Archive for November, 2016

Review: Breve til Satan

Breve til SatanBreve til Satan by Tome
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second volume of the Spirou writer and artist Tome’s crime comic Soda. This is an improvement compared to the first volume, both in terms of the script and the art. The story mostly comprises of a flashback, a so-called origin story, in which we get to know why the protagonist became a police officer but insists on pretending that he is a priest to his worried mother. This story has some pretty big logical holes in it but it is entertaining, not least thanks to all the depraved inhabitants of the dilapidated house the main character lived in when he arrived to New York. Had this series been published when I was a kid and devoured everything that was published in the French-Belgian album format, I probably would have loved it. Today, several decades later, this comic feels historically interesting as it colours my perception of Tome & Janry’s Spirou, but it is probably mostly my love for the Marcinelle style that has me reaching for the next volume.

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Review: The Walking Dead, Vol. 14: Ingen utväg

The Walking Dead, Vol. 14: Ingen utvägThe Walking Dead, Vol. 14: Ingen utväg bRobert Kirkman My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The fourteens volume, and still an adrenaline rush… You’d think that Kirkman would have milked this post apocalyptic zombie concept for all its worth by now, but he still manages to get me involved in the lives of the characters, and making me quite exhausted after finishing reading. And with that cliffhanger (SPOILER ALLERT) of having Rick’s son’s life hanging in the balance, you can bet I’m reaching for volume 15 as soon as I stop typing.

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Review: Den tavse engel

Den tavse engelDen tavse engel by Tome
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first volume of the Spriou artist and writer Tome’s “other” album series, Soda. In France, there are so far thirteen albums since the debut in the late 1980s and the comic is on its third artist by now. Soda is based on the standard story about the not too clever but honest and energetic New York Police officer who solves cases by running, jumping and chasing around. Positive, non-stereotypical traits in this, the very first volume is the fact that the main character lives with his elderly mother and in order to to reassure her dresses up as a priest each time he goes home, and that one of the more important supporting characters is a strong and intelligent woman. Warnant’s drawings end up on the slightly more realistic side of the scale for Marcinelle-artist, but a Janry (the artist working with Tome on the Spriou series), he is not…

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Review: Arne Anka: Mentala selfies

Arne Anka: Mentala selfiesArne Anka: Mentala selfies by Charlie Christensen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Charlie Christensen is back with the twelfth collection of the cult comic Arne Anka. These volumes are nowadays only partly collections of the short comics that Christensen makes for a Swedish newspaper, which as always contain satirical comments about our time, presented as a dialogue between the main protagonist and his friends as they stumble from bar to bar. Most of the book, however, contains a longer stand-alone comic made especially for this book. This time Christensen addresses the terrorist attacks that has shook the world in the last few years, and in particular the attack against Charlie Hebdo, and how we react to these threats. This difficult question is discussed from a philosophical perspective and a large part of the comic is set in Europe in the 15th century, where the operations of the Inquisition are contrasted with what is happening now. An interesting contribution to the debate on freedom of expression, by a master of comic art. This should really be translated into other languages, as it deserves a larger audience.

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Review: Sockerärter

SockerärterSockerärter by Tinet Elmgren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a little gem of a graphic novel. Set in Russia after a world war in the near future that seems to have wiped out most of humanity (here made up of anthropomorphic pigs…) and most of the technology. A small group of survivors have built themselves a true communist society and are trying to make do, while they are all slowly dying from radioactive poisoning. The protagonist is a former soldier who deserted and are now trying to make himself useful by biking around, helping out, solving disputes etc., while coughing worse and worse. It’s sad, beautiful and touching, and really far from many other, more chaotic, action filled post apocalyptic dystopias. I do hope we will see more stories from this world in the future.

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Review: Helt enkelt Samuel

Helt enkelt SamuelHelt enkelt Samuel by Tommi Musturi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Finnish artist Tommi Musturi creates wordless, symbolic comics, often with four square panels per page and images brimming over with imaginative details and richness of color. Inspiration can be discerned from Hergé and Joost Swartes ligne claire, but also from Jim Woodring’s whimsical, hypnotic comics. The main character is a simple, stylized white figure which rarely shows any emotion despite being exposed to everything from traveling backwards from the tomb of the womb, to the artist’s hand literally, and forcefully intervening in the storyline. The short comics contained in this book are not clearly linked, and are divided with what appears to be individual, non-sequitur illustrations. Overall, the book’s content, however, creates a unified feeling that lingers after reading.

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Review: Lönnmördaren

Lönnmördaren ?Lönnmördaren by Raoul Cauvin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Yet another volume in the album series Les Tuniques Bleues (The Blue Tunics), and as per usual, it´s a traditional, well-made comic in the classical French-Belgian album tradition. The plot is pretty thin – someone within their own ranks is trying to assassinate General Ulysses S. Grant, and as he becomes more and more paranoid, the rest of the camp is trying to figure out who might be behind it all. Cauvin delivers yet another OK script, but it’s Lambil’s artwork that lifts this album above the average. Not the best album in the series, but well worth reading.

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Review: Jag håller tiden

Jag håller tidenJag håller tiden by Åsa Grennvall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Åsa Grennvall is back with a sequel to the critically acclaimed Deras ryggar luktade så gott (Their backs smelled so good). In a sense, this book starts right where the previous one ended and deals with how Grennvall starts her own family and how this leads to her finally dealing with the relationship with her dad and his (non-existent) role as a father. It is, as always with Grennvall’s comics, emotionally exhausting to read, and you just want to beat up her seemingly emotionally crippled father for what he has done and not done during Grennvall´s childhood. But the book also contains a great deal of warmth and optimism in the new-found family life, which makes reading the story bearable although it fittingly enough ends with a discussion between the character Åsa and Death … Grennvall is one of the sharpest, most personal comics artists we have in Sweden, and her last two graphic novels are among the best, most literary ever made in Sweden.

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