Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Brief Review: Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Sex Criminals, Vol. 2: Two Worlds, One CopSex Criminals, Vol. 2: Two Worlds, One Cop by Matt Fraction
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sex positive spin on the old stop-watch-that-can-actually-stop-time story. Volume two of this graphic novel series is just as delightful as the first, if a little more confused and confusing. Fraction and Zdarsky take us into their mad world where special people have special orgasms that stop time and maybe turn them into golden gods?

Jon and Suzie are still trying to figure out all the rules to this place, but they really know they've stepped in it when they start getting into confrontations with the sex cops in Cumworld, or the Quiet, or you know whatever your personal moniker for the place you go after you... Uh, know what? Yeah, perhaps just read it. This is only going to confuse you more.

This one is for you if you like sex, and talking about sex, and thinking about sex, and joking about sex, and some time funkiness.

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Amazon Link: Sex Criminals Volume 2: Two Worlds, One Cop

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Brief Review: Trees by Warren Ellis

Trees, Vol. 1 (Trees #1)Trees, Vol. 1 by Warren Ellis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As usual, Ellis brings his unique style to bear on a graphic novel so original that only he could mind-birth it. Full disclosure here, I'm a long time fan of Warren Ellis and the opening volume of Trees is just what I was hoping for. He brushes fingertips along the issues of over-militarization, Trans-culture, scientific hubris, and just straight up gangsterism without missing a beat...

Oh yeah, and there are gigantic alien structures that people call trees which have planted themselves sporadically across the face of the Earth. Every so often, they splooge deadly green goo, but no one is quite sure why they're there or where they came from. But one thing you can be sure of, they're going to wake up and start talking eventually.

Trees is another book that I hope will inspire my creative mind for a long time to come and I can't wait to read volume 2.

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Amazon Link: Trees Volume 1

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Brief Review: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick

The Three Stigmata of Palmer EldritchThe Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this book, Dick deals desperately with some of his favorite topics, specifically drugs and philosophy. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch follows a few main characters who become less and less rooted in reality and more and more engulfed in a struggle to save humanity, possibly from themselves. The text tackles topics from religion to addiction, solipsism to exorcism, action to reaction, and reaction to inaction. The sometimes labored language quickly fades from the mind as the raw ideas of the book reach out and grab you.

I've waited too long to read more Philip K. works and I'm finally getting around to fixing that. I've always found his ideas enthralling and his philosophy somewhat horrifying, but resonant with my own. I'm glad that I chose this one to start back up on as it was fast paced, and like many of his works, left me dizzy with the implications of the situations he invents. The best authors don't just give you the story, they plant a seed of curiosity in your mind as they work, and that's what Dick's writing does for me.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to do more exploration of their own reality.

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Amazon Link: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Brief Review: Pyongyang by Guy Delisle

Pyongyang: A Journey in North KoreaPyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting look inside an enigmatic country. In the tradition of Sacco and Satrapi, Delisle (known as Mr. Guy to his guides and translators) paints the picture of a fascist North Korea with an outsider's brush. The art is good, but where this book really shines is the story. As an animator working with a team in Pyongyang, Delisle introduces us to his many overseers, employees, and foreign friends who turn out to be great windows into the workings of the city.

The book is short enough to read in an hour or two, and I would have loved to learn more about the trip, but it did seem as though everything about Mr. Guy's time in the country was kept pretty tightly controlled. Not to mention the fact that most of his stay was spent working on his animation project probably led to some long dull spells.

There is an issue with Delisle being kind of a dick, which I suppose I should touch on. He certainly looks down on the North Koreans and infantilizes them a bit. I don't think he is as bad as some other reviews have stated, however, he definitely doesn't look at other cultures as equal. He's also weirdly sexist. There was an obvious innuendo that involved torture. I'm sure he meant it to be a compliment... but as I said earlier, it seems like he's kind of a dick. Who knows, maybe he's a great guy in person, but there was some phrasing in this book that really should have been heavily edited.

Anyway, it is definitely worth a look for anyone interested in learning more about North Korea. Short, easy read, and interesting stuff.

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Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Brief Review: That Weird City by C. Brian Hickey and Aaron Jacobs

That Weird CityThat Weird City by C. Brian Hickey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finally got around to reading this book and I'm sorry it took me so long. I've encountered Hickey via a message board that we both used to frequent and posted this message shortly after the book came out:

"steevo Mar 14th 2012 (10550.5)

Will review when I finish. Exciting stuff, gentlemen, congratulations."

True to my word, here I am, having just yesterday finished reading. This was a book that created worlds. It was a book that made them feel lived in. Hickey and Jacobs each take their stories to places I didn't expect and I'm glad they did.

Some stand outs in the collection:

Inner City Life, Inner City Pressure (Soul Invictus Mix) - This short starts the collection off right, really grounding the audience in the urban rhythm of the city.

Magitechnical Support - I really liked the idea of a spirit hunting IT guy.

Last Night: A Triptych and its sequel Afterparty - Both really fun shorts, both on their very own plane of weird.

Of Grim Dealings by Nightlight - The scariest things are always under the bed.

The rest of the stories were fantastic too and well worth reading, but these are the ones that stood out to me.

Give this one a read if you're looking for something to satisfy your strange quota.

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Amazon Link: That Weird City