So, I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels lately. I feel like Los Angeles is a comic book, filled with bright visuals, meandering plot lines, and strange characters. This is not a “texty” town; if you can’t describe it in a visual, it pretty much doesn’t exist. It’s impossible to read serious fiction in this city; trust me, I’ve tried. But the Russia of War and Peace seems so cold and wintry compared to the palm trees outside my window.
And reading graphic novels has helped somewhat with my storyboarding and directing skills. How do good authors make a comic book interesting? What tools do they use to tell a story? What are the stunning visuals that will keep my eyes glued?
Here are three recent ones I really like:
This quiet tale of a turtle named Chunky Rice leaving home and friends had a special resonance for me. Thompson is a gifted artist and designer whose images, perhaps as much as his words, stayed with me long after I put down this book. The book is funny, cute, layered in meaning, and a rich evocation of nostalgia.
A story about an architecture professor, Asterios, whose self-obsession practically destroys him, I read this book in one particularly long stretch at the bookstore. Besides a break to move to the café when the security guard got too friendly, I really couldn’t put it down. You care about Asterios even though you don’t want to; he’s a mean, careless jerk who leaves people in his wake, yet his struggle is also endearing in its poignancy (and relevance for me at least). The story’s many directions, whether a lost-twin, a second-life, and a couple of hundred pages on architectural theory, don’t detract from the story’s main focus; how do you deal with the world when you are no longer the focus?
The Contract with God Trilogy
I walked by this book everyday in college; one of my friends left it out on a table in the dorm. Almost every day, I would read a couple pages and then put it down. Yet the story, about Jewish immigrants making a life at this mythical address: 55 Dropsie Avenue in the Bronx, interested me and when I tracked this down in the library, I had to read it. Eisner has a gift with characterization. Everyone at Dropsie, rich, smart, pretty, poor or in-between, becomes tragic characters. If there ever was a book about the human condition, and really, how life is terrible sometimes but we endure it anyway, then this is it. Definitely worth a read.
What graphic novels do you like? I am so ready for suggestions right now…