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Category: Other Staff's Reviews


Classic sci-fi gets graphic novel treatment

Ender's Game - Battle School
I enjoyed this for many reasons, nostalgia being one and for the simple reason Ender's Game is one of my favorite novels of all time (if you haven't read it, I would highly recommend that you do). This is a decent adaptation, but woefully abridged from the source material. There's so much left out it's only made me want to go back and re-read the novel.

The growing trend to adapt classic novels into this format is one I'm on board with -- it's like waiting for my favorite books to get made into movies. And like film adaptations, sometimes the graphic novel format works, and sometimes it doesn't. It works here ... to a point. For me though, there's just too much good stuff left out for it to really work -- especially for those who have not read the novel. It's those readers who will be short-changed the most.

Ender's Game - Command School
This is an okay adaptation, but leaves way too much out for my liking. You get all the spoilers with none of the richness, complexity and reward that comes with the unabridged novel. This adaptation will rob of you of that experience and ruin the novel, so if you haven't, do yourself a huge favor and please read the book first. The illustrations are a little too simplistic for my taste, and just don't adequately capture the conflicting emotions or white-knuckled tension.


Review: Coraline as a Graphic Novel

Courtesy of the Horror blog and reviewed by the always wonderful and insightful Cryptkeeper...

Coraline (2008)

Adapted and Illustrated by P. Craig Russell

Based on the Novel by Neil Gaiman

The Cryptkeeper says:
Wonderful graphic novel adaptation of Gaiman's classic nightmare for children.

My one criticism would be that I loved Gaiman's ability to conjure such powerful imagery with so few words. By definition, the graphic novel is very illustrative and leaves little for imagination -- and that, I'm afraid, detracts from the overall tension and dread.

Then there's the artistic choices; Gaiman's book is modestly illustrated but what you get is so much more effective. Take a look at what I mean. On the left is how the "other-Mother" appears in the book; on the right is how she appears in the graphic novel. You decide which one is scarier! Grade: B+


Stephen King's The Stand finds new life

The Stand: Captain Trips Hardcover Edition

Adapted by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Mike Perkins (Artist)
Laura Martin (Artist)

The Cryptkeeper says:
Impressive adaptation that so far, is following King's epic narrative very closely. The art is truly impressive, and I don't think I've ever seen the "Walkin' Dude" look so fierce (very cool). It's been a fun, nostalgic ride re-entering the world of Captain Trips, visiting with Stu, and Frannie, Nick and Larry (and Flagg of course) all over again. Unlike many Constant Readers, The Stand has never been one of my favourite King novels, but I do recognize it as a staggering achievement in storytelling and am certain of its lasting impact. It's been a delight to see this story re-imagined in graphic novel format. I can't wait for the Marvel team to launch The Talisman (now THAT should be something).

This post appears courtesy of RPL's horror blog.


Faith Erin Hicks

Usually known for her webcomic Demonology 101, Canadian author Faith Erin Hicks, has branched out into the following
Graphic Novels:

Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks

Product Description from
Joss's life sucks. She's in the middle of university exams, up to her neck in student loans, and when she's attacked by zombies, her roommates have the nerve to think she's making it up. But when the zombies turn out to be terrifyingly real, only Joss knows how to survive the undead invasion: by following the Rules of Zombie Movies.

The War at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks

Product Description from
Zombies Calling creator Faith Erin Hicks brings her manga-fueled art style and pop-culture sensibilities to girl's boarding schools in her latest book The War at Ellsmere. Jun is the newest scholarship student at the prestigious Ellsmere girls' boarding school - but to a lot of the privileged rich girls, scholarship student is just a code for charity case. Fortunately, Jun has an ally in the quirky Cassie, who tells her legends of a beautiful creature that lives in the forest outside of the school. Between queen bees and mythical beasts, Jun has quite the school year ahead of her.

My Thoughts:
I quite enjoy Hicks's graphic novels. I like the strong, independent female protagonists and the story lines that contain offbeat twists. I really enjoyed the seemingly normal The War on Ellsmere's supernatural twist. I've yet to explore Demonology 101, but I would expect that it is the same high caliber as her novels.

