Category Archives: graphic novels

Review: ‘Witch Doctor, Vol. 1: Under the Knife’

Penny Must Be Fed!

I am still doing a bit of catching up since Emerald City Comicon. It was a privilege to get to interview some of the folks connected with Skybound Entertainment, one of the imprints at Image Comics. While I was browsing through the tables at Artist Alley, I got to chat with Lukas Ketner and he has the distinction of being attached, with writer Brandon Seifert, to Witch Doctor, the first Skybound Original published by Skybound, beginning in June 2011. Lukas was fun to talk to and encouraged me to give Witch Doctor a try if I hadn’t already. Too often, it takes me a while to warm up to horror titles. But, if the title is good, I am liable to become one of its biggest fans. So is the case with the quirky, unpredictable, and totally entertaining Witch Doctor.

Dr. Morrow and Absinthe O’Riley, curator of the Museum of Supernatural History.

What both Seifert and Ketner have set out to do is marry the best of gothic horror with a contemporary CSI vibe. Vampires, for example, are always an interesting topic for discussion. Plenty of theories out there on what makes these strange critters tick. For Brandon Seifert, a former medical student turned comic book writer, he has his own choice contributions…and they can get pretty bloody disgusting. But that’s part of the fun, right?

This is one dazzling work of comics.

Back to Lukas Ketner, the awesome illustrator on this series, he has gone above and beyond in giving us quite a look and feel to our proceedings. I think one of his crowing achievements is the good doctor’s patient/helper, one hauntingly beautiful yet thoroughly hideous Penelope “Penny” Dreadful. She was once a cute young art student with nothing more dire to consider than the state of contemporary art. Then one day, Penelope is infected by a most diabolical parasite that burrows its way into her. It seems that she just barely still exists, if at all. But Penny struck a bargain with our main character, Dr. Vincent, “the Witch Doctor” Morrow. Given Penny’s tremendous ability to slice and dice monsters, she helps the doctor on his special assignments while he keeps her/it fed and attempts to cure her. Penny Dreadful brings to mind Christina Ricci, as channeled by Mark Ryden, while still retaining its own peculiar vibe.

As for the good doctor, you can think of Dr. Vincent Morrow as something of a horror version of Doctor Who. This is a very dapper and clever fellow. And, just like the Doctor Who on the telly, you always have that odd sensation that anything can happen. This comic book series is stylish, clever, and often hilarious horror! One of the biggest mistakes a horror writer and/or fan can make is to just follow the blood. Fixating on the blood alone is, well, just bloody. Ultimately, that is a dead end. Thankfully, Seifert and Ketner create horror with a true heart pumping all along the way. This is one dazzling work of comics.

WITCH DOCTOR by Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner

Skybound Entertainment is an American entertainment company founded by Robert Kirkman and David Alpert in 2010. It produces content for comic books, film, television, and other media. For more details on Witch Doctor, if you have not already, proceed to the first volume collection, “Witch Doctor, Vol. 1: Under the Knife,” and use caution or sheer abandon–whatever works for you.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Image Comics, Robert Kirkman, Skybound Entertainment

Review: METEOR MEN by Jeff Parker, Sandy Jarrell, & Kevin Volo

The fate of the world rests on the shoulders of Alden Baylor.

The ideal graphic novel expresses one elegant theme over the span of about 100 pages and leaves the reader invigorated. METEOR MEN is such an example. Boy meets space alien. This is a story that turns that trope on its head over the course of a mix of realism and the supernatural. Jeff Parker (Batman ’66, Future Quest) writes a script with his distinctive quirky worldview. Sandy Jarrell (Batman ’66, Unfair) provides artwork that responds right back to Parker’s offbeat style. And Kevin Volo (Rex Zombie Killer, Max & Thorne) provides colors in step with this moody, enigmatic, and totally riveting tale.

Panel excerpt from METEOR MEN

If and when the aliens do descend from the skies, they won’t be anything like in the movies. They will be something totally out of the realm of our experience. That is a key point in any number of sci-fi tales. And that doesn’t stop Parker, like the seasoned pro that he is, from going in there and telling us his version. So, we begin with Alden Baylor, a teenager who already has much on his mind prior to any alien invasion. The kid is sitting pretty on an estate he’s inherited. Alden’s parents died in a car crash and his uncle is his guardian. So, Alden makes for an ideal young princely sort, complete with a common touch, not fully aware of his high station in life. He’s sensitive and gentle and will prove to make a great representative for us humans.

