This week we will consider NBM ComicsLit’s collection of comics with a Louvre-inspired theme. We begin with the book that kicked it all off back in 2007, Nicolas De Crécy’s refreshingly cool look at art, “Glacial Period.” It was such a wonderfully odd duck of a book that the paperback promptly sold out and had been hard to find until now. Just released, “Glacial Period” finds a new home in a bigger hardcover edition. This little gem spurred The Louvre museum to become involved in a co-edition of a series of graphic novels, each a vision by a different artist of the great museum.
Do master tattoo artists make it look easy? Well, yes and no. There doesn’t seem to be anything easy about the world of tattoos. It’s a complex world. If you ask a seasoned pro what it takes to get into the business, you’re likely to be told that you just have to do it. Everyone learns differently. Maybe it will take someone a year or two to feel that they have some mastery of the needle. My thinking would be that, yes, just like anything else, it’s all about practice, practice, and more practice. There was one artist who strongly suggested the best way to learn is to get tattooed. I said I’d been tattooed. He just looked at me and said, “No, I mean really get tattooed!” And, of course, that said it all. If you want to jump into something in a significant way, you just gotta do it.
Daivd Ury is really onto something. Who is David Ury? you may ask. Most likely, you’ve seen him around, getting throttled, axed, murdered, or most notably, having an ATM fall on him in AMC’s critically-acclaimed “Breaking Bad.” Yes, he’s one of those character actors that you like but might not know unless you’re looking in the right places. Ury has definitely been working hard. You can catch his hilarious collaboration with his alter-ego, Kevin Tanaka, right here:
Charles Yu is the author of the novel “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe” and the short story collections “Third Class Superhero” and “Sorry Please Thank You.” In 2007, Yu won the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award. When discussing Yu’s work, Italo Calvino comes up as does Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut. What strikes me is Yu’s flair for a natural and casual humor mixed in with philosophical musings and various games with language and narrative. You can read my review of “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe” right here.
“Most people I know live their lives moving in a constant forward direction, the whole time looking backward.”
― Charles Yu, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
There is a very strong contingent of sci-fi fans who take issue with Charles Yu’s time travel novel being true science fiction. Well, how about if we all just take a deep breath and relax and just call it fiction. Does that work for you? To get caught up in the sci-fi is not the right approach. Take, for instance, Stephen King’s “11/22/63.” The sci-fi in that book amounts to a very simple “portal,” you walk through a door and that’s it. For the hardcore crowd, well, one of the greatest, if not the greatest work on time travel, Jack Finney’s “Time and Again,” also employs a simple process to get on with the time travelin’. That’s not to say Yu is happy to settle for a magic door because, in fact, he goes all quantum physics on you in his own way. So, let’s revisit “How to Live,” which was recently reissued in print and is also now an e-book.
It is an honor and a privilege to interview Gene Yang, known for “American Born Chinese” and “Boxers & Saints.” And now he and Sonny Liew offer you “The Shadow Hero.” With all the unpacking, literally and figuratively since Comic-Con, I finally share with you this interview. You really can’t say enough about Gene Yang. He has opened up a great path for others to dare to follow. Yeah, he’s that big of a deal.
“The Shadow Hero” revels in Chinese culture and so much more, addressing universal issues like the dynamics of family. In the case of this fabulous story, we have a most fabulous mother who leads the way. When Hua, middle-aged and disillusioned, finds herself rescued by an actual fly-thru-the-air superhero, she finds a new lease on life. And that lease depends upon her turning her teenaged son, Hank, into a superhero if it’s the last thing she ever does. This is how Gene Yang’s new graphic novel, “The Shadow Hero,” opens up. For this story, Yang writes and hands over the drawing to Sonny Liew.
In a lot of ways, “Guardians of the Galaxy” is today’s answer to “The Maltese Falcon” and that’s a very good thing. Both films have a quirky energy about them and both have won over critics and the box office. Arguably, the Bogart classic ushered in film noir. For “Guardian,” it ushers in a greater acceptance of the weird and offbeat by mainstream audiences.
Zach Braff is such a likable person that we feel we know him. With his new film, “Wish I Was Here,” he plays off that familiarity and offers up a subversively genial story. Braff brings to this a masterful grasp of tone. He is not giving us a typical foray into mainstream comedy. It’s not even a typical foray into independent “cinema.” There’s more heart in this film than you might expect delivered in what one would hope is developing into Mr. Braff’s signature style. You have a common thread running from this new film and 2004’s “Garden State” and that is the universal need to love and be loved, to make sense of the world, and to rise to the occasion.