Jul 12, 2008

Stuff I've Been Reading (and Hi)

I love losing myself in comics when I don't have much time to read. They’re satisfying and they’re quick reads, and so they make me feel accomplished – I’m actually finishing books! Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Death: At Death’s Door by Jill Thompson is a manga-style retelling of the events of Sandman #4, Seasons of Mist. It tells us what Death, Delirium and Despair were up to while Dream was busy with the events of the aforementioned Sandman book. And what they were up to was throwing a party for the dead. I’d explain why, but I don’t want too give too much away. This book was fun. The tone is very different from that of the Sandman, and while I prefer the original solemn, mythological tone, it was interesting to see this story be approach in such a different way. At Death’s Door is mostly light, even goofy sometimes. And I liked the artwork a lot. A nice little companion to Seasons of Mist.

Spawn: Angela by Neil Gaiman with Greg Capullo and Mark Pennington is one I'm not quite sure what to make of. I guess I'm glad to have read it. And the story was an interesting one. In this book, Angela, an angel, is framed for the crime of High Treason against Elysium. This apparently has to do with a failed attempt to kill Spawn, which I assumed happened in a previous book in the series. That's the thing, really. I’d never read Spawn before, and I’m sure I’d have had appreciated this book much more if I had. It very definitely felt like the follow-up to something and the prelude to something else. Things I did like: the hints at a complex world with its own mythology, Angela herself, the way the story developed. Things I didn’t like: feeling a bit lost at times, some of the dialogue, and above all the artwork. This is a first for me with a Neil Gaiman comic, because he normally works with artists I love, but I’m afraid I didn’t like the art of this book very much at all.

Finally, I read Trese: Murder on Ballet Drive by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo. This was by far my favourite of the three. It’s a Filipino comic, and I wouldn’t have heard of it, let alone read it, if it wasn’t for Lightheaded. So thank you! The main character of this book is Alessandra Trese, an investigator who specializes in unexplainable (aka paranormal) crimes. The film-noir atmosphere of this book drew me in immediately. This book collects four stories - four cases - and they all read a bit like particularly good episodes of the X-Files. What makes the stories unique, though, is that the supernatural creatures often come from Filipino mythology. I’d seen Neil Gaiman say that Filipino mythology was especially cool, and that it was wonderful to see local writers doing so many interesting things with it, and now I got a taste of what he meant. Trese is a great series. You can find out more about it, and even read it online, here. I’ll be reading issues 5-7 very soon.

Other Blog reviews:
Bombastic Bagman (Spawn: Angela)
Everyday Reads (Trese)
Fyrefly's Boon Blog (At Death's Door)
Working Title (At Death's Door)

(Have you posted about any of these books? Please let me know so that I can add a link to your review)

Hello, everyone. I arrived safely and I've been having a really nice time so far. I've spent this week going for walks, watching Pixar and Studio Ghibli movies with my boyfriend, and trying to stop falling asleep at 8pm because my body thinks it's midnight. I think I've finally succeeded. The critters in the pictures bellow are capybaras, the world's largest rodents. I was thrilled to finally see some because I looked for them the other times I was here with no luck. Now I just need to spot some armadillos and my experiences with the local fauna will be complete!

Back to books: on the flight here I finished The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (great) and Looking for Alaska (even better). Hopefully next week I'll be able to post my thoughts on those. I'd also like to do the memes Melody and Jeane tagged me for. We'll see what time allows.

One more thing: I decided to join the second Japanese Literature Challenge. I know I'd said no more challenges this year, but I regretted missing the first round of this one and I really can't resist this time around. Besides, I decided that next year I will not under any circumstances have more than four (or maybe five) challenges going at the same time, so I'd better make the most of my addiction this year, right? I'll post my picks sometime soon.


  1. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh...I can't believe you saw capybaras!!! They are one of my very favorite animals in all of the world, along with red pandas! Are they as totally adorable in person as they are in pictures and movies?

    So glad to hear that you're having a fabulous trip so far! Like there was any doubt, huh?

    And wow...I'm more than a little impressed with the reading you've managed to squeeze in so far! I'm definitely going to check out Trese...sounds so cool!

    So good to hear from you! Hope you'll be able to keep checking in!

  2. Glad you arrived safely and are enjoying yourself. Love the pictures of the critters!

    I joined the Japanese Lit Challenge too. I think I will enjoy it a lot.

  3. I love Death: At Death's Door. Jill Thompson's artwork is amazing! Have you read The Little Endless Storybook? Or The Dead Boy Detectives? Those are both great as well.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip! :)

  4. Sounds like you've been having a good time so far. I'll be interested to see what you choose to read for the Japanese Literature challenge. :)

  5. It's nice to hear from you and know you are enjoying your trip! I'm glad you are going to do Bellezza's Japanese Literature challenge, too, and look forward to your reviews.

