Journalism

 

Review by Matthew Nielsen 

Journalism by Joe Sacco is another intense and shocking book by journalist-cartoonist Joe Sacco. It is a collection of true stories from around the world, including former Yugoslavia, Chechnya, Iraq, Malta, India and more.

One or two stories are in colour but the rest is in Sacco’s stunning black and white. His illustrations rarely have gradients and are instead cross-hatched and shaded through line art. The flow of the speech bubbles telling detailed stories, with artwork equally as detailed and full of all shades of life, makes for an amazing reading experience. The people we meet in Journalism and the self-analytical nature of Sacco’s writing bring many things to the reader’s attention about the world and, perhaps, about their own place in the world as well.

It is difficult for me to choose a definite favourite story as they are all fascinating. However one I’d like to briefly describe is one in which Sacco interviews various people in Malta regarding their views on the influx of numerous refugees and immigrants. As he is a Maltese-American as well as a determined journalist, Sacco is able to cover many points of view whilst asking various vital questions in order to present a wider picture of the situation. Not only does Sacco interview local Maltese but he also interviews refugees and immigrants, and we hear of the problems and concerns of all sides.

Some of these stories get very heavy, but so much of reality is heavy that truth should not be ignored purely because of its intensity. Perhaps this book sounds like your cup of tea? If not for the stories, then you should definitely check it out for the artwork. Some elements are stylized, some elements are more realistic, but either way, it’s quite incredible.

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The TradeWaiters 44: “Castle Waiting” Vol. 1 by Linda Medley

After much delay, we can finally bring you the first of our two episode series on Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting. The whole team reunites to do a close reading of this indy darling, which takes some familiar fairy tales in new directions. We’ll talk about story structure, sense of place, bearded nuns, and the Heroine’s Journey. Hashtag France is real.

Also mentioned in this episode:
Justice League America and Doom Patrol, also drawn by Linda Medley
O Human Star by Blue Delliquanti
Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales: Asia Edition edited by Kel McDonald
The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell
Sandman written by Neil Gaiman
The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold
Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography by Susan Cheever
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel produced by Amy Sherman-Palladino
It Came from Outer Space directed by Jack Arnold
Tiger Lung by Simon Roy
Sparks! by Ian Boothby and Nina Matsumoto
TCAF
VanCAF

Linda Medley’s Patreon page

And our own projects:
Phobos and Deimos by Jonathon Dalton
Crossroads by Jeff Ellis
kagcomix.com by kgros
Jam’s Tumblr
and Liquid Shell by Jess Pollard.

Music by Sleuth.

Our next episode will be on volume two of Castle Waiting by Linda Medley.

You can also follow the TradeWaiters on Tumblr, Soundcloud, Twitter, iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher.

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Ivy

Review by Matthew Nielsen

Ivy by Sarah Oleksyk is a story about a young woman in the last year of high school, college is coming and various challenges face her friendships old and new. I connected with the story in many ways, and empathized with many of the events described. Even the events I could not as easily relate to, I found quite interesting and wanted to see how it would all end.

It’s a believable story of conflicts between a parent and a child, as well as with old allies and and various unfair school staff. We can see many elements of frustration and where Ivy’s various emotions, including anger and infatuation, come from. Ivy has energetic moments, sad moments, and even intimate moments, and shows a journey of growth with elements of personal adventure and discovery.

However, there may be things some readers won’t be too keen on about the story. Upon discussion with others I’ve found that some people have have issues with  the artwork style of some of the character’s faces or moments where the reader loses faith in Ivy due to some of her judgments. Thus, I’m not quite sure on how to comment on this graphic novel from a general, critical point of view. I suppose it is a bit rough around the edges. Maybe the artwork could have done with more work or maybe the main character could have been more relatable to the reader. But from a personal point of view, I quite enjoyed it.

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Getting Your Bio on the Cloudscape Website

Hello, Everyone! We’d like to remind you that if you are a member of Cloudscape Comics (you’ve been in one of our books or have attended three meetings), we’d appreciate it if you made a profile for yourself, and list your webcomic (if applicable) on our website.

As you can see, we have a complete artists listing here: http://www.cloudscapecomics.com/artists and a complete webcomic listing here:   http://www.cloudscapecomics.com/comics. If you would like to add your profile and your webcomic to our site, check out the requirements and process at   http://www.cloudscapecomics.com/2015/11/25/revised-artist-bios-needed/

We recommend everyone do this, as it helps us get you work, and it allows people another avenue to discover your work.

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For the Love of God, Marie!

Review by Matthew Nielsen

For the Love of God, Marie! by Jade Sarson is the story of the life of Marie, a person full of love and unafraid to express it in her own way. However, the problems arise when her way of loving goes against the cultural standards of the time, thus leading to various struggles and conflicts.

The graphic novel starts in England in the 1960s. We are introduced to Marie and her rather Christian family. Marie attends a Catholic school where she meets various people who, compared to the school’s desired way of behaving and culture, are misfits. Marie connects with them, wanting to heal their pain the best way she knows how, through emotional and physical love. Throughout the story Sarson draws multiple detailed intimate scenes, unafraid to show what takes place in the characters’ private lives. Marie’s behaviour causes a great deal of discontent with her family as they gradually learn more and more about her lusty activities. The story takes place over the course of numerous decades, including the 70s and 80s, and onwards. We see many moments in Marie’s life, as well as the long relationship with her friend William (described on the back of the book as a ‘gay crossdresser’). There are many moments of joy, sadness, passion and anger throughout the comic.