Page excerpt from METEOR MEN

We come to see that an alien race has descended all over Earth via a meteor shower. Among all the potential human connections that could have been made everywhere from Moscow to Timbuktu, the only one that takes hold is the one between Alden and the space creature that crash landed on his property. Alden’s alien friend is melancholy and mysterious. But, push comes to shove, and this guy is potentially dangerous–all for the sake of protecting Alden. Deeper into our tale, Alden learns far more than he ever imagined he would ever know not only about extraterrestrial life but about the very essence of existence.

Among alt-comics, there are basically two fronts: the more low-key comics that rely upon a niche audience; and the more vibrant comics that reach out to a wider readership. METEOR MAN is a vibrant comic. Of course, the hope is that any truly worthwhile comic finds readers even if it is essentially a labor of love. I see METEOR MAN as one of those “labor of love” projects that catches on with casual as well as seasoned readers of comics. Word of mouth has boosted its visibility and it has received good press, including a glowing review from WIRED MAGAZINE. I’m happy to add my praise.

METEOR MEN by Jeff Parker, Sandy Jarrell, & Kevin Volo

METEOR MAN is a 128-page full cover trade paperback. For more details, visit Oni Press right here. Order it through Amazon right here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Jeff Parker, Oni Press, Sci-Fi, science fiction, Young Adult

Review: THE BEST WE COULD DO by Thi Bui

THE BEST WE COULD DO by Thi Bui

THE BEST WE COULD DO, by Thi Bui and published by Abrams ComicArts, is one of those rare graphic novels with an in depth family theme. This sort of book belongs in the select group of titles like PERSEPOLIS and FUN HOME. In fact, you usually need to turn to the superhero genre, with all its universes and lineages, to find a story in comics that focuses on anything remotely to do with family. I say this tongue-in-cheek but it’s fairly true. Anyway, anytime you add family, you are likely adding something interesting to your story. What happens in Bui’s graphic novel is thoughtful, funny, and totally interesting. When was the last time you read an epic saga about a Vietnamese family? Well, this fills that void in a very compelling way.

Page excerpt from THE BEST WE COULD DO

Thi Bui studied art and law, thought about becoming a civil rights lawyer, but became a public school teacher instead. Someone with that kind of background is just the sort of cerebral and sensitive type of person who gravitates to creating comics. Bui was born in Vietnam and arrived in America with her family as a refugee from the Vietnam War. Her immigrant experience, without a doubt, is part of a continuum that will outlive our current political machinations. This is a story that goes beyond that and addresses the struggles that any family will confront as one generation must come to terms with another. It is also a story about finding one’s self both within and outside the context of family. As Bui discovers, close proximity to family does not necessary mean close ties to family.

Page excerpt from THE BEST WE COULD DO

Overall, Bui has adopted a solid alt-comics approach to her work. It has that intimacy and spontaneity that evokes work coming out of a sketchbook. While Bui is not a career cartoonist who has honed years of experimentation with comics, she provides an engaging and polished style. It will be interesting to see if she chooses to further develop her work in the comics medium. She has created a beautiful book.

Page excerpt from THE BEST WE COULD DO

“The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir” is a 336-page hardcover available as of March 7th. For more details, visit Abrams ComicArts right here. You can purchase through Amazon right here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Abrams, Abrams ComicArts, Comics, Family, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Immigrants, Immigration, Vietnam, Vietnam War

ECCC 2017 Review: TOUCHING EVIL VOL. 1: THE CURSE ESCAPES

Close-up on panel from TOUCHING EVIL

Dan Dougherty is an award-winning author and illustrator. He is known for his humor comic strip, BEARDO, as well as various genre comic books. TOUCHING EVIL is an ongoing supernatural thriller series. It has an otherworldly quality about it that will compel you to keep reading. Dougherty has recently collected the first seven issues into one volume. Here is a taste of what you can expect in the following review. I also got a chance to chat with Dan for a bit at Emerald City Comicon and we did a quick video interview that you can check out at the end.

Panel excerpt from TOUCHING EVIL

Getting back to TOUCHING EVIL, there is much to say. First off, Dougherty has an uncanny way, both with his writing and his drawing, of calibrating a moment. Let me set this up. Our main character, Ada, is a beautiful and vibrant woman in the prime of life. She has a promising career as an attorney. She has a teenage son. And then, one day, she is assigned a task that results in a tragic outcome of supernatural proportions. When this happens, it seems oddly inevitable.

