I'm looking for more people to follow who are into fantasy and science fiction. I've gone through BookLikes' explore feature, but I thought I'd ask and see if anyone had anybody fun that they follow that are primarily into these genres.
I've been fascinated with North Korea for a while, now, and this book is one of the reasons why. I happened across it in my Friendly Neighborhood Comic Shop, and the simple art style immediately grabbed my attention. I flipped through it, read a couple of pages, and bought it.
Pyongyang: AJINK chronicles animator Guy DeLisle's sojourn in the hermit kingdom as he works on an animated series forced to relocate production due to budgetary constraints. The art is simple and elegant, which is appropriate, given the creator's profession, and the prose reflects and complements the art, with a dry, sometimes understated wit that underscores exactly how alien North Korean culture can seem to outsiders.
It's a fast read, which is understandable given the format, but it's an engaging one. DeLisle's sense of humor is readily apparent (he reads Orwell's 1984 while he's there), but while he pokes fun at the bombast of the regime (such as damning the International Friendship Museum with faint praise in the guestbook he signs), he never denigrates the people who must live under it. In fact, when he notices a man filling his shirt with apples from the tree outside his window, he feels a pang of guilt that he's been gaining weight since he arrived (the food is terrible and soaked in oil; a fact verified by Vice.tv's Shane Smith in the Vice Guide to North Korea) while this guy clearly is trying to augment his diet anyway he can.
It's also clear that DeLisle only sees what he is allowed to see. He is shown many monuments and impressive examples of the DPRK's proud Juche' ideals, but he's only allowed to see two subway stations (opulent though they are). When he goes back to the subway on his own, he's surprised to find that the stations he was barred from are just simple subway stations. His excursion causes him a bit of trouble, as he is not actually allowed to travel without his guide and translator. Other cracks in the North Korean facade are readily apparent; while he stays in a luxury high rise hotel, only one floor has electricity and is occupied.
Overall, it's a great read, and well worth picking up. If It's a great companion book to Vice.tv's Vice Guide to North Korea. The crew stays at the same hotel as DeLisle, so you'll recognize the poor sea turtle in the lobby.
I've started this review several times, and I can't seem to find the words to describe Maus' impact on me personally, and the impact it had on the graphic novel as art. It tells an important story, but its power comes from how the story is told; it wouldn't be nearly as effective as a simple prose novel.
Art Spiegelman (one of the artists who brought us Garbage Pail Kids; true story) tells the story of his father Vladek's experience during the holocaust using an effective visual metaphor: Jews are mice; Germans are cats. Americans, when they appear, are dogs. Admittedly, the metaphor breaks down the further you get from the source material (Spiegelman himself admits this in the text; cutaways to the present sometimes show him wearing a mouse mask), but it clearly illustrates the imbalance of power that typified the Holocaust.
The visual style is simple but bold. Thick black lines lend a starkness to the work that evokes the bleakness of Vladek's experiences. The characters are drawn simply, with an economy of line that adds to their humanity rather than distracts from it; the simpler they are drawn, the more of themselves the readers can project onto the maus protagonists.
Spiegelman tells his father's story simply, beautifully, and honestly. Despite the metaphors (or perhaps because of them) he masterfully captures the raw humanity of the players on both sides of the story, and deftly shows that even though portrayed as a metaphor of cat and mouse writ large, the protagonists and antagonists alike are still terrifyingly human.
I did not care for this book at all. Holden Caulfield is an asshole. I just can't empathize with a protagonist that I keep wanting to punch in the throat. I spent the entire book waiting for someone to shoot him. Really. I don't even know why, I just kept thinking "Motherfucker gonna get SHOT" and then nothing. The pimp encounter was entertaining, yet not nearly enough physical punishment was doled out to Holden Caulfield to make it in any way satisfying. I had to read this at the college level. I turned in a paper on The Grapes of Wrath instead. Also this book killed John Lennon.
OK, that last part's not true. I didn't actually turn in a paper on The Grapes of Wrath.