Starred Reviews Provide Accolades For ‘Monet: Itinerant of Light’

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One of our most exciting 2017 releases was Monet: Itinerant of Light from writer Salva Rubio and illustrator Efa.

Itinerant of Light chronicles the life of the great French painter Claude Monet, one of the founders of Impressionism.

Here are three notable reviews:

Booklist (starred review)

Monet has loudly maintained, all along, that he’s the leader of the impressionists. But in 1880, six years after the first impressionist show scandalized the critics, Renoir convinces him he can’t continue fighting old battles. Like Renoir and also Sisley, Cézanne, and Pissarro, Monet has to make a living, and staying with the impressionists is guaranteed poverty. Besides, most critics were starting to warm up to impressionism. Before Efa and Rubio get there, though, they dwell on Monet’s early years of struggle, beginning with his 1862 arrival in Paris and extending just beyond his first wife Camille’s death, in 1879. And well they should, for Monet’s long road to success is a real-life artistic legend that ranks with those of Beethoven, Brahms, Van Gogh, and very few others. Framing it with Monet’s double cataract-removal in 1923, Rubio and Efa insert several masterpieces in the background and let their subject’s obsession with light enrich their fine work of mainstream European comics. An appendix discusses the background paintings, the originals of which appear alongside Efa’s adaptations and sometimes by themselves. Because Efa injects so much of Monet into his own style and Rubio presents fact as fact and conjecture as conjecture, many may think this the best of the many recent comics biographies of artists.

 

Library Journal (starred review)

For their English-language debut, Spanish creators Rubio and Efa join forces in this biography of French painter Claude Monet (1840–1926), one of the founders of impressionism. The story opens with Monet as an old man recovering from cataract surgery. As he awaits the return of his eyesight, he reminisces about his past. What follows is a pretty straightforward telling of his life, from his early days as a rebel student to his relationships with fellow artists Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir, and others. We witness his early struggles, financial hardships, creative conflicts, and eventually great success, all in an effort to capture the light and beauty in nature. Monet himself narrates, and most of the text focuses on that narration, which allows the imagery to open and explore much of the same visual landscape that occupies his paintings. Efa’s illustrations are stunning; full of strong, lush color and bold impressionistic brush strokes that call forth Monet’s style but never imitate. Many panels are designed to resemble the painter’s work in order for us to see the world as he did.
Verdict This beautiful, evocative story will please fans of biography, art history, and impressionism. Highly recommended.

 

Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

This evocative homage to one of the titans of modern art is both a collectible and a joy to read. As an aged Claude Monet endures temporary blindness after cataract surgery, he reviews his past: stubborn struggles against the fossilized art establishment, painfully impoverished and transient family life, and the devout (even obsessive) pursuit of natural light in his painting. One of Monet’s early works gave the name “Impressionism” to the innovative approach of a group of young artists who wanted to catch on canvas the immediate visual impact of experience. Efa captures some of that fresh outlook in his luminous illustration of Rubio’s intelligent biographical script, and a well-selected gallery section that follows the narrative lets readers follow Monet’s astonishing efforts to establish himself as an artist, which culminated in his creation of a perfect painterly environment in his estate at Giverny. The large-format binding allows room for the dynamic panel and color design. The quality of the loving production make this a landmark in serious comics about art.

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FIRES ABOVE HYPERION is “a celebration of human connection that transcends race, gender, or sexual orientation.”

Or, to put it in its actual context from the review from the website, Broken Frontier,:

“These are Atangan’s love stories, and even if he’s almost never the hero, in the traditional sense, his struggle for self-acceptance and his uncanny ability to rebound infuses his graphic narrative with an accessibility and sense of careful optimism totally in keeping with the artist himself.

Unassuming yet unflinching, Atangan’s self-deprecating exploration of his twenty-year journey through the trials and tribulations of dating showcases a humility and honesty that resonate deeply with the reader.

Fires Above Hyperion isn’t a chronicle of heartbreak and despair, but rather a celebration of human connection that transcends race, gender, or sexual orientation.”

Here are some choice quotes from other reviews:

“Sweet, charming, and at times cleverly amusing, his quest for meaningful companionship is easy to relate to, regardless of one’s sexual orientation”

Library Journal

“Patrick Atangan has a unique voice and perspective in this field”

Comicmix

 

“Atangan excels at translating feelings into emotions.”

Comics Alliance

 

“A home run…(the) art is amazing”

Sequential Tart

 

“The stylized artwork and tertiary colors have a mid-century feel, which I found quite refreshing.”

A. Book’s Review

 

“Insightful, penetrating, invitingly self-deprecating, guardedly hopeful and never afraid to be mistaken for morose when occasion demands, this collection of misjudged trysts and missed chances offers a charming glimpse at the eternally hopeful way most folks live their love-lives and the result is magical and unforgettable.”

Now Read This!

