Berlin by Jason Lutes

A book that took three installments and 23 years to complete. I think I stumbled on Book One: City of Stones back in 2007 or so, and then got hold Book Two: City of Smoke immediately thereafter, in 2008 when it was out, and had been patiently waiting for the finale, Book Three: City of Light which finally came out this September. All three under one hardcover and read in one go, brilliant.

Deep and sincere, it’s a multi-layered interconnected tale of a big group of people, rich and poor, politically motivated and careless, all residents in the city of Berlin during the Weimar Republic in 1928-1933, the Jazz era, a short intermission for peace, with fascism, intolerance and hatred slowly and masterfully creeping in.

The band is still playing – yet children get hurt, mothers are shot, families break down and turn on each other, free love is persecuted, a tall blond man is marching with a black band on his arm and shiny suspenders in full sight, and then a small man, he with ridiculously trimmed mini-mustache is making a couple of brief cameo appearances here.

Fills your heart with sadness, with loss of liberty, youth and innocence, and with little hope. Lives are wasted, and the city, burnt and captured, cut in two pieces with a butcher’s knife and then sewn back together, the city still stands. Uh-huh. Well, could I expected anything else?

Picture: Carl von Ossietzky, the recipient of the 1935 Nobel Peace Prize

Blankets by Craig Thompson

An honest and somewhat clumsy autobiographical graphic novel by Craig Thompson, his first major success, a thick 9-part book about growing up in snowy rural Minnesota, about young boy’s religious acceptance, god fearing reverence, affection, love, and subsequent denial of god, and on finally moving on.

While Blankets is a critically acclaimed masterpiece of modern comic book storytelling, I remain a much bigger fan of Thompson’s next story called Habibi, a much harsher tale of love, poverty, almost medieval violence and bigotry. To me, Blankets vs Habibi is a good US indie flick vs a major groundbreaking Scorsese biopic.


Опус Сатоси Кона

Неплохая мета-манга, матрешка от создателя аниме Паприка Сатоси Кона, a nesting doll inside a nesting doll inside a nesting doll. Здесь нет, конечно, той глубины и накала повествования, как у классиков жанра типа Осаму Тезука – но, в целом, весьма и весьма ничего.

Присмотрюсь к другим книгам издательства Alt-Graph, которое взвалило на себе нерентабельное бремя печатать мангу. Хм


Habibi by Craig Thompson

An utterly moving yet harsh, cruel and absolutely unexpected graphic novel by Craig Thompson, a much praised comic book artist whose earlier novel Blankets I conveniently missed and now will catch up for sure.

Despite the fact that its almost 700 pages are full of gruesome violence, horrendous child abuse, victimization of women, lust for the underaged, slavery, female torture and executions, self-mutilation, pain and agony, Habibi is but a precious gem. A story of love that goes beyond hardship, beyond pain and suffering, beyond hatred and loss of manhood, beyond the will of cruel rulers and the deeds of cruel men.

It's a roller coaster of Thompson's vivid imagination and no less disturbing imagery, married and intertwined with quotes, fables and passages from the Bible and the Quran.

One of a kind. A brilliant piece of storytelling.

 


The Nobody by Jeff Lemire

A short small town story about a sad and lonely invisible man, a botched experiment, a typical mad scientist fiasco, a lineman roaming snowy streets and a local teenage girl growing up and becoming friends with the fellow.

Beautiful art by Jeff Lemire, as always – but overall, that's just a trifle, which lacks intensity and depth of Lemire's other graphic novels, especially Essex County.

30 minutes and done.

 


This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

A brilliant meditative growing up story, written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by her cousen Jillian.

Soft, gentle, developing slowly around feelings rather than actions, it's like a short long-form prose, повесть in Russian literary terms. A girl feels awkward, in doubt, happy, sad, light-hearted, in love, naw, she has a crush, jealous, disappointed, snappy, mean.

Good book, all in all. A perfect read on a bench in park, when the sun is finally heating up the air from this year's cold late spring.

 


Roughneck by Jeff Lemire

A beautifully composed and well paced a small town tough guy story written and drawn by Jeff Lemire, high contrast black and white colored in various shades of blue.

A short gripping tale, this one. Artistic merits outweigh complexity of the story 3 to 1. Yet, for me, it was a total page turner for one hour. No wonder some call Lemire the Stephen King of comic books, all thanks to the way he keeps you glued to the pages.

Like 'em when they're like this.