psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (Default)
Paper Girls 2, comic. The main new conceit of this volume (as set up at the end of volume 1) is a hugely compelling premise for me. I kind of wish they'd been able to hit it harder/dig in deeper... I mean, the emotional tone was in keeping with the rest of the comic, but. Dude. Way to concretize what happens to be one of my core emotional conflicts. Maybe there'll be fic? Maybe I'll write some?

Raven Stratagem, Yoon Ha Lee. My reaction is under the cut, as is a GIANT MASSIVE PLOT SPOILER. Sufficient warning? MAJOR SPOILERS HERE? Read more... )
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Volume 6 being the one presently up for a Hugo. I had last read Saga back in 2015 when volume 3 was nominated, so I started with 3 again and caught up. I'm not sure I recommend doing that - on the one hand, it's super page-turny, so not putting it down is a good solution to the problem of not wanting to put it down, on the other hand, it started to feel a little formulaic, in the pacing of the introduction of new characters/character deaths so that the cast size doesn't become completely unmanageable? And reading so much of it at once, it was hard to not start asking questions like "is there really a point to all this soap opera", which I think is an unfair question - is there a "point" to Girl Genius, or Astro City (which I just found out is apparently going again and has been for awhile), or Firefly, or any other serial story? But possibly it would be more fun to be reading Saga issue by issue, caught up in all the immediate dramas, speculating with other fans about what could happen next, etc.

I didn't do that, though, so here I am. I haven't read the rest of the nominees yet, but I strongly suspect it's going to be hard for a middle volume of a serial to compare with the introductory, world-establishing Volume One of something new, and there are four of those on the ballot. Saga vol 6 has some good beats but it's not like the Big New Idea rush of plunging into the story in the first place.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel has a great concept - people start finding parts of an enormous ancient alien robot - but I didn't enjoy the writing at all. I'm not a stickler for actual scientific accuracy to the extent of "the math and physics all actually work", but I like the ring of truth in how scientists talk about things they don't understand (experiments! data!) and how labs operate (Agent Scully aside, big investigations have big casts!). And, ugh, so much male gaze, so many tiresome heteronormative tropes. I didn't know a gender for the name "Sylvain" when I picked up the book but it very quickly became obvious it was a dude author, confirmed when I flipped to the back flap. Too bad. Anyways, I was going to conclude this by saying it would work as an animated movie, it's got some good visuals and the cartoonishness would be forgivable in an actual cartoon (think Miyazaki's early ancient giant robot/god soldier work in Nausicaa or Laputa, or the robot would also probably look great in CGI) but in fact there isn't a huge amount of giant stompy robot bang for the buck here either.

Archie Volume One is the reboot of Archie comics written by Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, other superhero titles) and drawn by Fiona Staples (Saga) and other artists. The execution is top-notch - these are masters of comics pacing, character beats, expressive faces - but, you know, it's Archie. Really well-done, smartly updated Archie, but ultimately we're talking about a love triangle that ran for 75 years and never resolved, right? I mean, I'll probably keep reading it, but, I don't know, no-end series comics may not be for me, there's something unsatisfying about knowing they'll never resolve.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
I really love it when books I'm reading in some coincidental order (availability, whim, etc) turn out to have some interesting theme or common thread together. Cairo by G Willow Wilson and MK Perker and The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks are graphic novels about metropolis cities and the people who come to them and through them and how they're able to ally in hope of a better future. Cairo is Wilson's first work, before Alif the Unseen (which I still haven't read) or Ms. Marvel, and is a standalone; this is the first volume of Nameless City and it says it's continuing in volume two, dunno how long it's intended to be. I would recommend both, if you like comics - Nameless City is maybe an easier read, it's colorful and the pacing is more decompressed, more manga-influenced in its wordless action panels. They have interestingly contrasting takes on who should get to speak, who gets a place at the table - Cairo took a sharper stance on, like, white people should shut up and listen, Israel should be rejected (at least in its military-occupation aspect), the only voice that matters is the ordinary citizens of Cairo, while Nameless City, maybe because it has the freedom of being set in a fictional world, seems to be taking more of an "everybody gets a place at the table, the way forward is for conquerors and conquered to work together" approach that I find very appealing but would probably make a lot of people mad if it was about a real city's history.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Folding Beijing, Hao Jingfang trans. Ken Liu, novelette. I thought this was awesome - vivid and substantive - and I'm not willing to not vote for it on account of the assholes having nominated it.

