X by Clamp
X is an eighteen-volume manga by Clamp. It is also known as X/1999, but the more recent six-volume omnibus edition refers to the storyline as X. The series should not be confused with Clamp’s xxxHolic, my favorite series by Clamp (so far). X comes in a close second... Read More
Brad HawleyOn FanLit’s staff since April 2012
BRAD HAWLEY received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Oregon in 2000, specializing in ethics and contemporary fiction as well as rhetoric and composition. After teaching for two years at Jacksonville State University and a short break from teaching to be a stay-at-home dad, he now teaches at Oxford College of Emory University. During the past fifteen years, he has taught courses and independent studies in composition, Crime Fiction, Comic Books, Beat Literature, twentieth-century poetry, and Shakespeare. His wife, who also teaches English at Oxford College, thinks he has too many comic books.
Read Brad’s series on HOW TO READ COMICS.
X by Clamp
Suki: A Like Story by Clamp
Suki: A Like Story is a three-book story by Clamp. Clamp is one of my favorite modern creators of manga, and I’m particularly intrigued by the fact that Clamp is an all-female collective. Though they’ve had in the past a rotating membership, for the most part, Clamp now consists of a fairly stable roster of four women: Nanase Ohkawa, Mokona, Tsubaki Nekoi, and Satsuki Igarashi. They started out in the 1980s as an eleven-member group of amateur, self-published indie writers (known as “dojinshi” in Japan), and in the 1990s, they turned into a highly successful, professional creative enterprise. Ohkawa leads the group and writes most of the material, and the other ... Read More
Madame Xanadu (Vol. 2): Exodus Noir by Matt Wagner
Exodus Noir, the second volume of Matt Wagner’s Madame Xanadu series, is an impressive follow-up to the first collection, even though there is a new artist on board. However, there’s no loss in artistic quality. If I prefer the first volume to the second, it’s primarily because I love an origin story. So, my preference is less a fault of the second volume than it is the inherent focus of the first.
This second volume is similar to the first in that it shifts from the present to the past. However, Exodus Noir Read More
Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem by Steve Niles, Matt Santoro, & Dave Wachter
Though I’ve read multiple golem tales over the years, I became aware of their history the most fully after having read the extremely well-researched SF novel He, She and It by Marge Piercy. That was about twenty years ago, and I’ve been on the lookout for quality golem stories ever since. Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem is one of the best I’ve ever read, and it’s written by Steve Niles and Matt Santoro as a story that is appropriate even for young adult readers, ... Read More
Birchfield Close by Jon McNaught
Birchfield Close by Jon McNaught is another wonderful offering from Nobrow Press. It is a quiet work filled with noises, a Mona Lisa on a postage stamp, an epic in sonnet form, and a study in time captured in minutes and seconds. All these contradictions should make it clear how difficult it is to write about a book that’s only about twenty-five pages long, covers a brief period of time at the end of a day, and has no dialogue between characters.
Physically, the book is about the size of a typical paperback, and many of these fairly small pages have such tiny panels that a single page can have as many as twenty-six panels, though the number of pane... Read More
Fish by Bianca Bagnarelli
Bianca Bagnarelli is an Italian artist who was born in Milan. Recipient of multiple awards, she founded a small independent label that publishes short comic stories by Italian and foreign artists. I’m pleased that I’ve discovered her work through Nobrow Press. Unfortunately, many of these works — such as Fish by Bianca Bagnarelli — are easily overlooked because they are short, quiet graphic novels that touch on the small, but significant, moments of life. In fact, Fish is only about thirty pages long, so it would be better described as a graphic short story than as a graphic novel.
