More books! Just as you were secretly hoping!


072) Blacksad written by Juan Díaz Canales and drawn by Juanjo Guarnido, finished September 5

This volume contains three stories previously published. This volume contains three awesome stories.

I just heard of Blacksad a week or so ago and requested it through the library. It showed up and I read it. And it's terrific.

While this book has anthropomorphic animals, I mostly agree with his statement from Jim Steranko's introduction: "Rather than animals who act like people, the creators' approach is predicated on people who resemble animals." It's true. This isn't Mickey Mouse (see below). This is something different entirely.

And the art is just astonishing. Canales has a mastery of human expression in body and face that I've rarely seen in comics. I can't get over his work.

One downside though. The male characters who get to be animals. Generally, the female characters look more human than the males. And they're fewer of them. And the most animal characters are always male. The noirish nature of the tales lets Canales get away with this, but ultimately it seems a bit of the easy way out.

Anyway. The stories are dark, noir tales. The first more classic setup. The second in a segregated city. The third during the McCarthy red-scare era. So, yes, American stories. But because the writer and artist are Spanish, they understand the Mythic America better, I think, than an American artist could. For American artists, we always know the real America best. Only someone from the outside can believe in the myth as well as someone who makes a living drawing Bible stories understands the Mythic Israel.

Good book. Some sex and violence (be warned) but I loved it. (Lady Steed though, read a couple pages, got bored, set it down.)

Clicking on most of these images will take you to more images.

three days


071) 21 by Wilfred Santiago, finished September 4

As a Pirates fan, the great baseball hero is Roberto Clemente. And since I like comments (and haven't read the apparently great biography), this book was a necessary read for me.

The book is lovely, as you can see from the art above (click either to see more pages), but it wasn't what I expected. And although the review linked to in the pictures thought the book told a terrific story, my complaint is that it didn't seem to tell a story at all. I can't tell for sure as I already know the major details of his life, but I'm not convinced someone without the basics could tell what's going on. For instance, Clemente's humanitarian work is barely touched on, then, at the end, is made to seem his defining attribute. But we hardly saw it! If we didn't already know, would we now?

Maybe the audience was only people who already know the broad stripes and are just interested in a beautiful telling?

I don't know. If you don't know anything about Clemente (or even better: baseball), please read this book and tell me what your experience was.

Periodically, the action pauses for quotations from nonfiction texts about Puerto Rico. Although, putting on my literary-analysis cap, I can find good reasons for all of them, I'm not convinced the lengthy National Geographic but on traditional drum music was a good reason to break the death in half. (I felt similarly about the text by an occupying American soldier, though it was fascinating. You can read the clip here for yourself. I'ld love to talk to you about it.)

Anyway, beautiful book. Not what I wanted but, well, that other biography's still available to me. I shouldn't blame a book for not being what I want. It did succeed on most levels. I'm just not convinced it's impressionistic timejumping and borderline-pointless framestory and bitsandpiecing sampling methods add up to a book nonfans can enjoy. All that said, I learned about this song:

several months


071) Bone by Jeff Smith, finished August 29

I started to read Bone about ten years ago and loved it. I could see why everyone was talking it up back when the single issues were coming up. But then it got tough to find a certain one of the trade paperbacks and the library and weeks turned into years until finally, last February, I bought myself the one-volume edition. And read it with my kids.

Who loved it.

Truly: this is one of the great comics to read with kids. Exciting, smart, funny, dangerous, scary --- it has it all. And don't let the idea of spending twenty bucks slow you down. This book runs well over a thousand pages with nary a dull moment.

The story begins with three Pogo-looking characters run out of their hometown and lost in the mountains. The get involved in a Tolkeinesque drama with monsters and talking bugs and dragons and magic and dreams and the risk of losing the world. Only with more gag panels.

If you don't follow comics, you might not know how legendary this book is. But it is and it has earned that status. Listen to Time:
Combining the instant gratification strong cartooning with the deep engagement of epic storytelling and the universal appeal of humor, Jeff Smith's "Bone" has becomes the best all-ages graphic novel yet published. While older readers will tune into such themes as the folly of blind fanaticism and the corrupting nature of power, the younger set will simply thrill to the adventure and delight at the huge cast of characters. Hardly a folly anymore, "Bone" now deserves to go from hipster cult item to mainstream literary success.

several months


060) Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: Race to Death Valley by Flody Gottfredson, finished on a date that's a little hard to identify exactly

Note that I received a free copy because I will be reviewing this for Dialogue. As a preview, let me say that this was okay but hasn't aged as well as some comics and I mostly take hope in its potential and the rumors that in a half-decade or so, the stories really start to pop.

about three months



059) Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby, finished August 18

Just as the first and second books, this is just Hornby commenting on books he's read. And it was great fun to read. And I'm sad it's all over now.