Space Raptor Butt Invasion, Chuck Tingle, short story. Speaking of assholes. (ba-dum.) I read a fair bit of m/m pwp, and this did not strike me as particularly great for that genre. I don't mean to knock the genius of "Slammed In The Butt By My Hugo Award Nomination" or "Pounded By The Pound: Turned Gay By The Socioeconomic Implications Of Britain Leaving The European Union" or "Living Inside My Own Butt For Eight Years, Starting A Business And Turning A Profit Through Common Sense Reinvestment And Strategic Targeted Marketing" but... enh.

Perfect State, Brandon Sanderson, novella. Interesting-enough MLP: Friendship Is Optimal-esque scenario, but I was bothered by Sanderson's uncritical use of a reproductive coercion storyline to further the plot. (Like, really? brains in jars, living otherwise-idealized lives, but they still have to *what*? I feel like maybe this is a place where a woman author might have noticed how deeply icky and violating that is, while a dude author like Sanderson just thought it was funny?) Also Melhi is Molly, yeah?

Slow Bullets, Alastair Reynolds, novella. A bunch of interesting elements here but somehow it didn't quite hang together for me.

Sandman Overture, Neil Gaiman + artists, graphic. Duuuuude. We'd had this on the bookshelf for awhile and I finally read it and you know how sometimes you're just like, man, authors should not try to revisit their works, stop poking it, it was good but you're making it worse? Not the case here. Gaiman & his team still have the juice, what a fucking capstone.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Ms. Marvel Volume 3: Crushed, Wilson, Bondoc, Miyazawa. I didn't think this was as strong as Generation Why, plot/theme-wise, or as fun in its guest stars (Wolverine >> Loki), but it still had a lot of great character beats. I'm... cautiously intrigued by what they're doing with Kamala and Bruno, like it's maybe *not* falling into any of the obvious patterns that could take?

Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish, Barry Deutsch. The third Hereville book. Okay, talk about character beats. Deutsch is *so good*. There were bits of this that were almost breathtaking. And I didn't quite cry but I got a little misty-eyed. Plus the Hereville world is just so interesting - I guess it's exotifying to look at it that way, but we're in my lj, so, whatever, I *really enjoyed* the way it sometimes jars my assumptions, like, it's so easy to slip into thinking that they're in the past because of the clothes, and then suddenly - car! Or the comparative bathing suits! Don't tell Junie but I need to either buy her all three of these or put them on her wishlist, now that she's into comics, they're just so good.

Last of the Sandwalkers, Jay Hosler. I really wanted to love this, and I feel all weird and sad about how lukewarm I ended up feeling about it. I mean, THIS IS AGE OF ELYTRA - I didn't even realize when I picked it up and then at some point I was like, holy shit, this IS the long-prophecied beetle project, I've been waiting for, what, over a decade? The thing is, I love beetles, but part of what I love about beetles is just how *gorgeous* they are, and this comic, for me, didn't really capture that. In fact, I found the character designs confusing - I had to keep referring back to the cast page to try to tell them apart - and not particularly easy to identify with in a Scott McCloud iconic-character sense. I did enjoy meeting some nifty beetle species, but the mechanics to get the party from encounter to encounter felt way over-labored... neither the action-adventure-intrigue plot or the character dynamics ever really drew me in, but that stuff was way too much of the weight of the book for the zing of pure beetle enthusiasm to shine through. I don't know. I feel like an asshole griping about this when, like, it's a fucking comic book about beetles, it's amazing it exists in the first place, who cares if it was 50% gratuitous robot, but Clan Apis was so beautiful, and moving, and important to me, I obviously wanted this to be Clan Apis But With Beetles and you can't step into the same stream and... yeah.

