I enjoyed the Graphic Novel category of this year’s Hugo nominations, a lot more than the novels. For one thing, I only threw out two of the nominees barely read. For a bigger thing, I liked all three that I fully read, even though one of them requires reading a whole stack to understand the story.
In ascending order:
I took a brief look at Schlock Mercenary. Brief. There are some nice images, but I bounced off the cartoony art and gag strips. Next.
I gave up on Girl Genius long ago. The art is wonderful, but the story is at once frenetic and snail-paced. Every other page ends with someone shouting No! and the next one picks up with a recap. Next.
The fun thing about reading Fables: Witches, by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham, was getting to read the whole series. And yes, you have to. There’s no way this would make any sense without reading the whole continuity that went before. The basic premise is that the characters, human and animal, of all the fables we tell were driven out of their worlds or conquered by an Adversary. We see the story of the refugees living in New York City and upstate New York. There’s all sorts of wonderful ways in which characters like the Big Bad Wolf, Snow White, Rose Red, and Prince Charming have reinvented themselves.
Unfortunately, the main arc of the epic was resolved some time ago, and the new arc of the more terrible enemy has yet to hold my interest. As of Witches, the new story feels only about halfway done. There are earlier volumes that I would have voted for, but this one doesn’t quite hold its own.
Grandville Mon Amour, by Brian Talbot does stand on its own. It’s a funny animal story set in a Britain only recently liberated from French dominion. I enjoyed its noirish intrigue, though it did seem sort of inevitable that murders in low places led to the revelation of crimes in high places.
I loved The Unwritten Vol 2: Inside Man, by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. The art is beautiful, and the story makes you think about how fiction affects the world around us.
Tom Taylor’s father wrote a Potteresque series about the boy wizard Tommy Taylor. This makes Tom’s life Not Fun. Worse, the magic is real. His father disappeared before the last book of the series was released. A new Tommy Taylor novel hangs over the story.
In this volume, Tom Taylor is handed over to a French prison pending trial for a crime he was implicated in, where he is haunted by the Song of Roland. The accompanying artwork is especially affecting in this passage. Meanwhile, the man running the prison reads Tommy Taylor stories to his two children, one of whom takes it way too seriously. Tom barely escapes, only to land in a vision of 1940 Germany, where he is haunted by the anti-Semitic movie, Jud Suss. Finally, the darkest chapter is about a man trapped as a cute bunny in a kid’s book. Genius.
The fun thing about reading