Here we go for Round 1 of Comic Book Cache. If you wish to participate at some point here’s the master list of books you can do. Plus, I’m open for any suggestions of what you may be interested in.
Name: Caira Ortiz
Full-time college student
Book: It’s a Bird… by Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen
I was extremely, and perhaps obsessively, into Japanese comics during middle and high school. I’ll still read a few here and there now, but they don’t interest me like they used to, mainly because most Japanese comics I come across have sexist themes throughout. Wait, so women can be more complex than crying over not getting asked out by the guy of their high school dreams?
Why Did You Pick This?
The cover. And then the title finished the deal. I had absolutely no idea what the comic book was about, and since I haven’t read any American comics I never imagined looking at Superman in anything other than happiness and awe. The isolation that was portrayed on the cover intrigued me.
Dislikes – When I first began reading the comic I really didn’t enjoy the art. The way the artist drew human bodies didn’t appeal to me and the muted, nude colors didn’t help either. But once I began reading more, I realized the beauty of the art.
I’m not certain how much the artist is given when s/he creates the art for dialogue, but I thought that the artist probably wasn’t given anything other than the text I was reading. When I thought about that, I realized just how difficult an artist’s job could be. With nothing but the text at hand, it was incredible what Kristiansen could do with his work, with the symbols he chose to employ.
The one thing I remember most is on page 99, “Alternate Reality”. “No matter how fast you walk, there are things you see that make you stop – and think twice about your life… Incidents begging the question ‘Are you adding to the world or taking away from it?’” Nowhere in this text was Superman ever mentioned. Yet, there he is in the background as a woman busily walks along the street. Second panel – second glance – Superman has disappeared. The comparison that Kristiansen created by using Superman against an everyday person is not one I would have imagined if I was given the text, but his point becomes all the more poignant.
Likes – Everything. Can I just leave it at that?
I mean, really though. What is there to not like? The art is gorgeous, ever changing to fit the need of the panels and the dialogue. The dialogue itself is strong and has made me mull over many issues.
But I think the part I liked best was the ending. After reading about 1/3 of the comic book, I already resigned myself to thinking this would be a bleak comic. That was fine, I was alright with that. After all, it was dealing with tragedy, a family disease and the fear that it reached the author. But then there was the end. The sudden use of vibrant yellow, the reconciliation with his father and Lisa, his enthusiasm to take up Superman, and his influence on children (who look very similar to him and his brother when they were younger) to fall back into fantasy and hope.
What stood out?
I think I may have already answered this.
How difficult was it to read the comic?
Not at all. I really, absolutely enjoyed reading this comic. It gave me a lot to think about.
Did you respond more to the words or the artwork?
Oh, wow. I don’t think I could really choose. I really think both of them needed each other for “It’s A Bird…” to be what it is.
Do you feel like you would read some more comics after this experience?
Elliott, I’m trying to restrain myself from just raiding your place to get some more comics. You better hope Sabretooth is a good guard cat.
Book: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Let’s just say I am over the hill.
The most I have ever read any comic was an occasional newspaper comic or a MAD magazine. Does that even count??? I would have to say I was very impressed by this book “American Born Chinese”. The story content was very engaging. I have always thought that a comic was funny. This book dealt with some very serious topics in a subtle and honest way, and also in a way a young person could deal with the realities of unkindness. The story also had some humorous parts which I appreciated. The pictures were interesting and funny. I was not thrilled with the ending, but maybe comics end weird. All in all this was a very good book, thanks for letting me read it.
I am Samantha!
I am twenty!
I am a student!
I read Something to pet the cat about by Elisabeth Belliveau.
I have had my fair share of comic reads in the past; however I am nowhere near as adequate as the admirable Elliott in my understanding of their magnificence. People say, “never judge a book by its cover.” Well to answer why I chose this book, I tell those people that judging by the cover is a fine way to decide to pick it up, just the way we decide to talk to strangers. Perhaps these alleged people should be advising authors to pick better pictures and be clever when writing the titles of their books. Regardless, in my opinion, Elisabeth Belliveau has done a fine job making her cover art because I simply could not resist. In more protest to these anti-judgmentalists I would like to point out how the interior of the book was just as beautiful if not more so. In other words, their advice is completely faulty.
In my few experiences with reading comics I have found that if you turn on the right part of your brain while doing it, its like watching a movie, reading a novel and listening to music at the same time. Maybe it is just me, but when I see little music notes, I really hear them. Belliveau encompasses her emotions through the power of pictures and reminds me of times where I too have felt empty and like a bowl of shit. At the same time, she juxtaposes these somewhat sad feelings to beautiful images of flowers, animals, and city streets.
The very first comic I read was hard for me to read because my brain could not wrap around all the sensory details that these books are screaming about. It gets easier though, and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is new at reading them because a lot of parts are more about soaking in the pictures than reading the words. Plus it is quick enough to read through multiple times and find something new each time. Also, if Elliott recommends something then we know it is good, so of course I would want to read more comics on his list and keep hoping for the fleeting moments that he shares his mastery, wisdom and insight with us less knowledgeable folk who still enjoy a good read.
If you liked this a lot, check out Round 2!