Essentially, Ada has the power of life or death over anyone with dark intentions. She touches them. They die. Meanwhile, her son has taken to wearing these black leather gloves with skeleton fingers. All this leads up to a pivotal moment: in order to secure she doesn’t accidently kill her own troubled son, Ada manages to slip on her son’s gloves before she hugs him. This is one of those masterful Dougherty moments: a sorrowful mother, her skeletal hands resting on the back of her son.

Page excerpt from TOUCHING EVIL

This is some wild story, if I haven’t made that clear yet. It gets under your skin, burrows its way in. Think The Twilight Zone meets Breaking Bad. It’s a certain vibe that hooks you in. Dougherty revels in well-placed details that later on elaborately blow up. A key aspect to the curse that Ada inherits is that anyone who she ends up executing by touch is a new soul who inhabits her mind. The death count mounts, as you may expect, and it gets crowded in Ada’s head. There’s a play within a play going on. Or you can think of it as a horror version of “Being John Malkovich.” Parts horror, cerebral, and offbeat humor, this is a highly engaging graphic novel.

Page excerpt from TOUCHING EVIL

And I get back to how Dougherty draws. His style is clean and crisp. Dougherty can make you believe you’re in a scary penitentiary and you’re walking down to its scariest section, The Ghost Room. He will make you believe in ghosts, demons, and being trapped in hell. And, without a doubt, you’ll get wrapped up in Ada’s plight.

Page excerpt from TOUCHING EVIL

Dan Dougherty is one of those talents in comics who is doing everything right. Well, that’s certainly an understatement. Whatever Dougherty does, it is going to continue to work out well. Maybe he’ll just follow a Jeff Smith model and keep building up what’s he doing on his own. He is an exciting talent and I highly recommend that you seek out this very intriguing work.

TOUCHING EVIL by Dan Dougherty

TOUCHING EVIL VOL. 1: THE CURSE ESCAPES is a full color 240-page graphic novel written and illustrated by Dan Dougherty.
Colors: Kanila Tripp and Wesley Wong
Cover art: Tom Kelly, with interior covers by Stephen Bryant
Additional inks: Monica Ras

This limited edition 240-page hardcover collects issues 1-7, as well as a never-before-seen bonus story, pinup gallery with art from Ryan Browne, Andrew Dimitt, Tom Kelly, and Doug Klauba! Read “season one” of Touching Evil in its most beautiful presentation!

Visit Dan Dougherty right here.

1 Comment

Filed under Beardo Comics, Comics, Dan Dougherty, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Horror, Supernatural, Supernatural Horror

Review: ‘California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before The Mamas & the Papas’ by Pénélope Bagieu

CALFORNIA DREAMIN' by Pénélope Bagieu

CALFORNIA DREAMIN’ by Pénélope Bagieu

NOTE: If you are heading out to Emerald City Comicon (March 2-5), be sure to stop by the First Second Books booth #1602 on the exhibit floor. There you can meet such fabulous talent as Pénélope Bagieu, the author of the book I am reviewing here:

What a truly delightful book I have to share with you: “California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before The Mamas & the Papas,” written and drawn by Pénélope Bagieu, published by First Second Books. This is quite a smooth read. It sort of feels like a film shot in one continuous take. The story seamlessly moves along at a quick and steady pace. I could not put down reading this unique life journey and read the 272-page graphic novel in one sitting. Cartoonist Pénélope Bagieu has channelled the one-of-a-kind Cass Elliot!

Page excerpt from CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’

Page excerpt from CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’

Part of what makes this book a page-turner is the highly engaging art. Bagieu has fun with brining Cass Elliot to life, from an insecure but highly precocious little girl to a defiant young woman and, finally, to a confident artist. It all began with a quirky family that adored music. Before there was a Mama Cass, and the legendary band of the Sixties, The Mamas & the Papas, there was little Ellen Cohen being tucked into bed while her dad recited the story of the eccentric singer, Florence Foster Jenkins.

Page excerpt from CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'

Page excerpt from CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’

There is clearly a passion here for the subject that makes the narrative dance on the page. By the time we reach the point where Cass and her bandmates are crafting their first breakout hit, not yet even aware of the band they were destined to be, we feel that we really know everyone involved.

Page excerpt from CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'

Page excerpt from CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’

I’ve often said that the right biography can make the best subject, and is most suitable, for a graphic novel. There is a wonderful opportunity to speak to everything under the sun, guided by a specific purpose, and allowing for at least a hint, maybe more, about the author. This is a book that will appeal to many a music lover and student of the counterculture. It is essentially an all-ages book but just keep in mind there are some discrete drug references more suitable for older readers. This is rock ‘n’ roll, after all. That said, it is highly recommended and will prove an engaging read on many levels: coming-of-age, rock history, and just a plain fun read.

