Nov 30, 2009

Three Comics: Scheherazade, Dolltopia and Re-Gifters

(I read these books a few weeks ago and haven't been able to tell you about them yet. So before even more time passes and I forget the details, here's a catching up post.)

Scheherazade: Comics About Love, Treachery, Mothers and Monsters edited by Megan KelsoScheherazade: Comics About Love, Treachery, Mothers and Monsters is an anthology of comics by women edited by Megan Kelso (of Squirrel Mother fame). She explains in the introduction that this anthology "doesn't have a theme but a role model. Queen Scheherazade, the heroine of One Thousand and One Nights, was smart and inventive and a teller of well-made tales. She outwitted the King, cheated death and for 1001 nights, kicked ass with her storytelling chops. This Scheherazade is a celebration of narrative".

Even though I'm quoting from it, I actually disagree with most of the points she makes in the introduction. She says that she doesn't think women have to struggle to be taken seriously in comics anymore - I'm not knowledgeable enough to have an opinion on this, though as a fan I do notice that they seem to be unrepresented. Then she adds that the anthology is meant to prove that the way women tell stories is fundamentally different from the way men do, just like everything else men and women do is done differently - and as celebratory as the intention is, this is a notion I absolutely reject. Hello, James Tiptree, Jr.

But the fact that I disagree with the introduction didn't detract from my enjoyment of the stories. As in any anthology, some were better than others, but overall I very much enjoyed this book. A few highlights: "The Fisherman and the Genie" by Andrice Arp, which is a retelling of a story from The One Thousand and One Nights; "Fanya Needs to Know" by Leela Corman, in which a young girl, after an incident with a neighbour, keeps asking questions until she's given answers about birth, life and death; and "Shit" by Ariel Schrag, about a girl who's invited to go on a boating trip by a friend, and is mortified to be told that she needs to go to a different bathroom for "number two", meaning that everyone will know when she needs to go. This one was a bit more, er, scatological than the kind of story I normally enjoy, but it was also hilarious and mortifying, and it captured the awkwardness and the embarrassment kids can feel incredibly well.

Like the best anthologies, Scheherazade introduced me to several authors whose books I now must seek out. Also, this would be a perfect choice for the Women Unbound challenge! Some pretty pictures:
Scheherazade: Comics About Love, Treachery, Mothers and Monsters
Scheherazade: Comics About Love, Treachery, Mothers and Monsters


Dolltopia by Abby DensonDolltopia by Abby Denson is a book I might have avoided simply because the cover is Too Bright, and that would have been an incredibly silly thing to do. The reason why I didn't deprive myself was because Martin Millar said it was good, and I enjoy his books and his blog so much that I'll read anything he tells me to.

Dolltopia is a fantasy about a group of sentient dolls who get tired of the roles humans force them into and decide to form their own society. This might sound silly, but this is actually a lovely story about having the courage to be who you are and not who other people expect you to be. Plus it's a lot of fun. The style and the sensibility behind this book are unlike anything I've ever read before, and I'll be sure to seek out more books by Abby Denson. A few panels:

Dolltopia
Dolltopia

Re-Gifters by Mike Carey, Sonny Liew and Marc HempelFinally, Re-Gifters by Mike Carey, Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel is about Jen Diek Seong, known as Dixie, a girl with such a big crush on her hapkido partner Adam that she uses the money that was supposed to pay for her entrance fee in an important tournament to buy him a fabulous birthday gift. Which gets re-gifted. Repeatedly.

I worry that telling you about this book along with Scheherazade and Dolltopia will make it seem to pale in comparison, simply because the concept isn't as unique as those of the other books. But the truth is is that this was actually my favourite of the three. I loved the characterization; I loved that it tackled issues like racism, cultural assimilation, and the extent to which a tradition like hapkido (a Korean martial art) can help people built a sense of identity; I loved the humour, the artwork, and the fact that the plot surprised me. And I loved seeing Dixie stand up for herself. I had a wonderful time with this book.

Re-Gifters is part of the DC Comics Minx line, which is aimed at teenagers and has brought you (I say "you" and not "us" because sadly I have yet to read it) books like The Plain Janes. I was looking through their site earlier and ended up adding pretty much everything they have to my wishlist.

Art from Re-Gifters:
Re-Gifters

Re-Gifters


Other Opinions: Bart's Bookshelf (Re-Gifters)

(Have you posted about any of these books? Leave me your link and I'll be glad to add it here.)