  6. I saw a guy engrossed in The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao in the airport recently. It must be a good plane book!

  7. I am adding these to my towering TBR right away!

  8. I'm so happy you liked it! Hahaha! And goodness, you're definitely enjoying your break out there with all the comics, sightseeing and movie watching. Aah, life :)

    Here's my take on Trese awhile back. Been meaning to read Jill Thompson's take on Death as well but it's buried somewhere here and I've no strength to fish it out. Yet :)

  9. Glad to hear you arrived safely, Nymeth! :) I've never seen a capybaras before so thanks for the pics! Sounds like you've a wonderful time! Enjoy the rest of your trip and do check in whenever you've the time. ;)

  10. Hey Nymeth! Glad to hear that you're having a great time down there. Those capybaras are extremely cute looking in an ugly sort of way :p I'm amazed at how much you've actually read too! There's no way I'd read that much on a vacation, lol. Keep having a great time!

  11. Glad to see you made it safe and sound!! Not sure I'd be all that thrilled to catch a glimpse of the world's largest rodent...ewwww. Not really a rodent fan!

  12. Debi: They are :D There were a couple of baby ones and they kept chasing each other around and chasing the birds, lol. And they weren't afraid of people at all. I guess it's because they're used to visitors - these live near an ecological park. About reading, that's the beauty of comics :P None of these took more than an hour to read in total. And now that my sleeping schedule is back on track I should be able to check in more often :)

    Terri B: Thanks! I think I will too :) I don't know much about Japanese lit, but I love the little I know.

    Jessi: I haven't yet, no. But I plan to! Her artwork is amazing indeed - your avatar being a perfect example :)

    Tanabata: I'll post my list soon. I have two books in mind that were recommended by you!

    Robin: And I look forward to yours :)

    Andi: It really is! The only "problem" was that it made me both laugh out loud and tear up.

    Amanda, I hope you enjoy them :)

    Lightheaded: I really did - thanks once again!

    Melody: Thank you :) I will!

    Chris: lol, I know exactly what you mean. They look a bit like a cross between a beaver and a hippo and they're sort of awkward, but that's exactly what makes them cute :P As for reading, like I told Debi that's the beauty of comics!

    Stephanie: lol, sorry about that :P I actually like them. Well, not rats, but things like chinchillas and beavers and squirrels and stuff :P

  13. Glad your trip's going well!

  14. Ewwww-ROUSes! (Rodents of Unusual Size). We have armadillos here--mostly seen on the side of the road. Not really all that exciting of visually appealing--although they certainly are different looking!! Glad you're having a good time and I hope your body adjusts to the time soon!

  15. Thanks, Eva!

    Trish: They are different looking, aren't they? That's why I'd like to see one, even though they're not as exciting as, say, monkeys.

  16. I'm glad the trip over was uneventful, it sounds like you're having a wonderfully relaxing vacation...
    The capybaras look like overgrown cavys - do you know if they're related?
    What's your favorite Studio Ghibli film? - my family's completely divided, everyone has a different favorite:
    my daughter - Kiki' Delivery Service
    my wife - Spirited Away
    myself - Castle in the Sky

  17. Love the photos, very cute animals looking a lot like less furry guinea pigs. The comics sound interesting too. I think Death would be really great as a manga series, she has that perkiness about her that would translate really well. I am off to see if I can get a copy of Spike: After the Fall which just came out and tells Spike's story after Angel finished. There are going to be 4 parts and 16 of Angel: After the Fall (I have the first).

  18. Ken: I hadn't actually heard of Cavys before, but I asked my boyfriend and yep, they are! And favourite Studio Ghibli film...a though question, but I think I agree with your wife. I just love the folkloric mood of Spirited Away. Kiki is great too (I just LOVE Jiji the cat!) and so is Castle in the Sky. I can't think of a single one I didn't like. Another favourite of mine is Grave of the Fireflies, even though it has to be one of the saddest movies ever made.

    Rhinoa: They are also related to guinea pigs! And yes, Death worked really well in Manga for those exact reasons. Spike sounds really cool too. Speaking of Manga, the other day I read a little bit of Death Note in a little booklet with Manga previews and I enjoyed it a lot. I really have to get that series

  19. I love Jill Thompson. She is one of my favorite comic creators. Her Scary Godmother series is just fantastic, I wish she was doing more of them. I love her watercolor work, but her simple pen and ink black and white comics are my favorite. I really enjoyed this Death manga as well. Very fun.

    I know that I read Spawn Angela years ago and that I have it somewhere but I just don't remember it at all. It doesn't look like something that would have a strong appeal for me now, but if I ever come across it in the basement I'll have to give it a quick read just to refresh my memory.


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.