Bevan


Bones of the Coast – Marie Does Book Reviews

Our horror anthology, Bones of the Coast, was reviewed by the blog “Marie Does Book Reviews“:

“Bones of the Coast is an awesome, scary, beautiful anthology and I have mixed feelings about it. Good mixed feelings! All of the stories contained inside are both interesting and, well, vaguely upsetting. Which was probably the point…. This anthology also serves to show that every visual and narrative style can be used to make a great story. From Kevin Forbes and Reetta Linjama’s classic storytelling in ‘The Logging Road’ to Sean Karemaker’s more stylistic approach in ‘The Ghosts We Know,’ all of these stories are not just effective at, well, telling a story, but also at conveying an atmosphere, which is what more than half of what horror is about in the end. It’s not what the story tells you, it’s what it makes you feel.

To read more, check out Marie’s review of Bones of the Coast: Tales of Terror of the Pacific Northwest.

 


In the Shadow of No Towers

Review by Matthew Nielsen

In the Shadow of No Towers by Art Spiegelman explores the thoughts and personal experiences of the artist during and after the September 11 attacks. He was there in New York City when it happened, and witnessed the damage and chaos that took place.

This is a pretty large book, about 26cm x 37cm (roughly 10 inches by 14.5 inches), and pretty thick despite having only 42 pages. This is because the pages are thick bits of card. This not only adds strength, but — because the book is mostly made up of double-page spreads — allows all the content to be viewed without a crease going through the middle of the artwork. These comics were originally published in a large newspaper format, which is why the book has been structured this way.

Spiegelman discusses so many serious things here, but a lot of the stories are drawn in the style of historical and classic American newspaper comics. There is a section discussing all the influences on this graphic novel, and even a series of pages showing primary source material that he was inspired by (for example, a Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strip).

In the Shadow of No Towers is a surprisingly short read, but that doesn’t make it any less intense. Definitely worth a look!


Exit Wounds

Review by Matthew Nielsen

Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan is set in Tel-Aviv, Israel, 2002 and follows the story of Koby, a taxi-driver living with his aunt and uncle. He hears news of a suicide bombing in a nearby town and that one of the victims is currently unidentified. This news is brought to him by Numi, a young woman doing her mandatory military service. We discover early in the story that Koby rarely meets or talks to his father, and that Numi is his father’s lover. The story’s journey forward is in trying to figure out whether or not Koby’s father died in that blast.

I will say that I did not like this book very much. This might be due to the overall feel of the book, especially the main character — a general sense of grumpiness, frustration, and even, at times, mean spirits. However, there are also lighter moments, and Modan is able to capture a great range of expressions with minimal amounts of lines.

The artwork consists of selective bold lines filled with block colours. There is next to no shading — no line art cross-hatching, cell-shading, or even gradients. However, the line art itself is sometimes different shades than just plain black, which does create some depth. The absence of shading makes it all feel a bit like looking at a diagram. In general I don’t like the style. Some elements of it appealing: everything is pretty clear and bold, and faces are surprisingly recognizable, but I love detail too much, so this is not my cup of tea.

It’s up to you. If the artwork appeals to you, and if you’re willing to give the grumpy world of Koby a chance, then Exit Wounds might be worth a look. But I didn’t really enjoy it myself.


Cloudscape Comics on Tabulit

We are happy to announce that Cloudscape is now on Tabulit! Tabulit is a digital agency that features a wide range of indie comics available to its subscribers. Mega Fauna  is currently available on the website, with more Cloudscape books to follow, and the site also features The Ghosts We Know, by Cloudscape contributor Sean Karemaker. To see all their available comics, visit the Tabulit website.


Bones of the Coast – Vancouver Is Awesome 2

The blog Vancouver Is Awesome has posted a review of our latest anthology: Bones of the Coast. Reviewer Bob Kronbauer:

“wound up being completely engaged from cover to cover, partly due to the great writing and eclectic styles of more than 20 artists, but because it really screams ‘British Columbia.’ From the Skytrain to BC Ferries to logging roads and the Sea to Sky Highway, the settings are all familiar. The subject matter as well; invasive species, camping, Japanese internment during WWII and more. It’s all wrapped into a horror theme so these somewhat inert subjects (aside from internment, which was actual horror) create worlds that we haven’t entirely inhabited but are still close to.”

