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Some Graphic Awesome-ness

March 17, 2009

In my ongoing quest to catch up on reviews, today I have a double feature: one graphic memoir (Fun Home by Alison Bechdel) and one graphic novel (Fables: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham and Lan Medina).

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
I read this one as part of the Dewey’s Books Challenge: Dewey was always intent on promoting graphic novels/memoirs, and she urged me to read this one for quite awhile. I was very hesitant, because of the subject matter: I knew Bechdel had a messed-up father who abused some of his high school pupils and was emotionally abusive at home. Doesn’t really sound like a charming story, does it? However, Bechdel treats the sadder parts of her childhood with a bitter-free matter-of-factness that just works. And along with the bad, there’s a lot of good: Bechdel and her father are book-lovers, so books are a large part of the story. Her mother is really cool, and their house is great to see. Speaking of seeing, Bechdel’s drawing style is just wonderful: I’m a little picky about that in graphic novels/memoirs too. Her drawings capture everyone’s expressions perfectly, especially her younger self. So, what I’m trying to say, is not to be scared off by the subject matter. I devoured this in one sitting, and I laughed a lot and teared up a bit right along with Bechdel. Even though my childhood was very different, this book captured that magic of being a kid and creating your own secret world. And, of course, I loved seeing how important a role various books played in Bechdel’s life, since I could completely sympathise with that. I highly recommend this one-and I think it’d be a great first book for those who haven’t tried out the graphic genre before!

Fables: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham and Lan Medina
I’ve been wanting to try out the Fables series for quite awhile, so I put the first volume on my Graphics Novel Challenge list. Then, I had to wait forever to get at the top of my library’s hold list. And when I finally brought it home, I pulled it out to flip through and ended up reading the thing straight-through! Everyone who told me I’d love the series was right, and I’ve already put myself in the queue for the third volume (my library has every volume but number two-isn’t that weird?!). The premise is that various fairy tale characters had to take refuge in our world a few centuries ago, and now they live inconspicuously in New York City. The first book is a mystery; Snow White’s sister Rose Red is missing, her apartment splattered with blood. So the wolf, who is now sheriff of the community, has to investigate: who would want to kill or kidnap Rose Red? Could it be Jack, who’s all out of bean stalks? Or Bluebeard? Meanwhile, Snow White is trying to keep the community running smoothly, despite her inability to leverage taxes. I’m not sure I’ve conveyed the full charm of the book, but it’s just so much fun! I love the genre crossing, the clever references to all sorts of fairy tales, and the beginning of character development is awesome. I don’t particularly like the drawing style of the actual story (I never read comics when I was young, so they always seem kind of garish to my eye), but there are some beautiful illustrations serving as frontispieces for the various chapters. And while it’s not my kind of art, the story is so awesome, I can easily over look it! I think anyone who loves fairy tales and hasn’t tried out this series is depriving themselves. ;)

19 Comments leave one →
  1. March 17, 2009 12:13 pm

    I’ve only read Maus I and Maus II and absolutely loved the books. I didn’t know how I would like reading a graphic novel, but I got used to it after the first couple of pages. Fun Home sounds really good. I’ve heard so many good things about the Fable series. I think I’ll have to give in and finally try them. Thanks for the great reviews, as always!

  2. March 17, 2009 12:59 pm

    So glad to hear that you got sucked into Fables. It is such a great series. Consistently the art and the story are good. I pick it up once a month in comic book form and have really been pleased with it. I am waaaay behind on reading it, but the first 60 issues are top notch.

  3. March 17, 2009 1:09 pm

    I have both those books sitting on my book pile right at this moment! Sounds like I’d better get to them soon. :-)

  4. March 17, 2009 2:31 pm

    I bought Fun Home a couple months ago, but haven’t got to it yet…looking forward to it even more now!

    And Fables! I so loved the first one!!! Our library only has the first one and the fourth one, so I know how you feel! That’s why my sweet husband bought me 2-5 for my birthday…and I’m looking forward to gobbling them all up during OUaT! Of course, then I’ll have to go and buy the rest.

  5. March 17, 2009 4:37 pm

    Wow. That Fables one sounds fantastic!

  6. March 17, 2009 5:35 pm

    Based on your review, now I want to try Fables too! Off to my library’s site to see if they can come through for me on this one…

  7. Vasilly permalink
    March 17, 2009 5:50 pm

    These are two of my favorite books and I’m so glad you liked them. Right now I’m reading Fables 4. Keep reading the series!

  8. March 17, 2009 9:43 pm

    Lisa, I definitely had to adjust to reading graphic novels; at first it horrified me!

    Carl, that’s neat you pick them up as comic books!

    Darla, they’re both quick reads-I don’t think either of them took a full hour. Good for the TBR pile. ;)

    Debi, I’ll be curious about your thoughts! That’s awesome you have some of the Fables and are saving them for OUaT.

    Jessica, Fables was a ton of fun!

    Steph, I hope your library has it!

    Vasilly, I’ll definitely keep reading the series! :)

  9. March 18, 2009 7:14 am

    I’ve heard nothing but good things about this Fables series and I’m off to request the first one from the library. Thanks for the review and I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it!

  10. March 18, 2009 8:39 am

    So glad to hear you liked the Bechdel, and you’re so right about the drawings (I’m picky about that, too).

  11. March 19, 2009 7:49 am

    Samantha, I think you’ll enjoy it too!

    Emily, I just lover her drawings! Thanks for recommending the book. :D

  12. tuulenhaiven permalink
    March 19, 2009 12:17 pm

    Hurray for Fables! I found the series last summer and bought the first few. I need some more, but funds are limited. Time to start bugging my librarians – more graphic novels please. Glad you’re enjoying them. :)

  13. March 19, 2009 9:59 pm

    SO GLAD you liked this one! The illustration style annoys me at times, but you’ll find as the series moves along that some of the artists (and thus the style) change. If you decide to read the prequel, 1001 Nights of Snowfall, every story in the collection is a different artist, and they’re truly spectacular. Enjoy the series!

  14. March 20, 2009 6:03 am

    I got really sucked in by James Jean’s art on the cover right from the beginning and I haven’t been able to resist since then.

  15. Jenny permalink
    March 20, 2009 11:33 am

    I don’t know how I missed Fables. I’m a complete sucker for fairy tales in new settings, and this sounds perfect. Thanks for the recommendation — I’m off to put it on my list!


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