Honey and Clover

One of the best and most charming graphic novels I have recently been reading is the shōjo manga Honey and Clover. Takemoto, Morita and Mayama are three young men attending art school in Tokyo, living together in a cheap apartment with paper-thin walls. When they're not thinking about food (meat in particular) or trying to get to class on time - they're usually thinking about girls. Takemoto’s life turns upside down when he meets Hagu, a fairy-like and mysterious art prodigy in her first year at the college. Wacky and bizarre, but also dramatic (love triangles!) and even touching at times - I can't wait to read more of this series.

Honey and Clover was also adapted as a live action feature length film in Japan in 2006.

Comic Artists Forum for Teens and Adults

No matter whether you’re a budding or veteran comic artist stop by Malletts Creek this Sunday for a chance to share your work and get fresh ideas for your next comic or graphic novel project. Bring your favorite drawing tools and drop in for a few hours of drawing, learning, and sharing. For beginners we’ll provide basic supplies (i.e. paper, pencils, erasers, rulers). Jerzy Drozd will be our guest artist sharing a drawing or publishing tip.

Comic Artists Forum | Sunday, December 6 | 1-3 PM | Malletts Creek | Grades 6-Adults

Beatnik Chicks

I didn't want to write another blog about a graphic novel, but.... it's the end of the semester, and they make a nice genre to read in between work and writing papers.

Harvey Pekar is most famous for his long-running comic book American Splendor, but he also writes interesting little graphic histories of topics that are near to his heart, usually falling at the intersection of radical politics and great American literature. Students for a Democratic Society is an anthology spear-headed by Pekar with graphic vignettes about the SDS and its place in the counter-culture of the 60's.
Now, he has given us The Beats:A Graphic History: a similar collection of short historical pieces about key figures in the Beat Movement. Written by Pekar himself and a group of other writers, the book of course treats the main figures of the movement like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. These biographical pieces are brief, so I agree with many reviews I found online that complain of the thinness of the material. But I would say that it gave me a view of the beat landscape and definitely conveyed Pekar and his cohort's passion for their writing. Honestly, I have not read a lot of the books of these iconic writers, but Pekar's short biographies made me curious to know more about the wild lives that they lived and why their work has been so influential. I was especially glad to know more of some of the other names from the movement: Phillip Whalen, Gary Snyder, Michael Mcclure, Amiri Baraka, Philip Lamantia as well as many others. This is not a comprehensive history of the beats, but not a bad place to start.

But, why did I title this blog "Beatnik Chicks"? Pekar's wife Joyce Brabner writes a section about the women of the movement who, as often so sadly happens, are not given proper credit for their contribution. Knowing how famous these men are, it is refreshing to know about the women who were part of this vibrant artistic scene and lived expressive, passionate lives. Women like Diane Di Prima, Carolyn Cassady, Joyce Johnson, Hettie Jones, and Jay DeFeo seem like fascinating people, and Brabner's short but fiery tribute to them is well worth the read.

If you know someone looking to know more about the Beats, tell them about Pekar and Brabner.

Documentary Alert: Trouble the Water

If you’ve read Zeitoun, Dave Eggers’ account of one family’s “adventure” during Hurricane Katrina (which I highly recommend), you may enjoy this Academy Award nominated documentary, which won Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

Trouble the Water begins 24 hours before Hurricane Katrina fully hit New Orleans, with 24 year old aspiring rap artist Kimberly Roberts’ hand held video camera footage of the initial onslaught. She and her family decided to stay and brave the storm rather than evacuate with the rest of city. The film interweaves Roberts’ personal footage with that of documentary film makers. The footage is truthful, heartfelt and horrific. The film follows Roberts, her husband, and nearby neighbors before, during and after Katrina, where some of them view the tragedy and severe loss as a doorway to a new life.

I also recommend A.D.: New Orleans after the deluge, a graphic novel by Josh Neufeld. Similarly, it tells true survival stories of seven individuals before and during Hurricane Katrina, as told through fabulous illustrations by the author.

