Start the New Year with Comics!
Our Comic-Con International Graphic Novel Book Clubs leapt into the New Year with January meetings (except for our friends in Mission Valley, where a large contingent of members came down with the flu … we’re pretty sure they stayed home and read comics, though).
The Downtown Club rang in the New Year in horrific fashion with Uzumaki by Junji Ito. Although the horror manga title was regarded mostly positively by the group, several were disappointed by its major lack of character and story. Many enjoyed the heavy H.P. Lovecraft influence and the imaginative, grotesque imagery that sometimes bordered on silliness. (A hair battle?) A few pointed out its similarities to the work of David Cronenberg and David Lynch in its preoccupation with the bizarre and shocking at the expense of narrative and character development. Others mentioned how these are simply horror conventions and should be enjoyed as such. Most considered the art impressive, especially in all the various spiral imagery Ito dreamed up. Everyone, however, agreed that reading a horror manga was a welcome change. Next month the Downtown group will read Black Hammer, Vol. 1 by Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston.
The La Jolla club opted to read JLA vol. 1: New World Order (1997) by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter to coincide with the recent release of the Justice League movie. The title was several members’ first foray into one of comics’ most iconic superteams—as well as the first time reading one of Grant Morrison’s works—and the storyline and characterizations were generally well-received. The art by Howard Porter was regarded as striking in some parts and spurred lively discussion around the general aesthetic of ‘90s-era superhero comics. The group did express enthusiasm in possibly continuing this JLA run by Morrison, due to the fairly unusual and thought-provoking story, and some members mentioned that some of Morrison’s later JLA stories were held among the best featuring this superteam.
The group selected the Vision Vol. 2: Little Better than a Beast by Tom King and Michael Walsh as their continuing title for this month. Although some readers preferred the storyline of vol. 1 compared to vol. 2, it was agreed that vol. 2 did contain some genuine surprises and touching moments that made the title a worthwhile read. In regard to the art, the switch between artists was noticeable to some members, but was overall effective in conveying the story, especially depicting certain characters’ brutal attacks on other characters. Elements returning from the first volume, such as the synthezoid Vision-speak, were appreciated amidst the title’s comparatively dark, but enjoyable story. Although the title ended its run with this volume, the group was still able to discuss how, interestingly, the events of this story are being continued and referenced in other recent Marvel titles, such as Runaways.
In February, La Jolla will read Paper Girls vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, and 4 Kids Walk into a Bank by Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss.
The Encinitas group began the New Year with a discussion of Daytripper by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, and the response was extremely positive. Though the book uses death as a metaphor, what it truly brings forward is the importance of our everyday lives, and the idea that seemingly mundane days may actually be the most important of all. The interconnectedness of life comes through when the entire work is read in completion, and while the book can be a bit of a slow grow at the beginning, it truly has an emotional impact when the end is reached. Most members of the group stated they had tears in their eyes when they came to the final page, and the book’s themes and ideas lingered in their minds long after they had finished reading the book. The group also unanimously commented on the richness of the artwork, which is dreamlike and flowing, helping readers feel they are experiencing a life’s journey. Daytripper is the type of book that would be an excellent starting point for readers new to comics and graphic novels, though the way in which it resonates may differ depending on the life stages and experiences of each particular reader. For February, the group will be reading volumes 1 and 2 of Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze.
The Escondido Public Library chapter had a great discussion about the classic Watchmen by Alan Moore. Kelly moderated the discussion, and she brought a many interesting questions for the group to dissect. Everyone found the characters relatable, like real people who happen to dress up as super heroes in their spare time. Rorschach was the group’s overall favorite, with Dr. Manhattan being a close second. The Comedian, we agreed, is a great villain since he always takes his bad deeds one step further. The group compared the book to the film (which we had mixed reviews on), discussed the eccentricities of Alan Moore, and expressed interest in reading Doomsday Clock when it comes out in trade paperback. The EPL group will read Wolverine: Old Man Logan by Mark Millar in February, Locke & Key by Joe Hill in March, and Saga by Brian K. Vaughan in April.
Once again, the North Park group is immersed in the total world of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, with volumes 7 and 8. A complete report is coming once they finish the series with volumes 9 and 10.
Interested in joining our latest addition to the growing family of Comic-Con International Graphic Novel Book Clubs? Our Balboa Park group is almost full! Click here for more info and apply by January 31 for consideration to be a member!