PositiveHyperallergic... a coy, gruesome satire of gentrification. Taking place in the fictional Chicago neighborhood Bottomyards (riffing on Back of the Yards), it blends discussions around race relations, cultural appropriation, and urban injustice with a creepy plot ... While there are plenty of broad (and funny) jabs at artwashing, hipsters, and both NIMBYs and YIMBYs, the book doesn’t settle for an easy examination of the issues at hand ... BTTM FDRS...melds social horror with body horror, as the thing in the apartment building integrates its inhabitants, the gentrified space literally consuming humanity ... Passmore’s artwork skillfully balances the wry comedy with the escalating scary moments. The key to body horror is to make sure it’s properly gross, and he concocts some terrifically vile-looking creatures and scenarios ... Passmore’s colors, often working with just a few tones in any given scene, evocatively convey the feel of each scene and location. In comics, great scares often rely on alarming panel transitions or page break cliffhangers, and the book skillfully utilizes these as well ... Beyond the creepiness, there’s unease underlying BTTM FDRS ... Unresolved questions are more haunting than any lurking creature.
MixedHyperallergicThe thing left out of most dystopian stories is that people still have to get through everyday life in a dystopia. The Hard Tomorrow’s vision of how that dystopia works (our own, ratcheted up a few more levels) sometimes feels politically iffy. There’s a subplot with a \'friendly\' cop that goes exactly where it obviously will, and the book’s depiction of \'Antifa\'-type protesters is almost risible, blaming them for the violence the police inflict on peaceful protesters. (As if they ever need any such excuse.) But Davis thankfully takes no shortcuts in delving into her characters, refusing to allow anyone to be less than what they may initially appear to be ... Davis is mainly known for experimental and vignette-based work...She brings that same sensibility of flexible reality to this story, freely altering a simple drawing style with pops of vivid detail emphasizing big moments.
RaveHyper AllergicIt’s disquieting how easily we can dehumanize refugees. The AP referred to the asylum seekers currently making their way through Mexico as \'a ragtag army of the poor.\' ... In her new book out from Fantagraphics, Drawn to Berlin: Comic Workshops in Refugee Shelters and Other Stories from a New Europe, Ali Fitzgerald uses the current experiences of migrants in Germany as a lens through which to look at this cycle ... The book is full of illuminating asides like this. Drawing connections between the plight of modern migrants in Europe and those of 100 years ago or more ... Most of the refugees Fitzgerald spotlights end up in no more certain a place than they are when we first meet them. And given the historical and contemporary political contexts she sprinkles into the book, no easy resolution or peace of mind about the future is proffered. The reader is left, then, to think about what they see happening around the world with a sharper sense of perspective. Whether that will prevent the worst, genocidal parts of the refugee cycle from repeating is up in the air.
PositiveHyperallergicThe geography of the city, the clothing different people wear, the songs they sing, the ads and propaganda they look at—all of it is meticulously sourced and rendered. Working with black and white and hatched shading patterns, Berlin is purposefully drawn to resemble wordless novels of the ’20s—an offshoot of German Expressionism which crossed with antique woodcut techniques to form an early ancestor of the modern comic book. This series, of course, is far from wordless, though it will draw back and let characters act as often as it will listen to them speak their minds. Lutes also defies certain Expressionist conventions, with an emphasis on white rather than black and an avoidance of exaggeration or abstraction. The drawings maintain rigid attention to realism in people’s facial expressions and gestures; no one will go off-model for the sake of an action sequence. Lutes cites both the book and film versions of Berlin Alexanderplatz as inspiration, but it also reminded me of the works of Mike Leigh, another filmmaker with an acute eye for human details and social dynamics ... With its completion, Berlin fully joins the ranks of canonical graphic novels. It is timely not just in our current tumultuous era, but for as long as societal deprivations build until clashing ideologies come to a head.
Yvan Alagbé, Trans. by Donald Nicholson-Smith
RaveHyperallergic\"Though written across many years now past, Alagbé’s stories about the difficulties faced by migrants in Europe hold special relevance now, as that subject has spiked from one social issue among many to a full-blown crisis ... With its stories originally spread out over nearly 20 years, it is a real-time chronicle of how immigrants and their treatment have evolved. The global migrant crisis will only get worse as climate change sets in, and so we would do well to heed Alagbé’s fevered attempts to humanize immigrants.\