Demon, Volume 1 by Jason Shiga

Demon, Volume 1 by Jason Shiga

demonAn edgy, simply-drawn comic about a man who tries to commit suicide, but keeps waking up alive. There’s an unexpected twist and lots of blood.

In the author’s own words: “From the suicide depicted on the first page of the story to the climactic bloodbath three volumes later, Demon is my gleeful homage to the lurid and pulpy entertainment rags that make up the detritus of our childhoods.” From the foreword.

I see what he was trying to do. It just wasn’t for me.

For Jason Shiga, this was a very personal work: “Ultimately, Jimmy is me. When he leaps in front of a semi-trailer, it’s really me who secretly wants to do that. When he acts in a deliberately amoral and antisocial manner, that’s me, too.” From the foreword.

Shiga warns readers from the start that Demon is crass and graphically violent. And, it is.

Oh well. Next book!

Thanks for reading.

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Free Country: A Tale of The Children’s Crusade by Neil Gaiman

Free Country: A Tale of The Children’s Crusade by Neil Gaiman

freecountryA fantastic tale about two dead detectives, who are trying to solve a missing person case. It sounds macabre but it’s actually a fairy tale.

Neil Gaiman includes this in his introduction: “I asked Alisa Kwitney, who cowrote much of he second half of The Children’s Crusade, if there was anything she wanted me to point out and she said yes. I should tell people that in the double-page spread with the mermaids and the magic, she had instructed artist Peter Snejbjerg to draw a very young Nail Gaiman reading a book, oblivious to the wonders around him.”

I made sure to check on that page- and there he was. If you read this too, make sure to look for Neil in the full-page spread depicting Free Country.

The premise of this tale is like Peter Pan, but with a twist. There’s a land where children can live in peace and harmony and never grow old… but at what cost.

“Look at them, who call themselves adult- they eat, they work, they sleep. Their pleasures are gross and ugly, their lives are squalid and dark. They no longer feel, or hurt, or dream. And they hurt us. They say every adult has successfully killed at least one child, heh? Free Country is the refuge. In the past, it was the refuge only for the most fortunate of the few. But those days are ending. It will soon be the home of every living child.”

If I had known the catalog of Vertigo comics, I may have enjoyed this more. But, you don’t need to be an aficionado of comics to enjoy Free Country. It can be a stand-alone graphic novel with plenty of chills and thrills along the way.

It was for me.

Recommended for adults to like twisted tales with a fairy-tale flavor or for 16+ because of the potentially disturbing content.

Thanks for reading!

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

killingjokeI’ve decided to explore the world of superhero comics. First on my list, Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore.

The story opens on a dark and stormy night. We’re heading into Arkham Asylum with Batman. After passing a few famous inmates, we’re outside inmate #0801, Name Unknown’s cell.

A shadowy figure is playing solitaire within the barred room. It’s The Joker.

By far, one of the creepiest villains of the Batman pantheon.

“So when you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant train of thought, heading for the places in your past where the screaming is unbearable, remember there’s always madness. Madness is the emergency exit…”

He is mad, yes, but brilliant in his insanity. And, in that, is he so different from the rest of the human race?

“Faced with the inescapable fact that human existence is mad, random and pointless, one in eight of them crack up and go stark slavering buggo! Who can blame them? In a world as psychotic as this… any other response would be crazy!”

Recommended for the more mature graphic novel readers because of some disturbing content and images, Batman: The Killing Joke is no joke and one heck of a ride.

Watchmen, also by Alan Moore, is one of my all time favorite graphic novels, so I was expecting to enjoy this one. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, it’s another must-read for the graphic novel fan.

Thanks for reading!

The Lumberjanes, Vols. 2, 3 & 4 by Noelle Stevenson

The Lumberjanes, Vols. 2, 3 & 4 by Noelle Stevenson

Welcome to a special triple review at The Help Desk! Today, we’re looking at The Lumberjanes– a delightful series of graphic novels that is appropriate for ages 10 and up.

The Lumberjanes are a type of girl scout, but so much cooler.

Their camp is surrounded by menacing forest from which comes an abundance of magical monsters. With their courage, smarts and friendships, the Lumberjanes overcome all obstacles.

It is similar, in theme, to Gravity Falls and may greatly appeal to reluctant readers.

lumberjanes2Lumberjanes, Vol. 2: Friendship to the Max

Is there anything a Lumberjane can’t do? I don’t think so.

From monsters to mysteries to zombified boy scouts, the Lumberjanessaga continues in this fun graphic novel.

Friendship to the max!

If only I could convince my reluctant reader to give it a try… I think she’d love it. Highly recommended for everyone.

 

 

 

lumberjanes3Lumberjanes, Vol. 3: A Terrible Plan

This entry in the Lumberjanes series opens up with the classic setup of ghost stories being told around a campfire. The girls’ different personalities are highlighted in the stories they choose to tell.

Then, the camp has a free day where everyone can pick their own activity. Hijinks ensue.

Mal and Molly go on a picnic date in the woods and, in typical Lumberjane fashion, something totally unexpected happens.

