Featured Genre Friday: Graphic Novels

October 3, 2014 at 3:25 pm Leave a comment

Hyperbhyperboleole and a Half by Allie Brosh / Pub Date: October 2013 / 384 pgs.

I tried to put this book down.  I really did.  But it was like it was glued to my hands and my fingers were compelled to keep turning its  pages.  I just could not stop reading, laughing at, and empathizing with Allie Brosh’s hilarious stories accompanied by colorful, brilliant drawings rendered in MS Paint.  Although I had heard of her hugely popular blog/webcomic of the same name, I was largely unfamiliar with Brosh’s work.  I also don’t read many graphic novels, but after reading this, I may be a convert. There is a lot to like about this book: the tone ranges from light and funny (the many misadventures of her two canine companions, the “Simple Dog” and the “Helper Dog”) to serious and insightful (Brosh’s two-part account of her descent into clinical depression).   Those who are already rabid fans of her blog (because it doesn’t seem like there are any other kind) will be happy to know that more than 50% of this book is brand-new content.

In short, this book would be enjoyed by people who like any of the following: dogs, cake, geese, Microsoft Office Suite, scribbling, comics, humor, breathing air. Read it!

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes / Pub Date: December 1997 / 80 pgs. Ghost_world

Picking up this seminal graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, I was already familiar with the characters and story, being a fan of Terry Zwigoff’s 2001 film adaptation.  Reading the original graphic novel after seeing the film left me feeling a little wanting, mostly because Zwigoff’s film did such a marvelous job of portraying the wonderfully oddball characters onscreen, and fleshed out the plot considerably more than the book. However, I think it’s a case of different mediums having different strengths.  Clowes’ graphic novel has clout for a reason.  At a slim 80 pages, Ghost World tells the story of teenage best friends Enid and Rebecca, two misfits trying to figure things out shortly after their graduation from high school.  Enid has tentative plans to attend art school; Rebecca ends up assimilating herself into “normal” society.  The humor in the book comes from Enid and Rebecca making snarky comments about everyone they know, but the real heart of the story is the slow dissolution of their friendship as they come of age.

Although the graphic novel’s color scheme is literally muted, figuratively, there is no shortage of colorful characters that inhabit Enid and Rebecca’s Ghost World.  Many characters are rendered so expressively that they border on grotesque.  They’re meant to evoke a certain fascination, which certainly succeeds.  Although after seeing the movie, the storyline felt slightly insubstantial and sketchy to me (mostly because my favorite character was missing–he is actually an amalgam of several minor characters from the book), Clowes’ painfully realistic characters make this book worth picking up.  In a genre saturated by superheroes, the antiheroes of Ghost World will strike a chord, especially with high school students.

-Becky

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Entry filed under: Genres, Graphic Novels.

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