Mirion Malle, Tr. Aleshia Jensen and Bronwyn Haslam
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewWith a true-to-life mixture of levity and seriousness, we witness (over a few too many episodes, perhaps) Clara’s dissatisfaction with— and ultimate withdrawal from—social life. Malle ingeniously presents digital screens as comics frames, and vice versa; she links how we access our digital lives with how we read comics, and makes this significant aspect of Clara’s world—something potentially dull to depict—dramatic.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewIt’s a poignant, understated book that avoids overexplaining (except bits on machinery and how paper is made), allowing the reader to linger in the gaps across vignettes. Some of these quiet episodes are quite lovely, especially those limned at the edges with mourning ... The break room scenes, in which the young Delisle is silent, often center on sex (in surprising ways; I felt jolted out of a reverie by their frank, explicit content) and are reported with a keen ear. Factory Summers is the key to Delisle’s nonfiction oeuvre: It shows his growing curiosity, in those formative years, both about how things function structurally and about people—and how he learned to listen to them. Its light touch makes a big impact.
Rebecca Hall, illus. by Hugo Martínez
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe details are often tantalizing, heartbreaking and scarce ... Martínez’s black-and-white drawings carry enough detail to reconstruct these lives but look loose enough to feel evocative and poetic ... especially powerful when treating the visual culture of slavery ... is operating in the wake of slavery, and in a state of being awake to the past, a process Hall frames as both devastating and grounding.
Jake Halpern & Michael Sloan
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThis real-life story is remarkable for many reasons, including the groundbreaking context of its publication: It appeared week after week in the Sunday Review under the rubric of \'Opinion\' ... an engaging narrative between covers that offers an even more intimate look at the Aldabaan family’s struggles, both personal and bureaucratic, to make their lives work in America ... Sloan and Halpern deliver a story that fully inhabits its comics form, and breathes with an easy visual elegance ... Sloan, an accomplished illustrator who also creates his own comics, organizes simple but powerful layouts to emphasize emotion, and his loose, fluid black line, minimal but energetic, lives on pages colored exclusively with blue ... The \'world\' of the title [...] refers not only to a new social environment and a new way of life, but also to the devastated state of contemporary affairs that produces the flight of refugees globally.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewIts unusual and fascinating process of collaboration distinguishes Dancing After TEN. Webber...worked with Chong to fill in drawings and narrative, creating pages and panels that integrate and develop the sketches into a story line. Together Chong and Webber create a comics language that paradoxically communicates sightlessness through drawing ... Dancing After TEN also, sadly, feels right for this moment, in its intense focus not only on Chong’s confusing medical condition but also on her loneliness. It can be a hard read.
Yoshiharu Tsuge, Trans. by Ryan Holmberg
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewDriven in equal parts by sincerity and irony, in a style both spare and lush, the book centers on a revaluation of the crafts, and knowledges, that attend trades and practices one could call deliberately out of step, slow, inefficient, old-fashioned ... Lest this book seem too downcast, it should be said Tsuge is often very funny ... While The Man Without Talent is by turns mysterious, philosophical and slapstick, it is also tender, capturing the moment-to-moment shift in emotions of a frustrated man who nevertheless loves his child. In a book about valuing the left behind, Tsuge shows us what is never actually at risk of being forsaken.
