What did I read (and finish) this week? Look below to find out!
Comics Dementia by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez (2016) – This graphic novel contains various shorts featuring some of the characters from the Hernandez Brothers’ massive Love and Rockets world, including Princess Anima, Roy, and Errata Stigmata. It’s an exercise in absurdity with the stories drawn by Gilbert Hernandez having no discernible plot, point, or beginning. I didn’t really like it. I found it confusing, pointless, and unfunny. I enjoyed Jaime Hernandez’ forays into Princess Anima, but there was so little of that that I basically gave up around page 120 and started skimming. Pretty disappointing.
The Push Man and Other Stories by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (1969/2005) – This graphic novel focuses more on relationships, especially parents to children, parents to each other, and sexual partners. Tatsumi focuses on the disturbing, such as a father watching his adult daughter have an affair, a husband smothering his pregnant wife, and sewer men sweeping up dead babies. Through the slow build-up of the main characters’ frustrations, the stories become steadily creepier and creepier. This was such a strong graphic novel, and it really made me appreciate Tatsumi’s skill as a writer. Great volume.
They’re Not Like Us, Vol. 1: Black Holes for the Young by Eric Stephenson and Simon Gane (2015) – This graphic novel centers around Syd, a girl treated for mental illness her whole life who turns out to have psychic abilities. Attempting suicide draws the attention of other psychics, especially The Voice, who gathers them to him and teaches them how to take everything they want from life. However, Syd is not wholly convinced by their moral ambiguity, and the house begins to fall apart. The opening and coloring by Jordie Bellaire were FANTASTIC, but the promise didn’t really hold out. Eventually, the writing got too self-conscious and pretentious, simultaneously trying to craft similarities to and distance itself from a real discussion of mental illness. I’m interested in reading the next volume, but it just didn’t wow me. It was pretty bland.
Operation Margarine by Katie Skelly (2014) – This short graphic novel focuses on Margarine, a rich girl running away from psychiatric help and a stifling family, and Bon-Bon, a tough girl who happens to choose bad boyfriends. The two go on a crazy adventure where they steal motorcycles and run away from a biker gang and get into shoot-outs while the narrative explores their backstories. It was an okay graphic novel, though I would have liked greater closure. Definitely deserves a read though.
Ikebana by Yumi Sakugawa (2015) – This short graphic novel is about an art student, Cassie Hamasaki, who decides to make herself her senior art project. She embodies a Japanese flower arrangement and takes her confused art class on a walk through the city, making them witness how the world interacts with her. It is a somewhat confusing and quite sad piece, but it also lingers, forcing the reader to consider what Cassie was really trying to do. Quite good.