Review: Alice in Wonderland / by Rod Espinosa

Alice in WonderlandAlice in Wonderland

by Rod Espinosa

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Recommended for younger readers, who might be unfamiliar with the story.

As a child, I loved Alice in Wonderland. I recalled enjoying Espinosa’s courageous princess years ago and thought I’d try this. It wasn’t my favorite. I know the Alice story too well, seeing as it was a favourite growing up. And also, I don’t see myself as the demographic for this title.

Personally, Espinosa took some of the famous scenes from the story and hurriedly smushed them together in a fast narrative. He forgot to add the “wonder” to his story. Alice barely has a chance to catch her breath before she’s already onto something new. Espinosa is relying too heavily on the reader knowing the story… And, on Alice being incredibly adaptable.

The art is 50/50. Scenes are well expressed. Some of the character design is interesting, if a little over-simplified. But, Alice is a poor attempt at a manga style. Ineffective, expressionless, and distinctly uninspired-“fan” work. It doesn’t look like Espinosa has bothered to meld his own style… It’s just a poor rehashing.

I might be overly harsh on this comic.
Espinosa is treading into too many territories where I have strong opinions on.
Maybe if this was a retelling of a story I didn’t know… in a style of comic that I didn’t read daily… I wouldn’t be so annoyed by it.

Graphic Novel Review: Sweater Weather & Other Stores / by Sara Varon

Sweaterweather: & Other Short StoriesSweaterweather: & Other Short Stories

by Sara Varon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed several of the VERY short stories. And I think her colour palette is divine.

But I don’t think it’s a particularly good curation of stories. You’ll be hard to classify the reader for this work. The pacing generally makes each story feel geared to early readers–with lots of wordless stories. but then are mixed with a handful of text-heavy stories dealing with more adult topics. Not “adult”, just ‘adult’ (if you catch my meaning). But, I’m not sure how many grade schoolers are interested in pages from the author’s journal, or her worries about quitting her job. Certainly, an adult would appreciate this book more on the whole than a child would.

Generally a fun quick read… But I couldn’t see myself reaching for this more than once.

Graphic Novel Review: Just So Happens / by Fumio Obata

Just So HappensJust So Happens

by Fumio Obata

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this comic, but I think you have to be in the right frame of mind to read it. It’s quiet, melancholic and introspective… The art is beautiful and delicate, and colour is applied with purpose (which is something I always appreciate). The story is relatively without, and I guess you could say, incomplete, but this isn’t about a story, or solving problems — this comic is about opening up conversation on important topics.

What do you feel when you don’t belong home anymore? — returning to a place where you’ve rejected the cultural ideals and expectations that everyone has of you? — living in a new place where you’re in the minority, rather than the majority?

Plus, it always helps to add all of these familiar settings: I’ve attended a Buddhist Funeral in Japan, I’ve watched Noh theatre, I’ve sat in that exact place where Yumiko and her mother have tea… I always love to be able to point at pictures and say, “I’ve been there”. So, even if I don’t quite understand what Yumiko is going through — at least I can understand where she is.

Overall, I really enjoyed this comic.

Graphic Novel Review: Moose by Max de Radiguès


by Max de Radiguès

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The art was fair (no complaints).
The plot has potential. It doesn’t go very far or deep, but this is hardly surprising when you consider the length of the book.

The characters are unfortunately, “stock”.

1: The mindless bully who has no purpose in life except to pick on
2. the weak and simpering kid who just turns over and takes it.
And then there are
3. the friends and people around who can see what’s going on and do nothing to interfere.

Yes, some of the episodes of bullying were uncomfortable to read, but without any depth or value to the characters themselves, I just didn’t care. Not about the bullying, nor the “moral” dilemma at the end.

What kept coming to mind while reading this was, “I wonder if the author is enjoying drawing these bullying scenes…” Because, in such a short book, there’s a lot of them.

I liked the moose.

Graphic Novel Review: Three Feathers by Richard Van Camp

Three Feathers (The Debwe Series)Three Feathers

by Richard Van Camp

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I was disappointed with both art and story. The story seemed to try to represent modern cultural identity — and yet the art was a poor reflection of it. This would have been more effective and evocative had it been illustrated using some of the visual tradition of the indigenous culture it was trying to portray. But, no… just a poor reimagination of Japanese-style art. I thought maybe this was done to make the story more accessible. But, if that were the case, it would have been an accessible story. Instead the story was plotless, stilted, and preachy. It may have been more effective if I belonged to a different cultural group — But, judging as an outsider (and comic book reader) — I didn’t get it.

Graphic Novel Review: The Gifted by Damian Wassel, Adrian Wassel and Nathan Gooden

The Gifted: Books 1 & 2The Gifted: Books 1 & 2

by Damian A. Wassel, Adrian F. Wassel and Nathan C. Gooden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gorgeous ink washes with a restrained use of purposeful color. Human speech is written in IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) which gives a feeling of foreignness to the hunters; perfectly matching a story from the perspective of an animal. There are many problems with the story, but the execution is so strong it’s easy to forgive. A great concept piece.

Graphic Novel Review: I Never Liked You by Chester Brown

I Never Liked YouI Never Liked You

by Chester Brown

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I never liked this. The only redeeming and relate-able quality it had was one wistful telling of a bossy friend who’d turned conspirator during play. I couldn’t sympathize with his pathetic character. Not awkward character… just unapologetically pathetic. And, I couldn’t wrap my head around the art style which did NOTHING to lend itself to the story. Certainly not a comic for me.

Graphic Novel Review: Skandalon by Julie Maroh


by Julie Maroh

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This entire comic exists for the words on the last page. It’s a plot device that is often used to make a story seem important and deep — instead, it made me gag. This was neither important, nor deep. It was just “blah”… or actually, “bleh”. The redeeming feature: the art. It was okay. I initially didn’t care for it, but it did grow on me. It just didn’t aid the story in any way — it could have done so much more. The speech bubbles and font…a major fail which, on top of everything, added an amateurish/self-pub feel. Not recommended.

Graphic Novel Review: Steve Jobs: Insanely Great by Jessie Hartland

Steve Jobs: Insanely GreatSteve Jobs: Insanely Great

by Jessie Hartland

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

From an art stand-point the illustration is charming. And the way the text completely fills most pages, is unusual — more like a children’s picture book than a standard graphic novel (which is delightful). That’s as far as my admiration goes. The writing… is unforgivably juvenile. The text placement… is infuriating. [why is he thinking aloud in speech bubbles??!!] The topic… is meh. I suspect that if you’re into “Steve Jobs” you’d probably be into this. But, there are significantly better biographies in the graphic novel format to read before bothering with this one.

Graphic Novel Review: Girl in Dior / by Annie Goetzinger

Girl in DiorGirl in Dior

by Annie Goetzinger

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Mechanically well constructed. Beautiful binding, beautiful paper, beautiful colours that suit the 1940s glamour… but, other than mechanics… it was boring. There was no passion or feelings. It just fell flat. I would summarize the story as: “first my life was ok, then it was ok, and then it was ok again.” Disappointing.