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YA, graphic novels and the spaces in between

Archive for the ‘illustrators’ Category

The Space after Pretty Monsters

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There’s a reason why movie theatres don’t encourage people to bring their goats.

I read Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link weeks ago and meant to blog about it before its 31 May release, unfortunately a strange encounter befell me, which could have jumped from the pages of Pretty Monsters.

shiny red apple by Dano on Flickr I met an old crone and she offered me an apple, the likes of which I had never seen before. Its ruby luster promised delicitude I’d never tasted, how could I refuse? And she wanted nothing in return. I took a bite, smiling my thanks for her generosity, but a nagging feeling of déjà vu tangled in the back of my mind. Then I fell into a deep sleep, perhaps never to wake again. No princes round here, but lucky for me a fallen angel texted me some lines from Danté’s Inferno. My phone has the loudest, most annoying txt noise ever. Sometimes it makes me jump if it’s near my ear. Obviously I woke up and Danté jolted that chunk of apple right out of my throat and I spat it on the ground. Danté’s good like that. Sheeba the sk8 dog* sniffed it, but she refuses to eat apple. So now I was awake and could blog again. If you’ve emailed me recently and are waiting desperately for a reply, now you know why I haven’t, but might one day.

After loving The Wrong Grave earlier in the year I was very excited to get my paws on Pretty Monsters, again with illustrations, sorry decorations, by Shaun Tan. The Australian editions are from Text Publishing. They’re publishing lots of cool US titles. Although we have to wait (2 years!?), they are much nicelyer produced with real white paper, not that grey crap they fob off on cheap US paperbacks, and bindings that stay bound – who’d o thought.

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Written by ClareSnow

15 June 2010 at 7:57 am

Frankenstein’s Progeny

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Frankenstein I’m reading Frankenstein, not the original by Mary Shelley, but an adaptation by Margrete Lamond, illustrated by Drahoš Zak (HarperCollins, 2005). I’ve read Miranda Seymour’s biography Mary Shelley (John Murray, 2000), so I know the beginnings of Frankenstein on the shores of Lake Geneva. Shelley’s life was full of passion and tragedy and she really should have learnt more from her mother Mary Wollstonecraft and asserted herself against the appalling way Percy Bysshe Shelley treated his wife. In her diary of 4 August 1819 Mary Shelley wrote,

We have lived five years together and if all the events of the five years were blotted out I might be happy. (Seymour 2000, p.232)

Even though I own a copy of Mary Shelley’s original and it’s not as thick as her bio, I haven’t read it (it took me years to read the bio), but Lamond and Zak’s adaptation has less words and even better – pictures. Drahoš Zak’s illustration is disturbingly macabre. The picture on p.156 is devastating in the extreme and shows the absolute perfection of his art for this tale of tragic horror. If Zak was drawing in 1818, Mary Shelley would have asked him to illustrate her hideous progeny. Altho I’ve heard colour printing wasn’t quite so easy back then, even with Zak’s muted palette. Ada Lovelace hadn’t finished working her magic (she was only three in 1818).

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Written by ClareSnow

15 May 2010 at 10:34 am

Governments do listen

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Wow, I didn’t think they did, but the Australian Society of Authors told me yesterday that Federal Minister for Competition Policy Craig Emerson announced,

The Government has decided not to change the Australian regulatory regime for books introduced by the previous Labor government…read the rest

This means parallel importation restrictions on books detailed in Australia’s Copyright Act will remain unchanged. The ASA, Australian publishers, authors, illustrators and others campaigned all year to bring about this decision and they’ve succeeded.

ASA Executive Director Dr Jeremy Fisher acknowledged the Australian publishing industry was facing significant pressures.

Minister Emerson correctly highlights the fact that e-books and digital technology are having an impact on the Australian publishing industry. The ASA welcomes change. We constantly seek new means to increase authors’ incomes. We are currently in discussions relating to fair contracts for authors with regard to e-books and products such as Kindle. We have also taken an active role in the US-based Google Book Settlement, which will see authors being able to pursue income streams for out-of-print works. The ASA will always seek improved income streams for its members in both print and digital forms.

Of course the whole world, and one little rabbit, knew this before me, but I only have a few more paragraphs and then I might be able to join the living again.

In other (way more important) news, when I give my (whole, entire) thesis (all of it) to my supervisor, no not at the end of August, not at Halloween, not last week, maybe by this weekend, definitely by next wednesday, I have something very important to blog about – graphic novels! Rachel from Margaret River Library reminded me that this blog is meant to be about graphic novels, not me, so look out for my next post Rachel.