With this graphic novel it is Sarson’s artwork which deserves the most praise. Her ability to capture animated, lively characters with strong individual expression and faces, as well as her keen use of colour and shading, is marvelous. The various chapters have different colour schemes with limited palettes, giving each its own feel and mood. There is also a good use of costume and theme, which  fit each era of both Marie’s life and the decade she is in.

However, what could have been done better in the story are some elements of the writing. A lot of the book focuses on various issues and challenges within the LGBTQ community through the ages, and the theme of intolerance against free love is prominent throughout. But I feel two things are not done quite accurately. Firstly, the level of intolerance featured in the book, especially for periods like the 1960s/70s UK, does not seem high enough. In fact a lot of people in the book seem surprisingly lenient and understanding for the period. Secondly, I feel there are many events that could have been expanded on. Certain moments in one’s life really require a great pause in the mainstream. A big event that rustles you, that changes you, should not be explained in the same number of panels as an everyday mundane event. The sheer emotional impact of key moments must be emphasized in order to promote empathy through correct pacing. If the character must spend a long time on one experience, so must the reader, and that was something that For the Love of God was sometimes lacking.

One last thing to note. The back of the book describes For the Love of God as “manga-inspired,” but that comparison sounds like it’s coming from someone who knows very little about manga and comics in general. This graphic novel is not manga-ish much at all but very much a different style.

In the end, For the Love of God, Marie! was a good read, and I thoroughly enjoyed the artwork. The story and characters were interesting, though I feel the book could have benefited from being 50%-100% longer in length. If the adventures of free love take your fancy, then you might want to check out this graphic novel.

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Cook Korean

Review by Matthew Nielsen

Cook Korean is a graphic novel cook book by Robin Ha, an artist who mixes Korean and American cultural influences. Speaking as someone who hasn’t read a cook book before (I suppose I’m not too keen on how most mainstream cook books look inside), I can say that I found Cook Korean to be both visually appealing and easy to follow. Robin Ha not only provides recipes, but also autobiographical short stories and facts about Korean people, food, and culture.

The recipes themselves are drawn and written out in a step-by-step way that are essentially comics without boxes. The artwork makes the ingredients look extra tasty, and all along the way we are guided by Robin Ha’s alter ego Dengki. I personally learn a lot better from comics than from standalone text or even from videos, so for me this was the perfect method for learning. However, even if you’re not all that interested in the recipes, the autobiographical stories and Korean culture segments are fascinating in their own right, and you might consider checking out this book for those elements alone.

I hope I can find more graphic novel cook books, and I look forward to exploring more of Robin Ha’s work. On top of that, I now have a collection of new meals to try out!

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Vancouver Sun writes about the Russian family featured in Cloudscape’s Comics in Transit

Image from Anna Bons’ “So We Ran”

The Vancouver Sun has published a great piece about the Mokhovikovas, a family of Russian refugees who were featured in “So We Ran,” Anna Bons’ contribution to our Comics in Transit series.

“Vancouver artist Anna Bron, who coincidentally is also Jewish and was born in Russia, was thrilled to create the Mokhovikovas’ comic, in part because it raises awareness of refugees coming from a variety of countries, not just the ones most frequently in headlines. ‘I knew this side of Russia existed and must still exist, but it really did surprise me to the extent (of the violence),’ said Bron. ‘They are very thankful to be here. And I don’t blame them, when you grow up in a country where you are suppressed.'”

To read more, go to  “Comic illustrates refugee family’s bleak arrival in Vancouver and hope for the future” at the Vancouver Sun website.

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Clumsy: A Novel

Review  by Matthew Nielsen

Clumsy: A Novel by Jeffery Brown is an autobiography about a long-distance romantic relationship between two young adults. It is told through simple and unrefined artwork – appearing more like doodles than what most would consider finished artwork. The same applies to the lettering, which can be hard to read sometimes. However, this approach also gives the art a charm, a sort of honesty and innocence.

Many of the events that take places in the story are ones that most couples can relate to and understand. Other events may not have been experienced by the reader but are still easily empathized with. The story all feels very real, and readers could easily form strong connections with the narrator and other characters .

If you do not mind the style, and if you are up for reading about the time a couple have had together, including the beginnings, middles, and ends of said relationship, then this book is likely to be to your liking. Overall, despite the unfinished art style, I still enjoyed reading it.

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Creators for Creators $30,000 Comics Grant

The goal of the Creators for Creators $30,000 grant is to support original comics work from new creators. Applicants must have never had solo work published by a third-party publisher. Self-published work is acceptable, as is participation in anthologies, just not any non-anthology industry publication is unacceptable. This is a great opportunity for any comic creators working on a long-form graphic novel, and who wishes to break into the industry or have the resources to complete their magnum opus. To learn more about this exciting grant, visit the Comics for Creators website.

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California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas

Review by Matthew Nielsen

California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas by Pénélope Bagieu is a compelling biography of singer/actress Cass Elliot drawn in energetic, honest and expressive pencils. This graphic novel details various key moments from the life of the famed performer who was once known as “Mama Cass.” Bagieu does a great job capturing singing through her artwork and lettering, though to maximize the reading experience, it would help to be familiar with at least the song the book is named after. Bagieu also has done an excellent job of not only presenting a concise and efficient storyline but also painting a very favourable portrait of Cass Elliot, to the point where a reader could very well strongly appreciate and admire the singer through the power of the graphic novel alone. Along with that, the proud and bold curved lines that form the illustration of Elliot do not hold back. The artwork, especially when depicting Elliot, is very impressive.

This is a good story, and an even better one if you have a passion for music, especially Cass Elliot and the Mamas & the Papas.

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