Tian Veasna, Trans. by Helge Dasche
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThis page-turner plunges us from the start into the chaos without the mooring—and the editorializing—of an overarching narrator (Veasna forgoes the first person entirely) ... Year of the Rabbit uses the hybridity of word and image to dramatic and ironic effect, frequently allowing the propaganda blaring from speakers to be contradicted by the drawings that unfurl on the page ... Veasna’s line is loose and modest, particularly in his stripped-down rendering of faces. While printed on a white page, his panels are bordered in black and separated by black gutters, a technique that lends the book a dark tone and suggests the suffocating omnipresence of the Khmer Rouge. The book offers an eerie, muted palette of mostly secondary colors. Pages can feel waterlogged, drained of vibrancy; a queasy light green is a frequent backdrop ... Year of the Rabbit evokes, even if it can’t replicate, a taste of the relentlessness its central players and millions like them endured.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...[a] slim but powerful [debut] ...Between her stories, showing off her sly humor and ethnographer’s eye, Flowers intersperses faux advertisements for hair care products ... Flowers’s loose, expressive line is a little messy, a little scribbly, with both cursive and all-caps text floating through the images. She is a protégée of the great cartoonist of childhood, Lynda Barry, also known for her expressive style ... In \'Hot Comb,\' bodies can meld into each other, and texture and shadow sometimes make the action hard to distinguish. But this imprecise style works for these stories, which are so often about the anxieties of correct appearance.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewKnisley’s personal journey can be compelling and quite funny ... the book, with its jaunty colors and friendly black line art, works best as an extended public service announcement. Knisley deploys the diagrammatic features of comics to break down medical and cultural contexts around miscarriage, infertility and pregnancy, along with their symptoms, and she illustrates myths as well as facts, letting them visually stack up against one another. These didactic interludes, often marked off as separate chapters, provide a charming, informative guide; the pages breathe easily, cleverly composed and uncluttered ... slangy and full of abbreviations and sound effects some will appreciate and others will not (I did). Less successful are the many moments when the book, which walks the line between cute and cloying, reproduces black-and-white photo booth strips of Knisley and her husband (and eventually their son) doing wacky, loving things for the camera ... The photographs neither add to the aesthetic nor amplify the story; rather, they present a visual layer of self-indulgence to an otherwise nuanced account.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewDirty Plotte...a gorgeously designed box set offering two hardcover volumes collecting Doucet’s entire comics oeuvre, arrives at an opportune moment. It’s a lavish history lesson for those who might take today’s outpouring of feminist comics for granted, returning readers to the skimpier landscape of the 1990s, when Doucet’s work, in both concept and style, broke new ground. Its aesthetic echoes forebears like Lynda Barry and Aline Kominsky-Crumb, yet its execution and vision are different. (Doucet’s dense panels, full of precise, stylized shading and characterized by heavy black-and-white contrast, swarm with details; they appear as the comics equivalent of a deep focus shot, the film technique used by Orson Welles and others in which the foreground, middle-ground and background are all in focus. In Doucet’s comics, a coffee cup has personality; the objects in a room seem to dance.) And while most of the material dates from 20 to 30 years ago—Doucet abandoned comics in 2000—the wonderment and rage at virulently gendered behavior feels fresh, and relevant for this moment. The physicality of Doucet’s work is still shocking ... It’s a darkly funny, jolting vaudeville.
Marwan Hisham, illustrated by Molly Crabapple
PositiveNew York Times Book Review\"[Hisham\'s] viewpoint as a civilian struggling within the city, and especially his perspective on ISIS, is gripping. Brothers of the Gun tracks the Syrian civil war in both words and images from the ground and from the inside, offering one of the clearest explanations (even when it’s confessing befuddlement) of the war’s growth and the unrest that is its motor ... Crabapple is an accomplished artist, and her black-and-white images, varying in size from spot drawings to double-spreads, have a fluidity and dynamism that add to the text rather than distracting from it. Sometimes the deliberately ink-as-blood-splotched aesthetic of the book feels gratuitous — sensationalizing already dramatic images. One of the greatest strengths of the illustrations is their range.\
RaveThe New York Review of BooksDelisle’s new book, Hostage, is his best since Pyongyang. It breaks his recent formula, and in doing so beautifully demonstrates the aptitude of comics for representing time and subjective experience ... it excels in immersing the readers in the lonely and terrifying experience ... Representing this story, the bulk of which features André alone with his thoughts, is a feat of elegant visual storytelling. Hostage shows us how comics can movingly express an experience like prolonged captivity ... In making his focus narrow, Delisle departs from his earlier work, and recent comics work so riveted to visually articulating the world-historical stage. Hostage, in its beat-by-beat, day-by-day scope, is ultimately a travelogue about the power of imagination.