12 Picks for 2017 – Graphic Novels

graphic novels

Looking for some great graphic novels, but don’t know where to start?  Here are some picks, straight off the comic book tree.  Or was it the comic book vine?  I don’t remember…

Aya Marguerite Abouet (story) and Clement Oubrerie (illustrations) 2007 French

Set in the Ivory Coast, 1978, “growth without development” boom years. A young woman grows up and dreams of becoming a doctor. (Thanks to my cousin for recommending!)

Sick Gabby Schulz 2016 NYC

A cartoonist gets terribly sick and hits rock bottom. He thinks back about his life, his regrets, and the current system of power/technology in the world. Some amazing illustrations.

Soft City Hariton Pushwagner (a.k.a Terie Brofos)

Fantastic comic about a dystopian future. Amazing use of perspective and repetition. Predicted Trump (Heil Hilton!) The author was born in Oslo, Norway 1940. He started Soft City in 1975, lost it, and it was rediscovered in 2002. City of drone-like people, sad and haunting. Large pages with incredible detail.

Rolling Blackouts – Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq Sarah Glidden 2016

A cartoonist accompanies her two friends, reporters and founders of a journalism non profit, as they research stories about the impact of the Iraq war on Iraqis. Her childhood friend, a marine who served in Iraq comes along, and provides an alternate view and builds tension in the story. Well researched and well done, based on her actual trips to these countries and interviews with real people.

Fante Bukowski Noah Ran Sciver 2015

An author whose last name happens to be Bukowski (no relation to the famous author) tries to make his dent in the literary world. Hilarious, interesting characters and quotes. Nicely drawn facial/body language. Also, the actual Bukowski is one of my favorite writers.

The Attack Davvillier and Chapron. Adapted from the novel by Yasmina Khadra (pen name of former Algerian army officer.) 2012 French 2016 English

A Palestinian surgeon living a successful life in Tel Aviv is confronted with the accusation that his wife attacks a cafe by suicide bombing. He digs deep to find out if its true and what the motives were.

Exit Wounds Rutu Modan 2007 Israel

A love story between two unlikely characters. A woman fears her dad was killed in a suicide bombing, and she tries to find him, with the help of her love interest.

To Have and To Hold Graham Chaffee 2017 L.A.

Good, quick read. Film-noir like tale of a bank robbery and marriage gone wrong.

Jerusalem – Chronicles From the Holy City Guy Delise 2012 French/Canada

A traveling cartoonist visits Jerusalem with his family to work with an N.G.O, and takes notes of his daily life there. Another solid work from this author. I also recommend Pyongyang, his book about North Korea, and I’m looking forward to reading his other books about his travels.

Just So Happens Fumio Obata Japan 2014

A woman who was born in Japan and lives in London, returns for her father’s funeral. She struggles to deal with the formal social customs of her Japanese culture, and her feelings towards her father. Interesting theme of Japanese Non Theater augments the story.

Highbone Theater Joe Daly 2016

(Spoiler alert) Shark fishing, weird and misogynistic roommates, turnips, a mojo hand, the claw, silly 911 conspiracy theories, a fart tube, submarine sarcophagus, and plunking away at a “chubush the mongolian banjo.” Unique, need I say more? *Not for kids.

Gauguin – The Other World Fabrizio Dori French 2016

The famous painter’s life. Beautiful colors, illustrations and dream sequences. Not just a biography, but a work of art in the style of Gauguin.

 

10 picks

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Comics @ the Arab American Museum in Dearborn, Michigan

comics

This Spring, I visited the Arab American Museum in Dearborn Michigan, for the first time. It just so happened that they also had an exhibit of comics there! Which was awesome. The comics were by Leila Abdelrazaq, an artist whose work I am familiar with; I have read her graphic novel Baddawi and highly recommend it.

There were four main things to see at the exhibit of comics. Circled around the room were framed original artworks by Leila, from her graphic novel and comics. It was neat to see another artist’s original inked pages. As an observer, you can imagine how the inked page gets scanned into the computer, and how the cartoonist edits and finalizes the page on the computer. Usually, it’s just a few finishing touches and minor details. There were even rare pages that were not included in the final comic, because they were redone. You could see how she changed and revised the layout of these pages, until they turned out the way she wanted. For cartoonists, this is part of the composition and story telling part of making a comic/graphic novel.

