“What a brick…” I laughed to myself as I flipped through Anomaly, one of the largest graphic novels I have ever seen (370 pages to be exact). At first glance, I notice Anomaly is very reminiscent of Star Wars and Star Trek, which I dig. So screw it, I thought. This baby’s coming home with me. Good decision!
Earth 2717. The planet is dying and most of its population lives in space. There are no longer individual nations or corporations, just the all powerful Conglomerate who cares more about profit then life and will use any force necessary to get it. Jon, an Enforcer, joins Samantha, the daughter of a powerful Conglomerate executive, and her team on a suicidal peace mission to another world far far away. Everyone who has every traveled there, was never heard from again…
Anomaly is an anomaly among graphic novels. It’s one of the first graphic novels to create an interactive experience by combining print with a digital device, like your smart phone or tablet. Download the free interactive app, aim it at a specific image or link in the book and watch video and 3D images jump right off the page. It’s something you really have to experience. You don’t need the app to enjoy Anomaly, but its really really cool and adds even more depth to this sci-fi epic.
Available for check-out.
I’ve been trying to branch out and read more non-fiction in graphic novels so I decided to pick up “The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afganistan With Doctors Without Borders” and “How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less.” Both of these books had the potential to be incredibly depressing and hopeless. To whit, the conflict between Israel and Palestine seems almost completely unsolvable, from just about any perspective, “The Photographer” takes place in the mid-80’s, during the war between the Soviets and the Mujahadeen, we all know how that turned out. The books both take place in the Middle East and are viewed by outsiders who don’t entirely understand the language and the culture of the countries they are visiting and the narrators don’t have total autonomy, though for different reasons.
“The Photographer” is based on diaries, photographs and recollections by Didier Lefèvre, a French photo-journalist accompanying the humanatarian organization Doctors Without Borders. Most of the book chronicles the day-to-day work of the doctors, many of whom returned to Afganistan 2 or 3 times. For individuals like myself who are not familiar with the region or its culture, it was very illuminating to see the Muslim world depicted without any particular political bent. One of the genius aspects of this book is the incorporation of Didier’s photographs, which are often shown in sequence, not unlike film stock or comic panels. The interaction between the photos and Emmanuel Guibert’s (a close friend of Lefèvre’s who helped reconstruct the trip) art is fascinating and fairly unique in the world of comics. Beautiful, beautiful photography and from back in the olden times before digital cameras were around.
“How To Understand Israel In 60 Days or Less” by Sarah Glidden is a horse of a different color. Glidden, the writer, illustrator and narrator is travelling to Israel on an all-expense-paid Birthright Tour that all Jewish people are eligible for (once they pass a thorough background check, as illustrated towards the beginning of the book) to try see if her understanding of “the situation” between Israel and the Occupied Territories is accurate. Through the course of the tour she becomes more confused and upset, trying to cling to her “the Birthright is trying to brainwash me into thinking that Israel is in the right and Palestine is in the wrong” narrative. It is satisfying to not have Glidden come down definitively for or against Israel’s occupation at the end. Be warned, both these graphic novels are fairly long and contain a good amount of history and culture. Not easy reads, but very good ones.
These are both available at the SLCPL for check out here and here.
I recently picked up and re-read Craig Thompson’s memoir opus Blankets one evening. At 600 pages it’s a bit of a doorstop, however the pages flew by. I had read it for the first time about 8 years ago, and felt that a re-read might yield a different reaction. To be honest life events have not been so awesome in the last little while and I wasn’t sure whether this bitter sweet tale might rip open a new hole inside my soul. Gratefully it didn’t.
This seminal autobiographical graphic novel is an incredibly apt choice for this time of year. Obviously due to the fact that the key events of the story take place during winter time in Michigan and Wisconsin respectively. (Seriously anyone who complains about winter time here in the west should go to Michigan where they would laugh in your face…) However, also I think it’s because in winter-time we cocoon ourselves in order to maintain any precious amount of heat that we can. In Blankets I found that Thompson brings to the page the warmth of nostalgia when looking back on his romance with Raina. You can almost feel it emanating from the page as you read.
Another storyteller might look upon this story with anger and bitterness but Craig takes a more agnostic approach. While he may not understand everything that happened in his childhood, he clearly believes that it has led him to become the man he is. And that man isn’t perfect but he is content, no longer a searcher. No longer restless or conflicted. There’s solace in that at least, especially in the cold hand that fate can often deal us.
This is but one aspect of this story, trust me I could go on for (web) pages, but I’ll just urge you to check it out. It’s worth the heft.
Check it out here at the Salt Lake City Public Library.
Somehow I had a reason to care by Sean Black is this month’s zine spotlight. This slight zine contains a multitude of emotions as a young man deals with the death of his father. This sounds like heavy stuff but Black is able with subtle humor to turn this story into a delight. This tale of mid-twenties emotional desperation has an authentic quality that reminds one of John Green or Sherwood Anderson.
This zine along with many other zines can be found and checked out in the Zine Collection at the Main Library.