Category Archives: graphic novels

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Britten and Brülightly

Three or four weeks ago, I received a package in the mail at work, opened it, thought it looked nice and put it on the shelf. This week, weeding my e-mails, I came across a missive from a woman named Ashley, dated March 17, asking me if I would like to receive a review copy of Britten and Brülightly, “Hannah Berry’s gorgeously drawn and strikingly original debut graphic novel murder mystery.”

So, I thought I had better actually READ the thing. Yes, it LOOKED nice; I could tell that at first glance. But I’ve always been one of those people where the greater issue is the story. Serviceable art can support a great story, but the best art can’t save a lousy tale, IMO.

Now I’ve promised -again – that I’d write a review. But what if it’s just not very good?

Fortunately, it’s very good.

I enjoyed this from the very first sentence: “As it did every morning, with spiteful inevitability, the sun rose.” It conveys a noir mood, but it is punctuated with a certain whimsy, as provided by the interplay between “researcher” Fernández Britten and his unlikely partner, Stewart Brülightly, as they attempt to figure out whether a women’s dead fiancé committed suicide, as the police concluded, or was murdered, as she maintains.

English author Berry has blended characterization and story together in a seemingly effortless way. Upon further inspection, the art does not merely accompany the story, it really enhances it.

There are points where the narration explains the story, lest you miss it in the drawing; ultimately, this turns out to be a good thing. The one criticism I’ve seen is that the cursive narration can be difficult to read; I did not find this to be so.

The book retails for $20, but of course, one can find it for less on Amazon. Go see some sample pages.
Beaucoup Kevin’s very positive review.


This Is NOT Sadie Hawkins Day

Sadie Hawkins Day is in November. Somehow, the 20th century Dogpatch invention of Al Capp’s Li’l Abner has gotten blended with a much earlier tradition. It is, however, Superman’s birthday. (Which begs the question, “What do you get for someone who can change the course of mighty rivers?”
From Len Wein’s blog: George Lucas in Love

My favorite Amazon pitch of late:
Dear Customer,
We’ve noticed that customers who have purchased or rated Stanley Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange (1971 Film) have also purchased Semi-Pro. For this reason, you might like to know that Semi-Pro is now available. You can order yours for just $13.99 by following the link below.
Product Description
Will Ferrell stars in this outrageous comedy, set in 1976, as Jackie Moon, a one-hit wonder who used the profits from his chart-topping song “Love Me Sexy” to achieve his dream of owning a basketball team, which becomes the worst in the ABA league (NBA rival) and in danger of folding. If they want to survive, they have to do the seemingly impossible – win. Co-stars Woody Harrelson, Andre Benjamin (Outkast), and Will Arnett. The soundtrack features classic funk hits from the 70s from Sly & The Family Stone, Ohio Players, War, Curtis Mayfield, and more, as well as Will Ferrell performing his funkadelic version of “Love Me Sexy”.
1. Love Me Sexy – Jackie Moon (Will Ferrell)
2. Get The Funk Out Ma’ Face – (Brothers Johnson)
3. Lady Marmalade – (LaBelle)
4. The World Is A Ghetto – (War)
5. Tell Me Something Good – (Ronnie Laws)
6. Mr. Big Stuff – (Jean Knight)
7. Give Me Just A Little More Time – (Chairman Of The Board)
8. Why Can’t We Be Friends – (War)
9. Walking In Rhythm – (The Blackbyrds)
10. Dance To The Music – (Sly & the Family Stone)
11. Love Rollercoaster – (Ohio Players)
12. Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) – (Sly & the Family Stone)
13. Move On Up – (Curtis Mayfield)
14. Shining Star – (Elijah Kelley)
So because I bought the Moog-driven soundtrack of a 1971 movie , I would also be interested in a 2008 movie set in the 1970s with a funk soundtrack?! (Truth is that would be if I didn’t already own tracks 3, 4, 6-8, 10, 11, 13 and possibly 9, plus other versions of 5, 12, and 14, I MIGHT be.)
From Coverville: Hey Jude by the cars

Assuming you have $125 to spend ($75 for students):

