Wednesday, November 25, 2015

YALSA top ten GNs 2013: The Silence of Our Friends

The Silence of Our Friends
Written by Mark Long and Jim Demonakos. Illustrated by Nate Powell.
Published by First Second (2012)

I actually kind of hate comics like this. Not because they're bad, but just because they remind me of how horrible people are. And yeah, sure, sometimes it's good to be reminded, but I guess I already think people are horrible so much of the time.

The Silence of Our Friends is set in 1960s Texas which, if you were unaware, is super racist. The story focuses on two families: one white and one black and...I don't know if it's even worth explaining. People are racist, the white family tries to become friends with the black family, people are racist, there's a civil rights protest where the police shoot at people a bunch, people are racist, there's a trial where black people are accused of shooting at the cops, people are racist, etc. People were horrible, though not everyone was horrible. Also, people were horrible in different ways. Maybe some hope. The end.

I dunno. Nate Powell's art was pretty nice I guess, but while I can appreciate his art and understand that other people really like it, I've never found it that appealing. I understand why this is on an American list for best graphic novels for teens, because it is important that people (especially young people) learn about what happened in the past (or they are doomed to repeat it, etc.), but I guess I'd rather just read comics about giant robots beating each other up. I guess that is the way in which I am horrible.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Olympia Timberland Library

I recently went to Olympia for the Olympia Zine Fest, and the Olympia Zine Librarians (un)conference. Both were fun events!

A talk about zines and the (un)conference were both held in the Olympia branch of the Timberland Regional Library. The library wasn't that big, but it did have a pretty impressive (and much loved) zine collection. Awesome : )

YALSA top ten GNs 2013: A Flight of Angels

A Flight of Angels
Conceived and illustrated by Rebecca Guay. Written by Holly Black, Bill Willingham, Alisa Kwitney, Louise Hawes, and Todd Mitchell.
Published by Vertigo (2011)

Rebecca Guay is an artist who I mostly know from her Magic: The Gathering cards. Her cards have a pretty specific style, and it's one that I enjoy.

Despite this, I don't think I've ever read any of her comic work. In fact, I had no idea she even had comic work until just now when I looked it up. And while seeing that she drew the Black Orchid Vertigo series doesn't really surprise me, it did seem a bit strange that she drew a Green Lantern comic (though that specific Green Lantern comic seems like it might fit her style fairly well).

While it seems obvious now, I had not expected A Flight of Angels to feel like a throwback to the earlyish days of Vertigo.  For a long time Vertigo (the imprint that published this comic) was best known for Sandman and Sandman like things (e.g. fantasy stuff about stories). This was no doubt helped by the fact that Sandman was their biggest seller, Neil Gaiman has a huge following, and that after Sandman ended there were a plethora of spinoff series such as The Dreaming, Lucifer, and so forth. But at the time Vertigo also put out a lot of (at least vaguely) similar titles, to various degrees of success. Eventually Vertigo shed this perception, and now they're known for...uhm, I dunno. Publishing lots of different stuff that doesn't sell that well?

A Flight of Angels is a series of short stories about angels in various settings, with a framing sequence set in some vague fantasy world. There are angels in the garden of Eden, angels in modern day cities, angels in a fairytale version of olden days Russia, angels in Victorian England, and angels in Heaven. For the most part I didn't care. The stories range from "that was pretty okay" to "I forgot that was even in this book".

However, I suppose the stories aren't really the main selling point here, that would be the Guay's art. It is not my favourite comic book art ever, but at the same time I can see it being the favourite of someone else. All of the art in this volume is painted by Guay, and she changes styles between the various stories. Each style manages to effectively capture the feel of the story it's illustrating. Some of the individual panels are also really nice, but for whatever reason they didn't really stick in my memory.

One final complaint: the lettering in the story set in Russia features Cyrllic characters used instead of English language ones. I find this annoying (mostly because I actually know the Cyrllic alphabet). This story also used other...questionable fonts, which surprised me considering the book was lettered by Todd Klein, but I guess everyone has off days.

If you like the sort of Vertigo fantasy stuff I mentioned earlier, you would probably enjoy this book. I didn't. That's not to say I don't enjoy Vertigo fantasy stuff. I loved Sandman, and it's one of the reasons I still read and love comics. But I could never get into most of the spinoffs and related titles, and A Flight of Angels seems as though it could easily be one of the ones I didn't enjoy.