Going Through My Graphic Novels: Cull or Keep? (SPOILERS)

I've got rather alot of graphic novels, most of which sit on my bookshelves or in boxes in my closets from one year to the next, never being looked at. So, I've decided to go through them all, re-reading each one and deciding whether to keep it or to cull it. Culls will be donated to the local public library.

 

As I re-read each one, I'm going to try to present my impression of each one, and then announce the verdict: Cull or Keep?

 

There will be spoilers here, so beware. I most likely won't read one every day, but I 'm going to try to keep up a steady pace.

 

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Next I read Are You My Mother?, by Alison Bechdel. As the previous book focused on Bechdel's relationship with her father, this one focuses on her relatiosahip with her mother.  I foudn this one not quite as interesitng as the previous one. It seems much less like her telling a story, and more like a therapeutic exercise, which was doutbless good for her, but perhaps not so interesting for the reader.

 

Cull or Keep?: Keep, but more as a companion piece for the first book, than on its own merits.

The title probably comes from an old children's book that used to be part of a book club that included Doctor Seuss books in the 70s.

Yes, she even references Dr. Seuss at one point.

I agree with your assessment. I was disappointed in the book also, If anyone's interested, HERE is my blog entry that includes it.

The Baron said:

 I found this one not quite as interesting as the previous one. It seems much less like her telling a story, and more like a therapeutic exercise, which was doubtless good for her, but perhaps not so interesting for the reader.

I have occasionally caught the strip Dykes To Watch Out For and have enjoyed it. Haven't seen any TPB collections so far.

I once got The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For from the library, which is a massive collection spanning the 25-year run of the strip. It has most, but not all of the dailies; one notable omission is the strip that coined "the Bechdel Test."

Reading them all at once, it was interesting to see the lives of the characters develop, but the screechy, strident tone got wearying pretty quickly and it became a chore to get to the end. 

There are several smaller collections, however; see the list here: Dykes to Watch Out For



ClarkKent_DC said:

I once got The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For from the library, which is a massive collection spanning the 25-year run of the strip. It has most, but not all of the dailies; one notable omission is the strip that coined "the Bechdel Test."

 

The very earliest DTWOF strips did not have any regular characters, it was only when the strip had been going for awhile that Bechdel introduced Mo and her pals and the strip began featuring them regularly and following a continuity.  The "Bechdel Test" strip is one of those early, pre-continuity strips, none of which are included in The Essential DTWOF.

Just finished reading Batman: Child of Dreams, by Kia Asamiya, with English adaptation by Max Allan Collins. In it, Batman is confronted with drugged-up duplicates of his old enemies. I've read some of Asamiya's manga before, so I thought this might be interesting to read., and it was. The art is good, and the story is pretty good as well. Worth a look if you get a chance.

Cull or Keep?: Keep.

Also read 300, by Frank Miller. A simple enough story, effectively told.  From what I've read, the Spartans were more proto-fascists than the defenders of freedom that the book paints them, but there's no denying the story's power.

 

Cull or Keep?: Keep.

 

 

I read a book about the War with the Persians etc (Persian Fire - v good, readable book!)  The weird thing was the stuff that Miller's 300 changed from what really happened. 

For a start, the great strength of the Spartans, and Greeks generally, was that each soldier was a private, propertied individual fighting for his country.  This meant that each supplied their own armour, and made sure it was the best they could possibly get.  (Naturally!) This is in contrast to other large conscripted armies, such as Xerxes' which were supplied with the cheapest handiest armour possible, in order to outfit them all within budget.  (They were pretty expendable too, I suppose!)

This made a column of Greeks/Spartans, all acting as one, a truly scary thing on the battlefield, and gave them a considerable advantage.  Many historians identify this difference as a deciding one in the clash.

Miller, in contrast, had them go into battle virtually naked!!  WTF?

The other weird discrepency was in who fought the battle of Thermopylae.  It is recorded that the soldiers who stayed and fought to enable the rest to retreat were picked because they were old men , who had already had sons to continue their line, and who'd already had long lives and accumulated glory, so they should be fine with laying down their lives for Greece. 

Miller in contrast, had the pass being defended by conspicuously young, manly and beautiful warriors. 

Who were virtually naked...

Any author can deviate from his sources to make an artistic point, but Miller seems to be charging willfully into homo-erotic territory here. 

Nothing wrong with homo-erotic, but still, it's ... weird.  Especially coming from the quite conservative Miller.

Miller discussed this change in an Entertainment Weekly interview (I found the quote here): "I took those chest plates and leather skirts off of them for a reason. I wanted these guys to move and I wanted 'em to look good. ... Spartans, in full regalia, were almost indistinguishable except at a very close angle."

So some of it seems to be for storytelling reasons -- differentiating soldiers at anything other than a close-up -- but the rest of his reasoning is just so they'd look good. 

I can't say he was entirely wrong. The naked warriors made for a striking image, and it's imagery the movies really trade on. If they'd been in the traditional bronze breastplates, would Hollywood have even been interested?

I guess they were counting on Xerxes army turning up equally badly outfitted for war...

In the book the armour was wonderfully depicted.  The men were like human tanks. 

Miller's reasons are fair enough, from an aesthetic viewpoint.  Thanks for the quote.

TBH, I'm often baffled by the over-literal readings of comics that our Captain displays on his weekly reviews.  "Why bring a bow to a gunfight?" and all that.  (It's a superhero comic!) But in this case, the removal of the armour and the old dudes makes the story about something completely different to what actually happened at Thermopylae.  It's just too huge a disconnect for me. (It's an episode of history!)

I guess I have trouble with the effects of Miller's 'aesthetic' choices.  The idea of young naked men spilling each others blood in a great nationalistic sacrifice is exactly the Romantic, cack-headed, right-wing thinking that had everyone sleep-walking into the FIrst World War.  Such thinking is still a part of how wars and invasions are sold.

There is a direct line from that kind of clouded, Romantic thinking and Miller's later "kill them all" pronouncements regarding the War on Terror.  So there are further layers of unpacking to be done, but Miller just leaves it at the 'aesthetic' reasons.

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