“Molly, we are doomed. SO DOOMED. AN UNSCALABLE MOUNTAIN OF DOOMED.”

“Mal, come on. We’re gonna figure this out. It’s going to be fine…”

Are they doomed? Will April, Jo and Ripley be able to earn at least one badge before the day is up?

Read this book to find out!

Recommended for everyone.

lumberjanes4Lumberjanes, Vol. 4: Out of Time

Lumberjanes, Vol. 4 finally delivers a story line in which Jen gets a chance to shine. Yay, Jen!

We are also treated to a bit of background about Camp Lumberjane itself.

Also, the weather takes a turn as a winter blizzard appears out of nowhere… in the middle of summer.

Things are awfully weird around here. Good thing the Lumberjanes have each other.

Recommended for the adventurous reader and timid reader and everyone in-between.

Thanks for reading!

The Annotated Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman

The Annotated Sandman, Vol. 1  by Neil Gaiman

sandmanIn Sandman, a powerful group of mortals is trying to trap Death itself. Instead, they catch another important figure, the Lord of Dream. This volume details the Lord of Dream’s struggle to reassert his power after being locked away for so many years.

He’s lost his symbols of authority, which are literally pieces of his power. So, he needs to get those back.

Also, the denizens of the realm of Dream have gone off the rails since their lord has been missing. Some of these are nightmare creatures- fatal to humankind. This isn’t going to be simple.

Sandman, Vol. 1 was very dark. Neil Gaiman is known for his dark fantasy, but there are usually moments of light. In Neverwhere or The Ocean at the End of the Lane, there is darkness, but nothing like this.

Within these pages, there’s serial killers, child abusers, psychotic mental ward escapees, kidnapping rapists- one after another in a seemingly endless parade. It’s a lot to take.

I found I wasn’t a fan of the Lord of Dream himself. His immortal nature has made him unable to understand emotions or even desire to. I suspect that subsequent volumes deal with this exact issue. But, he’s rather unlikeable in Vol. 1.

I really disliked the way he treated women- in multiple relationships. The worst being Nada. Again, I’m guessing that this is a story of redemption. But in that one moment, no spoilers but readers know what I’m talking about… his behavior was unforgivable.

Honestly, I liked Watchmen more. So far. The characters in that tale weren’t necessarily likeable either. I suppose we’ll have to see how the story develops in the next volume.

Recommended for graphic novel readers who like their stories gothic, mythical and with a sprawling storyline.

Thanks for reading!

Nine Tenths: The Slider by Alex Anstey. Illustrated by Cory Godbey, Courtney Godbey Wise, Thomas Boatwright

Nine Tenths: The Slider  by Alex Anstey. Illustrated by Cory Godbey, Courtney Godbey Wise, Thomas Boatwright

nine tenthsNine Tenths: The Slider is a gorgeous graphic novel that introduces a world of archetypes and fantasy, where some of the forces that underlie nature have become unbalanced.

The panels are done primarily in greys, blues, and red. The overall effect is ethereal and dreamlike. I loved the artwork in this, especially the scenes of Lundon, the city of the dead and the gods in the introduction.

The characters are drawn beautifully as well. My favorites are the Dreads, hell hound creatures with elongated teeth, that sever the threads of life within souls. Excellent and very creepy.

Because this graphic novel is the first in a series, I felt like I didn’t get to enjoy all that much of the story before it was over. But, that’s nothing new. I seem to feel that way at the start of every series.

The world and main characters get their introductions then there isn’t time for much else. And this literally starts at the beginning of existence: “At the very beginning of time, long before there was an Earth or people to live upon it, there was only chaos… from chaos came life, and by consequence, death. Two natural forces through which all could be observed.” pgs 1-2

I’m always on the look out for age appropriate graphic novels for reluctant readers. Nine Tenths: The Slider has some violence in it so it may most appropriate for the 12-18 year old set.

The mythological setup and scope of the story are truly epic. It’s a shame that there haven’t been future entries in this series. Anyone who appreciates the intrinsic beauty of graphic novels will certainly find much to enjoy in this.

I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads.

Thanks for reading!

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke A. Allen

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke A. Allen

lumberjanesThe Lumberjanes is a group of girls, a mysterious forest, strange creatures, tunnels filled with living statues, river monsters and cookies!

I have high hopes that my reluctant reader child is going to love this if I can convince her to sit down and give it a try. One of her favorite television shows is Gravity Falls and this has a very similar vibe.

It is also a girl power book in that it showcases young women looking after and protecting themselves. A positive message, a fun story and cute graphics- I highly recommend it.

The highlights of this graphic novel are: the panel containing “the Kitten Holy” (Though she hasn’t read it yet, my child flipped through the book just to find it. Totally worth the “squee” she produced when she saw it.) and this joke, “Why are hipster yetis so odd? Because they can’t even.” pg 101. Hilarious.

Thank you to my friends for recommending this excellent graphic novel to me. You guys were right. It’s awesome.

And, thanks for reading!