Wild About Shapes

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Posted by Danielle | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 08-08-2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 1.06.09 PMWild About Shapes
Jérémie Fischer
Flying Eye Books
9781909263383
March 2015

OK I know what everyone is thinking. “Another book about shapes? Really? WHY??” And sure I thought that myself, but this is from Flying Eye Books and when they do a book, even about a common topic like shapes, they take it to a direction that most of us would have never thought of. They create an art of it. And this book…this book on shapes is no exception.

First of all this isn’t really “shapes” as in triangles and squares and what not. No. These are wild creatures that galavant about the page, hiding from one another until the right moment when they leap out for the reader to see and enjoy. And not in a normal fashion where you might move a tag or look into a hole to see the animal. No. here you really see shapes that turn into a majestic animal.

When you first open the book you see a page with what appears to be a blue splotch and a piece of acetate on the opposite side with a splotch of yellow. Doesn’t look like anything to me. I mean…there’s no pattern to it. Nothing that shows a shape or an outline of a creature. But you turn the page, and the yellow merges with the green, and HOLY COW! It’s a giraffe! How…where…what??

Seriously you think I’m exaggerating here, but I’m not. That’s the type of reaction a reader, young or old will have. The young going “HOLY COW this is so cool and so amazing, this is my favorite book ever now!” And the old marveling at the mastery and time it took to create this. Because seriously can you imagine the time and energy that went into this? It’s not just overlaying a color, it’s sitting down and figuring out how to make it look like he wants. What will the animal be doing? What color will the base be? What shape will the overlay on the acetate make? I mean, this is a gorgeous book and I can imagine that classes that teach how to make kids books will pull this one out to go “OK this is how you take a simple concept and make it amazing.”

This is a book to pick up, even if you don’t have kids. Even if they’re past the age of learning about shapes. Pick it up and just marvel at the magic. And remember once more what it was like to be amazed about a simple book and the shapes within.

The Little Gardener

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Posted by Danielle | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 07-08-2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 12.57.27 PMThe Little Gardener
Emily Hughes
Flying Eye Books
9781909263437
August 2015

There was once a little gardener and his garden meant everything to him. It may not look like much, but its his. His home. His life. His everything. But the garden is dying. And as hard as he works, he’s just too little to take care of it all. Just before going to sleep one day he wishes for some help. Not for himself. But for his garden that he so loves. There was once a little gardener and his garden mean everything to him. And while he slept his wish was heard.

In this short simple tale Emily Hughes creates a tale of empowerment and persistence, that no matter how big the odds and the world seem, just keep trying as hard as you can. And…really what else is there to say about this short beautiful tale? The images are evocative and gorgeous, reminding me of Maurice Sendak in terms of shapes and color choices. Wild and moving that will enthrall readers young and old as they explore the garden of the littlest gardener and see what he created in this world around him.

There was once a little gardener and his garden mean everything to him.

Black and White

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Posted by Danielle | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 07-08-2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 10.29.05 AMBlack and White (Dahlov Ipcar Collection)
Dahlov Ipcar
Flying Eye Books
9781909263444
April 2015

This review is going to be different, because this is a different type of story, and this is different era than what it was and what it will be. This is a story of black and white written and drawn during the early 1960’s. When the Civil Rights movement was in full swing and there seemed to be so much darkness and hate in the world. Much like today. When a new Civil Rights movement is standing and asking the world to remember that “black lives matter” too. And to remember that there was once a dream by a man where all would join together at the table of brotherhood in shared hands.

Two little dogs, one black and one white, frolic and play out in the snow in the woods near their home. Though each can go far and hide, one in the white winter snow and the other in the black night, they each came back to each other. And that was all right. They each went home and they dreamed dreams of a world that was like them, but mixed with the other. For neither could exist without the other and no creature looked right without the other. And they woke up and shared their dreams of a world mixed together in harmony.

I’ll say nothing of the story, because I’ve already said it. Of the illustrations though they are evocative and move like music across the page. Hand painted in a particular color palette consisting of black, white, pinks and yellows, blue and greens, and subtle blending to create a world like no other and like our own world. Each works together in harmony to create a more visually breathtaking and heartbreaking image of the world at large, of two dogs at play.

Two little dogs, one back and one white, frolic and play together. They each came back to each other for they were better that way. And that was all right.

Lost Property

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Posted by Danielle | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 07-08-2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 10.23.59 AMLost Property
Andy Poyiadgi
Nobrow
9781907704864
April 2015

Gerald Cribbin is just your everyday postman. Helping connect and deliver people’s possessions and personal items with care. His own items…a little bit less so. One day he gets a call from the local “Lost Property” office that someone has found his letter opener, but upon arriving to claim it he finds that the office has more than just that. A lot more. Everything that he has ever lost has been kept and stored here, going back to his childhood. Why? What does it mean? And what will Gerald do with it?

In this short, yet moving story Andy Poyiadgi presents a tale of time travel, while staying in the present. How is this possible you ask? While the idea of finding lost possessions is simple in idea, the ability for a character to use these possessions to reexplore his past, decisions made, decisions left unmade, and to redefine his future is brilliant in concept. Poyiadgi allows Gerald to travel into his past without ever leaving the present, to give away pieces that have held him back, to rediscover bits of himself, and to make new what his future will be. I keep using that word, future, to describe this book, because that’s what it does. Poyiadgi sets a new course, perhaps not just for his character but for himself as well, with this short and powerful work.