You are invited to Splat! A Graphic Novel Symposium
Saturday, March 15, 2008
We welcome new readers, writers, artists, publishers, agents, and long-standing comics fans alike to learn more about the fastest growing movement in publishing – and meet some of the best creators working in the medium today!
The SPLAT! Symposium will also supply prospective creators with a unique opportunity to learn what it takes to be a graphic novelist. There will be three different tracks of panels, seminars, and workshops, followed by the SPLAT! Reception with Scott McCloud.
The panels will be led by a number of key writers, editors and artists from the graphic novel world including: Jim Killen, buyer Barnes & Noble; David Saylor, Editor Scholastic; Raina Telgemeier, artist, The Baby-Sitters Club; Ted Rall, creator, Attitude: The New Subversive Political Cartoonists; CB Cebulski, writer/editor, Marvel Comics; Bob Mecoy, Founder, Bob Mecoy Literary Agency; R. Sikoryak, creator, The Seduction of Mike; Brian Wood, creator, Demo, DMZ and Local; Nick Bertozzi, creator, The Salon; and Charles Brownstein, executive director, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
Please visit to register for this unique event.


Looking forward to

So what am I most anticipating in the new year?
For the first time in decades, THREE comic-related items:
The Steve Ditko book.
The Jack Kirby book
The Fred Hembeck book. BTW, happy five years of blogging, Fred!

More movies; likely next chance, MLK Day. Likely film: Juno.
Pioneers of Television which starts TONIGHT on PBS with sitcoms (I Love Lucy; Joyce Randolph on The Honeymooners; Marlo Thomas about her father Danny’s Make Room for Daddy’ the man himself on The Andy Griffith Show; and DVD and MTM on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Football. Seriously, taping it then watching it later is SO much more efficient. Definitely some of the NFL games. Probably a bowl game or two.
The Golden Globes, just to see who actually shows up and say they support the Writers’ Strike, even as they’ll be others who’ll boycott the show altogether for the same reason.

The new music I got in the last month, including the John Lennon Anthology. There’s more, but I’ll save it for my Top 10 album list.

Williamsburg, VA with the family. My in-laws have as timeshare.
Visiting the BNorman Rockwell Museum, not all that far from here in Stockbridge, MA. My wife wants to see the Rockwell stuff. I really want to see LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel (through May 26, 2008), featuring Jessica Abel, Sue Coe, R. Crumb, Howard Cruse, Steve Ditko, Will Eisner, Brian Fies, Gerhard, Milt Gross, Marc Hempel, Niko Henrichon, Mark Kalesniko, Peter Kuper, Harvey Kurtzman, Matt Madden, Frans Masereel, Frank Miller, Terry Moore, Dave Sim, Art Spiegelman, Lynd Ward, Lauren Weinstein, Mark Wheatley, Barron Storey and others.
Seeing my friends Gerelt-Od and Soyol who used to live in Albany then returned home to Mongolia, but who’ve been in NYC the past year; I haven’t seen them in nearly a decade.
Seeing my friend Deborah, who I met in 1977 in NYC, who moved to Japan and then France, and who’ll be visiting the Western Hemisphere at some point this year. I haven’t seen her in over a quarter century.

Worrying less
Sleeping more
Drinking more water

That’s as close to New Year’s resolutions as I go.


I Used To Sell Funny Books?

I don’t know why, but I’m almost always surprised when my old life dealing with comic books crosses over to my new (OK, decade and a half) life as a librarian. Case in point, someone on a library listserv I monitor wrote [personal reference deleted]:

“I have a question about graphic novels. I bought my son (2nd grade) a graphic novel – Pokemon – and it says that it reads from back to front. That we understand. But how do we read on the page? Is it from right to left, starting on the right hand side of the page at the top right? Or top left? We do not understand. Thank you.”

I was going to write back and say, “It depends.” That’s true in American comic books with irregular panels. But a couple folks wrote back with better responses:

This is a pretty good example of how it reads (thanks to Tokyopop).

Some volumes are more difficult than others (when bubbles extend from one panel DOWN to another panel, for instance). But I’d think Pokemon is probably pretty standard and easy to follow as far as manga goes. This one is thanks to Viz.
As one commentator asked, will we see Spider-Ham and Mickey Mouse together again?
I haven’t been to a comic book show in YEARS, but I was thinking about going to this one in July.
A belated happy anniversary to Lefty and Kelly Brown out in Ca-li-for-ni-a. From “10th Anniversary Traditional Gift: Tin or aluminum. The pliability of tin and aluminum is a symbol of how a successful marriage needs to be flexible and durable and how it can be bent without being broken.”
Sorry for the terse post. My wife has been getting up at 4 a.m. almost all week, doing this end of the year student evaluation stuff, thus cutting into the blogging time. And they say teachers have it easy.

I thought I’d have one more chance this morning, but the daughter needed cuddling at 4 a.m. And that’s just fine.