On the back wall was a large mural that Leila painted, featuring a map and a cartoon of a young refugee boy named Handala. Comic fans, especially those in the Arab world, may recognize Handala, who was created by the cartoonist Naji Al-Ali. Naji published work featuring Handala from 1975 to 1987, and it rates up there with some of the best comics ever made. They are very visual comics, usually you don’t even need words to understand them. His comics achieved world-wide fame and success before his life was brutally cut short by assassination. (You can learn more about Handala at www.handala.org) It’s easy to tell that this cartoonist is a big influence on Leila’s work. On the cover of Baddawi is a drawing of her father as a young child, who is one of the main characters in the book. The pose he is standing in mirrors how Handala was typically drawn.

Another thing to see was a video of the cartoonist, where she explained a bit about herself. And there were some new comic books by Leila, which you can find online. There was also an advertisement for a comic book-making workshop for teenagers, which was hosted by the cartoonist at the museum on a later date.

I thought it was a great idea for the Arab American Museum to focus an exhibit on graphic novels/comics and this artist, and I enjoyed the professionalism and presentation of the exhibit, as well as the work of the cartoonist. There were also some comics for sale in their gift shop. I hope to see an exhibit like this again some time. I also enjoyed the rest of the museum, it’s worth checking out, you can easily spend an hour or two in there; and there is tons of great Middle Eastern food nearby in Dearborn.

Free Atena Farghadani

comics, support Planned Parenthood in Ohio

Cartoonist Atena Farghadani has been imprisoned in Iran, since January 2015, for drawing a cartoon of politicians as animals. The cartoon made fun of Iranian politicians that were attempting to pass a law to restrict people’s birth control choices.  She and her lawyer were recently charged with having an illegitimate sexual relationship short of adultery” and “improper conduct” for shaking hands.  She was forced to take a “virginity and pregnancy” test, while in prison.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/free-atena-farghadani-iran-prison-drawing-cartoons-artist

Does this disgust and sadden you? Send a letter for her release:

http://cartoonistsrights.org/open-letter-for-the-freedom-of-atena-farghadani/

Draw a cartoon for Atena:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2015/jun/16/draw4atena-your-cartoons-in-solidarity-with-jailed-iranian-artist

https://twitter.com/hashtag/Draw4Atena?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jun/23/governments-accused-perpetrating-violence-against-women-actionaid-report-activists

Meanwhile, in Ohio, a similar bill was approved to restrict women’s access to birth control and many other health services, by attempting to defund Planned Parenthood.  Perhaps it’s time to draw cartoons making fun of our own politicians for approving this bill, and their lack of insight and understanding. I’ve been to Planned Parenthood before for health services, and I don’t see any reason to defund it. The average person living in Ohio agrees.

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/10/21/planned-parenthood-funding.html

Sign a petition in support of Planned Parenthood:

https://secure.ppaction.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=15231&s_src=OHAction_1114_c4_e1&autologin=true

ThunderKhan. New Comics/Zine 2015

comic books and zines, music

Here is a preview from my new 12 page comic/zine, coming out November 2015, just in time for Genghis Con 2015. It covers a variety of topics, including music, making fun of allergies and fan-zine promotion of books that I enjoyed in the graphic novel/comics genres.

12 bar blues

Musicians divide music into sections called bars (or measures.)  A verse is a section of a song that tells the story of the song.  A verse that is 12 bars long, became a standard form in the blues.  At the end of the twelve verses, blues musicians often play a “turnaround,” which has an unfinished sound, which leads nicely back into a finished sound, as they repeat verse again, therefore “turning around” the musical idea around to start over.  I hope my visual representation helps capture some of the excitement that dancing to music brings me.      -yawn boring cartoonist!

owner of a plastic bart

thunder khan cover

Great Comic Con!  Thank you!

 

aller jeez 2

See what happens next… if you buy the comic.

Qahera

comic cons

My cousin, Lightning Khan, is into reading comic books and graphic novels. She told me about her friend, Deena, a comic book artist, who lives in Saudi Arabia. Her work is about the Female Superhero. http://qaherathesuperhero.com/index

What does it mean to be a Female Superhero? What does it mean to be a Female Superhero, in an Arab country? What does it mean to be a Female Superhero, in America? What does it mean to be a Female Superhero, all around the world?

To find out more, read her blog, and check out the web comic.

This September, her webcomic, “Qahera,” won the award for best digital comic series at the Cairo Comix Festival.  Congratulations!

Applied to Genghis Con few weeks ago, waiting to hear back from the Mongol Hordes…

comic cons

It’s a fantastic small press/zine/comic convention in Cleveland, that I’ve been attending and participating in, for over 5 years.words and pictures

This comic refers to a permanent art installation/sculpture that I saw, at the Lee road library, in Cleveland Heights.  The sculpture includes a chalkboard where one can draw their own comics in chalk. My comic refers directly to the comic molded on the other side of the chalkboard. The sculpture was created to memorialize the Cleveland comic book artist, Harvey Pekar.