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Friday, June 24, 2016

Book Round-up: Comics Edition

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll: This is a collection of short horror comics with a fairy-tale feel.  Like the best horror, they use tension and creepiness to scare, rather than gore and explicitness.  The illustrations are striking -- painted on black, the colors are mostly muted blues, browns, and greens, which makes the occasional use of red that much more vivid.

Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton: The second Hark, a Vagrant collection is filled with Beaton's signature kooky comics that take on everything from vintage illustrations to historical events to 80s pop music. These were lots of fun; Beaton has a knack for off-kilter takes on mundane subjects.

The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture by Glen Weldon: Weldon's book is a comprehensive tour of Batman from his origins to the present day, covering not just the comics but also the movies, TV shows, toys, and even literary works inspired by the character.  The takeaway from this enjoyable book is that there is no one version of Batman -- every generation and every cultural group latches onto and embellishes certain traits.  Also, Weldon never misses an opportunity to stick it to Bob Kane, the co-creator of Batman, so that's fun, too.

The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman: Gaiman finally wrote another Sandman comic, and it's a treat to return to that world.  This story is a prequel, in a sense, of the original 72-issue comic, showing us what Sandman was up to right before he was captured in the opening pages, and why he was so weak.  The illustrations are lavish and detailed, meant to be explored and savored.  Now I want to reread the rest of the comics, in light of the information we are given here.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel: Bechdel's highly-regarded memoir of her relationship with her father is moving, wry, and filled with literary allusions.  I particularly love the way Bechdel draws the faces of her characters -- simple, endearing, and quite expressive.

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