Tag Archives: graphic-novel

The Art of Rebecca Kraatz

Tomorrow, I will be going to Dalhousie University’s Killam Library to see award-winning graphic artist, cartoonist and writer Rebecca Kraatz talk about her life, art, and acclaimed graphic novel Snaps.

In preparation for the event I was putting around Rebecca Kraatz’s website and am happy to say I was inspired enough to mention her work on this blog (thus helping to spread her acclaim to literally two or three random folks !).

I enjoy Kraatz’s art because her work often contains at least one of my three of favourite qualities:
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Trial & Error…and Success(?)

Look! Some efforts and signs of life!!!

I’ve been thinking of making a book trailer movie for a while and finally I’ve found the time! I’m pretty used to a variety of video capturing and editing software, but I’m still relying on the crutch of PowerPoint and the proprietary, albeit incredibly user friendly Camtasia…sorry Jing, but you did NOT float my boat! Also, I may have been trying to cram too much into this trailer by adding book-talking and RA elements. Still I’m happy with the final product and can already see how to improve the quality of future videos. I may not be a paid librarian yet, but I sure am having fun pretending to be one 😉

Classic X-Men X-Men: First Class

A group of librarians and I (and a Chemistry master’s student who has been adopted into our stack of librarians) decided to hit the town last week and went to go see X-men: First Class on cheap night! (yes, it WAS a wild night for sure. We parked two downtown city blocks from the theatre and didn’t get home until 9:45pm!!! True story.

Aaaaanyway, we had varying expectations, but were all happy with our experiences at the end of the show. The sets were well done with a nice mix of realistic detail and cartoonish grandeur. The office of Dr. Shaw’s nazi labratory is the prime example where a dimly lit stone room with finely carved wooden funiture is placed beside a glass walled, neonlit lab with 100’s of gleaming metal instruments adorning the far wall beyond the surgery tables. Also the period costumes and equipment of the Soviet and American navies versus the swanky style of Shaw’s submarine.

We all liked different parts and different aspects of it, so I’m happy to recommend it as “a good movie” a good movie for the action-lovin’ crowd, a good movie when you’re lazing around and feel like killing a couple of hours. I have a couple boeufs though, pardon my french. They are as follows:

Boeuf #1: The movie is borderline to failing The Bechdel Test, the criteria of which are:

Does this film…
1. Have at least two women in it?
2. Who talk to each other?
3. About something besides a man?

Approximately half the leading characters are female, but the amount they talk to each other is sparse and barely of any quality. Female characters are also dwarfed by the male characters authority, specifically thinking of the “pet” roles Emma Frost and Raven played. If you disagree, tell me why, or join the discussion online @ http://bechdeltest.com/view/2370/x-men:_first_class

Figure 1.0

Boeuf#2: Nicholas Hoult does a great job playing Hank McCoy/Beast, Nichalos Hoult looks great… but beast looked like a CG combination of the Cat in the Hat and the Grinch, see Figure 1.0 for my visual argument.
This beef isn’t as important to me as under-representing female power, so I can see why the animators wouldn’t have made beast look as fearsome as he does in comic book form. This movie is a prequel and the standard for how Beast’s face should look is based off the 2006 movie X-Men: The Last Stand… which is based off of Kelsey Grammer’s face. The eyes and chin of First Class Beast offer glimpses of

Figure 2.0

Nichalos Hoult’s face, but still as Figure 2.0 shows you both versions of Beast look strikingly like Kelsey Grammar regular face… unless he actually IS Beast and his beige skin is the mask! Stranger things have happened (probably).

Of course nothing counts like your own opinion don’t take what I say verbatim! Go out and see this flick for ya’self… if you like action movies about comics and/or have some time to kill and/or it’s cheap night and your friends are going.

GloomCookie Vol.1

Valentino, S. & Naifeh, T. (2001). GloomCookie. San José, Ca: Slave Labor Graphics.

The GloomCookie world reminds me of being 14 to an almost painful degree… oh the drama and angst of it all!
I like the art, although Ted Naifeh has done better stuff. Mostly this is because things of a gothic nature appeal to me (hence the HR Giger in my featured artist section). The story is fairly interesting, although there were a few too many characters and I had a hard time keeping up with who wasSebastian’s Monster related to who and who was in love with (or at least sleeping with) who… Also Sebastian’s Monster confused me at first, but I kinda figured it out. After all, I think It was my favourite character!

I’m not sure how old the characters are supposed to be, they drink and have sex, activities associated with people aged 17+, or so, but the dialogue is junior high material, at best! In fact, there are many places where…excuse the junior high lingo… the dialogue is downright barf worthy. Still though, I think this is an entertaining book and effectively stylized to give the reader a good sense of what being in the GloomCookie worlds is all about.

Another interesting addition to this book is that Naifeh has a bunch of his preliminary sketches in the back of the book (not uncommon in the graphic novel world). As well, there are a few pages of fan art, which isn’t that great, but it’s nice to see the GloomCookie community supporting its own.

