A Quick One While He’s Away

I don’t review the books I read as much as I use to. I should. There’s no real reason not to and it’s not as though I’ve not the time. So to get back into the swing of things I’ll start with a selection of current reads. As a change from just graphic novels I am going to include more text books.

Courtney Crumrin Vol 7: Tale of a Warlock
Courtney Crumrin Vol Seven
Ted Naifeh (Oni Press)

With the TV series Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell currently showing on BBC One this is the perfect accompaniment for it. Equally dark and magical, Naifeh’s tale of a young witch and her warlock uncle reveals the downside and terror that goes hand in hand with magic and reiterates the message that you should never take anything from a fairie.

UQ Holder Vol 4
UQ Holder Vol 4
Ken Akamatsu (Kodansha Comics)

On the flipside of Crumrin is this fast-paced, funny look at magic and science (with furious, frantic battle scenes). A sequel to Akamatsu’s Negima!, the series suffers in that a new reader needs prior knowledge of that tale but don’t let that put you off a manga who’s latest heroine has the magical power to reset her life at the time of death. Perfect for a young teenage boy or girl.

The Blunders of Our Government
The Blunders of Our Governments
Anthony King & Ivor Crewe (Oneworld)

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. How government (of all colours) manages to screw up so often and at great expensive is frightening. Plus, it’s a mystery why the public is not more aware of them and why there was rioting on streets over Thatchers Poll Tax but Labour’s Metroland project – which cost the British taxpayer much more – didn’t.

Usagi Yojimbo: Senso
Usagi Yojimbo: Senso
Stan Sakai (Dark Horse)

And so the tale of the samurai rabbit comes to an end… or maybe not. H.G.Wells’ martians arrive in Usagi’s Japan and it takes all his effort (plus a giant Gundam rabbit) to stop them. Sakai’s beautiful line drawing is full of expression and panache. It’s also good to see a creator who thinks nothing of dispatching long-time enemies with a single deathray and no resolution to their storyline. Which is probably what would happen in real life.

Frank Miller's Ronin: Gallery Edition
Ronin: Gallery Edition
Frank Miller (DC Comics/Graphitti)

Frank Miller’s first major work for DC tends to get buried under the weight of The Dark Knight Returns and Daredevil. At the time of its first appearance though, Ronin was ground breaking in terms of story, art and format. An expensive item, but like the Steranko and Wally Wood Gallery Editions this showcases a major artistic talent.

Ken Russell's Films
Ken Russell’s Films
Ken Hanke (Scarecrow Press)

The UKs one time enfant terrible has been badly served by the film industry for a long time. Directors who have none of the flair or style of Russell have been lauded whilst he slipped into quiet obscurity before his death. Though an early book on his work (it stops with Altered States) it nevertheless gives detailed insight into his movies and the last gasp of the British movie industry.

Big Hard Sex Criminals
Big Hard Sex Criminals
Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)

Have lots of sex and stop time whilst doing so, who could complain? With a cute as a button heroine and something of a dick hero Sex Criminals is funny, sexy and the perfect antidote to the Twilight/50 Shades crowd. Definitely not for vanilla readers though.

Adventures of Captain Easy and Was Tubbs
The Best of Captain Easy and Wash Tubbs
Roy Crane (Fantagraphics)

It may not seem obvious at first but the parallels between Tintin and Crane’s two adventurers become more obvious as the series goes on. Exotic locations, mysteries and nefarious – but slightly comical – villains abound. It’s of its time with the depiction of black and Arabic characters but Crane’s art style bursts through the comic strip format.

Gold Digger Gold Brick Vol Seven
Gold Digger: Gold Brick Vol 7
Fred Perry (Antarctic Press)

More hi-octane adventures with the Diggers girls. If you ever wondered what Laura Croft would look like with hi-tech, magic and bigger armaments then this is for you.

Ghettoside: Investigating an Homicide Epidemic
Jill Leovy (Bodley Head)

Highly recommended. Really. That’s all I have to say.

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