“SuperMutant Magic Academy” will take you through vignettes of every single character and their kinks – from Trixie, a dinosaur girl to Everlasting Boy who is immortal, to Wendy who has cat ears and also you will meet Marsha, the grumpy friend who carries a secret torch for Wendy and many more, equally weird and strange. The thing though is that you will fall in love with each and every one of them and hope that the book doesn’t end. I could not stop thinking about them long after I had finished the book and I am almost certain that I will go back to it. This is also the kind of book that can be enjoyed by anyone – from teenagers to the middle-aged readers. I wish there is a sequel in line for this one.

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SuperMutant Magic Academy

Earthling by Aisha Franz

Earthling by Aisha Franz Title: Earthling
Author: Aisha Franz
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
ISBN: 978-1770461666
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 208
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Off late, say in the last decade or so, there has been a spurt of graphic novelists and artists from all over the world. “Earthling” by Aisha Franz is not just another graphic novel. There is something about it, which speaks to you and which hits the nail right on the head of the problem of our society today: Alienation and Loneliness.

The graphic novel is also a coming-of-age story of two sisters. It is about their estranged mother. A father that is supposed to take them on a trip which none of the girls wants to go to. The mother dreams of what could have been had she not got pregnant early in her life. The older daughter wants to be accepted. The younger one is confused about life. All the three of them want is some semblance to a regular life and happiness. The setting is the suburbs – unknown places, a big industrial wasteland and vast fields with nothing to talk about. In all of this, each of these three characters has built a fantastical element to their stories. They find their solace and comfort there.

Franz’s setting itself is another character. The black and white illustrations also add that bleak element to the story. I think “Earthling” to me is more than just a story about coping with life. It is also to a very large extent about finding yourself midst all the noise and silences.

The book, in its graphic elements relays a lot – on the human condition, how we are and yet there is a glimmer of hope somewhere for these people to perhaps want something more and get it after all. I loved “Earthling” because it was for sure a different graphic novel and to some extent also reminded me of Daniel Clowe’s characters, all wandering and trying to find their way in the world.

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Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet

Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet Title: Beautiful Darkness
Author: Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
ISBN: 978-1770461291
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 96
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I had been waiting for the longest time to read, “Beautiful Darkness”. The minute I heard about it, I knew I would love it. It is a dark take on the fairy tale world. It is nothing like what you would expect and it is nothing like what you think it will be. It is a strange graphic novel. It is a graphic novel that shows you the way humans are, the way animals are and the way it really is. There is no happy ending. So you better be warned before you decide to read this one.

Beautiful Darkness - Image 1

“Beautiful Darkness” is about a strange kind. I am inclined to believe that it is a fairy-tale world and maybe that is what it is. It is an anti-fairy tale as the book suggests. It is the pixie land of Lord of the Flies. It is violent and head-snapping and decays at its best. The book is about Princess Aurora, her Prince, a fine setting to begin with and how all if it only starts getting bad to worse. The book begins with globs of blood, with the body of a girl – once alive, now dead and her flesh decaying (sort of depicting what is going to happen next in this strange land) and how she permanently rests there, and how the world around the body changes drastically.

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Vehlmann poses a lot of questions during the entire book. Who killed the girl? Why this world the way it is? Why is Aurora trying to help everyone, when everything around her is falling apart? Animals are trying to survive. Pixies are doing their bit. This tale is not for children. There is gore, a lot of it. There is darkness, which the creatures get used to. There is survival of the fittest and sometimes a whole lot of betrayal and shocks that come to fore.

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Vehlmann explores the dark side of humanity. He gets into the skin of it and exposes it, for all to see. The maggot eating, the haphazard cruelty, the cannibalism, and more are for the reader. Like I said, you were warned. At the same time, don’t forget to go through the lovely illustrations.

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