Graphic Novel Friday Spotlight: Shadows, Empire, Heavenshields, Bibles, and More
Every Friday, Omnivoracious will turn the spotlight on one or more graphic novels, with future installments also including news, relevant links, and interviews. You can let me know who or what you'd like to see featured by commenting on this post.
Three Shadows by Cyril Pedrosa (First Second) - A rich allegory in which a man and his son embark on a journey to save their family, while haunted by three shadows. Their trip takes them to many strange places, and although the underlying symbolism is at times obscure, the emotional pay-off is definitely worth the experience.
The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation by Siku (Doubleday) - To me, there's something crazy about trying to render the Bible in graphic form to begin with, given that the rich texture of the language provides much of its power. A manga Bible seems perhaps even crazier, given the stylizations of the form. The results, though, seem much weirder than even that, which I mean as a compliment. Either the Bible was always odd or Siku has chosen to dramatize the stranger bits. I'm not sure the standard manga approach really adds anything new to the experience, but it's a worthy experiment that manga fans in general should consider checking out.
Heavenshield by Ryu Blackman (Tokyopop) - I like this new manga because of the premise: "In a post-meteor age, humans and human-like reptile descendents have struck a delicate peace accord based on a dark new religion called Sancrosanct. So when a psychotic general escapes prison and plots a military coup, the government hires saucy racer girl Sepulveda Ramos and her dysfunctional crew of mercernaries" to stop him. This is pretty trippy stuff.
Tonoharu (Part 1) by Lars Martinson (Pliant Press) - Earnest and lovingly detailed, this account of a Western English teacher living and working in Japan has a quiet and telling power to it. The little details of Western-Eastern culture clash and the precision of the accompanying artwork combine to make this more than a graphic novel gloss on a topic already dealt with in nonfiction and movies. A gem of understated storytelling that belongs on any bookshelf.
A People's History of American Empire by Howard Zinn with Mike Konopacki and Paul Buhle (Metropolitan Books) - Somehow this graphic novel version of the famous left-wing history text seems much less subtle than the original. Which is to say, it's powerful but shrill, gives a voice to the voiceless but no real greater context. It was always going to be controversial, and I recommend it for giving another side of history, but this version needs to be balanced with something more, er, balanced. Still, from the standpoint of adapting a written text to an illustrated medium, the creators have done an excellent job. It may just be an example of a type of book better suited to the capabilities of text alone.