Danielle Leigh's Reading Diary -- 1/04/09

Even though I'm on break, research is keeping me pretty busy.  In spite of that I try to manage to read at least a little something every day...here is what has been keeping me busying the past few days!

Today I discuss:

Freddie & Me by Mike Dawson

Red Blinds the Foolish by est em

Mushishi vol 6 by Yuki Urushibara

Higurashi: When They Cry: Abducted by Demons Arc vol 1 by Ryukishio7 and Karin Suzuragi

Freddie & Me by Mike Dawson -- Dawson autobiographical graphic novel is a study of his life long love of the band Queen and how that love became the backdrop for his entire life.  This is a perfect medium to tell this story since the audience -- as comic book fans -- can understand the joy, heartbreak, riducle and even alienation our devotion might bring us over the course of our lives.  I was curious why Dawson's younger years are presented from an omniscient perspective versus the way he narratives his young adult life but it is an interesting contrast in narrative technique -- how do we tell the story of our own life?  For Dawson he can't tell that story without also telling about how his relationship to one rock group shaped that life. 

Amusingly, Dawson also interspaces imaginary discussions between various pop and / or rock legends, which makes sense since fandom makes us feel strangely close to our objects of devotion.

Random image I adored: Dawson and his girlfriend sleeping.  When I showed this panel to my boyfriend, he became very suspicious and wanted to know why I was reading about a comic "about us."



Red Blinds the Foolish by est em.  While I certainly liked est em's first book published in the states (Seduce me After the Show), here she reveals a stronger mastery of narrative, particularly in the title story.  The story of a bullfighter who discovers his own mortality once he falls in love -- with the man who later butchers the bulls he kills in the ring -- was surprisingly moving and also suspenseful.   I truly feared for the bullfighter, since he likewise was beginning to learn what it was to fear for his own life.  These stories all feature male / male relationships but est em's figures and writing are a far cry from other yaoi titles currently published in English.  There is an intensity and realism to her work and the men she creates always feel like real men, experiencing love, lust, and friendship.  Even when her settings are clearly "exoticized" for the Japanese audience (i.e. the Spanish bullfighting backdrop of "Red Blinds the Foolish"), they also feel like real places, inhabited by real people.  

Highly recommended.


Mushishi vol 6 by Yuki Urushibara. 

 As always, Urushibara's quite unique take on Japanese folklore charms and even soothes.  My favorite story of the five was the first in the volume, "Heaven's Thread," because while the mushi caused problems -- in this case, they caused a woman to disappear into the sky -- her alienation from visible was rectified by human perception by her loved one.  A romantic tale told by a great creator.

Mushishi is always recommended.


Higurashi: When They Cry: Abducted by Demons Arc vol 1 by Ryukishio7 and Karin Suzuragi.

In the 1980's, a teenage boy relocates to a remove town and spends most of the volume being fanserviced by a ridiculous number of village girls.  In other words, the reader is lulled into complacency as they think this is just another version of Love Hina.  The twist to this narrative is not everything is as it appears and the boy begins to realize there is a bloody and terrifying ritual that takes the lives of outsiders and those in conflict with the majority of the townspeople.  The twists in this volume aren't all that shocking but they don't seem to me to be much different than a Stephen King novel.  I haven't yet found anything that makes me want to come back to see how the boy's terrible discoveries are resolved. 

Since I'm not a fan of horror except, of course, when I am (i.e. Parasyte), I can acknowledge that this comic was well drawn and written, but simply isn't my thing. 

Review copy provided by Yen Press.




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