It's in Farsi, it's beautifully-shot film noir, it has a female lead, and you have to see it. Read the rest
Genius is a new graphic novel written by Steven T Seagle and drawn by Teddy Kristiansen and it's not really like any other graphic novels I've read. In a very good way.
Ted Marx is a physicist, and he's a genius. That's what he's been told all his life, ever since he started skipping grades in elementary school. It's only natural that he'd be recruited directly out of grad school and into a world-famous physics institute, but once he reaches it, he flames out. Ted Marx appears to have had all his significant physics insights while he was still an adolescent, and whatever well he visited for those insights has run dry. He's terrified of losing his job. He needs the money to shelter and feed his two adolescent children, his dying and terminally grumpy father-in-law, and his wife, whose persistent headaches are about to take a turn for the worse.
Ted worships Einstein, and frequently holds imaginary conversations with him, so imagine his surprise when he learns that his hateful, spiteful, senile father-in-law was once military guard to Einstein, part spy, part confessor. And what's more, the old man says that Einstein entrusted him with an idea that he never told anyone else, an idea that he's kept secret, true to his oath, for all these years. And if there's one thing that Ted really needs, it's an idea.
Genius is a remarkable book about some very difficult-to-illustrate subjects: creativity, inspiration, and yes, genius. Kristiansen's moody, impressionistic watercolor illustrations -- not usually my kind of thing -- perfect for the material. Read the rest
Illustrator-journalist Susie Cagle shares news about a new tablet magazine of comics journalism, Symbolia, that launches Monday, Dec. 3, and includes some of Cagle's own excellent work. Symbolia editor Erin Polgreen explains,
Graphic novel-style investigative journalism now has a home and its name is Symbolia. This Mon. 12/3, the premier, double-length edition of Symbolia will be available for the iPad in the App Store. The first edition includes work by Susie Cagle, Sarah Glidden, Andy Warner, and more, and will be available next week for free. Symbolia subscriptions cost $11.99 for a six editions over the next year, or $2.99 for a single issue. Each issue of Symbolia is packed with ground-breaking, insightful stories by world-class illustrators and journalists, plus stunning info-graphics, video reports, exclusive audio, and more.Check 'em out. There's a PDF edition too. Read the rest
At Cartoon Movement, "graphic journalist" Susie Cagle (Twitter) surveys the impact of recent DEA raids of medical marijuana centers, and legal attacks against Harborside and the like, in 'Down In Smoke'. The work includes sound clips, which is brilliant.
Oakland, California. Ground zero for a medical marijuana fight between states and the federal government that has only been heating up. Incorporating real audio from activists, Cagle portrays what "feels like class war" as local growers, patients and city officials fight against losing their jobs, medicine, and tax revenue.
The whole thing is here, and it's fantastic. Susie has done some of the best reporting I've seen of the Occupy movement and related protests in America—she's been jailed and injured for it. The fact that her reporting is focused through the medium of comics is just so innovative and cool. She takes true risks for her reporting, and what comes out of it is insightful, informative, and funny. I just love her work.
My Dinner with Marijuana: chemo, cannabis, and haute cuisine ... A rant on marijuana dispensaries, and the quest for a living wage in ... Pot legalization is on the ballot in three US states. What happens ... Osama bin Smokin'? Marijuana found at Abbottabad compound ... Read the rest
[Video Link] A fine short interview with the talented Owen Brozman, who illustrated Nature of the Beast, a graphic novel written by Adam Mansbach, who also wrote the mega-hit faux-kids' book Go the F**k to Sleep.
I have not yet read Nature of the Beast, but the description is intriguing:
Buy Nature of the Beast on Amazon Read the rest
An alien race of religious extremists plan to honor their deity through the ritualistic annihilation of our planet. The only man who knows this is Milan Marlowe, an unstoppable media baron who sees opportunity everywhere.
Earth’s only move is to engage the invaders according to their holy law and issue The Challenge of the Heretic—a winner-take-all gladiator battle for our right to exist. Marlowe launches Beast Wars, a televised interspecies tournament designed to select Earth’s mightiest champion. On a decadent private island, sharks, lions, gorillas, and polar bears square off to the delight of screaming fans oblivious to the sky-high stakes.
Enter Bruno Bolo—single father, blues belter, and alligator wrestler from the swamps of Florida. Beset by personal demons, corporatized killer sharks, Yeats-quoting pit fighters, and looming alien eradicators, Bruno will emerge as our desperate planet’s final hope.
Free States Rising is the 11th (and penultimate) collection of Brian Wood's masterful (anti-)war comic, DMZ. Wood has spent the past half-decade spinning this tightly plotted, gripping, and sardonic adventure story about a second American civil war fought in Manhattan, told from the point-of-view of Matty Roth, a reporter who becomes part of the story. DMZ is a textbook example of how science fiction can provide just enough distance between the real world and the reader to allow for a critique that is trenchant, but never strident. So here in volume 11, we have drone-wars, austerity, conspiracy and crass media manipulation, and it's all allegorical as hell, but since none of it constitutes an actual accusation about the actual world with its actual wars, it's possible to consider it all at arm's length and realize a) how profoundly screwed up Wood's world is, and b) how like our own it is.