Poyiadigi’s illustrations harken back to an era lost in the past, where gentle colors and soft pastels create the world around us. Feeling familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. The two main characters we see in this world and get to know, capture the intensity of standing upon the brink of something important, yet not quite knowing what it is. The feeling of regret, hope, fear, confusion, all blended together on their faces. My favorite parts of the illustrations though? Those subtle little details that Poyiadgi places in his images, the missing O on the Lost Property sign, the keyhole shaped panels as Gerald begins to unlock what his past means and the future holds. Little things that just stand out in part of a greater work.

This short books hides a brilliant story and a great introduction to Poyidagi’s work. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for him. And what I can learn from the past artifacts of my life perhaps.

Adulthood is a Myth

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Posted by Danielle | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 07-08-2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 10.20.55 AMAdulthood is a Myth: A Sarah’s Scribbles Collection
Sarah Andersen
Andrews McMeel Publishing
9781449474195
March 2016

Adulthood. It’s awesome right? All marinis and flirts on a sunset beach or on a high rise in NYC talking about how you’re going to take over the world and the next big business deal and how you’re going to meet up with the 3rd VP’s assistant of network of computers at HP in CT for NW (networking) tomorrow night for drinks and you should totes come! Right? Yeah…if that made sense to you, please put down this book and go find the business section. If on the other the hand you groaned out loud, keep reading.

Sarah Andersen is a young twentyish something cartoonist in New York (why do all of the best cartoonists seem to live there, I wonder) who captures the everyday life of just…being. Being alive. Being in your early twenties. That time period in life when everything is supposed to be roses and picnics and deer and everything according to some old farts that forgot that their early twenties sucked or just like torturing the rest of us…I’m not sure which. Either way Sarah captures the reality of what life is like. Of being afraid of going out shopping all alone because of pushy salespeople that want you to buy “OMG its just the best thing evar! It will soooo help you win that interview with that cute guy. Wink. wink.” Of dealing with people that say things like “Real girls don’t do x” (and of course the only way to deal with them is to remind them that they really do exist.)

Sarah is adept at capturing the life struggles that so many of us endure and understand with just a few simple words and a wee bit of humor to it, just to take the edge off of life. Her words will have you nodding along in agreement and exclaiming “So that’s how I deal with that type of person! Got it. Yep, yep, yep!” Or exclaiming “OMG that is so me! Is Sarah watching me?” and then looking out the window to see Sarah ducking out of site with a pad of paper and pencil. (No not really. If you see someone doing this it isn’t Sarah. Most likely. Probably.)

Here simple drawing style, much like that of Allie Brosh and Gemma Correll, makes it easy for anyone to slip into the shoes of the character, even if they’re male. I mean who can you not relate to a character navigating the street with their nose buried in a book and not having to look up once. Any bookworm gets this. Or the need to get home and put on PJ’s after a long day of work or class…or of just running an errand down the street. We all get it. PJ’s are the best thing ever. Seriously. It’s easy to put ourselves in the character’s shoes and know what it feels like to be in this position.

In short, Sarah captures the everyday life with aplomb and makes the everyday life a little bit less dreary and little bit more funny. And helps us all remember (and admit) that adulthood is indeed, a myth.

Fowl Language

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Posted by Danielle | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 07-08-2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 10.15.16 AMFowl Language: Welcome to Parenting
Brian Gordon
Andrews McMeel Publishing
9781449479671
March 2016

Parenting. It’s all magic and roses and wondrous new adventures every day right? Kids learn something new and you go “awwwwww.” They never ever get in trouble and do weird stuff. Right? Right??? Well….no. No. There will be moments like this, but more likely than not once they start talking they talk back to you, invent new lines of logic and make less sense than some politicians.

So to answer the obvious question first, am I parent? No. No I’m not. But I’m the oldest of five and have plenty of friends that are parents, and well good humor transcends these types of boundaries. And that’s what you have with Fowl Language, a humor that will have you howling in laughter (or maybe…quacking in laughter) no matter the situation.

Brian Gordon’s sense of humor is relatable because he draws directly from real life. There aren’t over the top, slightly unrealistic situations that show up in some “family” oriented strips (looking at some of those old school strips. You know the ones.) But instead they draw directly from real life, like playing pretend, where the pretend veers off into the realm of “you’re doing it wrong!”…even though you have no idea what’s right about Darth Vader being in a tutu (although you’ll silently agree it’s quite right.) More than that though he talks about the way to handle things with a deft touch and a sense of humor. Like explaining gay marriage to your kids in this strip: http://www.fowllanguagecomics.com/comic/explaining-gay-marriage/ See the simplicity? It works.

Brian’s art style is….well…hrm. I’m not sure if I have someone to compare it too, to be honest. Its think broad stroke lines create the rather simplistic bodies of the characters and solid colors make them have distinct looks for their personalities. But the selling point? The real selling point? Is the expressions on the faces. Brian is a master at capturing the bulging of the eyes, the raise of the eyebrows, the fat lines jiggling as the child bounces on the stomach. This is flat out amazeballs laugh out loud and you won’t stop once you start reading.

I have one complaint about the book however. And that is that as a webcomic Fowl Language contains a bonus panel for each strip that takes the last panel and juuuuuussst pushes it over the edge slightly and makes it that much more funny or poignant. And the book doesn’t include that, which is a real shame. Maybe in the next one they’ll be able to do that.

scary-place1I think that everything about this strip can be summed up in the last page illustration. http://www.fowllanguagecomics.com/comic/scaryworld/ It’s a scary and dark world. But Fowl Language makes it just a bit brighter and bit more bearable.