I’ve read a bunch of graphic stories over the last month or two. Some are part of a series, some are stand alone. I enjoyed them all. Here’s the mini skinny on them.

Eartha

Eartha by Cathy Malkasian. For thousands of years Echo Fjord has been accepting the unfinished dreams from the City Across the Sea. You see, the City is too crowded and the people too busy to dream from start to finish, so the dreams go to Echo Fjord where the people there guide them to their completion. But the dreams have stopped coming. Old Lloyd sends Eartha on a mission to the City to find him some “smoke sticks” or he will die. It is all a ruse, but Eartha, a gentle giant of a soul, doesn’t know this.

She travels across the sea and discovers the dreams are no longer coming because the people are no longer sleeping because of a fear of missing out on the news. They trade all of their belongings for biscuits that have the tragic news of the day printed on them. Eartha discovers the biscuits aren’t at all what they seem to be. She saves the city and restores the dreams.

The story is charming and has a moral that is obvious but not so obvious that it ruins the story. I guess you could call it a parable of sorts. Eartha is like her name — earthy and large. She seems to be able to carry every load and absorb every blow. She is larger than everyone else in Echo Fjord, a place where everyone but Eartha looks kind of like gnomes. Yet she was born and raised there, though it turns out she has a sort of connection to the City Across the Sea.

It’s an unusual story and I both liked and disliked it. The beautiful art certainly helped tip it more toward the like side.

The Facts of Life by Paula Knight. This one is a graphic memoir detailing Knight’s attempt to have a baby and her ultimate decision to not have children. She was born in 1969 and like most little girls, was brought up on dreams of getting married and having children. Only she chose to pursue her freelance art career until the right time. Just when she thought it might be the right time, she and her long-time boyfriend broke up. A few more years went by, she was in a new relationship, all her friends were having babies, family kept asking her what the delay was. She and her partner were not sure they wanted children because Knight has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

With Knight in her late 30s, they finally decide they would give it a try. She got pregnant and very quickly miscarried. They tried again. Another miscarriage. After the third try, they had the chance at IVF but decided that it was not worth the stress and the potential health risks. Knight is glad to have tried to have a child, but she is also satisfied not having children. And that is ultimately what the memoir is about. Knight makes the point that a woman doesn’t have to have children in order to be fulfilled or happy or complete.

Saga, Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughan. The story continues in its soap opera fashion. Will Marko and Alana ever get to settle down and just live a normal life? Not in this volume.

Spill Zone

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld. Several years ago an industrial disaster destroyed the small town of Poughkeepsie. No one is allowed to enter the Spill Zone. But Addie has to take care of her little sister somehow so she takes clandestine motorcycle rides into the Zone to photograph the bizarre phenomena and creatures there, then she sells the photos to art collectors.

Addison’t parents were assumed killed in the disaster and her little sister Lexa has not spoken since. Now, an eccentric and wealthy collector offers Addie a million dollars to retrieve something from the hospital where Addison’s parents worked.

The art is fantastic. The story is fast-paced and feels almost always like something horrible is going to happen. There is a rag doll that talks and dances that really creeped me out. There is a mutant wolf-like creature that chases Addison but it calls her name so is it trying to kill her or warn her? Or both? It is clear at the end that the story will be continuing.

cover artMockingbird: My Feminist Agenda by Chelsea Cain. Bobbi is sent on a top secret mission on a tropical cruise ship. She unexpectedly finds herself stuck in the midst of a floating comicon filled with cosplayers, her ex-boyfriend and a herd of corgis. Someone is murdered and Bobbi has to figure out who the killer is.

This was a good dose of absurd fun. Sadly, it didn’t fill the whole volume. The story concludes but it is slim because Cain stopped writing due to all the internet trolls. The remainder of the volume is taken up with a Marvel story that involves Bobbi and Squirrel Girl and a number of other Marvel heroes. The story was terrible and filled with explosions and fist fights and the female heroes were all buxom, wearing high heels and skin-tight outfits. One of the women wore a thong leotard. This story was written and drawn by men and it only served as an example of why there needs to be more women like Cain involved in writing and drawing comics.

March, Book 2 by John Lewis. This continues Lewis’s story of civil rights picking up after the success of the sit-ins and moving on to the Freedom Riders. The art is great and I love how the story goes back and forth from the Freedom Riders to Lewis getting ready for Obama’s inauguration. It gives it a “this is what we were fighting for” feeling. His personal take on the movement is fantastic and I am patiently waiting for the third and final volume.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Volume 5: Like I’m the Only Squirrel in the World by Ryan North. Squirrel Girl/Doreen and her friend Nancy go to Canada to visit Doreen’s parents. What could go wrong?

Jem and the Holograms, Volume 1: Showtime by Kelly Thompson. This was mostly fun. All the rainbow hair! Girl friendships. Cool boots. But because I have never seen the TV show that this comes from I am missing the nostalgia factor and because I am no longer a teenage girl, without the nostalgia this just didn’t do it for me.

Advertisements