Week in reviews

Joe & Azat in the Smithsonian?

Indeed, a nice review of Jesse Lonergan’s Joe & Azat at the Smithsonian site:

“Joe’s best guide is local Azat, “the computer expert at the education department” – never mind that the entire department has but one computer. Azat, “the greatest dreamer [Joe] ever met” is also his best friend in Turkmenistan. Azat makes sure Joe gets his stolen passport back, tastes the best cooking (including his mother’s manty), meets a few of the local girls (at least one of whom Joe should marry), and enjoys every wedding with or without an invitation. In return, Joe puts up with Azat’s bully-of-an-older brother, listens to Azat’s nonsensical schemes to get rich, commiserates with Azat’s yearning for a girl he can’t have, and patiently tries to answer one absurd question after another.”

Publishers Weekly had six critics round up the best of 2009 and our Story of O and Year of Loving Dangerously made the list. Also, Augie De Bliek, Jr. at Comic Book Resources puts Trondheim’s Little Nothings 2 in the top of 2009.

Speaking of CBR, Jason Sacks there says of Royo’s newly remastered collection Malefic: “You can’t ask for a more beautifully produced collection of fantasy art than Malefic.”   And Andrew “Capt. Comics” Smith , syndicated in many papers through Scripps says of it:

“A very beautiful book, both in format and content. Royo is an absolute master of his craft, creating incredibly gorgeous and expressive women (and sometimes men), and switching easily from fantasy to sci-fi to horror.”

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Booklist on Joe & Azat

“Lonergan’s clean, sharp lines, minimal backgrounds, and pure black and white (no grays, not even via shading) make another story of a youthful, probably temporary relationship vivid and affecting.
Altogether excellent.”

See more on Joe & Azat and Jesse Lonergan.

JOE & AZAT visit Publishers Weekly and RALL on Booklist

Ted Rall and Pablo Callejo’s The Year of Loving Dangerously just keeps getting the accolades, the latest from Booklist:

“He was more interested in well-stocked refrigerators than impending sexual adventures. Realistically illustrated in soft colors by Callejo, of Bluesman (2004–06) fame, and maximally unbuttoned in some places, Rall’s sympathetic account of his life on the edge encourages identifying with a situation so desperate that his outrageous choices seem necessary.”

And Publishers Weekly thought Jesse Lonergan’s Joe & Azat equally charming:

“Lonergan follows his graphic novel, Flower & Fade, with this charming and engrossing study of a friendship that transcends cultural borders. A simply illustrated charmer that grips readers from its opening pages and remains on the mind well after it has been read and absorbed.”

CBR’s Robot 6 On Joe & Azat and the latest Dungeon

On Dungeon Early Years 2:

“The Dungeon series remains a thrilling, sharp read, in this case thanks largely in part to Blain’s stunning art work. Certainly this isn’t a good jumping-on point for newcomers, but it’s well worth getting through the series to arrive at this point. You’ll be surprised where the journey takes you.”

and on Joe & Azat:

“An entertaining book, mainly due to Lonergan’s deft characterizations, both with Azat and his extended family, especially his abusive drunkard of a brother. Lonergan may be vague on a number of details, but the dialogue nevertheless rings true. The fact that it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome helps too. It gets in, makes its points and leaves. I wish more comics would follow that example.”

So says Chris Mautner on Comic Book Resource’s Robot 6.

Sequential Tart on Joe & Azat + the National Post

“The art of Joe and Azat is deceptively simple. Black and white images, mostly of faces and places, do an adept job of telling the story. On the surface it represents the simple way of life for the people of Turkmenistan. However, when you study the images in adjunct with the text, the complexity of this style becomes apparent. Longerman utilizes juxtaposition to explore perception and reality. People would like things to go one way, but the reality is that they must go another. For example, the Peace Corps administrators would like for Joe to follow the rules given to him for navigating Turkmenistan, but the reality is that he would never survive if he did.

If you like graphic novels with strong characterization and crisp art, determined to open your eyes and your heart, definitely grab a copy of Joe and Azat.”

Sequential Tart, giving it an 8 out of 10.

And one of Canada’s main papers, the National Post, picked up the piece on this book that ran in the Wall Street Journal.

Story of O, Joe & Azat and Things Undone news

First one out of the gate, the site Comics Waiting Room‘s Avril Brown saying this:

“From the very first page it is apparent why THE STORY OF O is recognized as Crepax’s finest work. The fine, sharp pencils turn each panel into a vintage etching. Some are fractured panels, giving the effect of seeing these sexual acts in a cracked mirror, and others are overlapping, yet all are uniquely visceral and stimulating. This is not a story of men abusing women or women feeling weak, this is a story of willful submission. O makes her choice and revels in it, even introducing other women to this world.”

Boston’s Weekly Dig calls Joe & Azat by Jesse Lonergan “a damn cool book”, the reviewer admits to this being her first graphic novel and loving it. Cute.

And for Things Undone:

White’s humor is pretty lighthearted, considering the subject matter, darkening only until the end when Rick acquires a handgun and contemplates suicide. It’s tough to get too down, however, by a book whose every page is colored in pumpkin-orange. “—Rod Lott of Bookgasm

Reactions to Joe & Azat

Jesse Lonergan’s latest, JOE & AZAT is a fun discovery for reviewers:

Andrew ‘Capt. Comics’ Smith of Scripps Howard News service thought:

“One almost wants to meet Azat, the eternally optimistic and enthusiastic Turkmen with an idealized view of America, plus grandiose dreams of business success and romantic love. Joe knows that Azat’s ambitions are preposterous, but Azat’s enthusiasm is infectious and, more importantly, he proves to be a true friend. In addition to the personal narrative, “Joe and Azat” serves as something of a travelogue, a growing segment in graphic novels. Lonergan’s art is cartoony but effective. “Joe and Azat” is a quick read, and a pleasant diversion. Who knows? Maybe by the end you’ll want to go to Turkmenistan.”

Also:

“Bombarded with naïve questions concerning American customs from curious locals, overcharged for toothpaste at the village bazaar and constantly in danger of being forced into bribing someone, Joe is surviving by following the basic rules of Turkmenistan. When Joe accidentally breaks the most important rule of all (Never lose your passport), an acquaintance named Azat lends a helping hand and becomes his best friend. Often comical and at times achingly heartfelt, JOE AND AZAT is the tale of two men from different corners of the world, both physically and culturally, who form a connection guaranteed to endure whether or not they ever see each other again. Lonergan’s words are like his artwork: devoid of unnecessary flotsam and instead cut directly to the meat of the emotional material.”

Comics Waiting Room