Category Archives: Graphic Novels

Read 41 of 2022. Let There Be Light: The Real Story of Her Creation by Liana Finck

Let There Be Light by Liana Finck

Title: Let There Be Light: The Real Story of Her Creation
Author: Liana Finck
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 978-1984801531
Genre: Graphic Novels
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Let me just say this right at the outset: I love this graphic novel. This wonderfully smart and highly inventive reimagining of the Book of Genesis by Finck is a graphic novel for the ages. God is imperfect in Finck’s retelling. God is moody. God is neurotic. God is a woman, and God exists.

Let There Be Light is so much more than a retelling. It shatters so many myths, constantly rethinking stories and filing the gaps in the fables as it goes along, giving it a spin of its own, saying and depicting what it has to, seeped in its own philosophy of life, death, and including art.

Finck’s God is funny, adorable, wants to and does her own thing, carries a wand (well like witches do, isn’t it?), feels bad about herself and also the world as incidents happen, prone to self-doubts, and overall is a God that is also prone to punishing and providing hints to her people about what’s to come.

The art is minimalistic–in panels of black and white, sometimes spouting colour in-between, making very relevant points. This God also keeps on creating – nothing impresses her, and nothing will. The plot also jumps blending The Book of Genesis to present-time in a very interesting and fun manner. Finck also introduces us to Lilith – the first wife of Adam, as being the snake in the Garden of Eden – a monster. She makes Adam believe that she is a he – an old man with a beard and thus then creates Eve, the woman.

There is so much going on in this graphic novel – the Cain and Abel story, the story of their children and more, about how God doesn’t want to be seen at all, she doesn’t want to reveal herself, the tower of Babel and the story of language, and how God outshines in the first couple of chapters, only to become invisible in the rest.

The beauty of Finck as an artist is that she doesn’t provide explanations at every panel nor does she believe in giving the reader a template to follow. Her art is playful, sad, and all over the place just as it should be in the creation of life on earth and what came next.

Finck is a marvellous artist and a very engaging storyteller, constantly making the reader turn the page, and go back to start all over again. A must-read!  

Read 36 of 2022. Maithili and the Minotaur – Web of Woe by C.G. Salamander and Rajiv Eipe

Maithili and the Minotaur - Web of Woe by C.G. Salamander and Rajiv Eipe

Title: Maithili and the Minotaur – Web of Woe
Author: C.G. Salamander
Illustrator: Rajiv Eipe
Publisher: Puffin Books, Penguin Random House India
ISBN: 978-0143455189
Genre: Children’s Literature, Graphic Novels, Comics
Pages: 64
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

I could not stop smiling as I turned the pages of Maithili and the Minotaur – Web of Woe, the first in an Outlandish Graphic Novel Series, and outlandish it is to the very core.

Maithili is an outcast from the human world, and she doesn’t know why. She also cannot fit in at school. No monster one will speak with her, except for the Minotaur. Everyone apparently seems to be hiding something from Maithili (which is sort of revealed in the book but not quite), till an incident occurs that changes the course of the story.

This comic/graphic novel series is so exciting and also very real when it touches upon the topics of alienation, loneliness, and what it means to be different. The graphics by Rajiv Eipe are minimal initially and later they get more colourful, and interesting.

Maithili and the Minotaur is a wholesome read – and I recommend everyone read it, irrespective of age. It is a chaotic journey, and the illustrations do justice to it. It is about monsters and humans living together (and why are they labelled to begin with?)  and that in itself is a strong message. Do check it out.

Read 174 of 2021: The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

Title: The Magic Fish
Author: Trung Le Nguyen
Publisher: Random House Graphic
ISBN: 978-0593125298
Genre: Graphic Novels, LGBTQIA, Coming of Age, 
Pages: 256 
Source: Publisher 
Rating: 5/5 

I wish someone had written this book for me when I was growing up. When I was dealing with my sexuality and didn’t know any better. I wish I knew how to tell my parents and family I was gay using words that would break their hard exterior and touch their heart and soul, which of course didn’t happen. I just came out and that was that. The Magic Fish however is a book that seems to know what to say and how and is more beautiful for it.