But I hear Daniel Handler is writing the column now, so maybe I should just subscribe to The Believer.....

rather a while ===========================================================

Previously in 2011 . . . . :

058) Take Time for Paradise by A. Bartlett Giamatti, finished August 11

057) The Shining by Stephen King, finished August 9
056) I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells, finished August 6
055) Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, finished August 2
054) Moneyball by Michael Lewis, finished July 12
053) Madman New Giant Size Super Ginchy Special by Mike Allred et al, finished approximately July 9

052) The Influencing Machine by Brooke Gladstone and Josh Neufeld, finished July 8
051) Wilson by Daniel Clowes, finished July 6

050) Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut, finished July 1
049) Housekeeping vs. The Dirt by Nick Hornby, finished June 25
048) The Light Princess by George Macdonald, finished June 22
047) Half a Life by Darin Strauss, finished June 17
046) Babymouse: Cupcake Tycoon by Jennifer L. Holm and Matt Holm (siblings), finished June 16

045) Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card, finished June 10
044) Writings from The New Yorker 1927-1976 by E.B. White (edited by Rebecca M. Dale), finished June 7
043) The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, finished May 31
042) Unnamed book by unnamed client (MS POLICY),
finished May 27

041) Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour by Bryan Lee O'Malley, finished May 14
040) Scott Pilgrim Versus The Unverse by Bryan Lee O'Malley, finished May 14
039) Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together by Bryan Lee O'Malley, finished May 13
037) The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse, finished May 11
036) Scott Pilgrim Versus The World by Bryan Lee O'Malley
035) Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley
034) The Complete Peanuts 1975-1976 by Charles M. Schulz, finished May 1
033) Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli finished approximately April 27

032) Golden Gate by Seth Vikram, finished April 20

031) Batman: Year 100 by Paul Pope, finished April 18
030) The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby, finished April 9
029) iZombie: Dead to the World by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred, finished April 2
028) A Sense of Order and Other Stories by Jack Harrell, finished April 1
027) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard, finished March 30

026) The Black Dogs by Ian McEwan, finished March 21

025) Stitches by David Small, finished March 20
024) Arkham Asylum: Madness by Sam Kieth, finished January 19 or 20
023) Hamlet by William Shakespeare, finished March 18

022) Red Rocket 7 by Mike Allred, finished March 10
021) Missile Mouse: Rescue on Tankium3 by Jake Parker, finished March 10

020) The Hotel Cat by Esther Averill, finished February 28

019) Wonderland by Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew, finished February 21
018) Redcoat by Kohl Glass (MS POLICY), finished February 18

017) Best American Comics 2010 edited by Neil Gaiman, finished February 12
016) Little Bee by Chris Cleave, finished February 10
015) Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, finished February 2
014) Cursed Pirate Girl: The Collected Edition Vol. I by Jeremy Bastian, finished January 31

013) Sweet Tooth: In Captivity by Jeff Lemire, finished January 30
012) Sweet Tooth: Out of the Woods by Jeff Lemire, finished January 30
011) Essex County: The Country Nurse by Jeff Lemire, finished January 30
010) Essex County: Ghost Stories by Jeff Lemire, finished January 29
009) Essex County: Tales from the Farm by Jeff Lemire, finished January 29

008) Magdalene by Morah Jovan, finished January 27

007) Knightfall Part Two: Who Rules the Night by a slew of DC folk, finished January 23
006) Bayou by Jeremy Love, finished January 17

005) Mr. Monster by Dan Wells, finished January 10
004) The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, finished January 6
003) The Mystery of the Dinosaur Graveyard by Mary Adrian, finished January 5
002) Batman - Judge Dredd: Judgment on Gotham by John Wagner and Alan Grant and Simon Bisley, with lettering by the famous Todd Klein; finished January 4
001) Batman: Venom by Dennis O'Neil et al, finished January 2

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