To read more, check-out the full Bones of the Coast review.


Cartoon History of the Universe

Review by Matthew Nielsen

Larry Gonick has written numerous educational comic books, including The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry, The Cartoon Guide to Calculus, and even The Cartoon Guide to Sex. But this review focuses on his most famous work, the six-volume Cartoon History of the Universe.

To give an idea of the scale we’re dealing with, here’s a list of all the books in the series:

  • The Cartoon History of the United States (1987) – 400 pages
  • The Cartoon History of the Universe I (1991) – 368 pages
  • The Cartoon History of the Universe II (1994) – 320 pages
  • The Cartoon History of the Universe III (2002) – 320 pages
  • The Cartoon History of the Modern World (2007)272 pages
  • The Cartoon History of the Modern World II (2009)272 pages

So we’re dealing with well over 1900 pages here! I’ll talk about the History of the United States at the end, so starting off withThe Cartoon History of the Universe I, it does indeed provide a history of the universe, but only for one chapter. In fact, at about 50 pages in we’re even done with the dinosaurs, and now it’s on to ancient humankind. So… yeah, a lot is abridged. Even within the book, Larry Gonick (who features as the narrator) mentions how he wishes he could show more, but simply cannot due to time and space constraints. It is a shame though, because learning things can be so much more interesting when they are in comic format.

Anyhoo, the books move on. The way they’re set-up,  the Universe ends and the “Modern World” begins around the time that Columbus discovers America. Go figure. To be honest, the word “Modern” gets used in so many different ways by so many different people that it could easily be whatever you want it to be. Perhaps there was some kind of special publishing reason to change the title between books, but going from “Universe” to “Modern World” doesn’t feel that consistent. I’d prefer if they were all just titled Histories of the World I-V.

Still, Gonick gets the job done, and provide informative, oftentimes humorous, and certainly energetic history lessons, with important bits of information taken from all around the world. There is, of course, stuff missing, but for anyone interested in history in general, The Cartoon History is a great starting point. While I’m at it, I’ll also recommend Crash Course’s World History video series (available for free on YouTube).

As for the illustrations, Gonick’s style is pretty toony, and if you’re okay with that, then there’s not a problem. However, it does get quite messy at points, sometimes faces get oddly distorted, and occasionally the general style of the whole chapter seems to change. For example, in the first book the last chapter felt almost like someone else, not as skillful, had drawn it. Fortunately, the first chapter of the second book went back to normal. Aside from these occasional changes, the art style remains fairly consistent. Furthermore, whilst Gonick may draw toony people, he does a good job on the bits of detail that he chooses to highlights (for example, ancient statue designs).

You will also find footnotes throughout the book illustrated by extra large asterisks, and the bottom three panels or so of the pages often go into more illustrated details. These confused me at first, but quickly I got used to them. As for historical accuracy, I can’t say for sure, though with any historical writing  you’re bound to find the occasional thing that contradicts what other historians have said. You’d best use your best judgement and research to deal with that. All in all, I found these five history books incredibly enjoyable to read. Not only did I learn a great deal of world history, but I also had a lot of fun with the many jokes and curious cartoons. I personally always learn the best from comics, so this was a terrific resource.

To finish up, let’s quickly look at The Cartoon History of the United States. It was written before the other five history books, and it shows. Here Gonick’s art style is much messier and much more stylized. And despite there being more pages in this one book than in any individual books of the other five, there is less content, since there are often less panels on a page, more full-page illustrations. Gonick does go into a lot of detail about the US, but the art style has really put me off of this.

So that’s a full recommendation for The Cartoon History of the Universe I, II & II and The Cartoon History of the Modern World I & II. Due to the messy and art style, I do not recommend The Cartoon History of the United States as much. But it’s still useful historical information, so if you don’t mind the style, you might give that a look too.


