Month: January 2015

Kim Dong Hwa — Color Trilogy

Kim Dong Hwa Color TrilogyI have never been to Korea, although I and my son, Eli, have had some brief warm friendships with the Korean families whose children went to his elementary.  I didn’t live in the 19th century in a rural village either.  But, reading these three books I feel I hvae been there.  learned the lives of the place and particularly become close to Ehwa a young girl, who lives alone with her mother, who I don’t think is named, and becomes a teenager as the trilogy moves along.  This is manhwa (Korean manga).  Kim, a man, was known before this for writing sunjung (comics for girls), and he bring to life the worlds of these two women.  There is old fashioned poetry of flowers and butterflies that acts music in the background of the story.  Sometimes it just creates atmosphere, sometimes it is specific metaphor about love and marriage and sex.  There are also breathtaking two-page spreads of the landscape around Namwon, the village itself and some of the plants and animals of the area.  Then the story becomes almost harshly realistic.  The language used by the male customers at Ehwa’s mother’s tavern is crude.  The scenes where a young monk–the first love of Ehwa’s life–has his first wet dream or when Ehwa gets her first period are matter of fact.  Take a trip back in time and live in a village far away in space (unless you are reading this in Korea) and time (unless you are reading this 120 years ago).  the publisher’s tag line for the series is “A sweeping trilogy of first love and second chances.”  This was my first chance to experience these lives, and I am grateful for Kim’s artistry.

Kim Dong Hwa

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

This One Summer“Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.”  The sound of a man’s feet as he carries a girl up the front path to a house. It’s Rose’s father, maybe some years earlier carrying her to their holiday home in Awago Beach. Rose is now in her early teens and in This One Summer the first thing she does when they arrive is run over to see her friend Windy.  The two girls have spent many summers playing, and they are now beginning to grow out of childish games and to put their toes into the adult world.  They watch the older young people who hang out at the general store and at the same time scare themselves with 70’s horror films.  The films are too much for them, they hide under blankets, but they can’t hide from the more terrifying arguments that Rose’s parents are having nor can they seem to escape the tensions amongst the older teens.  Jillian Tamaki’s drawings, printed with dark blue lines, are at times beautiful full page spreads, and at other times bring out the awkwardness of growing up and family discomforts and teen tensions.  Jillian’s cousin Mariko’s script is on the money from beginning to end.  I hadn’t read Skim before finding this book, but I will do that as soon as I can.  Joyful and moving.  Our store shelved it in the adult and the teen section and it sits well in both places. Published by :01 First Second Books.

Jillian Tamaki

Mariko Tamaki

Here – Richard McGuire

Cover Here - Richard McguireEach double-page spread of this exceptional graphic novel is a drawing of the same corner of the same room in the same house. The first tableau is 1957, the second 1942 and all that has changed is the decor. You realise you are going to be standing on the same spot throughout. but be moved through time.  Several parallel stories develop in the different time periods.   And the most striking part of the project is that more than one of these time periods can be present in one image.  In the fourth image a woman is in the 1957 room, but in small box at the bottom of the right hand page, a cat from 1999 is walking through. The house you are in was built in 1907, so any date before that the house is not there, but you are on the same spot.  The furthest back McGuire takes is 3,000,000,000 BCE and towards the end we reach 2314 CE. Stories of colonial times as families are split between supporting the British and supporting the revolution are mixed with stories of the native communities that lived in the space, of the animals and the plants, particularly the trees that grew on this spot, and although the present is ever-changing, the strong sense is of the past leaking into a family saga in the 20th and 21st centuries.   However, there is a larger narrative of humans living on an ever-changing planet, and as we cause these changes, we live remarkably different lives.  By locking geography, McGuire tell his story with little dialogue, but strking colour-soaked drawings.  part of what draws me to graphic novels is the way the visual element can be varied to dramatically change the emotional impact of the story.  McGuire has created a work of art as significant in visual literary culture as Maus or the first Superman comic, or even the original cave paintings, and in a way the link to cave paintings is the most apt, as we are in a modern cave being shown the life beyond our safe haven.

The Guardian Review with several spreads from the book

Ladybird Books are 100 Years Old

24I probably did read some of these as reading books, but for us, my brothers and sister and I, these were the first history books we read.  I think of them as 50 pages long with 25 illustrations, and I wonder how the Englishness of them skewed my early reading of history.  Still I learned a lot and had some background.  My rel favourites were the ones on the history of football, cricket as well as a whole series on the different monarchs and historical periods. There are still a good number of them on the shelves at my parents’ house.

This is prompted by an article on the English at Reading Blog

Currently Reading, Jan 13,2015

Just finished The Disappeared by Kristina Ohlsson. This is the third in the Alex Recht and Fredrika Bergman series. I like the way that the characters’ issues are as dramatic as the mystery. You are certainly drawn in and pulled along by Ohlsson. This book is good, but 1 and 2 are better. Start with Unwanted (I managed to find the second one first). This Nordic and somewhat noir.

A Lot of Reading Going on

In the last couple of weeks. Try any of these. Valeria Luiselli Faces in the Crowd and Sidewalks, Eoin Colfer goes grown up with Dan McElvoy the former Irish soldier doorman for a New Jersey night club beset by minor, but nonetheless dangerous mobsters in two very funny books Plugged and Screwed, and Kristina Ohlsson, complex Scandanavian mysteries (no double n words needed –not just Nordic Noir) with several one word titles Silenced , Unwanted and The Disappeared.

Raina Telgemeier Has Over 3.5 Million Graphic Novels in Print

With ‘Sisters’ Hitting Big Numbers Fast
Published: 01/02/2015 02:24am

Raina Telgemeier, whose new graphic novel Sisters just shipped last August, now has over 3.5 million copies of her three graphic novels in print, according to the Wall Street Journal.  Printings onSisters have rocketed to 1.4 million, after an initial planned run of only 200,000 copies (see “Telgemeier’s ‘Sisters’ Gets 200K Print Run“), according to the report.

Smile, Telgemeier’s first original graphic novel, has 1.5 million copies in print, andDrama, a fictional story about a middle school drama production, has 650,000.

While these may not be the biggest sales ever (by a U.S. publisher) on graphic novel volumes, they are probably the biggest sales ever on graphic novels directed at kids.