 

RELIGION: A DISCOVERY IN COMICS, “is eyebrow-raising, forward-thinking, and thought-provoking.”

At least according to the Midwest Book Review, who also said that in Religion: A Discovery in Comics,

“(Margreet) De Heer recognizes the importance of the major world religions, but does not sanitize their darker aspects, to the extent that she deliberately incurs accusations of blasphemy… from atheists as well as from fundamentalists.”

 

Here’s what other reviewers said about the book:

“Refreshing in her honesty and openness, the author shares her religious roots (both parents are Christian ministers) and her journey exploring the different religions after questioning her family’s faith…The colorful, comic illustrations are respectful and will appeal to all ages; this book would be especially good for parents to use in introducing younger readers to the controversies and contrasts in different religions.”

San Francisco Book Review

 

“Offers a fresh look from different perspectives on the phenomenon of religion; the backgrounds and history of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism; and makes the point that religion is something that should unite us, not drive us apart.”

Graphic Novel Reporter

 

“Religion: A Discovery in Comics written and illustrated by Margreet de Heer, is a perfect opportunity to find an overview, all while seeking a way to understand a subject without getting so in depth you feel lost before you even begin.”

San Diego Book Review

“de Heer cartoons in an accessible friendly style that is imminently readable and takes no sides. “To me,” she concludes, “religion means mostly asking questions.” A point of view that the more hard-core followers of any belief system may find squishy – but should make a lot of sense to the more intellectually adventurous.”

Blogcritics

“Though the results of her investigation may not be especially profound, the physical product still is wonderful; she has produced a beautiful little book, with clever design, witty cartooning, and splendid use of color.”

Publisher’s Weekly

Finally, Margreet de Heer sat down with School Library Journal to discuss her work:

School Library Journal: Is there anything more you’d like to tell us about yourself and your work?

Margreet de Heer: I’m very proud that my work is presented as educational graphic novels—they actually grew out of making autobiographical comics. I love this genre, especially by women. There’s something very powerful about the personal narrative, no matter what the subject matter is.

My comics were born from a wish to draw about myself discovering things. So technically they’re autobiographical educational comics. I always start from a point where I think: How would I explain this thing to myself? How would I like to see it in pictures?

So I’m really drawing my comics to please myself. The fact that they are internationally successful is hugely satisfying for me: it seems a lot of people want to learn in the same way that I do. When I first started doing them, I did not expect this at all. I mean, who wants to “learn” something from reading a comic? Lucky for me, many people do. I hope to be drawing comics like this for quite a while to come.

THE WALKING WOUNDED, “jarring in it’s impact, from the precision of its storytelling to the power of its art.”

Walking Wounded: Uncut Stories from Iraq was named one of the “5 top graphic novels and cartoon collections to read this Veterans Day”, by The Washington Post which said:

“From battlefront to homefront, this story shines a light into the minds of warriors and the mental states of war’s patients. This is the stuff of what motivates young men and women to go to war — and what unsettles them, sometimes to the brink of suicide, after they’ve lived war’s horrors.”

 

“This is an anti-war book, and it’s hard to argue against it, even if seeing the horror of war in simple ink and paint that reminded me strongly of sepia, which seems fitting.”

Sequential Tart

“Mael’s art is important to the story…There is also a constant tension in the interview sequences.”

ICv2

“The book’s didactic nature doesn’t diminish the power of its antiwar message. As the Iraq War recedes, works such as this serve as a much-needed prod to a society that’s all too eager to put its misbegotten Middle East misadventure behind it.”

– Booklist

 

“Suggesting that war creates an existential rupture in the souls of those who fight, this powerful account will enlighten adults and teens willing to set aside pat answers.”

– The Library Journal

Finally, the creative team of Olivier Morel and Maël discussed the book with The Library Journal:

Library Journal: What would you especially want librarians to know about your projects?

Olivier Morel : For me, libraries are sacred places. Books have always saved the world, saved lives; they are living bodies. As bibliophiles, librarians affirm life. Walking Wounded is also a living body—all of its protagonists are authentic. I am presenting a graphic novel that deals with issues that rarely make the headline news, when at the same time, there are millions of individuals, families, and communities affected. This is social realism: [the book] generates, I hope, both an informative and a transformative reading experience. Most important, it is about resilience, survival, about how it is possible to overcome the greatest challenges in life

Review Round-Up! LOUISE BROOKS: DETECTIVE! GHETTO BROTHER! 101 OUTSTANDING GRAPHIC NOVELS!

Here’s what the critics are saying:

LOUISE BROOKS: DETECTIVE by Rick Geary

 

Be sure to check out a fantastic interview with Rick conducted at the Huffington Post where he discusses Louise Brooks and his work.

“This Louise Brooks adventure is supposed to just be a little detour from Mr. Geary’s ongoing work on his Treasury of Murder true crime series. However, there’s definitely a case to be made for more Louise Brooks adventures.”