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Written by ClareSnow

12 November 2009 at 10:57 pm

Sweet Scarlett

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I’m very close to having a thesis to submit but it’s taken quite a bit longer than I planned, due to a nasty monster which kicks at my heels, waiting for the right moment to trample mud all over my life. Monster isn’t the clinical term, most would call this monster depression, but I find euphemisms much more fun. Visits from the monster have been a bit too frequent for my liking this year, so I’m really looking forward to Halloween, when I will have a thesis to submit.*

the monster by Zoë S. At one time I thought I would submit at the same time as Zoë S. but she beat me to it and provided some useful advice on comments to be prepared for in the final stages of writing a thesis, in order to avoid a sociopathic outburst. I also found Zoë’s artistic post-it-note monster of great use. This looks just like the monster scribbled on the inside of my skull which runs circles round my mind, at the most inopportune times.

I haven’t been depressed constantly this year (in between I wrote a thesis with only editing keeping me from submission), but during the times I was, I came to the disconcerting conclusion that I couldn’t write a single coherent thesis sentence, but I could read book, after book, after book. Sadly none of these books were part of my lit review. Runaways is listed in my Literature Cited (as opposed to my Reference List) but reading all the vols I’ve got one after the other without a break in between (and this wasn’t the first time, so I already knew what happened) didn’t improve my thesis.

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Written by ClareSnow

13 October 2009 at 2:36 am

Inky Goodness

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Matata the reading Bengal cat by Justin Atkins on Flickr The longlist for the 2009 Inkys has been out for a while, but I’m experiencing some thesis induced insanity at the moment and the Inkys just remind me of all that YA reading I have to catch up on. You may notice Matata the reading cat has a predilection for classics, but she’s not averse to YA in between. I think she could out-read Inky the dog any day of the week.

When I first saw the list I thought the best book of recent times, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, outranked everything else, even the books I hadn’t read :P

Skim by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki But then I read Skim by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki which utterly captivated me and The Hunger Games moved down my list. I hadn’t noticed Skim was on the Inkys list at first, but how could such a masterpiece of word and image (my two fav things) not be. I didn’t think its graphic novel-ness was the deciding factor in my opinion. But perhaps it was because it’s the combination of the words and pictures which I love so much, especially the full and double page spreads of illustration, with Skim’s diary creeping across the scene. My favourite is Skim and Lisa trying to summon the dead boy’s spirit in the woods, and missing him because they’re facing the wrong way (right). Its partial repetition on the end papers makes for a beautiful book design.

My favourite words in Skim are repeated in the blurb. The Inkys page also has them, but they missed the most important line (you can’t trust a dog with ink on his paws :P)

I had a dream
I put my hands
inside my chest
and held my heart

to try to keep it still

The unusual angles, tantalizingly crossed out words of Skim’s diary and obscuring of Skim’s face so much of the time, until she finds herself and an unexpected friend, combine to make a work of art on a very different level to The Hunger Games. And I much preferred the UK/Aust cover to the Canadian.

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Written by ClareSnow

20 September 2009 at 10:24 pm

Steampunk Dreaming

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Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld Scott Westerfeld’s next book Leviathan is due out in October. I knew a bit about it: that it’s set during an alternative steampunk WWI (note to Edward) and I’d read the first chapter. I like steampunk, but it’s not my fav genre and although I’m going to read Leviathan, I wasn’t all that excited about it. Until now.

I hadn’t visited Westerblog in a while but today I did and discovered two things:

Westerfeld wanted the finished book to have the period feel of the era in which the story is set, Simon & Schuster is using 70-pound paper, full-color endpapers depicting an allegorical map of Europe, and 50 interior illustrations — lavish bookmaking financed in large part by Westerfeld himself.  — Publishers Weekly [2]

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Written by ClareSnow

5 August 2009 at 7:01 pm

Parallel Importation Restrictions on Books

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Update 17/07: I made a mistake about the book Beastly. It’s written by Alex Flinn.

I cannot begin to convey to you the destructive stupidity of what is being proposed, nor the intense sadness and great anger that so many Australian writers feel about this proposal.

said Richard Flanagan in his Closing Address at the Sydney Writers Festival in May.

Unfortunately, the Productivity Commission ignored Richard Flanagan and many others in its report on the investigation into the current provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 that restricts the parallel* importation of books. The report was released this week and is 240 pgs, but you can download each section separately, the most important being the Overview which includes key points and the Recommendations.

The Coalition for Cheaper Books is the major supporter of the removal of restrictions on parallel importation of books and their spokesperson is former NSW premier Bob Carr, currently Director of the Board of Dymocks. The Coalition represents booksellers in Australia with a combined market share of about 40% of book sales: Dymocks, Woolworths, Coles, K Mart, Big W and Target. The Coalition’s submission to the Productivity Commission creatively describes this membership. The “small, family owned businesses” which make up part of their membership are a particularly small minority. And it’s quite a stretch to call the last five booksellers. Books might comprise some of their diverse wares, but their main business is taking money from us when we’re not paying attention. ie. you’re standing in a long line that’s not going anywhere, with chocolate, bottled water, stupid Golden books, etc. staring you in the face, and thinking,

I’m thirsty, I need a sugar fix and Johnny won’t shut up.**

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Written by ClareSnow

16 July 2009 at 4:38 pm

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