Thursday, January 13, 2011

Current reads.

Mat Johnson, writer, and Warren Pieece, illustrator

As one of my online friends passionately filmed a civil rights documentary, I felt his voice in my head saying, "hey, this looks interesting! you should read it!". It's a story about a daring young reporter that investigates lynchings and white supremacy groups in the south. He is black, but has light enough skin to pass for white, hence "incognegro". He's about to get out of the game as, so often it happens, one last crucial job presents itself. The rest is a fantastic, twisty mystery. I find it funny how I keep talking about graphic novels so casually; there are much better-written reviews out there, with more research and knowledge involved. All I can personally say is what I find and enjoy, I suppose! Anyway, I did enjoy this one. The art is a stark, classic black-and-white (no pun intended). It feels old, in a satisfying way. For me, the whole work went down smooth, like a good beer. Though black history in America is often a tough thing to digest for otherwise complacent ethnic groups - like me and my white heritage - I'd recommend this. It's not "preachy" or over the top; just tells it like it is.

Tove Jansson

And, just for contrast, there's Moomin! If you know Finland, you know Moomin. He's so well-known, he's featured in postage stamps, commemorative coins, and his own theme park! These books are volumes of the three-frame daily strip kind of format. I didn't know exactly what to expect... but the best way to describe Moomin is this: think back to an eight-year-old you, sitting around a campfire with a group of friends. You start telling a story, a sentence at a time, passed from child to child. That's how Moomin's adventures go. There will be a general story arc, but within it, there are all kinds of rigamaroles and new characters and hijinks. A flood! Pirates! Love interest! Etc. Something to know, too, is that you have to put on kind of a Hergé Hat when you read this... characters like Snorkmaiden and Mymble strike me as scheming, materialistic damsel types. Naïve, let's call it. I find my impressions of the female characters even weirder since learning that Tove Jansson was a woman, and even had a female partner. Anyway, these are fun to read, bizarre misogyny aside!

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