Send Cloudscape your comic pitches!

Though we at Cloudscape are best known for our quality comic anthologies, in the last couple of years we have begun publishing the books of individual members, such as Kathleen Gros’ Last Night at Wyrmwood High, Steve LeCouilliard’s Una the Blade, and now Sean Karemaker’s Feast of Fields and Jason Turner’s Fur Valley. Now Cloudscape is  excited to open the door for general graphic novels submissions!

Do you have an idea for a new graphic novel in any genre? Or perhaps are you interested in publishing a compilation of your webcomic or even in editing a comic anthology of your own? We have the experience and resources to help make that happen. To learn more, check out Pitching a Comic to Cloudscape. We look forward to hearing from you.


Monsterella Kickstarter

Nevin Arnold is a Vancouver Island-based comic creator who illustrated the cover and one of the stories for Cloudscape’s award-winning Epic Canadiana #2. He is currently kickstarting his latest comic: Monsterella.

 Monsterella is an action/adventure/horror/sci-fi anthology inspired by spooky and action-packed magazines of the 1970’s like Vampirella, 2000 AD, Creepy, and Eerie.  This 40-page first issue revolves around the continuing adventures of Montrossa Rella, AKA “Monsterella,” the warden of an intergalactic prison planet where the galaxy’s worst of the worst monsters are imprisoned from the rest of the universe. All hell breaks loose when an unexpected revolt overthrows her, and threatens the safety of the entire galaxy!

To learn more, visit the Monsterella Kickstarter page.


Maus

Review by Matthew Nielsen

Maus by Art Spiegelman is among one of the most famous graphic novels of all time. Available in either two volumes (Maus I & Maus II) or as The Complete Maus, this book is truly something special.

This autobiography has Art Spiegelman’s father, Vladek, recounting the hardships he faced before and during the Holocaust of World War II. This is the central story, but what is also told is Spiegelman’s relationship with his father as he tries to get Vladek to recount all the events. The graphic novel actually starts with Spiegelman visiting his father’s house, sitting down and talking to him. Vladek narrates the story in his somewhat broken English, but when characters speak within that story, their speech is normal. As a result, we feel like we’re sitting with Spiegelman listening to Vladek tell his story. At the same time, we see Vladek’s tale very clearly, and are able to keep track of the simultaneous timelines with ease.

Reading this story feels more like hearing it. We hear Vladek describe the town he grew up in, the people he knew, the happy times he felt, and then the desperate and terrifying times — the brutal and unforgiving hatred that surrounded him and his peers. As you read, you often wonder “How on earth did Vladek survive this?” but of course you know he did because he’s there in the frame narrative telling the story. Yet the situations become so desperate and horrible you sometimes almost question them. If it were a fictional story, you might not let the writer get away with it, but because it is real, you can only nod your head and remember that real life can be truly monstrous.

In Maus all characters are depicted as certain animals. Jews are depicted as mice, Poles as pigs, Germans as cats, and so on. It is somewhat cartoony but at the same time the story remains very serious. This art decisions is the most curious thing about the book. If Maus were realistically and meticulously detailed, it would certainly read differently. I’m not sure if it would read better. Having the characters drawn this way makes it a little easier to deal with all the Nazis atrocities that happen within the story. These mouse-people look quite adorable, but then we see the kinds of things that happen to them and we experience a strange mix of emotions: sadness and terror mixed with a kind of surreal absurdity. We know they represent Jews, but if we were unaware of that, we would only see mouse-people stuck in seriously brutal situations. It’s quite peculiar, and yet surprisingly powerful.

World War II has countless stories, countless victims of a countless variety. Here is one story from one man, and it is a very potent one.


Poetry Book Launch, April 11th

On April 11th at 8:00 PM, naturalist and poet Ian Thomas is having the launch of his second book of nature poetry and photography at Cloudscape HQ. While his first book, Twa Corbies, focused on poems and images of ravens & crows, this second book will have a wider range of themes, though all still linked to his fascination with the natural world. The launch will include Ian delivering a dramatic reading from his work.