Review: The Rabbi’s Cat

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I’m not a fan of religion as a topic, and despite the accolades this graphic novel had received, I wasn’t exactly rushing to the bookstore to grab a copy. But I’m glad I did, because it really delivers on all levels.

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Joann Sfar’s art took a while for me to warm up to, but on every page there’s something new – a detail, a sight gag, a different technique – that proves he’s an illustrator at the top of his game. And the story…wow. It’s poignant, charming, funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and meaningful. Sfar uses the characters of an old Rabbi in Algeria, his daughter, and his cat (who gains the gift of speech after eating the Rabbi’s parrot) to masterfully ruminate on the nature of religion and Judaism, human nature, philosophy, and relationships. And just when you think that the subject may be getting a bit too deep or heady, he very naturally and organically interjects subtle humor into the narrative.

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Through the pages of this book, I traveled to Algeria and Paris in the 1930s, saw human foibles through the eyes of a smart-ass cat, and fell in love with the central characters. A truly fantastic work of sequential art and storytelling. I just got the sequel to this book, and I’m looking forward to reading it as well.

(This review originally appeared on my Ferret Press blog, August 5th, 2011 )

Indie Cover Spotlight: Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales of The Here and Now #5

While originally slated to adapt just one of Cory’s short stories for this IDW mini-series, I ended up getting a third issue due to IDW Editor in Chief Chris Ryall’s busy schedule (he had planned on adapting this story himself). So issue #5 became mine, adapting “I,Robot” (Cory’s version, not Asimov’s)

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As per the previous issue, this one featured another top talent doing the cover: Ashley Wood. Interior art was by Erich Owen, and it shipped in February, 2008.

Review – Dracula: A Symphony in Moonlight and Nightmares

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Jon J. Muth, one of my favorite artists, takes a shot at capturing the tone of the Dracula novel in a 48-page graphic novel. As you can well imagine, this isn’t a straight-up adaptation, not even an abridged one. It’s more of a “reimagining,” with liberties taken with characters and plot. And actually, it’s not exactly accurate to describe it as a graphic novel, as the presentation is more of a collage of writing and art. But most of the story elements are there, and the gothic tone is richly captured by Muth’s artwork.

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The story is told through various devices: excerpts of ship logs, diaries, traditional prose, conversations, and even a movie script. The evocative artwork, beautifully painted in watercolor as always by Muth, is sometimes in the form of a full page illustration, other times as a collage, or even pseudo comic book sequentials. The overall effect is a wholly unique book that is light on narrative, but heavy on atmosphere and emotion, which I found befitting the material. If you’re a die-hard fan of the Bram Stoker novel and don’t like reinterpretations, you may want to skip this book. But if you’d like to see a consummate professional flex not just his artistic skills, but his writing and design muscles as well, or are just a fan of Muth in general, this is a great book to track down. It’s a quick read, but you can spend hours looking over the beautiful artwork. I found it to be a worthy experiment from a fantastic artist, and would definitely recommend it.

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Originally published in 1988 by Marvel Comics (#26 in their line of oversized graphic novels), Muth’s Dracula was was later reprinted by NBM in 1993 and is easy to find.

(This post first appeared on my Ferret Press blog September 5th, 2011)

Indie Cover Spotlight: Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales of The Here and Now #3

After turning in the script for issue #1 (Anda’s Game), IDW liked my work enough to offered me another one of Cory’s short stories: Craphound.

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This time, one of my all-time favorite creators was on cover duty: Paul Pope.

Paul Friggin’ Pope, covering my second ever paying gig. The book shipped in December, 2007, which made it a great Christmas present for me.

And the interior art was by British artist Paul McCaffrey, which was a joy to behold:

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Next: I,Robot.

Indie Cover Spotlight: Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales of The Here and Now #1

In honor of my own birthday, I’m going to be completely self-serving by spotlighting my own comics all week on ICS, specifically my first professional paying gig: the IDW adaptation of Cory Doctorow’s short stories in comic book form.

After the publication of my Lifelike graphic novel, Chris Ryall at IDW called me up and asked if I would be interested in adapting Doctorow’s short story “Anda’s Game” for their new limited series. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity! Imagine my delight when I found out that the cover to the first issue was by none other than the great Sam Kieth:

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The book came out in 2007, and featured interior art by Esteve Polls. I had a chance to communicate with Cory via email and ask him a few questions about what he considered the emotional beats of the story, since there’s always some amount of cutting that needs to happen when adapting prose into comics. He was very gracious with his time, and even more accommodating by telling me that he wanted me to put my mark on the adaptation, and not follow any instructions from him. When the book came out, he was equally pleasant in his positive review of it.

Next: Craphound.

Indie Cover Spotlight: The A1 True Life Bikini Confidential #1

And now we reach our last spotlighted Atomeka Press book for this week, the improbably named 1990 anthology one-shot, The A1 True Life Bikini Confidential, with a cover by Adam Hughes:

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As with all of Atomeka’s other anthologies, this one was just jam packed with name creators: Michael T. Gilbert, Brian Bolland, Alan Martin, Jamie Hewlett, Bob Burden, Melinda Gebbie, Alan Davis, John Bolton, Pete Milligan, and more.

Oh, and Alan Moore.