Comics Grinder

“It is without question that Geary is the modern master of real-life murder cartooning…Louise Brooks: Detective is a breezy summer detective fiction.”

Trouble With Comics

 

GHETTO BROTHER: WARRIOR TO PEACEMAKER by Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering

“Gorgeous black and white watercolor illustrations enhance this inspiring true story…a fascinating examination of the events that led to the emergence of Hip Hop. It’s also a personal story of survival, loss, oppression, and reclaiming one’s heritage.”

Foreword Reviews

“Excellent for both teens and adults interested in urban issues, this account shows how difficult it can be to bring about social change and how unexpected positive outcomes can result.”

Library Journal

101 OUTSTANDING GRAPHIC NOVELS By Stephen Weiner

“As with all works of this type, many will argue about what should or should not have been included. That’s part of the fun! However, as in earlier editions, the book serves as a subjective but entertaining introduction to this increasingly influential medium and will remain an effective starting reference for the general reader. Librarians serving graphic novels fans will find this short guide to be a useful readers’ advisory tool.”

Library Journal

Review Round-Up! STREET VIEW, DUNGEON, 101 OUTSTANDING GRAPHIC NOVELS & More!

STREET VIEW

Bleeding Cool has named Street View as their pick for the Eisner Award for Best Publication Design stating that, “This book, like a jellyfish, has no spine. And I think it’s such a unique book because of it! Two different stories sandwiched together by two hard covers, spread out like a painted accordion, definitely provides a different reading experience. While I can foresee complications if not handled properly, I think the design is superb, and Rabate knew what he was doing while presenting it as a “wordless play.””

101 OUTSTANDING GRAPHIC NOVELS

 

“An invaluable reference for creating personal graphic novel reading lists.”

Midwest Book Review

“The selections feel pretty representative of what you can find out there and there were quite a few I was not familiar with before.”

Sequential Tart

“Considering the staggering amount of collected comic art out there, this ongoing project deserves to be recognized.”

Blog Critics

DOG BUTTS AND LOVE. AND STUFF LIKE THAT.  AND CATS.

 

Bleeding Cool has named Dog Butts and Love. And Stuff Like That. And Cats. as their pick for the Eisner Award for Best Humor Publication stating that, “I first became aware of Benton’s comics through Reddit, where he would constantly be upvoted to the front page with his latest comics. From there I eagerly awaited every update, and kept myself amused by browsing his archives. To have a collection of his best works available in one collection is a huge victory for humanity, for he has a talent for illustrating some truly laugh out loud stuff that tickles everyone’s funny bones. The fact he doesn’t rely on one style of illustration keeps things fresh, and makes him a chameleon in comics.”

 

DUNGEON: TWILIGHT V. 4, THE END OF DUNGEON

“As with many of the Dungeon volumes, the two stories are illustrated by separate artists: Alfred and Mazan, neither of which was familiar to this reader. Their cartoony styles are close enough to not be distracting, though Mazan displays a slightly lighter hand. In a series like this, you need to be capable of drawing small comic character moments and fully-stuffed bloody battle sequences, and both artists are up to the task. Twisted heroic fantasy and funny animals – what’s not to like?”

Blog Critics

GHETTO BROTHER Review Round-Up: “A Comic Origin Story, One About a True Superhero”

 

Ghetto Brother is the true story of Benjy Melendez, son of Puerto-Rican immigrants, who founded, at the end of the 1960s, the notorious Ghetto Brothers gang. From the seemingly bombed-out ravages of his neighborhood, wracked by drugs, poverty, and violence, he managed to extract an incredibly positive energy from this riot ridden era: his multiracial gang promoted peace rather than violence. After initiating a gang truce, the Ghetto Brothers held weekly concerts on the streets or in abandoned buildings, which fostered the emergence of hip-hop. Melendez also began to reclaim his Jewish roots after learning about his family’s dramatic crypto-Jewish background.

Here’s what the critics are saying:

Ghetto Brother is a brisk, compact work highlighting an overlooked, yet pivotal, part of the history of both a genre and a city.”

Rolling Stone

 

“Absorbing—a true testament to the power of faith in goodwill.”

 

“A  gripping story that feels like a history lesson but a lot more than that.”

 

“A fascinating, largely unknown story that’s told in a compelling, unexpected way.”

 

“Matter-of-fact and informative.”

 

“Written by Julian Voloj and illustrated by Claudia Ahlering, Ghetto Brother resists tropes that are common in comics and biographical storytelling for a first person visually guided narrative that gives a personal account of seeing the world change in real time…The universe is cyclical but in hip hop, it starts with Benjy Melendez. Ghetto Brother is it’s comic origin story, one about a true superhero that continues to replay itself, from the inception point to infinity.”

 

 

“An unusual piece of literature in that a medium usually reserved for fantastical tales and superheroes is now being used as a vehicle for the telling of a true story.”

 

“This wonderful book shows us that Jews come in a wide variety of ethnicities.”