Review: The Tipping Point / by Naoki Urasawa (and others)

The Tipping PointThe Tipping Point

by Naoki Urasawa et. al.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a mixed bag for me, but that makes a lot of sense considering how many artists were involved in the creation of the work. I’m not going to go too into detail of each story, just that I enjoyed the art in about 80% of the stories… and I enjoyed the stories (or at least appreciated) the stories in about 40% of the works.

I didn’t do any research into this work before I bought it. None. So, I was a bit surprised to find that it wasn’t a single work by Naoki Urasawa. Unfortunately, his was not the strongest work in the compilation. So, I guess it’s good that there were other creators involved.

By far my favourite titles were:
Hanako’s Fart / Taiyo Matsumoto
The Awakening / Emmanuel LePage
The Child / Bastien Vives
Fish / Keiichi Koike

The production though, was very beautiful. Thick glossy pages. Large trim size.

It’s strange to me to read Japanese works in the English left to right orientation, but that’s the nature of compilations. I’m glad to see a work like this that takes creators from all over the world and puts them next to each other. I don’t know too many other publications that do the same.

Graphic Novel Review: 750 Years in Paris / By Vincent Mahé

750 Years in Paris750 Years in Paris

by Vincent Mahé

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gorgeous bold contrasting colour palette, that reminds me of vintage Eastern European Children’s book illustration. Who doesn’t love teals and orange together?!

This title follows 1 piece of infrastructure in Paris over the period of 750 years – following a seemingly accurate depiction of architectural history. It is essentially wordless, with a very brief timeline summary on the final page.

I enjoyed the colour and illustration — but, being a plotless and textless novel, I suspect is not something I’d pick up very often. Maybe would be good as a coffee-table book to flip through and enjoy at random.

You’ll probably enjoy this title if you also like: “Tokyo Sanpo”/”Tokyo on Foot” by Florent Chavouet or, “Here” by Richard McGuire.

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.