Tiến loves his family and friends. His parents hail from Vietnam and he is keeping a secret from them – about himself, about who he is, about how he cannot tell them that he is gay because there is no equivalent for it in Vietnamese. It is also about his love for a friend, and him struggling with his identity.

At the same time, Nguyen takes us on a whirlwind of providing comfort to yourself through fairy tales. Tiến and his mother read fairy tales to each other, every night, and in those tales, each of them is trying to find and know more about their lives – the past, present, and perhaps the future.

I love how Nguyen takes the concept of a fairy tale and throws it on its head and gives his readers something so refreshing to introspect about. The Magic Fish is a book that refreshingly looks at fairy tales keeping modern lives in mind. It doesn’t shy away from breaking norms and stereotypes, which is the need of the hour and the times we live in. Trung’s art is stunning and you need to spend some time on every page to soak it all in. In short, The Magic Fish is a read meant for all, to make people understand that people lead different lives and it is all about perspective and empathy.

 

Garage Band by Gipi. Translated from the Italian by Spectrum

Garage Band by Gipi

Title: Garage Band
Author: Gipi
Translated from the Italian by Spectrum Publisher: First Second
ISBN: 978-1596432062
Genre: Graphic Novels
Pages: 114
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

I just finished reading this very heartwarming graphic novel about four teenage boys, their band, and a garage in which they practice. More than anything it is about these four lives, their individual strife and struggles, their dreams and ambitions, and their relationships with people around them – friends and family.

Garage Band is the kind of graphic novel that doesn’t make any point. It doesn’t want to. It is that slice-of-life graphic novel that lets you soak in the moment, the characters, the simple story of them just wanting to create music, their sometimes-misplaced ideology, and what growing-up or on the road to growing-up is all about.

Garage Band is just a bittersweet meditation on teenage life and how whether it is Italy, America, or India, adolescence is just the same. Giuliano’s father kindness leads to the band getting his garage as practice space. That’s where the story begins. They are extremely passionate about their music and are deeply connected to each other.

Gipi’s characters fit in any landscape. The country doesn’t matter. The story does. We get to know the boys and before you know it, the book is over at about 114 pages. The watercolours are restrained but extremely engaging and it all comes alive in contrasting panels. At some point I thought more could have been fleshed out, but I was wrong as I read further. It wasn’t needed at all. Garage Band says a lot and hides a lot. There is telling and showing and in good measure. It is one of those graphic novels that will most certainly stay with me for long and I will reread it very soon.

Glass Town by Isabel Greenberg

Glass Town by Isabel Greenberg

Title: Glass Town
Author: Isabel Greenberg
Publisher: Jonathan Cape, Penguin Random House
ISBN: 978-1787330832
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Glass Town is a fictitious world created by the Brontë siblings, first appearing in December 1827. Glass Town was first created by Charlotte and Branwëll Brontë, followed by Emily and Anne to build the creation of an imaginary world in which their stories flourished. However, from about 1831, Emily and Anne distanced themselves from Glass Town and created their own world called Gondal, which then started to feature in many of their poems.

Glass Town by Isabel Greenberg is a stunning graphic novel of the world created by these siblings, their lives, the lives of their characters, and above all the power of art and imagination. It is a book about bringing fictional worlds to life and how writers immerse themselves in it. This then enables readers to see their works in a whole new light – fantastical and extraordinary. To a large extent, I also thought that Ms. Greenberg felt that way too about the works of the Brontës, which of course led to the creation of this book.

There is the “real” world in the book, and the “fictional” world. The world that meant so much to the Brontë siblings and what it did to them once it was all gone and over with. Greenberg merges the fictional with the factual most exactingly – to the point that you want to believe it all. Glass Town is also a graphic that has seemingly simple illustrations, but they are quite complex if looked closely. Glass Town is the kind of graphic novel that will make you want to know more about the Brontë family, their origins, their lives, their loves and feuds, and how they wrote those books they did. More than anything else, it is a book that will make you want to read their works, if you haven’t already.