But now I’m back here, ready and excited to talk about books, and specifically… graphic novels! If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that after finishing the Neapolitan Novels (still have to get over that one), I felt the need to read something shorter and lighter. That is not to say graphic novels are inherently light or that they can’t deal with profound themes, quite the contrary, but the reason I chose to read (more) graphic novels in March was that I wanted to take a break from fiction and let my brain breathe and play with other genres for a while. Graphic novels seemed the best escape route then, and I loved the experience so far!
[The ban on fiction obviously didn’t last too long, firstly because fiction is my main hoe and I can’t cheat on her for too long, and secondly because I need a book that fits into my bag so I can read during my commute. For this reason, in March I also read Convenience Store Woman and The Big Short, both borrowed.]
The 5 graphic novels I picked up from the library and read in March are:
- Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson,
- Mooncop and Goliath, by Tom Gauld;
- Cicada, by Shaun Tan; and
- Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staple.
I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite, so I’m going to talk a little about each of them.
If I have to be perfectly honest, Saga did not fully live up to expectations, but that’s just because they were incredibly high. When I say that it didn’t fully live up to expectations, I mean that I expected it to be a life-changing read, but it was “just” an exceptionally good one. The art by Fiona Staple is just fantastic and the novel in itself is like no other book or graphic novel I’ve ever read. It’s defiantly brash, hilarious, touching and absolutely bonkers! Besides, how could my language nerd self not love a book where people speak Esperanto and use common nouns as proper nouns? I’ll definitely pick up Volume 2 when I find it in the library.
Cicada is a the biggest of the 5 in terms of volume, but the tiniest in terms of length of the story. Despite being just a handful of paragraphs long, the story of this small and helpless cicada, who has a mundane office job in the human world, is extremely powerful and poignant. The symbolism of obviously open to interpretation, but I can’t help but think how closely this story relates to the experience of migrant workers who are treated like “aliens” in the society they are helping to build. Also, can I just say the illustrations are breath-taking? Especially the endpaper!
Mooncop and Goliath were not my first introduction to Tom Gauld, mainly because I follow him on Instagram (and you should too), and I had already read single comic strips by him online. However, these two graphic novels definitely consolidated the love and pure awe I feel for anything by Tom Gauld. His minimalist style has to be one of my favourite elements of his work. How can he say so much, while using so little? My favourite of the two is probably Goliath, but just because Goliath the character is just so relatable, but I do wholeheartedly recommend both.
And finally, I urge you all to read Nimona if you haven’t already and especially if you like self-mocking fantasy à la Terry Pratchett. I loved the character of Nimona with every fibre of my being – although, granted, she can be a bit over the top sometimes, but my favourite has to be my evil science nerd child, Lord Ballister Blackheart. The chapters were first conceived as single installments to be published and read online, and that shows sometimes, but Stevenson managed to still weave everything togethet in a cohesive and solid story. It might not be the best-executed or most original story (in the same way Saga might be considered to be), but it’s fun and sweet and thrilling and it holds a special place in my heart.
I’m so happy with this little experiment and I’ll be continuing it in April, reading 4 graphic novels:
- Blankets, by Craig Thompson;
- I Kill Giants, by Joe Kelly & Jm Ken Niimura;
- Paper Girls vol 1, by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson & Jared K. Fletcher; and
- Blue Is the Warmest Colour, by Julie Maroh.
A big thank you to all the peeps who recommended these to me on Instagram, and if you want to send me more recs feel free to either leaving a comment here or messaging me on the ‘gram.
This is M signing out for now ✨