Wednesday, December 17, 2014

So Read It Already!

NK Jemisin “The Inheritance Trilogy Omnibus” (Orbit, 2014)

I can name three new writers who have published major trilogies in the last decade or so. In each case, the originality and high quality of both the ideas and the writing are indicators that these women are to be taken seriously as writers in the field.  We will be reading their books for years to come.

One of those writers is NK Jemisin, and now you have the opportunity to get her trilogy in a single handy volume.  (With an additional novella!)

Jemisin has given us a richly detailed world where gods walk alongside mortals.  This is unlike any fantasy that you have ever read.  There is no chosen one, no quest to find or destroy magical objects.  This is a story about tyranny, freedom, colonialism, religion, power, romance, sex.  

If you don’t like fantasy because it all seems to be the same, this is for you.  If you love fantasy because of the strange worlds you can explore, then this is for you.

This is one of the major genre works of this millennium. If you are a fan of the genre, then you need to read these books.  It’s just that simple.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Like the Actor?

Gabriel Hardman, “Kinski”(Image, 2014)

Let’s start with a positive:  the art in Kinski is consistently wonderful.  Hardman sticks to black and white (pen & ink?), yet provides compelling and emotive illustrations.  Dialogue is minimal, so the art really does carry the burden with storytelling.

It’s the story itself where you might have problems with the book.  Kinski is the story of a mentally unstable dog thief.  A salesman randomly encounters a puppy, and becomes obsessed.  He believes that the puppy is being mistreated and deserves to be with him.

And for me, this is the problem.  While technically this may be one of the strongest graphic novels of the year, I just flat out did not enjoy it.  I don’t want to read about boys whose dogs are stolen.  I don’t want to read the story of a dog thief.  It’s just not a pleasant experience.

Maybe it’s just me.  Technically this is an amazing piece of work.  Unfortunately I just found it thoroughly unlikeable.

For the Love of God, Can I Just Carve a Wooden Duck?

Brian Joines & Dean Kotz “Krampus” (Image, 2014)

It’s December, and between the cookies, the brittle, and the Hallmark movies you’re suddenly seriously at risk for diabetes.  You need a little something to cut the sugar, like coffee with a donut.  You don’t want something mean, just something to take the edge off.  Those sugar shakes can be nasty.

Fortunately Brian Joines & Dean Kotz have just the thing.  Their limited series Krampus collected into one handy trade paperback. 

There’s a set up that’s simple for anyone who’s ever watched a few Christmas specials.  The magic of Christmas is under threat because someone stole the skull of St Nicholas.  (Given the amount of threats to Christmas, it’s a wonder that it ever actually happens.)  The Secret Society of Santas (all the various cultural Santas from all over the world – and yes, they’re basically all dicks) are trapped at the North Pole, and they have to release Krampus to investigate.  He’s fitted up with a bomb that will go off if he tries to punish any kids (remember when I said they’re dicks?), and sent off to investigate.

What happens structurally is that Krampus now becomes a reluctant hero, instead of an anti-hero or outright villain.  This is important because this story isn’t a deconstruction of Christmas stories.  It’s just one that isn’t perhaps as sweet as what you might expect.

What we end up with is an action and intrigue filled story with Krampus travelling the world to save Christmas.  

It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s the savory treat you need to balance all those holiday sweets.  There’s a tease for a second volume at the end, and I’m hoping that they go there.