19 comments:

  1. They all three look good! I've been compiling a nice list of graphic novels...are you going to do a challenge next year? I hope someone does. I'm ready to launch myself into a totally new genre here!

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  2. Every time I visit ur blog I find such interesting stuff. I am going to rename ur blog as the recommendations blog in my reader folder :)

    Thanks

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  3. Ah, when you said the other day you'd read a snippet of Clubbing, I wondered which Minx comic you got ahold of! The little clip they show of the ReGifters in the back of the book didn't interest me at all, but if you thought it was that good, maybe they just had a bad segment of it. Their segment of Good As Lily was a poor example, too. My friend Debye tells me Good As Lily is brilliant.

    Sadly, Minx no longer exists. They folded. :(

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  4. Perfect timing-I just finished Arabian Nights! So of course I'm interested in the first one. :D Although it sounds like the intro would get my blood boiling a bit...

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  5. Immediately adding all three to wish list. Though I plan on skipping the intro to Scheherazade...no sense raising my blood pressure if it can be helped, right?

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  6. Definitely gonna have to pick that up for Graphic novel Monday- love Megan Kelso, love anthologies and love promoting women in comics!

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  7. Yay!! 3 more graphic novels for the wish list :) Re-gifters and Dolltopia sound especially good to me...like my type of GNs...And don't feel bad about having not read The Plain Janes yet..I haven't either :/ I really should do that soon!

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  8. Re-Gifters actually sounds perfect for this time of year. I'm intrigued by Dolltopia too.

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  9. Honestly, Ana, this adding to my GN wishlist when I don't even technically *have* a GN wishlist is getting to be too much! Have a heart, will you? :-)

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  10. I read Re-gifters last year, and found it a load of fun! :)

    http://www.bartsbookshelf.co.uk/2008/08/13/re-gifters-mike-carey-sonny-liew-marc-hempel/

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  11. You remind me of Minx line. I read Burnout a few months ago. It was a decent read but not amazing, so I was left a bit flat. Re-Gifters sounds like something I would like more though!

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  12. All the 3 sounds good! I hardly read comics, though...

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  13. I really enjoyed your website! Your book reviews are wonderful reading. Have you heard of Danny the Dragon? It’s worth a review: http://DannyTheDragon.com Please let me know if you are interested in reviewing this nominee for Best Children’s Book of 2009! info@DannyTheDragon.com Thank you, Rosie

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  14. Very nice mini reviews! I think that I would like all three of these books, they look very different than most of the books I have read recently. Great review, I will be checking these out!

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  15. Sandy: Yes! I'm hosting the 2010 Graphic Novels challenge along with Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made On :D The official announcement will be made soon!

    Shona: lol :P I should rename my book blogs folder that, period.

    Amanda: I didn't know that about Minx :( Boooo!

    Eva and Debi: It wasn't as much infuriating as it was saddening, you know? She sounds very celebratory, but I think that Carol Gilligan-esque school of thought is responsible for A LOT of problems. For me, feminism is about questioning gender identity and gender roles, not about accepting that Boys Are From Mars and Girls Are From Venus, practically different species really, and we should all hold hands and sing songs about how lovely our differences are *rolleyes*

    Marie: I need to read more Megan Kelso! Her story in the anthology was actually my intro to her work. I love the style of her art.

    Chris: I think you'd enjoy them all :D

    Kathy: I hope nobody re-gifts my lovingly picked gifts this Christmas *sniff* :P

    Aarti: lol - I'll try ;)

    Bart: Thank you for the link! That was probably where I heard of it to begin with.

    Mee, I hope you do enjoy it!

    Alice: Well, Manga counts :P

    Zibilee: I loved how unique they were, especially the first two :)

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  16. (1) Another GN challenge?! If I hadn't entered last year's I would have never fallen in love with the medium. Yay! I'll be joining.

    (2) Re-gifters and Dolltopia both look especially good. Like you, I could have easily passed up Dolltopia because of the cover. I'm bad like that sometimes.

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  17. Beth, we're hoping to announce it officially very soon :D

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  18. That reminds me that I really need to try to read 1001 Nights someday soon. Great illustrations from all of these!

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  19. And I need to try to read it again! I have an edition that my mother gave me as a child, but I can't actually remember if I read the whole thing...

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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.