Saturday, March 29, 2008

De: Tales

De: Tales is the "first major American release" of Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, twins from Brazil who both write and draw; the art with a strictly black or white style, the writing neither black nor white. A reading of the available preview gives the impression that this is a rather surreal book. However, it is generally quite down to earth.

The stories are all about the brothers, who are central in the panel above, derived from experiences or imagination. Both take their turns drawing and writing. The result is not meant to flow as a single story. Instead, each is a separate, poignant exploration of some aspect of life.

This is not a book to be read in a single sitting. Sure, it is short enough to finish off all at once, but such a reading does not allow one time to digest each stand alone story. These ought to be digested. The book is packed with downright interesting stories told well. Also the art is quite nice.

A good number of the stories are... I guess I would say male oriented. That is, if the reader does not identify with male and particularly male situations, some of the enjoyment is lost. Though I found the stories intellectually interesting, they did not necessarily catch me emotionally.

(The image included with this post is copyright 2006 Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá. It is drawn by Gabriel Bá, so probably written by his brother but I'm not sure.)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Free Comic Book Day is coming


The offerings for this year's FCBD have been up for a bit now. Apparently this year everything must be all-ages, a designation distinctly different from for children. Basically, no nude Pablo Picasso just because it's true to life. (Or is it?) But give him some shorts and then it's fine even if the kids can't figure out why you would want to read it.

With something more like one book per publisher, a glance through the list gives a different picture of what's easy to get hold of than a glance through some of the more hole-in-the-wall shops. At least, so I hear. Mine local place actually has all sorts of variety.

The list does have plenty of what has become thought of as traditional comics fare. It also has a few of what is traditional if one is judging by the contents of the trunk at camp in the nurse's cabin (in which The Witching Hour was quite prominent.) Suspense, outright fantasy, and just plain fun stuff is there.

So, a quick glance makes me think these will be interesting to pick up:

The Stranded
Neotopia -- seems a bit long for a FCBD offering...
Ape Entertainment's Cartoon-apalooza
Del-Rey and Dabel Brothers Preview
Tiny Titans -- one superhero-y thing, perhaps
Gegika: a Drawn+Quarterly Manga Sampler
Graphic Classics -- adaptions of classic (you know, out of copyright) tales
I.G.N.A.T.Z.: International Graphic Novels at Their Zenith
Atomic Robo and Friends
Viper Comics Presents: Kid Houdini

Most of them previews, even, so you can go ahead and make your own list.

Maybe one day a little more science fiction can be had...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Come Saturday last week I found myself at the other art house theater of the same chain in town for the second of my French movie overload features. Seeing Persepolis, though, was a little more planned.

The movie was deliriously delightful and everything one might expect having read the comic. Well, maybe not quite everything. As it's a memoir, you wouldn't really expect the story to change here and there, but it has been in little ways. A movie has to trim here and there to fit into a usual movie running time. I also noticed a few memorable episodes essentially reduced to their punchline.

As always (nearly), the book is better, but it is still a wonderful romp. A good time at the movie house with plenty to think about after.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

French movie overload the week before last, at least compared to the number of movies I've been watching. Perhaps I shouldn't let it stew for a week... Oh well. The first was Le Scaphandre et le papillon.

This was the result of a, um, wild Tuesday out on the town going for noodles and standing outside one of our art house theaters thinking, "let's see a movie." I had never heard of any of the various foreign films up for Academy Awards that were playing except for the collection of animated shorts, but my companion had had a nagging feeling he wanted to see this one for a while. In the rough summary, this movie is an autobiographical piece about a man after he has suffered a stroke which has left him with locked-in syndrome.

The man is Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of Elle, and locked-in syndrome is where all the bits work except the connections between the thinking bits and the doing bits. The movie is told from the author's point of view and flows from lows in finding himself nearly entirely without movement to the highs of learning to live what life he still has. Glimpses of the active life before are interspersed with appreciating the environment that must now be examined.

The interactions with other people are the greatest import. The doctor's are only brief encounters, but the therapists start feeling that his condition is a great challenge professionally and proceed to appreciate him as a person. Although he is reluctant at first, his friends and children's mother insist on seeing him. Odd samples of the people he's known come to have their say. He eventually accepts to allow his children to come rather than hiding himself from them. Nearly too late, his girlfriend finally comes rather than hiding him from herself.

In a way, people were able to say their piece and forgive as many wish they had done when a friend or companion has died. A few unfortunates were unable to overcome the thought of always remembering him "like that" instead of as an active person able to easily express whatever joy he was feeling in the moment.

All that said, I was unsure how I felt about the movie when it finished and am still unsure. I didn't find it particularly powerful though it was well executed. My companion felt the life lived after the stroke was a bit wanting, but not any more so than the life before as presented. I've never quite figured out what he thinks is a life well lived as opposed to one that is not, but I suspect I disagree with it. That is no great surprise since this may be the one thing we as individuals agree on the least. The chance to sit back and really reflect on everything and maybe even put right a few things does have a certain appeal, though.