Athos in America

Written and drawn by Jason

Peel: A graphic novel composed of six short stories.

This was a lovely collection. The stories all had different characters, but had similar tones and ideas, which made for a cohesive collection. This collection was on the angrier side of things. As usual, Jason did an amazing job at conveying lots of emotion through simple anthropomorphic drawings.

I found all of the stories, except the title story, to be very strong and rather intense. One story has amusing scene of Jason doing a reading, quoting passages from one of his excellent mostly silent books- Hey, Wait…. Another story, Athos in America, didn’t come off as very strong to me, however it was supposed to be a prequel to another of his books “The Last Musketeer”, which I have yet to read. As a note this is one of Jason’s wordier pieces, which may not be to some fans’ taste.

I would recommend this to anyone who has really enjoyed Jason’s previous work or wants an introduction to graphic novels.

Nibble: “Go out and get me a body! Someone young this time…not some old wreck!”

My Rating: 9 out of 10 flat flavorful apples

Jason’s Blog

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Bloody Chester

Written by J.T. Petty, Illustrated by Hilary Florido & Colored by Hilary Sycamore

Peel: In this graphic novel, Chester’s hired to burn down an empty town with a superstitious backstory. 

The plot line moves quickly following Chester, or Lady Kate, on an adventure in the old, unromanticized, west. This is certainly a different take on the cowboys versus indians trope. The plot alone was very gripping and there’s an unexpected twist towards the end. Though none of the characters are particularly reliable or likable, they’re all very interesting to watch interact. Chester is especially interesting, as I found myself rooting for him even after he made bad decision after bad decision.

This was labeled for ages fourteen and up, which seems pretty low for the amount of violence, adult implications, ethnic slurs and swears. The art unfortunately wasn’t that great, and didn’t enrich the story at all. There may be different lettering in the final copy, but the one I received was typed rather than handwritten and in all capital letters. This is one of the few graphic novels I’ve read that would have been better as just a novel.

Nibble: “Only been here a month, but I’ve seen you take more beatings than a whore’s bed.”

I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read a gripping creepy tale, and doesn’t mind disliking the protagonist.

My Rating: 4 out of 10 dusty golden apples

I received an advanced free copy of this book from the publishers, First Second,via NetGalley.

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The Complete Persepolis

Written & Illustrated by Marjane Satrapi

Peel: This is an autobiographical graphic novel based on a girl growing up during the Islamic Revolution, and later going to high school in Vienna.

The first half of the book was much stronger than the second. The first half is examining the revolution through a child’s eyes, and the second is centered on her. The childlike drawings I found compelling in the first half, especially given the heavy subject matter. My expectations were rather high for this book because of all the hype, and I’m rather surprised now that it’s mentioned with Maus.

I expected to hear a little more about Tehran and less about her, especially as she aged, but the opposite occurred. The first half was a child trying to understand her country and contradictions, whereas the second half was her trying to find her identity. I found a brief wikipedia scan on Iran during the 70s to 90s helpful for context. It was interesting to think about how being related to the former rulers of Iran and being in a child in an upper-class liberal family may have shaped her reaction to the Islamic Revolution.

I had mixed feelings about the protagonist. In the beginning of the book, while she’s a child, she’s rather likable, intelligent, and outspoken. As she aged though I couldn’t help but wish she stood up for herself in a less disrespectful manner, but on the other hand the blatant honesty without giving a rosy hue to her past was very powerful. She does a rather awful self-absorbed thing towards the end of the book, and only seems to feel bad as her grandmother was disappointed in her. As much as I loved Satrapi’s honesty, it was rather hard for me to empathize with her after that.

Nibble: “At the age of six I was already sure I was the last prophet.”

I would highly recommend the first half of this as an interesting view of culture, violence, and revolution through a child’s eyes.

My Rating: 6 out of 10 black and white apples

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The Last Dragon

Written by Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Rebecca Guay

Peel: Long ago humans got rid of all the dragons from the island of May, little did they know an egg survived. Now they have to find a hero to eliminate the last dragon.

This is a rather amusing take on the typical evil dragon story, and *gasp* the mentor of the hero is female. It was a pretty quick fun read, and the humor was oriented towards a younger, 12-14, audience. It was also a coming-of-age story. The art was gorgeous, and the much stronger half of this graphic novel. The colors were muted giving the story a very dreamy feel, and I’m sure the art is even better in print as I viewed an electronic version. Overall, I found the pictures more intriguing than the textual story.

The dragon itself had less of a role in the story than one would expect from a story titled The Last Dragon. I found it a bit jarring to see some of the humor, like an older brother saying ‘cool’ when his baby brother is taken by the dragon, set in such pretty delicate artwork. As a warning there is mention of death, but it’s not illustrated.

Nibble: “The isles ran red and dark with dragon blood till all of them were gone. Or so the humans believed.”

I would recommend this in print as an illustrated bedtime story to pre-teens and young teens.

My Rating: 7 out of 10 burnt red apples

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, Dark Horse, via NetGalley.

Jane Yolen’s Site, Rebecca Guay’s Site {Guay’s site may contain nudity}

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Green River Killer: A True Detective Story

Written by Jeff Jensen, Illustrated by Jonathan Case

The plot is based around trying to find the Green River Killer, and finding sufficient proof. The story is told from the detective’s point of view, and written by the detective’s son.

This graphic novel had quite the opening, rather dramatic and suspenseful, and it drew me in quickly. The rest of the novel was more psychological rather than action-based which heightened my interest without desensitizing me. The stark black and white artwork grew on me throughout the novel, and a lot of expression was packed into the amount of lines drawn. The understated art worked excellently with this novel, and kept it from going into the flashy gore zone. The examination and quasi obsession with the killer is fascinating, as the killer’s motivations remain largely a mystery. As the book is extremely readable and compelling, I finished it in one go this morning. I found the story all around interesting, perhaps more so as I’m from the East Coast, and hadn’t heard much about this serial killer. All of the main characters were complete, and gave the right emotional depth for this piece.

The only thing against this story, is I don’t think it would hold up to multiple reads. It also had many time jumps, for long and short amounts of time forwards and backwards, which took me out of the story as I tried to imagine an accurate timeline.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading about the darker side of human nature.

Nibble: “When the Vietcong hear of my legend, they quiver in fear, then staple something.”

My Rating: 8 out of 10 dark red apples

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.