healyg: (aww)
Hahaha! I certainly did not mean to take this long to get around to this! Let's get down to business.

Vattu by Evan Dahm: This is a webcomic about Vattu, a little girl from a tribal culture who is forced into a life in a big imperial city. I tried reading this comic back when it first started (in 2010, 2011-ish), but it was taking too long to get to the point, and the pages loaded way too slow on my crappy connection, so I put it aside and forgot about it for a few years. (I think I might have tried again sometime later, but I ran into the same issue.) Then, on Wednesday morning I googled Rice Boy (one of Evan Dahm's other comics, set in the same world, Overside) for reasons I forget (I think I was researching something for Knytt Stories?), and remembered this comic. It picked up quite a hefty archive since the last time I checked, so I decided to try reading it again.

Spoilers: It turns out I totally loved it! The story really starts to pick up after it leaves Vattu's homeland and spreads its focus to other characters. It's still not done yet (we're about halfway through, according to some comments by the author), but the plotlines being set up now are fascinating stuff. My favorite is the one following the mysterious enclave of mystical chemists.

Rice Boy by Evan Dahm, also: I'm following along with the new rerun blog. It's quite fascinating! I never realized how much of the story was ad hoc before now. I was sort of disappointed with the ending when it first wrapped up, but knowing how much of the plot was still up in the air, at least in the beginning, makes me feel a little better about it now. (Also I've totally forgotten how hot T-O-E was until now.)

Thimble Theater by E. C. Segar: This was a collection featuring Popeye's first appearance. It's actually interesting to see the big lummox from the beginning. Most of the strip's focus was on this dumb blowhard called Castor Oyl (Olive's brother) and his pseudo-magical whiffle hen Bernice, but Popeye was already a forceful presence from practically his first entrance. No spinach as of yet, but already he's punching every badnik there is to punch. Something about his appearance here seems off, though. Maybe it's something in the face? Anyway, it's good stuff if you like old 20s-30s comic strips.
healyg: (apology)
Let's get back into the swing of things, shall we?

Currently I'm reading A Drifting Life, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi, which is a comic autobiography about the early days of the gekiga movement. I'm liking it so far, but I keep mixing people and events up; I think a glossary or a dramatis personae would've helped here.

Also, I played through Molly and the Butter Thieves by Cosmic Hamster from ShuffleComp, and I really liked it! It was a very sweet game that plays around with fairy folklore. Definitely one for the "recommend" pile.
healyg: (Excited)
Currently I'm reading 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die, edited by Paul Gravett. It's got a good sense of the breadth of the field (superhero comics, indies, manga, and French graphic albums and more are all represented), but, at least from what I can tell, there doesn't seem to be a lot of thought put into the availability of the selections (I swear to God some of these have never been collected and never been translated). I think some of the entries are a bit dodgily written, too. Overall I'd say it's probably worth a look if you're interested in comics, but don't actually expect to read all of them before you die.

But wait! Since this is a pretty short review, I'd like to take the chance to do a little viewer experiment: the comics are all covered from about page 24 to 938 (note that my copy is missing pages 931-34, boo). What I want is for you guys to pick a page number in the comments, and I'll tell you the entries listed therein and what I think of them. We'll see if this works out.
healyg: (apology)
Currently I am reading Comic Book Rebels, by Stanley Wiater and Stephen R. Bissette. It's a series of interviews with some of the biggest names in comics in the nineties, including Alan Moore, Scott McCloud, Todd McFarlene, Harvey Pekar, etc. It's got a wide variety of artists and authors, from former artists from the underground "comix" scene in the 60s to 70s to then-new blood like Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Only three women, though: Lee Marrs, Harvey Pekar's wife Joyce Brabner, and Colleen Doran. (Also, besides Moebius, all the artists and authors in their "International Ambassadors" section are British.) It's actually a pretty interesting snapshot of the comics industry before the speculation crash. There's a hopefulness about the relatively new direct market that's about to go away soon, when the market crashes and Diamond rules as monopoly supreme. Anyway, despite a few gripes here and there it's a pretty informative book, and a good resource for those who want to find out more about comics history.

Next Time, on Currently Reading Not-Always-a-Wednesday: I'm not sure! I might just cheat again and pick another video game.
healyg: (Frown)
Currently I am reading Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: The Rise of the Graphic Novel by Stephen Weiner. It is the thinnest book on comic book history I have ever read, about 64 pages including the backmatter. Some of the early chapters (I am thinking of the first in particular) read like grade school history reports, if grade school taught the history of comic books. Later on it starts discussing just one or two comic books-- I'm sorry, graphic novels, per chapter. I think I detect a hint of bias in this book. It also ends just as it gets to manga boom; on the one hand, what do you expect from a book written in 2003, but on the other, wow, way to miss the second biggest zeitgeist of the coming decade (first being the web, natch). Also, for some reason it starts every chapter with a different quote, and while they're sometimes clever, most of the time it comes off as too twee, like the quote for the Sandman chapter: "Death was a friend, and sleep was Death's brother." --John Steinbeck. Also also, it cites no sources. Overall I'd say while it may be of use to a total comics newbie, you'd probably be better off with Demanding Respect instead.