If you've been following DMZ for all these years, volume 11 will not disappoint, as Wood crashes towards what promises to be a tremendous finish. This volume also contains a two-part short prequel to the series, explaining something of the origin of the "Free States Army," one of the factions in the DMZ story. Here's my reviews of the previous volumes.
As reviewed in Gweek - Tom Gauld's tragic, darkly funny retelling of David and Goliath from Goliath's perspective. Gauld's work is always quietly powerful and emotionally grabbing. Here's a seven-page taste of the new graphic novel, which is presented in a beautiful hardcover format from Drawn & Quarterly
Donovan Leitch and I were together during the holidays of the year 2000, I think it was. We had been discussing the Hip-Hop movie trend where musicians were having shoot-outs with cops and/or other Hip-Hoppers, drug dealers, gangs and whatnot. We thought it would be interesting to invent a story where this was happening to a rock band. As the night progressed we discovered that we had both been into the Krautrock/German art scene as teenagers, so it evolved into a German electronic band. Well, one that dresses like Laibach. We discussed what scenes would be "awesome" and "rad" and that maybe they should all dress alike and be incredibly resourceful computer and electronic geeks. Then at some point during the night we dropped it and that was that.
Several months later Donno had run across the Baader-Meinhof gang on the internet and began sending me pictures and stories of their exploits of the late '60s and the '70s. It got us interested in the story again so we began putting together an outline, employing the classic Greek "hero's journey" as our narrative structure. Pretty much every story you've read, or movie and TV show you've seen, uses this structure because it just makes sense to the human condition. We began plugging in events from German history as well as inventing drug lords and rival bands and developing the world in which our band would play out their thing.
I was touring with my band at the time so it gave me an opportunity to be in Germany and interview and research those people who were living back then and in that actual world. Read the rest
Same Difference is the story of Korean-American 20-something slackers in San Francisco who wrestle with the stereotypes and ambitions that they feel guide their lives. It has the feel of vintage Douglas Coupland, a drifting ennui shot through with moments of human warmth and connection. And though it's a quick read, it leaves a lasting emotional coal smouldering in its wake.
Craig Thompson's new graphic novel Habibi is an enormous and genre-busting graphic novel that blends Islamic mysticism, slave/liberation narratives and post-apocalyptic science fiction, creating a story that is erotic, grotesque, and profoundly moving.
Habibi is set in an atemporal Middle Eastern country that seems at times to be caught in classical times, but whose landscape is dotted with derelict jeeps, poisoned water awash in rotting consumer goods and other elements from out of time. Dodola, a child bride, is captured by slavers who murder her older husband, a scribe who had reared her on the stories, sutras and legends he was paid to calligraph. On the run, she rescues a younger slave boy, Zam, and the two become refugees together. They find a new home in the desert, a strangely out of place wrecked ship amid the sands, which they make into a snug home. Dodola raises Zam as her son, and to feed them both, she must prostitute herself to the caravans that pass by their hiding place.
When violence comes again -- when Dodala is enslaved to a capricious sultan's harem -- Zam is on his own, and is also soon in trouble. The story veers into Scheherazade territory as Dodola tries to charm the sultan into releasing her, but with the dark threat that usually lurks in the background in Scheherazade brought to the foreground. Zam is battered by life and circumstance, mutilated and enslaved, and still the two pine for each other.
Habibi is told in a dreamlike, non-linear, dense style, with asides for swirling Islamic legends, the theory and practice of magic squares, the hidden meanings in Arabic calligraphy, jumping from time to time and place to place, giving the book a deep, mythic resonance. Read the rest
Zahra's Paradise, a new book from FirstSecond, collects in one volume the serialized (and brilliant) webcomic, written by two pseudonymous Iranian dissidents. It's the gripping story of a Medhi, a young man kidnapped by Iran's secret police during the election-season demonstrations of 2009, and it is a heart-rending tale of loss, hope, technology, revolution, politics, bravery and resilience. Told form the point of view of Medhi's blogger brother (who has previously been arrested for publishing political material), it features an in-the-round look at the power and limits of technology to effect revolution. Its cast includes bloggers, secret policemen, brave copy-shop/Internet cafe owners, influence peddlers, disgraced bourgeois, broken prisoners and a family devastated by loss.
And while Zahra's Paradise is an informative (if fictionalized) account of the Iranian election uprising and a vivid condemnation of the stern, joyless Khomeniest version of Islam, it is also a fantastic story, a graphic novel that races to its conclusion. The webcomic was serialized in 12 languages (including Farsi and Arabic) and the print edition is available in a dozen countries from today.