Here is the number one thing I am taking away from Comics February: there is literally no reason why I couldn’t read a comic a week. Seriously. I have enjoyed this past week so much in terms of what I have been reading. I’ve basically been listening to an audiobook during my morning commute (The Golem & the Jinni) and then bringing a comic to read on my way home. I’ve been keeping the longer ones one my nightstand to read a little bit more slowly before bed. This month has just been the perfect reminder that I love this form and I should make more time for it.
So how did the first week go? Mostly wonderful!
A Matter of Life by Jeffrey Brown – I’m going to start with my least favorite so we can just get it out of the way. I was expecting great things from A Matter of Life, which was compared to Blankets in its copy from the publisher. This is no blankets. It is the story of Brown being at odds with the religion he grew up in and what it is like to raise a child without religion, which is a story I am very much interested in, but the structure of this one ended up feeling very disjointed. It was interesting and the art was in Brown’s signature style, which I enjoy, but overall it just didn’t come together for me.
A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached – I’m pretty sure this comic is perfect. It is the story of one night in Beirut, Zeina and her brother are at home with a neighbor, their parents gone to visit their grandmother, when the bombing begins. Their entire building congregates in Zeina’s family’s foyer, because it is the safest room in the apartment. The black and white art, the integration of a tapestry that hangs on the wall in the foyer, and the economical story telling make this a comic that packs an emotional punch. Almost the entire comic takes place over one night, but the story feels so much bigger than that. Comparisons to Persepolis are inevitable here, but I had more of an emotional reaction to A Game for Swallows.
Sunny by Taiyo Matsumoto – I plan on rereading this one before I return it to the library. First, it’s just a beautiful book. It’s hardcover, the cover illustration and the interior pages that are in color are lovely, and the black and white panels are so detailed. I read this too quickly, I think. I just want to get lost in the world – remember what I said in my original post on Comics February? This won the superlative for “The Best Comic About Actual Human Beings With Actual Human Feelings God Dammit” and yes, because there is so much happiness and heartache in this story about a home for children with no where else to go.
Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang – These books were as good as promised. They present both sides of the Boxer Rebellion, but pulling on Chinese and Christian traditions to tell the story. In Boxers, Little Bao, angered by the way Christian invaders are treating his village, finds a way to fight back, by calling on the ancient gods to give him strength and power. In Saints, Four-Girl is unlucky from the moment she is born and never fits in, until she finds her way to a small Christian community in her village. Little Bao and Vibiana (the name she chooses for herself) eventually cross paths. I knew next to nothing about this time in history, so I’d really like to learn more about it. The art is colorful and if you’ve read Yang’s work before, you’ll recognize the style.
Jane, The Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault – Hélène one day has friends and the next they turn on her, in the fickle way kids can. It crushes Hélène’s self-esteem, though, and she moves through life trying to make as few waves as possible, retreating into Jane Eyre, until a school camping trip forces her to face her anxieties head on. I loved the pencil sketches that made up this comic and the incorporation of Jane Eyre and some color throughout. The story felt a little slight – I was expecting more depth. I did like the ending of this one, though.
Aya by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie – I liked this comic about girls living in the Ivory Coast during 1978, but I’m looking forward to reading more in the series, since I didn’t quite connect with the characters this time around. I loved the style of the art and the colors and being transported to the Ivory Coast, but I wanted to spend more time with Aya. Hopefully I’ll get to know her a little bit better in future books.
Julio’s Day by Gilbert Hernandez – I read somewhere that this book was one day in each year of Julio’s life and it’s nothing of the sort. Maybe I misread something, but this is just the story of one family, over 100 years, beginning with Julio’s birth and ending with his death. It’s moving and somewhat surreal, and often confusing. One day I will read the entirety of the Love and Rockets series. One day!
Prime Baby by Gene Luen Yang – This is cute and funny and that’s really all you need to know.
Nothing Could Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks – Oh, I still love the way Faith Erin Hicks draws faces. They are just so expressive! This story was cute, about a robotics team and a cheer-leading squad who have to work together to raise enough money to support both teams. Did you know that Faith Erin Hicks is working with Rainbow Rowell on a graphic novel? DREAM TEAM. I’m so so excited about this.
What comic was your favorite this month?