This summer...:In Books

Weirdly enough, the books I've been reading this summer (Apart from dissertation studies or 'How to use Final Cut' books which I'll talk about later) have been comics and graphic novels.

The first is Mike Mignola's 'HELLBOY: The chained coffin and others' which is a set of short spin off stories following Hellboy as he investigates various mythical nasties in 60's - 90's UK and Russia (I seem to recall, please correct me if not). I'd never actually read one of Mignola's books before and was only provoked into doing so by the upcoming 'Hellboy' film in an attempt to give myself abit of background on the character.

I wasn't disappointed at all. Mignola manages to have this Halfman halfdemon character work very well. I was very much expecting a tired and stupid romp of destruction with a fantasy twist but there is a lot of thought having gone into making the character beliveable and likeable; in his protective and surly mannerisms to his brand of ethics and relationships with other characters.

The artwork is brilliant as well; the slashes and bellcurves of ink really helping to add weight to character's appearances as well as making sure every smash or grab is vivid and believeable.

Next is Daniel Clowes' 'Ice Haven'.

From Wiki:
Ice Haven takes the form of 29 short, stylistically diverse comic strips about different residents of the small town of Ice Haven. Although each strip is separately titled and presented as if it is self-contained, together they tell a story about the characters' interrelated lives.

So yeah, the book is a mish mash of Clowes experiences with different american styles of comic making in order to establish a mise-en-scene for each of the character's personalties and motives which I found to be very effective. The story brings everyone together with the event of the kidnapping of the local strange kid, based on Clowes' own experiences with a similar event in his childhood.

There is an indepth review which seems to say everything that I could ever want to about this book and more, (forgoing my intense fascination with the eerily beautiful method he uses to depict women's faces) so you should really give that a read here.

Currently I'm enjoying Will Eisner's 'New York: Life in the Big City' which is one of the most emotionally accurate depictions of the human condition I've encountered.

I'm enamoured by Eisner's characterisation and compositioning skills. His ink work only serves to add an even greater depth to the smokey New York he draws from who's quintessential populace he captures expertly.  

Plus, it's introduced by Neil Ga(y)man! LOLZ! 

Now, Tomine's 'Shortcomings' is a book which I've been meaning to read for months, duely recommended by the art snobs and elitists I call my good friends. I'd never read anything else that the author's written so I wasn't sure at all what to expect. The sharp look and pallid pallette of the cover gave a very 'human' and 'feeling-y' vibe so I guess I was waiting for a kind of Craig Thompson 'Blankets' experience and in a way I wasn't that far off.

The book is about relationships with friends and lovers and how someone who is unsure of their Asian/American identity might go about those situations. 

I found myself attracted towards the protagonist, despite his douchebag mannerisms like the way in which he belittles everyone who tries to contact him somehow and his general pessimistic/self destructive/elitist ways. This is probably because the relationship he shares with his best (only) friend who is a lesbian hits very close to my heart (you know who you are) and the way they both incessently tear into each other made me smile. 

The art work is very crisp and gets the point of each frame across without distracting too much but all in all it's maybe a bit sterile for my tastes. I guess the art work suits the mood that the protagonist constantly mopes about informing the reader of though. 

So, well written story about being who you are and letting others be the same, crisp lines and good reading. 

And the last leisurely book I read (not just thumbed through and gawped at like the monkey hanger I am; lots of that done this summer) is the gob smackingly kinetic masterpiece that is Cyril Pedrosa's 'Three Shadows'. Again, Pedrosa isn't an artist who's work I'd encountered before but thanks to my local library, will definatly strive to do so again. 

Pedrosa's experience with Disney shines through in his work as those familiar curves and swirls of the mid ninties - noughties Disney animations appear on every page and maybe this factor enhanced my enjoyment so much. The way in which Pedrosa depicts a character is in a very cartoonish manner with their body types doing well to portray their characters personalities (big proud father resembles a huge bear, untrustworthy old hag is shrivled and mean looking etc) but these 'otherwise-would-be' cliches do nothing to stifle the story. Which.. I won't go into because it would ruin the book, suffice to say it's about an arduous journey. 

Anyway, brilliant reading experience, must read more of the artist's stuff!

Btw, this image of 'Three Shadows' is actually a little better quality that the copy on the book I have in front of me because it's not quite as dark and you can pick out much more detail. Or at least it seems that way with my eyes.

Next post.. Work experience I think.

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