Graphic Novels from Bongiovanni & Jimerson, Gatiss & Co., Tardi, plus Political Primers | Xpress Reviews

A fun graphic novel providing simple, informative explanations of they/them pronoun; Holmes and Watson solve a series of cases sent to them via a blocked number on a smartphone; Tardi offers a deeply personal retelling of his father’s harrowing incarceration in a German prisoner of war camp; Wilson uses the graphic medium to apply the political theories of renowned scholar Chomsky; an excellent overview of Marxism
Week ending July 13, 2018 Bongiovanni, Archie (text & illus.) & Tristan Jimerson (text). A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns. Limerence: Oni. Jun. 2018. 64p. ISBN 9781620104996. pap. $7.99. GENDER STUDIES/ED/COMICS Best friends Bongiovanni (Out of Hollow Water), a genderqueer artist who identifies as nonbinary, and Jimerson (Creativity magazine; The Egoist), who identifies as a cisgender male, collaborate on this fun graphic novel providing simple, informative explanations of they/them pronouns, including what they are and how to use them. This compact guide packs in a lot of detail. In addition to supplying best practices for allies, situational examples illustrate what it’s like to be misgendered and how that feels to someone who identifies as nonbinary. Handy scripts included as back matter offer tips for what to do when you misgender someone, while reference charts define the differences between gendered and nongendered terms. Overall, this book does a fabulous job of making every scenario relatable, with the creators’ witty, graphic banter inviting those who identify both inside and outside of the binary to learn something new. Verdict Full of necessary and relevant information but also accessible and nonjudgmental. Recommended for all readers. [Previewed in Jody Osicki’s “Graphically Speaking,” LJ 6/15/18.—Ed.]—Traci Glass, Multnomah Cty. Lib., Portland, OR Gatiss, Mark & Steven Moffat (text) & Jay. & Amoona Saohin (illus.). Sherlock: The Great Game. Titan Comics. May 2018. 224p. tr. from Japanese. ISBN 9781785859168. pap. $12.99; ebk. ISBN 9781785859571. GRAPHIC NOVELS Set in modern-day Britain, this third manga adaptation of the popular BBC series of the same name (after Sherlock: A Study in Pink and Sherlock: The Blind Banker), from writer Gatiss (Doctor Who; Sherlock), artist Jay. (A Study in Pink), and letterer Saohin, sees the Great Detective and John Watson solving a series of cases sent to them via a blocked number on a smartphone. With Sherlock, as maddeningly aloof as in the original mysteries, and John attempting to rescue hostages through an adept study of peculiar clues, Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock’s brother, thickens the story line with the case of a suicide and a missing flash drive filled with defense plans. This title works as a stand-alone, bearing a loose arc that connects to the series’ previous entries, and is closely aligned with the corresponding TV episode, featuring appealing manga-style artwork. Verdict An excellent option for lovers of the show and a solid read for graphic novel fans for its pacing and cliff-hanger episodes.—Vi Ha, Los Angeles P.L. starred review starTardi, Jacques. I, Rene Tardi, Prisoner of War in Stalag IIB. Fantagraphics. Jul. 2018. 184p. tr. from French by Jenna Allen. ISBN 9781683961086. $29.99. BIOG/HIST French cartoonist Tardi, widely acclaimed for his meticulously researched graphic depictions of World War I (It Was the War of the Trenches and Goddamn This War!), here turns his attention to World War II, with a deeply personal retelling of his father’s harrowing incarceration in a German prisoner of war camp. Originally published in France in 2012, this volume follows tank driver René Tardi from his capture only 12 days into Germany’s invasion of France until his release from Stalag IIB nearly five years later. Adapted from notebooks René kept in the final years of his life, this account is similar to Art Spiegelman’s Maus in that the story unfolds as a conversation between father and son, except here the artist adopts the deliberately jarring convention of inserting himself into the scenes as a young boy, invisible to the other characters. The text and artwork are equally unflinching in their portrayal of wartime violence and degradation, made all the more effective for their authenticity. Verdict Certain to be as highly regarded as the author’s earlier work, I, Rene Tardi will be of great interest to teens, adults, and educators. Highly recommended.—Michael Dudley, Univ. of Winnipeg Lib., Man.
POWERFUL POLITICAL PRIMERS Chomsky, Noam & Jeffrey Wilson (text) & Eliseu Gouveia & Jay Jacot (illus.). The Instinct for Cooperation: A Graphic Novel Conversation with Noam Chomsky. Seven Stories. Jun. 2018. 112p. notes. ISBN 9781609808167. pap. $13.95; ebk. ISBN 9781609808174. POL SCI In this effective example of praxis, debut author Wilson uses the graphic medium to apply the political theories of renowned scholar Chomsky (b. 1928) to resistance efforts such as the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement and the public opposition to banning Mexican American studies at schools in Tucson, AZ. This approach allows Wilson the flexibility to include himself as a character, to place readers at his side during his interviews with Chomsky, and to present illustrative stories from Occupy, Tucson, and other examples rather than limit them to footnotes. Aided by Gouveia’s (Stargate Universe) clearly delineated black-and-white artwork, the narrative distinctly puts forth Chomsky’s analyses and makes the true stories at hand resonant, keeping the whole from becoming convoluted or precious. Suitable for all readers; no objectionable content but plenty disturbing nevertheless. Verdict Open-minded Chomsky fans and academically and politically inclined readers alike will be intrigued by this accomplished explication of his ideas and fine introduction to the same. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Jody Osicki’s “Graphically Speaking,” LJ 6/15/18.—Ed.]—J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB starred review starMarx, Karl & Friedrich Engels (text) & Martin Rowson (illus.). The Communist Manifesto. SelfMadeHero: Abrams. May 2018. 80p. ISBN 9781910593493. pap. $19.99. POL SCI Released in time for German philosopher Marx’s 200th birthday, Rowson’s (Tristram Shandy; The Wasteland) graphic novel adaptation of this classic revolutionary work, cowritten with theorist Engels, offers a visually powerful introduction to Marxist thought. Renowned for his scathing political satire, Rowson presents passages from the Manifesto as a series of monologs by Marx himself, depicting each of the book’s four sections in different visual scenarios. For example, descriptions of the bourgeoisie are underscored by scenes of apocalyptic violence as a gigantic top-hatted robot personifying capitalism chews up hundreds of people; as a nightclub comedian, Marx responds to anticipated criticisms of communism before an audience of ghoulish capitalists; and the authors’ typology of socialism is presented as a narrative-free montage of statues. The startling illustrations—exhaustively rendered crosshatching that recalls Hieronymus Bosch—complements the original text and merits dedicated attention from readers to appreciate fully its brutal details. Verdict An excellent overview of Marxism, a brilliant critique of capitalism, and a fine example of political cartooning that will be of interest to high school and university audiences. Highly recommended.—Michael Dudley, Univ. of Winnipeg Lib., Man.

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