Tag Archives: Comics and Graphic Novels

I, Parrot by Deb Olin Unferth. Illustrated by Elizabeth Haidle

I Parrot Title: I, Parrot
Author: Deb Olin Unferth
Illustrated by Elizabeth Haidle
Publisher: Black Balloon Publishing
ISBN: 978-1936787654
Genre: Graphic Novels
Pages: 160
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

There are graphic novels and then there are graphic novels that almost speak to you. They are relatable, empathetic and make you see things in a different light. “I, Parrot” is one such graphic novel – unique, wondrous and soulful at the same time.

The book is about Daphne, a lonely woman, her life, her attempt to keep her life afloat so she can get the custody of her child someday from her ex-husband, her current love who she cannot make head or tail of and forty-two exotic parrots she has to take care of for her employer who is out for the weekend.

There is poignancy and humour in this large-hearted graphic novel like none other than I have read in recent times. It will take some time to get into it though – the whining and constant complaining will not make you want to turn another page, but once you do, the rewards of this graphic novel are multiple.

Unfreth’s writing is layered. There is more than what meets the eye. Of course, the usual metaphors are there of freedom and so on and so forth, but there are also a bunch of painters at work and what that means is something you have to discover for yourself. At the same time, Elizabeth Haidle’s illustrations are to die for. The way the parrots have been drawn and the world that exists around them is spectacular and introspective. Illustrations in a graphic novel have to account for sixty percent and Haidle gives it her heart and soul to this one.

“I, Parrot” is a strange book – told with a lot of heart and touches on extinction of not only birds but also the human heart. It is told with tenderness and takes a funny look at the impossible things of life, only to show that redemption can after all only be found in the most unexpected places of them all.

The Trouble with Women by Jacky Fleming

The Trouble with Women by Jacky Fleming Title: The Trouble with Women
Author: Jacky Fleming
Publisher: Square Peg, Penguin Random House
ISBN: 978-1910931097
Genre: Graphic novel, Commentary
Pages: 128
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

There are funny graphic novels that try too hard to be funny and then there are those that evoke a laugh or a guffaw from you at every turn of the page. “The Trouble with Women” by Jacky Fleming belongs to the second category of funny graphic novels. “The Trouble with Women” is a tongue-in-cheek graphic novel and you guessed it right, it is all about what is wrong with women – or so how the men see women – right from the good old times to the modern age – it is just the patriarchal system that calls the shots. The book is about how women throughout history have been confined only to the life of domesticity and nothing else – well at least most women.

TTWW - Image 1

Jacky looks at it in a humorous way but of course – the issues are seething and real and are brought to fore nonetheless. From people like Freud to Darwin who thought women were not of much use, Fleming gives you several pointers to think about and actually what it boils down to sadly is that things haven’t changed all that much from those times. Women still have to struggle just as much and things need to change and it can only be brought about when people begin to come together and have a conversation.

TTWW - Image 2

I have never understood arm-chair activism. It may seem like it is a start but honestly to me it doesn’t go anywhere at all. At the same time, this book “The Trouble with Women” will draw out exactly what women have been struggling against (albeit in a funny way) and give everyone, both women and men, the much needed perspective and for people to stay on track when it comes to issues.

TTWW - Image 3

Jacky Fleming’s book is funny and introspective. It is also cheeky, bold and every mother, sister, friend, daughter and woman out there should read it. While they are at it, the men also must read it. Change their perspective, perhaps.

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.

Supermutant Magic Academy - Image 1

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.

Supermutant Magic Academy - Image 2

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).

Supermutant Magic Academy - Image 4

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