Tag Archives: Pride Of Baghdad
How exciting! Assuming my count is correct, this is my 52nd post for Graham’s Grumbles. And, it also means that I’ve been doing this thing for a year! I don’t think I could have guessed I’d be able to drag this out so long, but here we are! I’ve also decided to use more exclamation marks in honor of the comic book medium! So, yes, it is the column’s birthday. In lieu of flowers, it encourages donations to the Graham Becksted fund. All proceeds go to helping needy Graham Becksteds.
Anyhoo, let’s get down to business. This week I want to offer my thoughts on the five graphic novels that I read for the graphic novel class I took. The final exam is tomorrow, so now seems as good a time as any.
We were only supposed to read part one, but I got the Complete Persepolis and wasn’t clear on how much to read. It presents a very interesting perspective on the Muslim Revolution in Iran. One that makes you appreciate just how good we have it in North America. I think discussing it with the teacher and my classmates made me appreciate it more. The fact that simply creating this graphic novel and releasing it was an act of rebellion would have been completely lost on me. Ultimately though, while I do appreciate it as a piece of literature, I most likely won’t read it again for leisure.
Pride Of Baghdad
A beautiful comic book that I read and owned long before this class. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my old copy so I had to get a new one L.) I’m a fan of Brian K. Vaughan in general, and his creator owned stuff in particular, so I was primed to like this book from the get go. It definitely didn’t disappoint. One person in the class found it a little too heavy handed, but I think it does a pretty good job of presenting a lot of different perspectives on the issues it portrays. The art is also very beautiful and worth the cover price on its own.
What can I say here that hasn’t already been said a thousand times about this book? It’s required reading for anyone who is even remotely interested in the superhero genre, and it has a ton of mainstream interest ever since the movie came out. The trade paperback that collects the 12 issue series is so popular that it has never been out of print. I’ve read it three or four times over the years, but getting to discuss it from a literary perspective gave me a whole new appreciation for it. There’s so much going on it that you miss half the story if you just read it once. In fact, you could probably teach a whole course just on it.
I did a presentation on this one. I did pretty well on it, too. So, it will forever have a place in my heart. It’s the only Daniel Clowes book I’ve read, and it’s piqued my interest. The art is uniquely Clowes and the storyline is also one-of-a-kind. It’s about a kid who gets super strength when he smokes, and is given a ray gun that pops things out of existence. But, he doesn’t really fight crime. He mostly just dicks around and nurses grudges. I think it’s the closest to a real-life portrayal of super powers that I’ve ever encountered. It’s not a book for everyone, but if you like something a little more quirky you should check it out.
Signal To Noise
This was the book I was most excited to read. Written by Neil Gaiman with art and a concept by his frequent collaborator Dave McKean, what could go wrong? Well, for starters, it’s a little dense. I think the concept is something about separating the important stuff (the signal) from the unimportant stuff (the noise). But, I’m a simple man. I prefer stories that work on a surface level, but that you can appreciate on deeper levels the more you read it. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get the surface story and I definitely couldn’t penetrate the deeper levels. That being said, there are some really beautiful images and I can recommend it at least for that.
There we go, 14 weeks of class condensed into 600 words. And you didn’t have to submit a single assignment. You’re welcome.
Graham Becksted now has to go study for a final exam. Ugh. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 69th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
As of last Wednesday, I have entered a whole new realm of geekdom. Most people keep their interest of comic books or sci-fi to a purely amateur, general level. I have become a genuine scholar of the geek arts. Or, at least I will be when I complete my college course on comic books.
The course is specifically called Visual Words: From Comic Books to Graphic Novels. My fellow students seem to be predominantly made up of people working towards a diploma who were looking for an easy gen ed. Since there is no diploma for comic book appreciation, I’m taking this course purely for my own enjoyment. And to brag to other nerds.
Honestly, though, I’m really looking forward to the unique opportunity that it provides. With my other comic book fan friends, all we really talk about is trivial stuff. “Can you name all of Batman’s Robins?” “Can you believe they brought Bucky back?” “Before Watchmen is so lame, right?” But this class is going to be about analysis and discussion. I’m hoping to broaden my ability to discuss comics from a literary stand point.
The reading list is pretty cool. The only two I’ve read previously are Pride Of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Nico Henrichon and Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The other three are Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, Death Ray by Daniel Clowes and Signal To Noise by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. Admittedly, these are a bit more literary than my general comic book interests lay. For example, I would have suggested Scott Pilgrim or The Authority or even the great Superman story “For The Man Who Has Everything.” I think those better exemplify a typical comic book story.
But, who am I to question the choices of our illustrious instructor. She (yes, gentlemen, the teacher of this class is indeed of the fairer sex) has picked comics that go from a more commercial standpoint to a more scholarly one. For instance, Baghdad is about a group of cute lions who escape from their zoo in Baghdad and wander through their war torn city. While the subtext definitely presents an interesting take on war and its effects on bystanders, the Disney-esque art style helps make it more palatable for a broader audience. Persepolis, on the other hand, is a more realistic depiction of war and the toll it takes. This is a biographical graphic novel about the author’s childhood in Iran during the late 70s and 80s. I’m looking forward to the inevitable comparison of the two stories.
Honestly, I’m really looking forward to the weeks where we discuss Watchmen. Each class is supposed to be three hours and, according to the syllabus, three weeks are supposed to be devoted to the critically acclaimed comic book. Is nine hours really enough time to cover the ridiculously dense 12 issue maxi-series? I guess we’ll see. But, considering how big it has become since the movie and the recent announcement of the prequel stories, I imagine there will be quite a few perspectives on the topic.
So far, I’ve only had the one class. It was a quick getting to know you class, so I don’t even know if it really counts. Tomorrow is when we get into the really nitty gritty stuff, and I hope to keep you posted on anything particularly interesting that we learn. If you want to follow along, Persepolis is the first book on our reading list. Let me know what you think!
Graham Becksted is having a hard time keeping up with his monthlies while reading these graphic novels for class. He leads a hard life. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 64th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.