This book is exactly what I picture a gloom cookie to be. A nice dark treat, with little nutritional value.

Sentences: The life of M.F. Grimm

Carey, P., & Wimberly, R. (2007). Sentences: [the life of M.F. Grimm]. New York: DC Comics.

In an earlier post I’d kinda trashed Word Up! magazine for providing incomplete coverage of questionable role models. This book by Percy Carey, aka MF Grimm, is a great example of success in the areas that Word Up!’s coverage of Lil’Wayne fell short.

MF Grimm has a story comparable to Lil’Wayne he unapologetically talks about getting in fights, shoot-outs, dealing drugs, and the “glory” of the gangsta life. The main difference in MF Grimm’s story is that he doesn’t just share the glory, he shares, his pain, his regret, and the consequences of his actions as well. He never blames anyone else for his paralysis nor for his several incarcerations (well, okay he does blame a snitch as the reason the cops pinned him, but admits that if he wasn’t dealing drugs he wouldn’t have been in the situation in the first place).

The graphics are engaging; not too explicit, but not watered down. The dialogue is rough, but real. The story is captivating, heartbreaking, and inspiring. Even in the roughest of situations, Percy Carey is sure to remind readers that good influences are always around. True, Carey’s fighting spirit is what got him into a lot of trouble but, after he smartened up, it was that same fighting spirit that got him out of trouble.

This story is a rollercoaster ride of a black man’s life growing up in NYC in the 80’s and trying to break out of the gang life and into the hip-hop industry. From Sesame Street to being jailed and paralyzed, Carey’s story alterates between down to earth and boastful, but that’s an element of hip-hop regardless. Also, one final shout-out is to the credit that Carey gives the strong female role models he’s had in his life; his Mom, grandmother and sisters. It is nice to see women of colour represented as people rather than objects, a mistake made far too often in the rap world.

Anywho, here’s MF Grimm stats on AllMusic.Com and here’s a track that keeps it real off of his album American Hunger, “I Rather Be Wrong”

The Manga Guide to Electricity

Fujitaki, K., & Trend-pro Co. (2009). The manga guide to electricity. San Francisco: No Starch Press.

This is a really interesting format for learning! The manga style is both nonthreatening, yet detailed and credible. The plot is intriguing, but the technical language can get pretty intense at times. Here is an example of the dialogue on page 177:

“Two types of transistors are NPN and PNP transistor. They have three electrodes referred to as B (BASE), C (COLLECTOR), and E (Emitter).”
“They have one more electrode than a diode!”
“If an NPN transistor is connected like this… [quote is set inside a technical diagram of a transistor]…The electrons in the collector are drawn to the positive pole where they accumulate.”

I suspect that the story is strong enough to carry average to committed reader through the technical bits, probably even educating them along the way. The plot involves a girl, Rereko, from the planet Electropia being sent to Earth for a summer study session. She is teamed up with a young earth student, Hikaru, who tutors her in the “simple” principles of earths electricity. A bond begins to form… but can two young people from distant worlds really get along. Read the manga to find out!

If you like this want to learn about more science & tech stuff you’re in luck because this book is part of a manga series that also has titles on Statistics, Databases, Physics, Calculus, Molecular Biology, and many more!

The Gunslinger Born

David, P., King, S., Eliopoulos, C., Isanove, R., Furth, R., & Lee, J. (2007). Stephen King : The dark tower: The gunslinger born. New York: Marvel Pub.

The Dark Tower Series : The Gunslinger Born
Never forget the face of your Father. As well if you’re going to embark on an endless journey through a futuristic western wasteland forever chasing the man in black…  do so as a reader, rather than a gunslinger.

I think that this series of graphic novels is PERFECT for reluctant readers for the following reasons:

1) The Lee and Isanove work excellently together respectively drawing the ink and laying the colour. Visual appeal is 10/10!
2) It is what we call a Hi/Lo book: high interest, low reading level
3) The subject matter is very guy friendly (sorry to single us out guys, but it’s a fact: Guys read way less than girls)
4) The graphic novel is in a series so there’s another book waiting for you if you like this one
5) The graphic novel is based on a series of print novels by Stephen King. Want to know the story with more detail, can’t find the next graphic novel, well then by all means, please go pick up the real deal: Stephen King’s Dark Tower series!

Those are the reasons these graphic novels are great. However,  I do have a bone to pick with the one-dimensional women characters in this book. Come on guys! Girls are awesome too and it bugs me seeing worlds in which they barely exist! Not my kinda place, thank you very much. I have not yet read the full length novels so I’m not sure if the sexism is inherent in the story, or just crept in during the abbreviation from novel to comic. 

So far I believe only three graphic novels have been published, so if you’re still keen on the story by book three be prepared for a bit of reading… an activity you may find surprisingly enjoyable.