When we think back to the Sixties, we inevitably associate the powerful music that grew from that tumultuous era. Folk music, springing forth from the 1950s and the Beat Generation, would give way to the Sixties and bolder and more audacious pop and rock. It was Cass Elliot, with her sublime singing, and overall exceptional musical talent, who would ride this new wave of music with a style all her own. Pénélope Bagieu’s graphic novel gives us a compelling look at the rise of this singular talent.

“California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before The Mamas & the Papas” is a 272-page hardcover, black & white with gray tone graphic novel, available as of March 7, 2017. For more details, and how to purchase, visit MacMillan Publishers right here.

Emerald City Comicon celebrating its 15th year!

Emerald City Comicon celebrating its 15th year!

And, if you are heading out to Emerald City Comicon (March 2-5), be sure to stop by at the First Second Books booth #1602 on the exhibit floor. This will be the place to meet authors, attend free signings and find giveaways of books, advance reader copies, and exclusive print posters.

Some of the authors First Second will be hosting include:

Gene Luen Yang (Reading Without Walls Program)
Penelope Bagieu (California Dreamin’)
Scott Westerfeld (Uglies, Leviathan, Spill Zone)
Nidhi Chanani (Pashmina)
Falynn Koch (Science Comics)
Mike Lawrence (Star Scouts)
Jessixa Bagley (Before I Leave, Boats for Papa, and Laundry Day)

First Second will also be hosting a number of panels, including one offsite at the Seattle Public Library:

Off-site event @ Seattle Public Library on (3/3) featuring Gene Yang, Scott Westerfeld, Box Brown, Penelope Bagieu, and Matt Loux, 7:00–8:30 pm, Microsoft Auditorium

Departing Neverland: In-Conversation with Five Fantastic YA Creators (3/3) featuring Scott Westerfeld, Nidhi Chanani, Natalie Riess, and Ashley Poston, 2:45-3:45 pm, WSCC 603

From the Screen to the Page… and Beyond (3/4) featuring Box Brown, Holly Conrad, Matt Loux, and Ben Blacker, 2:45-3:45 pm, WSCC 603

Mirrors & Windows: Reflecting Diversity (3/5) featuring Nidhi Chanani, Gene Luen Yang, Mike Lawrence, Ngozi Ukazu, and Jessixa Bagley, 12:00-1:00 pm, WSCC 603

Drawn That Way (3/5) featuring Penelope Bagieu, MK Reed, Nidhi Chanani, G. Willow Wilson, and Thi Bui, 3:45-4:45 pm, WSCC 603

If you’re into books and graphic novels, then First Second has something for you!

1 Comment

Filed under 1960s, Comics, Counterculture, Emerald City Comicon, First Second, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Seattle, The Sixties

ECCC 2017: ‘Jane Eyre’ Reimagined By BOOM! Studios This Fall

JANE, AN ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL

JANE, AN ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL

You can trace back the selfie, or the elevation of self, to such works as Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel, “Jane Eyre.” This is perhaps the best early example of a work elevating an average person, as opposed to an aristocrat or religious figure. That said, it makes total sense to explore the character of Jane, with a completely contemporary flair, in the upcoming graphic novel, JANE, published by BOOM! Studios, and due out this fall. As it makes its way to Emerald City Comicon in Seattle (March 2-5, 2017), BOOM! Studios wants you to know about JANE, from acclaimed screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Devil Wears Prada) and Eisner Award-winning illustrator Ramón K. Pérez (Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand).

Press release follows:

Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Boom! Studios, Comics, Emerald City Comicon, graphic novels, Seattle

Review: SCOTLAND YARDIE by Bobby Joseph and Joseph Samuels

SCOTLAND YARDIE by Bobby Joseph and Joseph Samuels

SCOTLAND YARDIE by Bobby Joseph and Joseph Samuels

As we here in the States, along with the rest of the world, continue to deal with the orange menace, it’s good to gain strength from our friends across the pond. One thing that the creators of the graphic novel, SCOTLAND YARDIE, want you to know is that things are bad all over. Bobby Joseph and Joseph Samuels provide some dark humor for these hard times. This is a provocative work, set in south London, with a smart and gritty vibe.

Darkness fell...