I rejoice that there are owls... A short blog about Thoreau

John Porcellino has written a graphic story inspired by Henry David Thoreau's life at Walden Pond. The images in Thoreau at Walden are as simple and still as Thoreau's words and convey the deliberate life of meaning that he sought to live in his cabin in the woods. This is a refreshing reminder of an inspiring life.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The classic children's story by L. Frank Baum gets the “Marvel treatment” in this delightful graphic novel adaptation that is in its 6th week on the New York Times Best Seller List for Hardcover Graphic Books. Eric Shanower, the writer and artist of the Age of Bronze series, and artist Skottie Young worked together on this amazing comic that is faithful to the original book, which is a bit different from the 1939 film. No ruby slippers here – Dorothy inherits silver shoes when her house falls on the Wicked Witch of the East.

One of the best things about this series is the really fantastic artwork – Oz was re-imagined by the artists, but in a way that maintains the spirit of the original story. I really loved the new look of the Wicked Witch of the West, the ultra green spookiness of the Emerald City and the highly emotional Tin Man – who looks a little more like the Tin Man of Baum’s books. A must-have for Oz fans. The first issue of The Marvelous Land of Oz - a sequel that follows the second book in the Oz series, has just been released.

Glorious Food Manga!

So lately I have been obsessively enjoying the magnificent Oishinbo A La Carte manga series by Tetsu Kariya. Oishinbo has finally been translated after being hugely popular in Japan. The series depicts the adventures of culinary journalist Shirou Yamaoka and his partner (and later wife), Yuko Kurita. Each volume in the series explores a different facet of Japanese cuisine. Starting with the 1st volume Oishinbo A La Carte. Japanese cuisine, it moves on to Sake, Ramen and Gyoza, Fish, sushi & sashimi, Vegetables and the most recent volume on Rice. The exhaustive detail is fascinating and will only heighten a love for Japanese food. Another title that's now on order for aadl is Project X: Cup Noodle a fascinating account of how the Nissin corportation revolutionized portable eating with the creation of Cup 'o Noodles. Other popular manga series about food are Kitchen Princess, Mixed Vegetables, and Antique Bakery.

Books into Graphic Novels

They make books into movies so why not make books into graphic novels? The library has several in the collection like P. Craig Russell’s adaptation of Coraline by Neil Gaiman which is beautifully done and in my opinion better than the movie. The Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan has gone manga. Takahiro Arai’s artwork has made Cirque a manga hit in Japan. After translation it’s now available in the English-speaking world. Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation is another book turned into graphic novel winner. It’s creator, Ray Bradbury provides an intriguing introduction to this adaptation by Tim Hamilton. The storytelling and artwork set a dark and heavy tone that is ever faithful to this classic dystopian tale.

Graphic Novels - The Photographer

The Photographer is an extraordinary Graphic Novel. I could not put it down until I finished it 5 hours later. At least 2 of those hours were spent studying the strings of photos among the illustrated frames of the story. If you are interested in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Doctors Without Borders aka MSF, or photography try this book. If you believe you are not interested in graphic novels, … this book is an unforgettable way to be introduced to the genre. It is also a genuine account of 1989 border strife between tribal cultures, MSF, Taliban, Russian occupation, and “the photographer” Immanuel Guibert. Pictures are worth thousands of words and What a story !

Gorgeous Korean Manhwa Trilogy

Manhwa is the general term for for comics and print cartoons in Korea. If you're looking for a lushly drawn, and accessible graphic novel to try for the first time, or if you're a seasoned reader looking for something new be sure to try the "Color" trilogy by Dong Hwa Kim. The trilogy starts with The Color of Water and chronicles the lives of a single mother and her daughter in rural Korea in a moving and evocative look at love as seen through the eyes of one feeling it for the first time and another who longs to savor it once more. The story continues with The Color of Earth and concludes with The Color of Heaven. Beautiful illustrations, mother and daughter bonding and romance will capture your heart. The trilogy is published by First Second the premier publishing house for quality, literate graphic novels.

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