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Review Mashup AND Suggestions Please!

I promised a review of Black Hole by Charles Burns and Goldfish by Brian Michael Bendis, but I was feeling so lackluster about both (I didn’t finish Goldfish, even though I liked the initial opening), that I haven’t been able to rally the motivation. Except for tonight – so here we go…

Black Hole was an intriguing metaphorical trip into HS during the 70s, with a touch of an AIDS like sexually transmitted disease that forever turns the victim into a mutant. And as with American Born Chinese, I just wasn’t able to connect as much with the material.

I felt Black Hole was too myopic and depressing – it ladled on it’s message and subject matter thickly. It managed to do this while telling an engrossing story, but there is something about being heavily preached to while reading a comic that can be off-putting at times.

I know. I know. I’ve cried about needing more meat in my books. But I felt as a reader – slightly mocked by the artistry in this book. And it was very DARK. It made me think of suicide and skeletons in the closet and all sorts of seedy things.

It felt like reading someone’s diary. A dirty diary.

So – I know – why am I bitching about it?

It’s not really bitching, I swear. Comics are capable (like all art forms) of affecting a delicate balance between story and theme, but in this case – the book seemed heavily laden with theme.

Just soes ya know, this one’s making a film debut as wellFincher is also directing The Goon.

I would love to hear others dissect this book and get a different perspective on it. I would love for others to do so on this forum (that’s my not-so-subtle hint ya’ll). I feel like either I was missing something, or the material was moving over my head. But after closing the final page – I just sorta laid in bed and thought, “well, that’s over now.”

In summation, reading Black Hole felt like really bad sex. Sad and a little dirty. Like you want to take a shower afterwards.

Goldfish (a Graphic Crime Novel) left me with a similar feeling of dis-enchantment, thought without the sexual aspects. It started off strong, but I never found a likeable enough character to lead me the rest of the way through. It’s fun to read Bendis with expletives, and sex and violence. He’s always struck me as a writer who is caged by his commercial success – because he can’t fully explore these themes in mass produced comics. It was nice to read a Rated R version of the author (as with Peter David), but this wasn’t the right venue for me.

Who knows – I might finish it. But I’m not feeling excessive need at the moment.

I did dive through Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse. It’s the story of a young gay male (with a kick ass name – Toland Polk) growing up in the 1960’s South during the Civil Rights movement, and his involvement with the activities and folks in his hometown. I was taking this for autobiography, which I think gave me a completely different read than intended. But whatever the case, I was caught up in the life and times of this man and his exploration of his sexuality (and the complications of human relationships).

At times it seemed a little too perfect to be an autobiography (especially with the poignant deaths), but I’m fairly certain a good portion has some rooting in SOMEONE’s history. Best of all – it was a biography that didn’t spend much time lamenting poor parenting. In fact, Cruse (ahem, Toland) actually praises his parents for raising him as best they could.

What I did appreciate about this story – is how accessible this new perspective of the Civil Rights movement was. Unlike other books I’ve read that appear to cater towards a specific readership (Asian Americans, Gays and Lesbians, etc), this did not leave me emotionally guessing.

This could be because Stuck Rubber Baby never used “art” to mask the story. There were sequences where the story was interrupted by an older version of Toland as the narrator, but these did not pull me out of the story.

However, both Black Hole and American Born Chinese used artsy sequences (dreams, mythological stories) which detracted from the core elements.

So those are three examples of my latest fare…and now comes the begging.

PLEASE SUGGEST BOOKS and SERIES! I’ve got a stack from the library, but nothing that’s inspirational at the moment. And it would be great to hear what you all are reading! 🙂

Much Love, Mindy C

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About tinyheroes

Mindy Crouchley is a 33 year old woman with a degree in English and Technical Writing from Portland State University. She has accumulated three+ years experience in the Marketing and Communications field - with an emphasis on creating digital media content. She has been reading comic books since she was 10 years old. She currently lives in outer southeast Portland with her spouse Dan Robertson, her baby girl, and their dog - Jabba the pug. She spends her free time devouring books, crafting cosplay, video gaming, attending comic cons, writing stories/screenplays, attending book to film adaptation club meetings, volunteering, and watching copious amounts of TV and movies.

2 responses to “Review Mashup AND Suggestions Please!”

  1. Lissette says :

    I doubt if I’ve even read a quarter of the graphic novels you have–but I found some great resources while writing a paper about graphic novels as literature, sources filled with reading suggestions.

    The best one I found (to me, anyway) was Paul Gravett’s Graphic Novels: Everything You Need to Know. This book is well laid out with TONS of reading suggestions–everything from the well known stuff like Sandman and The Dark Knight, to stuff I never would have guessed existed. Worth either a checkout from the library or a simple skimming for suggestions. It doesn’t assume a background in the medium, so you might feel it talks down to you, but it has dozens of graphic novel suggestions.

  2. tinyheroes says :

    Thanks – will definitely check this out from the library! 🙂

    Take Care,

    Mindy C

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