Darkness fell…

No doubt, Bobby Joseph (script) and Joseph Samuels (art) make no bones about their dismay with the current (and ongoing) state of affairs. With such clownish characters in the media, and in government (gasp), stoking the fires of hatred, racism, and xenophobia with such intensity as we have not seen before in recent memory, any form of satire can be cathartic. In this case, we have a plot involving the Brixton Metropolitan Police in need of some diversity. Enter Scotland Yardie, a ganja smoking, no-nonsense “bad bwoy” cop who breaks all the rules to enforce his own harsh sense of justice. This is, by turns, a very silly comic (think Monty Python, for starters) and, ultimately, an eye-opening and worthwhile read.

Is that Brexit heartthrob Boris Johnson?

Is that Brexit heartthrob Boris Johnson?

This comic’s writer, Bobby Joseph, is considered to be the voice of urban UK comic books. He is credited as the creator of the cult comic classics Skank Magazine and Black Eye. He has written satirical pieces for Vice.com, Loaded Magazine, The Voice newspaper, BBC1’s Lenny in Pieces and Radio 4. He is credited on the BBC website as instrumental in featuring some of the “first comics by black creators featuring black characters.”

Some light emerges...

Some light emerges…

This comic’s artist, Joseph Samuels, is credited as one of the most popular comic artists to grace the pages of Skank Magazine and Black Eye. He is the co-creator of the popular Afro Kid comic strip on Vice.com.

SCOTLAND YARDIE is a 100-page, full color, graphic novel, published by Knockabout. For more information, and how to purchase, visit Knockabout right here.

2 Comments

Filed under Bobby Joseph, Brexit, Cannabis, Comics, Donald Trump, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Joseph Samuels, Race, Race Relations, Racism, VICE

Kickstarter: SIMON SAYS: NAZI HUNTER #1

SIMON SAYS: NAZI HUNTER

SIMON SAYS: NAZI HUNTER

Writer Andre Frattino and illustrator Jesse Lee have a very compelling graphic novel project, SIMON SAYS: NAZI HUNTER, the story of famed Nazi hunter and writer Simon Wiesenthal. Frattino and Lee seem to have a good handle on the subject. They have the background to tackle such an ambitious project. And, based upon their samples, it looks like it will add up to a riveting narrative. This is inspired by the true story of Holocaust survivor, Simeon Wiesenthal, an artist who lost his family and took justice into his own hands.

SIMON SAYS by artist Jesse Lee and writer Andre Frattino

SIMON SAYS by artist Jesse Lee and writer Andre Frattino

From the Kickstarter campaign:

Wiesenthal was an Austrian architect who survived the Holocaust thanks partly to his artistic skills (he was spared from execution when he was employed to paint swastikas on train cars). After the war, he discovered that he and his wife lost over 80 members of their family. Wiesenthal dedicated the rest of his life to hunting down notorious war criminals including Adolf Eichmann (a chief orchestrator of Hitler’s “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”) and Joseph Mengele (a.k.a. “The Angel of Death” who conducted horrifying experiments on his subjects).

While Simon Says: Nazi Hunter #1 is inspired by Simon Wiesenthal, it is not merely a dramatization of his experiences alone. The story takes from many aspects of various Nazi Hunter stories following the war. The tone of the comic is a mixture of noir and pulp fiction which was prevalent in the 1950s and 60s. Other influences include Ian Fleming’s James Bond Series as well as such films as Schindler’s List, Inglorious Bastards and TV series like Sherlock and Man in the High Castle.

Simon Wiesenthal will always be a quintessential hero. It is exciting to see a graphic novel taking shape about his life and work. A Kickstarter campaign in support of SIMON SAYS: NAZI HUNTER #1 is on now through February 27th to raise funds for the first issue of what will be a full length graphic novel. Visit the campaign right here.

4 Comments

Filed under Comics, graphic novels, Kickstarter, Nazis, Simon Wiesenthal

Webcomic Review: ‘The Führer And The Tramp’

"The Fuhrer and the Tramp"

“The Führer And The Tramp”

The figure of Charlie Chaplin looms large all these many years and rightly so. If Chaplin had only taken his career as far as his Tramp character, he would richly deserve all the accolades in the world. Unlike other silent screen giants, it was after dominating the box office in what he was known for, that he pushed himself to his greatest creative heights crossing over into the sweeping changes of a new generation. Chaplin’s achievement is so singular and unique that it simply has no equal. It is all on full display with his film, 1940’s “The Great Dictator.” In honor of such talent and vision, a webcomic and graphic-novel-in-progress plays off all the dynamics involved between Chaplin’s answer to Hitler. This is a bold and whimsical fictionalization entitled, “The Führer And The Tramp,” written by Sean Luke McCard, Jon Judy and illustrated by Dexter Wee.

