Comics Ate My Brain

March 6, 2006

Tom Goes To The Library (And Starts Catching Up)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom Bondurant @ 2:20 am
Yesterday I finally got a Williamsburg Regional Library card. My first checkouts included Good-Bye Chunky Rice, Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards, and Persepolis, and I read them last night and this afternoon. I also got Green Arrow: The Archer’s Quest (because I am too lazy to dig out the back issues) and Kitchen Confidential for when I got tired of looking at pictures.

Of the first three, I liked Persepolis the most. It reminded me of Maus both structurally and thematically, and I thought Marjane Satrapi did an excellent job distinguishing several characters both visually and by “voice.”

Bone Sharps I was familiar with through its Free Comic Book Day giveaway. Although I thought it was very ambitious, and certainly took great pains to balance good storytelling with historical accuracy, after a while some technical aspects of the art started to intrude on my enjoyment of the book. Mostly this happened when I started confusing the characters with Dilbert‘s Elbonians. Otherwise, the book reminded me pleasantly of Empire of the Air and similar tales of dueling scientists.

I’m still not sure if I liked Good-Bye Chunky Rice. For his first graphic novel, Craig Thompson certainly demonstrated a good command of the medium, but at times it seemed a little obvious. I mean, I picked up on the whole “I carry my home on my back” thing well before Chunky mentioned it. Casting the main characters as cute funny-animals also confused me a little, especially because Chunky seems at first to be the same kind of indeterminate-age man-child as, say, SpongeBob. However, over the course of the story he seems to be a little more worldly, and his relationship with Dandel seems more intimate than just “best friends.” Accordingly, I didn’t know how afraid to be for him during his journey. As a meditation on how we test the bonds we form with others (and how sometimes we can never break those bonds), the book holds together (no pun intended) pretty well, but I can’t say I’m eager to plumb its hidden intricacies again anytime soon.

You-all are lucky, in fact, that I decided not to compare and contrast Chunky Rice with The Archer’s Quest. Both explore “what we leave behind” from different perspectives — one from that of the person who departs, and the other from that of the person who recollects. Honestly, I didn’t expect to like TAQ after having been burned by Brad Meltzer’s heavy-handedness in Identity Crisis, but compared to the latter the Green Arrow story is almost sublime. If Meltzer can dial back the melodrama for his Justice League stint, it could be a real treat.

The fact that I am winding up a post about three non-superhero graphic novels with a thought on one of the most mainstream superhero books there is, is probably more than a little sad, I know. I’m trying, people; I’m trying!

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