Tag Archives: Graphic Novels

Read 103 of 2022. Our Colors by Gengoroh Tagame. Translated from the Japanese by Anne Ishii

Our Colors by Gengoroh Tagame

Title: Our Colors
Author: Gengoroh Tagame
Translated from the Japanese by Anne Ishii Publisher: Pantheon
ISBN: 978-1524748562
Genre: Graphic novel, LGBTQIA
Pages: 528
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I honestly wish I had a book such as Our Colors to read and understand myself better as I was growing up gay. It was not an easy time then, and maybe it isn’t now as well, but there is information, there are other people’s experiences, and I would like to think and believe that people communicate and speak with each other about being gay/queer/alternate or different sexuality/sexual identity a lot more now than what they used to, when I came out in the late 90s.

This book is also about friendship and the nature of empathy more than anything. Yes, it is about a 16-year-old’s coming out journey and it is also about identity confusion, of how the world works, of how it views people who are “different”, and what comes after that, but it is also about love, hope, friendship, and what it takes to be yourself.

Tagame’s explores the friendship of between Mr. Amamiya and Sora with so much grace, maturity, and emotion that I couldn’t help but also weep in some places. It was in a sense, that cathartic for me. Sometimes I wonder what would it be like had my father and I spoke about me being gay? How would have that turned out for me? What would it be like to speak with an older gay man as I was growing up? And that’s precisely what technology enables today – the freedom to speak with someone who has been there, but with caution.

Sora could be any teenager but he isn’t. There is something about him that Tagame shows the reader – the way he views the world in colours, of how he categorizes people that way as well, and how his emotions are also connected all with colours. It is beautiful how the entire manga is in black and white, and yet I could picture colour whenever Tagame mentioned it in the text.

The translation of the text by Anne Ishii is sparse, beautiful, and to the point. It is right in beat with Tagame’s illustrations and story-telling. Our Colors is a beautiful book that I encourage everyone to read, cis-het or not. It is wonderful and might even teach you how to view the world differently.

Read 100 of 2022. Ulysses: Mahler after Joyce by Nicholas Mahler. Translated from the German by Alexander Booth

Ulysses- Mahler after Joyce by Nicholas Mahler

Title: Ulysses: Mahler after Joyce
Author: Nicholas Mahler
Translated from the German by Alexander Booth
Publisher: Seagull Books
ISBN: 9780857429933
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 284
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Nicholas Mahler’s Ulysses – his interpretation of the 1922 classic, and perhaps the most inventive book ever written is topsy-turvy, mind-boggling at times, and absolutely surreal to boot, and all of this in a graphic format.

I haven’t read Ulysses. I have been meaning to for a while now, and maybe will – very soon, but for now the status remains unchanged. Reading Mahler’s interpretation though, managed to surface all that I had heard about the book – what it’s about – three people trying to make sense of life – as events unfold on a single day – the 16th of June 1904.

Mahler sets his Ulysses in Vienna. Leopold Bloom becomes Leopold Wurmb, as he roams around the city, attends the funeral of a friend, gets to know of the impending affair of his wife Molly, ruminates about his child, no longer alive, and just walks along.

You don’t need to read Joyce’s Ulysses to read this one. Both the translator, Alexander Booth and Mahler ensure that the text and the pictures tell if not a different story – then the most inspired version. Mahler makes this Ulysses his – varied graphic forms with every chapter that is titled as per the name Ulysses, he takes us on this fascinating journey of less words, and more emotion, through simple illustrations – making us collectively feel so much. I would most certainly have to read Ulysses now.

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 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.

 

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.