Here are a couple I’ve gotten my hands on recently…
Much like tales of lumberjacks and other he-men from my childhood, this collection of short vignettes is sparse on plot, yet still poignant. Lilli Carre follows the simple backwoods lives of both Woodsman Pete and Paul Bunyan as they move through their mundane but fulfilling routines. Pete is a hermit-like countryman who talks to his polar bear rug, Phillipe, and other taxidermied friends; all the while profoundly glad that they are so dead and still, unable to do anything but listen. His secluded near solipsism turns him a little bitter, but Pete’s humanity still shines through. Paul Bunyan is a much warmer character, much like the traditional tales of the plaid-covered tall man. In his tales, Paul spends less time mowing down forests, instead waxing philosophical with his oxen babe. Paul’s story is a sad one, filled with awkwardness and outcast. Somehow Paul, with large strides, stays optimistic, though his hopeless romanticism leads to renewed heartbreak. Both stories make for a very quick, sweet, and human comic.
The first installment of the small run graphic novel, New Tales of the Slow Apocalypse, seems promising. The illustration style compliments the story-line — panels with small details, but overshadowed with an overall sense of sparse life. Thus far, the story mixes the blatantly human and minutiae of everyday life, with that of murder, supernatural, and potential loss of civil liberty. Somehow, chupacabra-like monsters, missing persons, and outraged citizens are blended well with what seems like normal small town life. I’m not going to make too many judgment calls, as I have not [obviously] read the entire series, but I am very interested to see what Sean Ford has up his sleeve.
There is probably not much left to say after so much talk of this graphic novel, but I thought I might as well give my own impression. To those who have not read other reviews or heard of this graphic novel, Lost Girls is the erotic retelling of the stories of Alice, Wendy, and Dorothy, set in an Austrian hotel at the outbreak of the first World War. Regardless of actual entertainment or literary value, as a conversation piece, this set of three books was well worth the price. Though nerve wracking at first, every person to stumble upon these books in my room was ultimately intrigued. More often than not they sat down and violently flipped through the pages, wincing and smiling the whole time. Personally, I felt that the collection was extremely thought provoking. The subversive and sexual spin of these very PG fairy tales is not only gratifying in its own right, but it also offers an unusual post-childhood look and re-acclimation with stories that are fading in memory — all the while picking up different cultural connotations. Also, the reading of Lost Girls coincides with the recent move from teenager to adult and high school to college in my life, very firmly cementing a certain loss of innocence. Overall the illustration was well done, though some panels (larger detailed ones) were more aesthetically pleasing than others. Lost Girls is also rich with literary and cultural allusions, most of which I’m sure went over my head. After finishing I was pleased with the decision to purchase the somewhat expensive volume of works. Though on the surface it seems to be merely erotic fiction (and surprisingly, it actually was something of a turn-on, despite not being someone who is normally interested illustrated erotica) it is much, much richer than that and is most definitely worthy of the $75 price tag — or at the very least, an awkward glance from your local librarian.