November 29, 2009

Short Stories in Graphic Novels


#235. The Eternal Smile: Three Stories by Gene Luen Yang. illustrated by Derek Kirk Kim. 2009. 170 pgs. 15+ - This book of short stories is an adult title with crossover appeal to teens. Yang shows us here that he has a taste for the strange. In these three stories Yang has taken a person's reality and turned it into a fantasy or turned their fantasy into reality, making for stories that end with the infamous twist. I enjoyed all three very much; they were each enjoyable and unusual, as well as making one think about the good or bad consequences of living in a fantasy world and avoiding your own reality. The illustrations are all wonderful. Kim has used different styles for each story to match the theme and mood. The second story has actually been done in the style of an old comic book (one of those "Gold Key" comics from the seventies) complete with fake ads. Very well done book. Recommended. 4.5/5


#236. Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Death and Dementia illustrated by Gris Grimly. adapted. 2009. 136 pgs. 14+ - It's hard to decide a suitable age for this book, as children differ, but at whatever age your child can handle the gruesome artwork, they can handle the book. Presented here are four of Poe's most horrifying works that deal with death and madness: The Tell-Tale Heart, The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, The Oblong Box, and The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar. Being a fan of Poe's since I was 11, I have recently become quite fond of reading illustrated versions of his stories and poems and this quite tops the ranks. Omitting "The Oblong Box" for a minute we have three very horrifying, and two downright gruesome tales that Grimly has illustrated with a superb craft for the Gothic gore that brings these tales to shocking life. Back to all four stories now, Grimly's illustrations of people gone mad is simply chilling. While Poe *has* been abridged, it is well worth it to see this presentation of work in such a visual manner. The book is not your typical graphic novel; there are no frames nor word bubbles. What we have instead is fully illustrated pages with blocks of text artistically placed on the page. Though there are also some pages where the text is not blocked, even then it is placed to suit the pictures. Rather than calling this a book, I call it a piece of art and highly recommend it to Poe's fans. It would also make a fantastic introduction to the author's work. This book is a follow up to a previous book of Poe that Grimly illustrated; you can be sure I'll be reading that one soon too. 5/5

Nicola