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Well, bit of a blogging hiatus as I recovered from the fun-packed-but-tiring read-a-thon with a mountain (well, small pile) of reviews to catch up on both here and over at the Screen God blog. Plus work has been really busy so not reading much that’s new.

All very feeble excuses but the tide is about to turn, and I’m going to start with Bill Willingham’s Fables:Legends in Exile, first in a graphic novel series which is hugely popular in the blog world, and to which I have come, as always, as a late adopter.

So the land(s) of the fairy tale and other legends have been taken over by the minions of the evil being known (so far) only as The Adversary, and they have all been driven out to live alongside us normal folk (well, in New York) in their own environment of Fabletown. And there has been an apparent murder, so the question is who killed Rose Red?

This is really great stuff if you like the idea of a world ruled by King Cole, where Snow White is the Mayor and the Big Bad Wolf (in human form) is a private detective. The mystery isn’t really the point though it’s a good way to get immersed in the world of the fables.

So in summary, a good story, strong artwork and a nice premise makes for an enjoyable read.

And I went straight onto volume 2 which I’ll review shortly.

This was my second read for the 2010 Graphic Novel Challenge.

So I was trying to think how best to describe Bryan Talbot’s Grandville; hummed and hawed about steampunk, alternative history, anthropomorphic animals, played about with a few sentences but couldn’t get it quite right.

And then I thought “wonder what it say on the back of the book?” And that sort of solved my problem for me, cos what the blurb says is:

Inspired by the work of the nineteenth-century French illustrator Gerard, who worked under the nom-de-plume JJ Grandville, and the seminal science fiction illustrator Robida – not to mention Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rupert the Bear and Quentin Tarantino – Grandville is a steampunk masterpiece in which Detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard stalks a gang of ruthless killers through the streets of belle époque Paris.

And you know it would be very difficult to improve on that as a description; the only thing I can add is how wonderful the artwork is, how convincing the animals as characters are, what an interesting perspective it takes on terrorism, and that it’really is quite enjoyably violent in places. There’s a reference to a “hairless breed of chimpanzee that evolved in the town of Angouleme,” menial workers known as “doughfaces” , obviously humans, which adds a little bit of depth to the world Talbt has invented.

I absolutely loved this, devoured it in a sitting as you do, and can recommend it to anyone interested in Bryan Talbot’s work.

This is my first read for the Graphic Novel Challenge 2010.

So once again I find myself signing up to more challenges despite last year’s poor showing, but I am nothing if not optimistic and willing to have a go at the following:

The Graphic Novel Challenge 2010

An excuse to read comics (as if I needed one), an excuse to frequent Forbidden Planet even more than I do now (as if I needed one of those either), and excuse to re-read The Sandman (and to persuade Silvery Dude to have a go at volume 2). Sounds like a plan to me..

 42 Challenge

42 sci-fi things in 42 weeks.

Irresistible, did quite well last year, one of the few that I managed to finish, lots to read and watch so hopeful of an equally good result this year. Not making a list, far too much to ponder on, but at the very least Dr Who: The End of Time will be near the top….

And last but my no means least, a companion to The 42 is Carl’s Sci-Fi Experience 2010, an excuse to wallow in all things sc-fi for a couple of months. Again, not planning to make a list but I’ll just see what takes my fancy….

GunnerkriggCourtOrientation54240_fI think I found out about this from Neil Gaiman’s blog, but of course I can’t find the reference now and it’s entirely possible that I’ve made the whole thing up and picked this up from somewhere completely different, so if it was you that pointed me in the direction of Gunnerkrigg Court then thank you because it’s absolutely brilliant.

So this is ostensibly a classic boarding school story; Antimony Carver (known as Annie) has just started her first year at Gunnerkrigg. Her mother is dead, her father isn’t around, and she is an odd and self-contained girl with some interesting knowledge and unusual talents.

This first volume is about her settling into the school, her friendship with Kat, and the strange, sort-of-Gothic things she comes across, including a Minotaur (possibly the Minotaur), demons, robots, shadows, mythical creatures, Gods and demi-gods.

This is great stuff. I love the artwork, I love Antimony herself (and what a cool name that is), and all of the other characters are fascinating in their own way. I particularly like Reynardine and will be interested to see how he develops. For although this is the first part of the story to be published in book for, this began life as a webcomic, and the adventures continue here. Well worth a visit.

NeilGaimansNeverwhereN47367_fIt’s always interesting to look at the graphic novelisation of a story to see what’s been left out, what’s been changed, do the characters look different to what you imagined and so on. I have to confess that although I have the novel I haven’t got round to reading it yet, but I do remember the BBC TV series from goodness knows when, so I have something to compare it to.

And it’s Gaiman of course so it’s bound to have a higher quality starting point than lots of other things.

So Richard helps a girl he finds in the street and gets dragged into a world below London which slightly mirrors what goes on above, but only slightly. There is a quest, there is betrayal, there are some rather unpleasant villains, there is a satisfying resolution (well I thought so anyway).

I enjoyed this; the artwork was cool, the story made sense, I liked the mythology of a London under London (I will never look at Knighstbridge quite the same way again) and the authors showed proper respect to Neil Gaiman without being constrained. And now I really must read the novel….

Oh, and this was my final read for the Dream King Challenge, though I feel the pull of Sandman…….

LoveandMurderWonderWoman49795_fI have to confess that I have never read anything written by Jodi Picoult and from what I know of her work it probably isn’t my thing anyway. I also have never read a Wonder Woman graphic novel before, so the combination of the two looked interesting enough to give it a try.

Not going to even attempt to describe what this is about as it’s clearly in the middle of a much longer story (there’s even a ‘Previously on Wonder Woman’ thing at the beginning which was an interesting approach) and it ends on a cliffhanger. Suffice to say that WW’s human alter ego is supposed to capture and bring to justice WW herself, which is all far too confusing for everyone involved.

The story is quite good but I always feel a bit odd about WW – maybe it’s my age but I can’t help thinking she’llcatch her death in that outfit, that the costume just looks so uncomfortable, and that despite all the stuff about female empowerment I’m probably not the intended audience for someone so impossibly pneumatic. Having said all that I read it in a sitting and am curious as to how the situation at the end is going to be resolved, though not curious enough to have actually bought the sequel.

Enjoyed the Batman cameo though.

theprofessorsdaughterjoa49143_fSo, you are the daughter of a nineteenth century professor, and the ancient Egyptian mummy owned by your father wakes up for the first time in 3000 years or so; what do you do?

Well in this case you dress him up in Dad’s top hat and tailcoat and swan around London arm in arm, all the while falling in love. But inevitably there are misunderstandings and parental disapproval on both sides to stand in  the way of true love. Plus Her Majesty Queen Victoria ending up in the Thames…

This is a lovely book, a sweet story beautifully illustrated and, according to the blurb inside the cover, best enjoyed with romantic company and a pot of fine Darjeeling (though I would always go for Earl Grey myself.)

Bride of the Book God

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Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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December 2020