Next time, on Currently Reading Wednesdays Somedays: Well, I really wanna get into some text adventures, but seeing as I've said that every week and I've gone with some comics related book each time, I'm guessing that's a no sale. With any luck Ryan Veeder will release his magnum opus IF about a struggling comic book author in the 30's, and this impasse will come to an end.
healyg: (apology)
Sorry I haven't been here in a while! I was trying to write this big ol' post but the whole thing collapsed on me.

Anyways, since this is about three days late, let's go ahead and review three different books!

Book numero uno: How to Torture Your Brain, by Ralph L. Woods, is a compilation of brainteasers, paradoxes, and other weird brain junk. Some of these are going to be a little familiar to most folks, like the infamous question "What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?" and the infinite hotel problem, but others, like selections from Greek philosophers, or a parody of the twisted logic Anti-Stratfordians work themselves into, are fresh, at least to me. Be warned that it's a pretty old book, so that some of the examples it uses are a little UnP.C. these days. Here's its Amazon pages, or you could check and see if it's at your local library.

Second book, same as last look: Alan Moore, Storyteller by Gary Spencer Millidge, is a coffee table book about perhaps the most famous British comic book writer of all. Frankly I find the aggrandizing tone of it all a bit wearying (did you know that Alan Moore wrote the very first serious superhero story? And also the first feminist comic book heroine, and also the first interracial relationship, and and and), but hey! That's what you get with these types of books. I don't know, I'm more of a Grant Morrison fan, so maybe this book just isn't for me.

Book number three, oh my oh me I've got a big collection of most of Lewis Carroll's major works, so I'm trying to make some headway into Sylvie and Bruno. So far it's slow going; the joke-to-sentiment ratio is nearly inverted from his Alice books. Mostly I've just been skipping around, and reading an article here or a short story there. There's this one really great story about photographic plates that can write a whole short story from your mind that's just amazing, and I may transcribe the whole thing over here so I can show it off.

Next time, hopefully on time: Next time I really want to play a text adventure, because the IF Top 50 is having another round again and I don't want to miss out. We'll see how that goes.
healyg: (Default)
(Welcome to what I hope will continue to be a regular feature of this blog, Currently Reading Wednesdays. I'll talk a bit about what I'm reading, and also a little bit about what I'm planning to read next.)

Currently I am reading Demanding Respect by Paul Lopes. It's another book about comics history, this time a summary of the major events of Twentieth Century to Early 21st century American comic book publishing. It's kind of incredible, to me today, to see what lengths people would go to demonize comics back in the early 50's. They seduce the youths into a life of crime! Their crummy art will rot kids' eyes! They're turning our children into fascists, and also they're backed by the communists. It'd be pretty laughable if the anti-comics crusade weren't so successful. Anyway, I don't think I like this book quite as much as I liked Haunt of Fears, but it's got a broader scope, covering everything from the start of Superman to the 60's alt-comix scene to about 6 years ago, which is when the book was published. So, I'm gonna say that if you're in need of a general lowdown of the American comic book industry, check it out! There are probably worse books on the subject you could read.

Next time, on Currently Reading Wednesdays: I think I might like to check out Akira next. Or maybe something by Pauline Kael? And I still haven't gotten to those text adventures. Who knows?
healyg: (scheming)
(Welcome to what I hope will be a regular feature of this blog, Currently Reading Wednesdays. I'll talk a bit about what I'm reading, and also a little bit about what I'm planning to read next.)

Currently I'm (re)reading A Haunt of Fears, by Martin Barker. It's about the anti-comics campaign in Great Britain, although it dips into Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent as well. (How could it not?) It gets into the politics of the movement in a way that few other comic book histories do. (For instance, did you know that the British anti-comics movement was spearheaded by Communists in the early going?) Though in my opinion, it's worth the price of admission simply for the reprint of the infamous EC Comics story "The Orphan" and Barker's analysis of it. (If you haven't read "The Orphan" yet, do so, by the way. I was spoiled on the twist beforehand and the ending still managed to take me by surprise.) All in all a great book, especially if you're a comics fan.

What I'm going to read next? ...I dunno. I've got a bunch of text adventures on my backlog that I really want to get around to. I haven't played Ryan Veeder's latest yet, Someone Keeps Moving My Chair, and I still haven't got around to the Taco Fiction sequel he put out around Halloween. Or I guess I could do, y'know, an actual book. We'll see.

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