Spotlight on Graphic Novels: The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks, Illustrated by Caanan White

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I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not very familiar with the Hellfighters. They were mostly a footnote in the European history class I took in high school. To my credit, at least I knew they existed. When I saw that The Harlem Hellfighters was (1) a graphic novel, (2) written by Max Brooks, and (3) available for review, I jumped.

There were a lot of things I liked about this book. The story was very well researched. You could tell that Brooks wanted to do justice to the story and that he knew accuracy was the way to do it. It is a fictionalized version of the Hellfighters’ history. It was, however, very well done. Even though you knew that the characters were fictionalized, they were realistic and relate-able.

The artwork is fantastic. It’s largely linework with a spectacular sense of light and dark and negative space. It feels a lot like a woodblock print or a woodcarving, with very bold lines. It does become a bit chaotic when some of the panels are similar, but overall is very striking.

The only thing I really wish we saw more of was the individual characters’ reactions to the events in the story. We’re introduced to about four or five very interesting characters at the start, but the focus doesn’t stay on them. There was a lot of history to cover, so this is understandable, but it does take away from the possibility of very interesting character developments and examinations.

Overall, though, I was very impressed. The story originated as a screenplay that Brooks wrote, but was adapted very well. Hopefully that movie gets made one day. 3.5/5


Bout of Books 11 Update – Saturday

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So, I’ve dropped the ball a bit. I’ll admit it. But all of a sudden I got sick. Falling asleep at 6 pm sick and I can feel it’ll happen again. I’ve just not been doing well. I guess life just happens.

Since my last update, I finished Guy Gavriel Kay’s River of Stars. It was pretty impressive. I’ve also gotten a quarter of the way into Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. I’ll hopefully finish it today. It’s only a two hundred eighty pager.

I’ve also gotten my hands on a copy of Max Brook’s new “Harlem Hellfighters,” a graphic novel about the Hellfighters.

That may be a bit more manageable.

Bout of Books 11 Update – Tuesday

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So, we’re already through Tuesday. It’s a terrifying thought. All I really did today was putz about and read Wonder Woman. The New 52 is one of the best things DC could have done and the new Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood is a solid choice. It’s filled with bold lines and striking imagery. The plot has a lot of potential.

I’m officially half way through River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay. Do you ever get that excited, tingly feeling when you know the big conflict of the book is about to happen and that everything is about to kick into gear? I’m doing that. So far, the characters are pretty cool and the plot set up is interesting. I’ll tell you more later.

I did manage to do the OTP challenge today.

My OTP (embarrassingly enough) is Ginny/Draco from Harry Potter. I know; I know. But, I’ve loved it since I was a kid. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve tried to explain. Oh well. Rooting for the underdog?

I have a good feeling about tomorrow. I’m going to pick up Coraline by Neil Gaiman to listen to while I clean. That counts too, yeah?

Let’s Talk | Comics and Graphic Novels [Video Post]

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In which I talk about comics and a bit of their history and context.

Bout of Books 11 Update – Monday

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Happy Monday!

So, it’s the first official day of Bout of Books. I haven’t really sat to do much reading. Here’s what’s happened so far.

-I began and finished Pretty Deadly Vol. 1, a graphic novel published by Image Comics. It was beautiful, though I’m not 100% sure where it’s going next. 

-I began and finished Lazarus Vol. 2, another graphic novel published by Image Comics. It was a solid improvement off the first. 

-I read 50 pages of River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay and am hoping to get a good chunk more of it done. I’m home alone tonight, so with some luck I can knock out another 100 pages. 

I didn’t do any of the challenges, but I’d like to. I’m going to spend some time tonight looking at the ones posted to see what is doable. 

How is your BOB11 going?

See you tomorrow.

Let’s Talk: Hugo Awards

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The Hugo Awards, as most of you know, are one of the biggest awards in science fiction literature. They incorporate the whole group of science fiction lovers. Awards range from the biggies like best novel to the more fan-oriented like best fanzine. Last night, the Hugos were announced for 2014.

I’m mostly just reacting here to the announcement that Anne Leckie won the best novel award for Ancillary Justice, her debut novel. You can check out my review by clicking here. 

Charles Stross, also a nominee for best novel, did win best novella. 

I don’t know how  surprised I’m supposed to be about this one. Leckie has won the Arthur C. Clarke, a BFSA, a Nebula, and a variety of other awards. It’s a good book. It talks about complex issues and approaches gender in a way that’s pretty new to scifi. 

The books’ sequel, Ancillary Sword is set to come out in October of this year and people are itching for that Amazon preorder button. It’s not up yet (I checked).

I’m a bit conflicted, though. Leckie’s book was outstanding and the novel was phenomenally written. You  would never know it was a debut. However, Wheel of Time (the series) by Robert Jordan and completed by Brandon Sanderson was up for the Hugo this year. It’s a classic series with thirteen installments and some of the most devoted fans you’ll ever see. I don’t know how fair it was that it wasn’t ever nominated before its completion, but it’s a work that certainly is deserving of a Hugo award, if not several that ought to have been distributed throughout its completion. 

On top of that, Mira Grant (i.e. Seanan McGuire) was nominated for the sixth time for a Hugo. She has yet to win, but her work is very deserving. 

The competition was stiff, but by the first round of voting, Ancillary Justice had twice the number of votes than its closest competitor. Leckie’s novel was great. I really enjoyed it. But with such competition, I also wonder if there wasn’t so much awards momentum behind it that it took the award with greater ease than it may have otherwise. Any thoughts? 

You can check out the full award winners list here: 

Bout of Books 11 Update– Sunday

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So, I haven’t done much today.

I was going to go to the library. I want to pick up an audio copy of Coraline by Neil Gaiman. It’s about three hours long and perfect for chores around the house. 

I went to Half Price Books and picked up a copy of the final two books in Mira Grant’s (Seanan McGuire) Newsflesh series. 

I also am starting Pretty Deadly, a graphic novel published by Image Comics.

I haven’t read hardly anything today and will do better tomorrow. Do you ever have a problem starting read-a-thons?