These two books found me in time for our reading theme “Crazy for Comics.” While these illustrated novels are different as ‘night’ and ‘day,’ I find that they both speak of philosophical musings on mortality, family and community, parallel universes and other worlds. The art in these books are likewise vastly different but both are striking and distinctive.
Created By: Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá Coloring by: Dave Stewart Lettering by: Sean Konot
Publisher: DC Comics, 2011
Borrowed through inter-library loan.
I learned about this graphic novel from my theoretical-linguist friend who posted this novel on Facebook. From the quote he shared (and because I judge a book by its cover), I knew I just had to find it. While our library copy is a tad battered and sorry-looking, the stories found within the pages are alive despite the fact that they speak of obituaries and parallel deaths.
Each chapter is marked by a number (Chapter One: 32, Chapter Two: 21, Chapter Three: 28, Chapter Four: 41, Chapter Five: 11, Chapter Six: 33, Chapter Seven: 38, Chapter Eight: 47, Chapter Nine: Dream, Chapter Ten: 76) indicating the age when Brás de Oliva Domingos, his mother’s Little Miracle, dies again and again and again throughout the novel with varying obituaries depending on what he has accomplished, the meanings he has discovered about life, his potentials that have never been actualized in his either painfully short or overly-extended lifespan.
I would like to believe that I live in a world of words – and have been thankfully exposed to a variety of concepts, themes, storylines in novels. This one, though, is probably one of the most visually-affecting, aesthetically-moving, startlingly-unique graphic novels I have read this year. While Brás’ life takes on different trajectories as the reader moves from one chapter to the next, there are threads that remain constant throughout such as the presence of Bras’ imposing father who lived his entire life mastering the art of make-believe,
then there is Bras’ best friend Jorge who either provides sound advice about love and life:
or turns homicidal due to a near-death experience:
Then there are the thoughtful musings about family: “We just don’t get to choose our family”
or “We carry our family inside of us.”
And finally what it means to find home: “Bras realized that home is not a physical place at all, but a group of elements like the people you live with — a feeling, a state of mind.”
Here is an interview of Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá during the San Diego Comic Con in 2012. Enjoy:
The Night Watchman
A Book By: Jérémie Fischer and Jean-Baptiste Labrune Translated by: David Henry Wilson
Publisher: Little Gestalten, Berlin, 2015
Review Copy provided by publisher.
The sky turns blue, but everyone is still asleep. The city belongs to me. I move around it as if it were my own body. Its streets are my veins, its roofs the convolutions of my brain. But for the first time, I walk my body as if it were that of a stranger. The sun crowns the horizon. It brushes the roofs and makes them shimmer with the touch of its caress.
I was initially daunted by this illustrated novel because of its thickness, but it actually proved to be a very quick read. This is more an illustrated novel than a graphic novel as there are no clearly-delineated panels, no distinctive frames (although there is sequential art that can be seen),
and there are no speech balloons to speak of. It is, I suppose, a niche of its own, with its lyrical text and borderline-abstract art that beg to be examined more closely. It is a gorgeously-illustrated novel.
In what may be gathered as a seemingly-futuristic universe, or a totally different world where darknesses seem to take a life of its own, there lived the Night Watchman whose main purpose in life is to ward off the ‘scaly shadows’ and protect the city’s inhabitants by keeping them tucked within the confines of this city haunted by the skitterings and scuttlings of the night’s creatures.
The story of the city is linked with the back story of the hero-turned-villain named The Vagabond who used to be the Lamp-man. It speaks of how easily people’s adoration and gratitude can turn to loathing and outright rejection depending on what would prove to be to their benefit.
The book explored betrayal in surreal text and rapid turnarounds with tastes of bitterness and a steadfast sense of duty. When I finished reading the book with its ending that raised more questions than answers, I knew I had to re-read it for me to appreciate its layered colours, its depiction of light and dark, and the boundaries between wreaking havoc and keeping the peace, no matter how illusory.