--The Library Technician


Welcome to Lovecraft...

Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

From Publishers Weekly:
Novelist Hill, author of Heart-Shaped Box, crafts a gripping account of the shattered Locke family's attempt to rebuild after the father/husband is murdered by a deranged high school student and the family subsequently moving in with the deceased father's brother at the family homestead in Maine. But as anyone who has read horror fiction in the past 70-odd years will tell you, it's a bad idea to try to leave behind the gruesome goings-on in your life by moving to an island named Lovecraft. What begins as a study in coping with grief soon veers into creepy territory as the youngest Locke discovers a doorway with decidedly spectral qualities, along with a well that houses someone or something that desperately wants out and will use any means available to gain freedom, including summoning the teenage murderer who set events in motion in the first place. To say more would give away many of the surprises the creative team provides, but this first of hopefully several volumes delivers on all counts, boasting a solid story bolstered by exceptional work from Chilean artist Rodriguez (Clive Barker's The Great and Secret Show) that resembles a fusion of Rick Geary and Cully Hamner with just a dash of Frank Quitely.

Creepy!! I definitely like how Joe Hill is dabbling in the Graphic Novel genre! While nothing can compare to the imagination when something scary comes along, it's kind of interesting to see how other people percieve the story as well, which, to me, is what graphic novels do! It looks like there could be more in this series, so keep your eyes peeled!!

--The Library Technician

The Cryptkeeper says: It's becoming clear to me that Joe Hill's real strength as a writer lies in the short story (and now graphic novel) format. There is obviously something about the concise, contained prose on a small canvas (rather than the sprawling novel) that brings out the best in his storytelling talents. I was not a fan of Hill's debut novel Heart-Shaped Box; however, his short story collection 20th Century Ghosts has amazing depth and texture, and he scores big again with Welcome to Lovecraft, the first in the Locke and Key graphic novel series that shows real promise and imagination. Calling the town Lovecraft is a nice touch. Let's not ignore the fantastic artistic contribution made by Gabriel Rodriguez; in other less talented hands, Hill's story would have fallen flat on the page, a ho-hum affair. Their collaboration guarantees a memorable reading experience.

This post appears courtesy of RPL's horror blog.


An adventure...

Adventures in Oz by Eric Shanower

From Booklist:
The magic of L. Frank Baum's Oz is alive and well in this volume of stories. Dorothy, Scarecrow, and their pals are on hand to share adventures and make new friends. They meet Valynn, the vigilant guardian of the enchanted apple tree that keeps Oz's magic alive, they hunt for a crimson-tailed quipperug fish on the Secret Island, and they rescue Ozma from the clutches of the Ice King. They even discover the fate of the Good Witch of the East and venture off across the Deadly Desert to save a forgotten forest. Shanower does a fantastic job capturing the wonder and adventure of Oz. Dorothy, Ozma, and the entire cast come to life again, and even new characters feel familiar. The art is a tapestry of lavishly bright color with elegant line work that smoothly mixes classic children's book art and American comic-book styles. This is a must-read for Oz fans, but it will also attract newcomers to the wonder of Baum.

I've been reading so many graphic novels with Manga type art lately I almost forgot how lovely the American comic-book styles can be! It seems so classic and retro (in a good way)!

This is a lovely continuation of Dorothy's adventures in Oz, her experinces with Ozma, Glinda the good witch and her encounters with the wicked witch of the south. It was kind of neat to see the other adventures that Dorothy has and to learn that Oz is not all emerald cities and yellow brick roads!

--The Library Technician


The Wall

It's easy to dismiss The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis as a picture book - it has the same binding as picture books, and even has a Caldecott Honor Book stamp on the cover (the Caldecott is awarded to the artist of "the most distinguished American picture book for children"). That, however, would be a big mistake, because this book is a fascinating portrayal of life on the Communist side of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, and will appeal to adult readers. The way Sis combines text and illustration is original, and his drawings are packed full of little details.

If you like graphic memoirs, check this one out.