The Tramp on the run from the Nazis!

The Tramp on the run from the Nazis!

To see Charlie Chaplin, in full costume as the Tramp, stumbling into a Berlin movie theater and ending up sharing popcorn with Adolf Hitler is pretty wild–and a fun start to this graphic novel. This is just a taste of things to come. It’s 1938 and Chaplin just happens to be in Berlin and one thing leads to another. Once safely back in Hollywood, it seems that all can go back to normal–but not if undercover agent Hedy Lamar, and her handler Errol Flynn, have anything to do with it! If you’re a fan of alt-history, a little zany spy hijinks, mixed in with some thoughtful observations on real history, then this is something you will want to seek out.

Happier times at the Cocoanut Grove.

Happier times at the Cocoanut Grove.

The idea here is to cast a fresh light on history as well as just have some fun. The webcomic continues to upload new material so it will be interesting to see how things develop. I think the script has an overall nice handle on the humor running throughout. Given that this is fiction, the story is free to take a number of twists and turns. It’s a tricky balancing act since, in large part, this fictional Chaplin has been robbed of his self-determination. Here you have others goading and pushing him along to move beyond what he knows and create a work of art with real political power. The real Charles Chaplin did not need to be pushed into creating “The Great Dictator.” Anyway, just wanted to clear that up. That said, this is a delightful webcomic. The artwork by Dexter Wee is spot on capturing something of the pathos and integrity of Chaplin. So, Chaplin is not treated all that bad here after all.

Keep up with “The Führer And The Tramp” webcomic right here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Adolf Hitler, Charlie Chaplin, Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Webcomics

Review: ‘Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation’

"Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation"

“Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation”

There’s a ragged and raw quality to Octavia Butler’s novel, “Kindred,” first published in 1979, about a young African American woman who time travels to America during slavery. It’s odd. It’s compelling. And it demands to be read all the way to the end. As I say, it’s ragged and raw, and by that I mean it’s a rough journey in what transpires and in the telling. As a time travel tale alone, it’s bumpy at best. The time travel element abruptly kicks in and, just as abruptly, the characters involved accept the situation. The narrative itself is episodic and there is little in the form of subtlety. What can be said of the novel transfers over to the just released graphic novel adaptation published by Abrams ComicArts: this is raw, sometimes ugly, but always compelling and a must-read.

panel excerpt

panel excerpt: a time traveller’s satchel

Octavia Butler rips the scab off a nightmarish era in America, a wound so deep that it remains healing to this day. You could say that what Butler aspires to do is give a full sense of what it means when we talk about slavey in America. There are a number of approaches you can take. If you go down the ragged and raw path, you may end up with something that is deemed bold by some and deemed heavy-handed by others. The end result could be somewhere in between. Butler chose to damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, with this novel that finds Dana, an African American woman from 1976 Los Angeles, repeatedly and relentlessly subjected to various torture and humiliation as she finds herself regularly being transported back to America during slavery. The story begins in Maryland in 1815 and subsequently follows the progress of slaver-holder Rufus Weylin, from boy to manhood.

page excerpt: dark journey

page excerpt: dark journey

First and foremost, this is a book to be celebrated. While it is a tough story to tell, it is brimming with truths to be told. Sure, no need to sugarcoat anything. There are no sensibilities here to protect. That said, while a graphic novel, this is a book with a decidedly mature theme running throughout with disturbing content. What it requires is a adult to check it out first and then decide how to proceed. Without a doubt, this is an important teaching tool but best left to high school and above.

page excerpt: slave/master

page excerpt: slave/master

As for the overall presentation of this graphic novel, it has taken an audacious approach of its own. Whether intentionally or not, it carries its own distinctive ragged and raw vibe. The drawing throughout is far from elegant, quite the opposite. In fact, it often has a rushed quality about it and I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing. I sense that it’s something of a style choice. This is a harsh and dark story and so it is depicted as such. In the end, this is a truly unusual and intriguing work.

“Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation” is a 240-page, full-color, hardcover available as of January 10th. It is based upon the novel by Octavia Estelle Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy, artwork by John Jennings. For more information and how to purchase, visit Abrams ComicArts.

4 Comments

Filed under Abrams ComicArts, African American, American History, Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, History, Race, Race Relations, Racism, Sci-Fi, science fiction, Time Travel