Eleanor Davis collection of graphic short stories, How to Be Happy, is a sometimes whimsical, sometimes heartbreaking, journey through some of the idiosyncrasies of our modern lives...Read More
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
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 timeRead More
Our relationship with alcohol goes back deep into our history as a species; many anthropologists speculate that the desire to create fermented beverages initiated the development of agriculture and the rise of civilization. In his book Proof : The Science of Booze, author Adam Rogers examines our relationship with alcohol from several varied perspectives. Domestication of yeast, developing the process of distillation, cultivation of fermentables, how we get drunk, and why we feel so bad the day after are all topics that Rogers examines in his book.Read More