In Review - Black Hole

There have been many novels, graphic or otherwise, about the feelings of isolation and rejection that most of us experience during high school.  But few have handled this type of story with the such a skillful and grotesque treatment.  In Black Hole, a new disease has emerged among the teenagers in a 1970's Seattle suburb.  A disease that is passed through sexual contact and leads to monstrous changes in those infected.  The story that unfolds is not a quest to cure "The Bug" or even to understand it.  Instead, Charles Burns presents the story of five teenagers, some who are infected and some who aren't (yet).  As we follow these characters, we see a drama of love, rejection, and acceptance.  


Burns's art tends towards a stark black and white, with spare use of hatching to convey a sense of volume in his subjects.  This art style lends itself well to the story the Burns is telling.  His world is dark and scary, full of doubts.  Burns harnesses his high contrast art style to great effect for a number of scenes that involve dreams and hallucinations.  In these scenes, the dark inking vastly overwhelms the white space, highlighting the confusion of the characters.


Although there are some fantastical elements to the story, Black Hole is fundamentally about the struggles that the characters face. This, I feel, is one of the ultimate strengths of both Science Fiction and Fantasy. As discussed in above, Burns also uses dreams and drug induced visions frequently in the story.  These narrative methods are used effectively for foreshadowing and examining inner conflict within the characters.  Without spoiling it, the end of the story is rather grim for most of the main characters.  

To summarize, Burns has produced a very compelling graphic novel.  The dark nature of the story can make it somewhat difficult to read, and it may not have been the sort of novel that I would have selected to read on my own.  However, I think Black Hole has a merit beyond mere entertainment and moves into the realm of literature.

Overall: 3.5 / 5


In Review - Poorcraft: Wish You Were Here

The sequel (of sorts) to the original Poorcraft graphic novel, Poorcraft: Wish You Were Here covers how to have a vacation when you don't want to spend a lot of money. The content of the story is again presented by Penny (with help from Nickle) to her friend Mil.  This time, Penny and Mil have planned a vacation together.  But trouble is brewing from the start when Mil struggles to carry in her bags.  From this point on, Penny presents Mil with plentiful advice about vacation and travel on a budget, while still having loads of fun.


Diana Nock returns to illustrate this sequel, and the art is similarly humorous in the comedic sections and more clear cut in the informative sections.


Similar to the original, Poorcraft: Wish You Were Here has a simple plot that serves the purpose of introducing the key learning concepts.  In this case, Ryan Estrade presents guidance for everything from packing and transport, to how to find safe, comfortable, and affordable accommodation, to how to have all sorts of fun while you are away from home without getting suckered by exploitative tour organizers.  Estrada does a good job in continuing the conversational style set by the original Poorcraft.  


Poorcraft: Wish You Were Here lives up well to the precedent set by the original.  If you ever travel anywhere, and I know that most of us do, you should definitely pick up this book, once it is available to the wider public (I backed the Kickstarter, and so have earlier access to it).  Keep an eye out at Iron Circus Studios for Wish You Were Here to go on sale.  

In Review - Poorcraft

In Review - Poorcraft

Poorcraft is the comic about living well on the cheap.  It discusses a variety of topics, including housing, food, fashion, health, transport, entertainment, and education.  Poorcraft also includes sections discussing what to do when things go wrong.  The book presents all of this advice through the friendly and knowledgeable Penny and her struggling neighbor Mil.   Penny helps Mil to cut our her unnecessary expenses so that she can enjoy her life more while living within her means.  As the story progresses, Mil learns the skills that she needs to pay down her debt, save for the future, and live well.  All at the same time

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Conversations with IrishPride Episode 24

Hello everybody and welcome to a long overdue episode of Conversations with IrishPride.  Today I am actually going to give a quick book review.  That's right, an actual real life book.  Well, technically, it was an electronic book on my Kindle app, but a book nonetheless!  Believe it or not, I do read when I get the opportunity to.  So without further ado, I give you my quick review of Ernest Cline's novel, Ready Player One.
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Handcrafted Silmarillion

Browsing through the latest Hobbit news, I discovered this little gem.  An art student from Germany has handcrafted a version of The Silmarillion in the style of the medieval illuminated manuscript.  The illustrations and craftsmanship are amazing.  This book is truly one of a kind.