Wednesday, December 9, 2009


When I first started reading Cerebus, I though it was going to be like Don Quixote with an aardvark. It was more than a pleasant surprise to see that Cerebus is actually a skilled warrior.

The humor in the book is timeless and hilarious. Even in the early pages, I found myself laughing. Particularly on page 11, when the bartender gives in to serving Cerebus after he threatens him and Cerebus says, "I admire your cowardice, obese one." Because Cerebus' dialogue is over the top and he refers to himself in the third person, I often imagined that it is Cerebus, himself, narrating the story.

Although characters that have such an inflated ego usually annoy me, there is something lovable about Cerebus from the moment he graces the page. You really root for him to succeed.

The art has character but I wish it was in color. With such a humorous script, I wanted lots of color to go with it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


This has been one of my favorite reads of the semester. Petersen has created a vivid world in "Mouseguard" that feels concrete and real. Each mouse has a clear personality and look. We only see Conrad for a few pages, but I was deeply saddened by his death. It is through these characters, each with their own strong beliefs, that carries the story and make a somewhat old plot original and interesting. Saxon stood out to me, in particular. His fearlessness and bravery defies the usual stereotype of a small mouse.

The one mouse that I did want more from was Midnight, the villain. The rest of the mice were so interesting, that he kind of fell flat even though before his reveal he seemed so mysterious.

The art fantastic and perfect for the story. Petersen has not only captured great emotion in the expressions of the mice but his action scenes and scenery is also extremely impressive. The snake fight had me on the edge of my seat. I literally gasped when Lieam was caught in the serpent's mouth.

All in all, Mouseguard is a fun, enjoyable read with lovely characters and beautiful art.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Charlie Patton

Unlike Yoshihiro Tastumi, who spent 800+ pages writing about a type of art as well as the tale of one person's life, R. Crumb fits a brief history of Jazz and the life of Charlie Patton all into 12 pages. And my main complaint is that this story does feel cramped.
R. Crumb tells this story mostly through narrative, with pictures to go along with the paragraphs. It is an overview, not an in depth day-to-day tale of Patton's life. I, personally, would have wanted a few of the scenes to be more detailed with more dialogue - as if we were living it with Patton. I would have particularly liked to see the scene where his father gives him the guitar, one of the fights with Bertha Lee, and a performance in this style.
Because there is hardly any dialogue and R. Crumb tells the story in such an objective, facts only, style, the reader doesn't really get a real feel for who Charlie Patton is as a person. The images are compelling, especially panel four page six where he is hitting a woman on the head with a guitar (looks violent and sexual at the same time) and the second to last panel on page 12, where you really can see the change in Patton's appearance and the fear he has of being to close to death.
Still, R. Crumb's artistic style and provocative images will keep this story in my mind long after I have finished writing this blog.

A Drifting Life

As a history of manga, A Drifting Life, is concise and more interesting than a text book. But as something to read for pleasure it's about 400 pages too long. I got through the first 100 pages pretty quickly but after that I found myself... well, drifting.
Starting around page 201, with the chapter Road to Success, a pattern sets in that repeats for the rest of the story. The protagonist, Hiroshi, has to make a decision between two avenues to move forward as a manga artist. In Road to Success, it's whether to try for art school or apprentice under Ooshiro Sensei like he promised. He always turns to his brother for advice (pg. 207), then argues with him, but then ultimately comes to a decision. This decision usually leads to some initial success before things start to go wrong and the pattern begins again.
My main complaint about this memoir is that Hiroshi is not very captivating as a main character. He often blends in with the other characters that he works with at Hinomaru. He seems to never make any real mistakes, runs away from confrontation, and only talks about manga as an abstract idea not any in depth details of his own stories.
But what Tatsumi does a great job of is showing the difficulties of being a writer/artist in a professional capacity. Hiroshi's story really shows how hard it is to stay creative and put out your best work on a deadline. How you can be so passionate about something but become distracted so easily (The manga camp in Tokyo is a great example of this).
Tatsumi's art style fits the narration. A Drifting Life reminded me a lot of blankets, not only because they are both memoirs, but because the art style is like a voice itself. It has personality and adds another angle to the character.