Looking for new graphic novels to read? Venture out of your comfort zone and check out four amazing reads, three of which I picked out for our current theme, Literatura Europa.
Written and illustrated by Tom Gauld
Published by Drawn & Quarterly (2012)
Copy provided by Medina County District Library.
Summary on Goodreads: Goliath of Gath isn’t much of a fighter. Given half a choice, he would pick admin work over patrolling in a heartbeat, to say nothing of his distaste for engaging in combat. Nonetheless, at the behest of the king, he finds himself issuing a twice-daily challenge to the Israelites: “Choose a man. Let him come to me that we may fight. If he be able to kill me then we shall be your servants. But if I kill him, then you shall be our servants.” Day after day he reluctantly repeats his speech, and the isolation of this duty gives him the chance to banter with his shield-bearer and reflect on the beauty of his surroundings.
My thoughts on the book: This graphic novel was written in the perspective of Goliath and offers readers a different side to the story that most people are familiar with. Tom Gauld’s art is minimalist in style and the sparse text makes the book a quick read. I liked Tom Gauld’s writing after reading his other graphic novel, Mooncop.
About the artist: Tom Gauld grew up in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He studied illustration at Edinburgh College of Art and the Royal College of Art. Since 2005 he has created a weekly cartoon for The Guardian newspaper. He also illustrates for The New Yorker, The New York Times, and New Scientist. He lives in London with his family.
Written and illustrated by Guy Delisle
Translated from the French by Helge Dascher
Published by Drawn & Quarterly (2017)
Copy provided by Hudson Library & Historical Society.
Summary on Goodreads: In the middle of the night in 1997, Doctors Without Borders administrator Christophe André was kidnapped by armed men and taken away to an unknown destination in the Caucasus region. For three months, André was kept handcuffed in solitary confinement, with little to survive on and almost no contact with the outside world. Close to twenty years later, award-winning cartoonist Guy Delisle (Pyongyang, Jerusalem, Shenzhen, Burma Chronicles) recounts André’s harrowing experience in Hostage, a book that attests to the power of one man’s determination in the face of a hopeless situation.
My thoughts on the book: I have a fondness for minimalism, and it is one of the reasons why I liked this book. This graphic memoir gave me a glimpse of Christophe André’s torment while being held hostage by a group of armed men. The book not only depicted this terrible event in André’s life but also showed how he as a captive tried to cling to hope and found ways to keep his wits about him.
About the artist: Born in Québec City, Canada, in 1966, Guy Delisle spent ten years working in animation, which allowed him to learn about movement and drawing. He is best known for his travelogues about life in faraway countries, Burma Chronicles, Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City, Pyongyang, and Shenzhen. In 2012, Guy Delisle was awarded the Prize for Best Album for the French edition of Jerusalem at the Angoulême International Comics Festival. He now lives in the south of France with his wife and two children.
Blue Pills (Pilules Bleues)
Written and illustrated by Frederik Peeters
Translated from the French by Anjali Singh
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2008)
Copy provided by Euclid Public Library.
Summary on Goodreads: From one of Europe’s most celebrated young comics artists, a deeply personal story that will resonate with all who have chosen to love in the face of great challenges. One summer night at a house party, Fred met Cati. Though they barely spoke, he vividly remembered her gracefulness and abandon. They meet again years later, and this time their connection is instantaneous. But when things become serious, a nervous Cati tells him that she and her three-year-old son are both HIV positive. With great beauty and economy, Peeters traces the development of their intimacy and their revelatory relationship with a doctor whose affection and frankness allow them to fully realize their passionate connection.
My thoughts on the book: Blue Pills is another graphic memoir worth looking into. Despite the average rating on Goodreads, I enjoyed reading this book. If anyone would ask what my favorite parts are, I would be quoting it liberally. It’s very poignant, and it handled a delicate subject beautifully, without undermining the reality that surrounds it.
About the artist: Frederik Peeters is an acclaimed comics artist. Blue Pills won the Premios La Cárcel de Papel in Spain for Best Foreign Comic, and was awarded the Polish Jury Prize at Angoulême, the prestigious French comics festival, where it was also nominated for Best Book. Blue Pills is his first book to be translated into English. Peeters currently lives with his girlfriend, her son, and their young daughter in Geneva.
The Rabbi’s Cat (Le Chat du Rabbin)
Written and illustrated by Joann Sfar
Translated from the French by Alexis Siegel and Anjali Singh
Published by Pantheon Books (2005)
Copy provided by Wayne County Public Library.
Summary on Goodreads: In Algeria in the 1930s, a cat belonging to a widowed rabbi and his beautiful daughter, Zlabya, eats the family parrot and gains the ability to speak. To his master’s consternation, the cat immediately begins to tell lies (the first being that he didn’t eat the parrot). The rabbi vows to educate him in the ways of the Torah, while the cat insists on studying the kabbalah and having a Bar Mitzvah. They consult the rabbi’s rabbi, who maintains that a cat can’t be Jewish — but the cat, as always, knows better.
My thoughts on the book: I didn’t think I would like this book, but I’m glad I continued reading and found it to be quite an entertaining read. You can say I am partial because I like cats (even though I am allergic – Alas!). I was not a fan of the font style used but I managed just fine. This graphic novel has the right mix of humor, religion, spirituality, and philosophy.
About the artist: Considered one of the brightest and most talented of the younger generation of French comic artists, Joann Sfar has written or collaborated on more than 100 books for adults and children. In the United States, he’s best known for his children’s books, Little Vampire Goes to School, which made the New York Times bestseller list. Sfar was awarded the prestigious Jury Prize for The Rabbi’s Cat. He lives in Paris with his wife, two children, and the model for the rabbi’s cat.