Fish tells the s... Read More
Harbinger (Vol. 1): Omega Rising by Joshua Dysart (writer) and Lewis LarRosa (artist) and Khari Evans (artist) and other various artists
Until recently, I’d read only a few various issues from Valiant, a publisher that is still relatively unknown to me; however, based on a recommendation of a friend with good taste in comics and an excellent weekend sale at Comixology, I decided to give the Valiant Universe a try. I started with the first issue of Harbinger, and before I knew it, I’d read the first two collected volumes of Harbinger, as well as the first collected volume of Valiant’s Read More
Spera (Vol 1) by Josh Tierney and various artists
Spera by Josh Tierney is a YA fantasy work that I raved about in a Sunday Status Update about a month ago. The story is of two young girls, fleeing princesses, on the run from murderous relatives and accompanied by an Aslan-like creature made of fire. One of the princesses, Lono, is a hesitant-young lady in a dress; the other, her protector, is a bold tomboy named Pira who wields a magic sword. The graphic novel is comprised of episodic tales overall, but as the table of contents indicates, it’s organized as a four-chapter novel plus an additional section of five short stories. I enjoyed this episodic approach, which seemed an appropriate way to ... Read More
Shutter by Joe Keatinge (writer) and Leila Del Duca (artist)
Shutter is another fairly recent Image title that is a five-star read, and it’s further evidence that science fiction fans should keep their eyes on this publisher. Shutter opens up with a father-daughter outing . . . on the moon! After that quiet, peaceful moment, the story picks up pace in the first issue, and starting in the second, the action almost never lets up. It’s about family, growing up, and getting to know more about our parents than we ever wanted to know, attempting to reconcile our gilt-edged memories with our realizations that those memories may be less golden than we thought. The heroine of this story is kept so busy, however, that she has little time to deal fully with the emotional impact of her new-found kn... Read More
Elephantmen (Vol 01): Wounded Animals by Richard Starkings (writer) and Moritat (artist) and other artists
Hip Flask, one of the main characters of Elephantmen, has been around for over a decade now, and the first images I saw did not immediately appeal to me. However, after reading the first issue, I realized this reaction is essential to the entire point of the series, because we are led to see how these Elephantmen, who have been terribly mistreated, continue to be discriminated against by humans. So, if you also are put off by the appearance of a humanoid hippopotamus dressed in a trench coat, then you still are likely to enjoy this series: You are being invited into this fictional world by being asked to respond as any human would. The goal of the author and artist is to make you care about these creatures after your initial difficulty in empathizing. However, as you begin to empathize within the very first issue, ... Read More
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE (Vol. 1): THE FAUST ACT by Kieron Gillen (writer) and Jamie McKelvie (artist)
IMAGE is THE publisher to watch these days, and THE WICKED + THE DIVINE by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie is further proof that, outside of your canonical superhero stories, IMAGE is where you’ll most likely pick up stories written for the mature adult, both male and female. IMAGE has taken the promise of VERTIGO and made it a reality, and all the best writers and artists, even the ones still working for MARVEL and DC, take time off to put out their dream projects with the hands-off editors at IMAGE. Consider this list: SAGA, VELVET, THE FADE OUT, DREAM MERCHANT, COPPERHEAD, SEX CRIMINALS, PRETTY DEADLY, DEADLY CL... Read More
Cthulhu Haiku and Other Mythos Madness edited by Lester Smith
The works of almost fifty authors are collected in this delightfully dark anthology of Cthulhu Haiku and Other Mythos Madness, which includes, other than Haiku, short- to medium-length poetry and about ten short-short stories in the horror genre; however, most of these short horror works are in the tradition of or comment on the tradition of H.P. Lovecraft, as the title makes clear. I think any fan of Lovecraft should check this book out. It’s a fun read. And it’s often a funny read as well. Consider the haiku tradition in English of writing the poems in a three-line, 5-7-5 syllable pattern. And then note that Necronomicon has five syllables! That word is just begging to be the first line of a haiku:
Necr... Read More
Tooth & Claw by Kurt Busiek (writer) and Benjamin Dewey (artist)
I rarely write a review of a first issue, because there are other sites that keep up with weekly releases; instead, I prefer to tell you about the best trade collections available for purchase in paper or digital format. But every now and then, I make an exception. Kurt Busiek’s Tooth & Claw, which just came out, is worth telling you about. First, it’s got over forty pages of story in the first issue (for only $2.99!), and second, it’s an incredible story that you do not want to miss. I think this story, though nothing like Saga, is going to compete with Saga in the larger SFF category. However, while Saga Read More
SubCulture Omnibus by Kevin Freeman (writer) and Stan Yan (artist)
I love to read, but for the life of me, I can’t stay up reading all night. Or at least, that’s usually the case. However, last night I had one of those rare occasions because I made the mistake of starting to read the SubCulture Omnibus by Kevin Freeman and Stan Yan. The subculture in this book is geek- or fanboy-culture. The geek/fanboy group in this comic consists of mostly young adults who have met through, and hang out at, the local comic shop: Kingdom Comix.
Freeman’s SubCulture is a black-and-white, episodic story that I just could not stop reading, even when I got past the four... Read More
The DC Infinite Crisis and the "Old" 52 (part 4): Villains United by Gail Simone
I just reread Gail Simone's Villains United for what must be the third time, and it wasn't as good as I remembered it being. I think there are several reasons for this reaction. When I first read it, I was still fairly new to comics and was learning something new from almost everything I read. But with at least a thousand more comics read between then and now, I have to say that I don't think this book will impress the seasoned comic book reader, though there are some great moments and it can be enjoyable if read only once. It just doesn't hold up to multiple reads because i... Read More