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Finally got my hands on Lumberjanes because I’m nothing if not a slave to your recommendations.

I get the love: the art is fresh, the girl-power theme is amazing, it’s laugh-out-loud funny at times. It’s all that so it deserved a bit more… depth. It felt really short mostly because its 24 pages are action-oriented and don’t leave much room for character development or exploration of their world.

In stories about a group of people I immediately find a favorite. In Lumberjanes I had some difficulty making that call – there’s just not much that distinguishes them (apart from Ripley being The Crazy One). In the end I went with Jo because she had books and pictures of stars and planets in her bunk:

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To be fair, it’s only the first in the series and there’s a hint of background stories to come, like Molly’s fear of her family being informed about their adventures. But I can’t help but compare it to another very short, very popular, first-in-the-series, action-packed, kick-ass girl gang comic that takes the time to tells us (and make us care) about individual characters: Rat Queens.

The world-building in Lumberjanes also left me a bit confused: Magic? Fairy tales? Greek mythology? All? Two weeks after reading it I’m left with a vague sense of The Goonies meets Chamber of Secrets with a bit of Percy Jackson.

All this to say that I really had fun and will definitely pick up the next one in the series. I just wish it went a bit deeper with the story and its people, even if it’s “just” a first volume.

I’m ready for the rotten tomatoes to fly now… *ducks*

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Book 2 of the Aya series (thoughts on the first one here) about four families in Yopougon, a neighborhood of Abidjan, Ivory’s Coast’s capital. It’s set in the 70s, when the country’s was going through an economic boom and it continues to be refreshing to see a side of modern Africa that’s not filled with war and AIDS. If you know of any other comics like these let me know.

Like Book 1, it’s not an action-packed story. I’m actually approaching it as a really smart and funny twist on a soap-opera: Adjoua’s new life as a young single mother, Bintou’s fashionable new love-interest from Paris (or is he?), the mystery around the girl with the wig, dramatic cliffhanger ending. Book 3 is called “The Secrets Come Out” and like another episode of an addictive soap-opera I’m really really want to know them!

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If I had one less positive point to make is that, although Aya is the name on the cover, she was rather passive, basically just a shoulder for her friends to cry and lean on. She has the potential to be such an interesting character – a steady young women who wants to be a doctor – that I’d like to know her a bit more.

This book also included a “Ivorian Bonus”, including a recipe for Chicken Kedjenou, a guide on how to wrap a baby on your back and a great short “essay” on how a popular Ivorian proverb is put into practice everyday.

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Other thoughts: Page 247, largehearted boy, My Favourite Books (yours?)

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image (2)Read for the A More Diverse Universe Challenge
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This was a such a fun and vibrant reading, exactly my cup of tea.

The author Marguerite Abouet spent her childhood in Ivory Coast in the 70s before moving to Paris, and Aya is based on her memories of those happy days. It was a time when Ivory Coast was going through a peaceful economic boom and this book is meant to portray an Africa that’s not about war, disease or poverty. I does exactly that, but I just couldn’t completely escape the knowledge that it won’t last.

But anywhoo. I loved Aya. It’s one of the best comics of the year so far and I can wait to read the second one. There’s nothing mind-blowing about the story, it’s just a snapshot of the lives of a group of middle-class teenagers: they study, date, are acutely aware of social norms, follow the fads and rebel against strict parents. And yet, Yopougon in the 70s is a fascinating place to read about, full of colour, hope and energy. It’s at the same time familiar (heavily influence by their former French colonizers) and completely foreign.

AyaAya, the title character, is a steady-fast teen that seems to be the moral compass of her friends and neighborhood – not in a holier-than-thou way, she’s just reliable and principled. Her father’s reaction when Aya told him about wanting to become a doctor is a great example of how this apparently mild book is in fact about more serious social topics.

Clement Oubrerie’s illustrations perfectly complement Abouet’s writing, with their vibrancy, warm and creative angles.

At the end of each book there’s a section about Ivory Cost, where different characters give us recipes, teach us how to tie a skirt the Ivorian way, etc. It’s a cute detail that helps us connect even more with this small community.

I think this is the one comic book I’ve ever read not only written by an African author, but actually set in Africa – can you recommend any others?

The story has been adapted for the big screen, here’s the trailer in French. It gives you a good feeling for the book.

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Other thoughts: Brown Paper, Good Books & Good Wine, the book nest, Escape in a book, Book Addiction, Page 247, Buried in Print, Biblioglobal (yours?)

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So I spent last week in New York, and between a visit to Forbidden Planet and Strand, this happened.

Some are series I already follow (Serenity, Saga, Chew, Fables), others were your recommendations (Ex Machina, Ms Marvel, Runaways, Rat Queens, Hawkeye) and other were pushes from the nice staff at Forbidden Planet (Locke & Key, Preacher, Planetary).

They’ll keep me busy for a while and fully supplied for the Graphic Novels Challenge 2015.

chew_vol1_tpbChew Vol. 1: Taster’s Choice by John Layman and Rob Guillory

I got this recommendation from RonLit’s vlog. Chew’s wacky premise: Tony Chu gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats (except beets). This is very useful for his job at the Special Crimes Division of the FDA, but he often has to eat rather, er… unsavory things.

In the background we’re introduced to a conspiracy theory around the government’s ban on poultry due to a recent Bird Flue pandemic and the FDA’s power growth.

Written like this it sounds very weird and kind of gross, but trust me: it is absolutely disgusting at times and absolutely hilarious practically always. There are cannibal serial-killer chefs and speakeasy restaurants, an old-fashioned cop that speaks like a Victorian and… llama sex (don’t ask, just read).

As Kat said, you’ll be “fascinated but repulsed at the same time. And you will enjoy every little bit” Couldn’t have put it better myself.

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Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples 

Hurrah – Saga lives up to the hype! The first five-stars of the year. The amazing art comes hand in hand with a great story and greater storytelling – there’s humour and serious stuff, background information and hints about big mysteries to be unfolded in the future, just as I like it.

Staples’s personal style is realistic, but the lines are not clean (you can see her scratching), giving the art a lot of personality. The coloring is vibrant and adds to the story, especially in the impressive 2-page-wide drawings.

The pace has a good mix of action and background information, but for me it was the characterization that did it. Apart from the kick-ass main characters, I sort of developed a crush on bounty-hunter The Will and was utterly spellbound by Gwendolyn. I never get as emotionally invested with audio or comics as I do with a paper books, so Saga was ground-breaking for me. I got a serious Firefly vibe about it all, which is by no means a bad thing.

I’ll going to NY for work next week and plan a big comics shopping spree. The remaining volumes of Saga are already on the wish-list.

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gn2015-640x270-2Read for the Graphic Novels Challange

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