Megamind is stylistically similar to another DreamWorks animated superhero movie from around the same time that I really liked, Monsters vs Aliens, but the latter is more of a classic origin story, and Megamind is a deconstruction. I mean, both have some fun with the cliches of the genre, but I think a *lot* of Megamind was lost on my not-yet-genre-savvy kids, and I'll be surprised if they remember it as enthusiastically? I loved it, though. Great character dynamics. Am now tearing through fic. :)
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Volume Two of the adventures of Kamala Khan. I didn't read this in time to nominate it for a Graphic Hugo, but I would have; the message is pretty heavy-handed, but I don't mind that, in my superhero comics, and Kamala is just such a great character. I love seeing her use her powers, I love seeing her navigate the two-identity life, her team-up with Wolverine is fantastic, and I appreciate that the art stays away from T&A and gore, since my kids have demonstrated that they will pick up and look through any comic I bring home, and I'd rather they not get used to superboobs and bloody violence just yet.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
I seem to have claimed back in March that I would comment on my Hugo ballot reading when I did it.

In fact I did very little Hugo ballot reading this year because of the Puppy situation, but here's what I've got:

Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu: made myself read to 20% and gave up, not into it. A novel.

Graphic Stories not previously read:

Saga Vol 3: if you like Saga you'll probably keep liking it!
Rat Queens Vol 1: if you like dungeon-crawling ladies, these are some. (I liked this a lot, classic this-could-be-a-campaign adventuring party stuff but all the PCs happen to be women.)
Sex Criminals Vol 1: man, my jury is out until I see where it's going. Clever, but do they think they're writing a psychological thriller, or a romantic comedy?
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Zahra's Paradise, Amir and Khalil (both pseuds). A fictionalized story of a family looking for a young man who vanished in the June 2009 protests in Iran, and the various indignities/oppressions/atrocities they uncover. I can't exactly recommend it as pleasure reading, but it's very powerful, both the story itself and the sixteen thousand tiny names in the back of people killed by the Islamic Republic between 1979 and 2009. (In addition to rape, torture, and murder, which you might have guessed from the subject matter, the prologue has a graphic depiction of animal harm.)

Tune Book 1: Vanishing Point, Derek Kirk Kim. I swear I remember part of this from his website years and years ago, but now it has a sci-fi framing story and at least one more volume in print. I won't be reading more of this, I really didn't like the main character or his icky romance, although the frame story (dude gets hired by alien robots to be in a zoo exhibit of humans) has some potential.
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
Okay, this is the hardest category for me for figuring out eligibility (that I actually vote in, at least), but I *think* all of O Human Star Volume 1, Strong Female Protagonist Book One, and Nimona count as 2014 publications. (If Nimona doesn't make the ballot, I think we can nominate it again in 2016 in its paper manifestation.)

I have a month: should I try to see what of Captain Marvel or Ms. Marvel I can get from the library? I feel like some random stuff has made the ballot in this category in the past so I would enjoy having five things to nominate. Please, suggest things!

webcomics

Oct. 4th, 2014 10:57 pm
psocoptera: ink drawing of celtic knot (ha!)
I've been meaning to write something about webcomics for aaaaages. (Since, um, May, when TJ&Amal finished and then 14 Nights finished.) I don't know why exactly but for a long time I've been reluctant to read any new webcomics and then in the past month or two, I did a complete re-read of Miracle of Science, a complete re-read-to-date of Chester 5000 XYV, reread a bunch of old Bruno, reread a bunch of Fans, reread Freakangels, read both the old and new Smut Peddlers, read Strong Female Protagonist, read O Human Star, Nimona finished, so, yeah, I don't know, I'm all comixed up here.

If it's not clear from that list: I really like romance. And SFF, but, like, cartoon people kissing and blushing at each other? (Etc.) CATNIP.

Bruno and Fans and Miracle of Science are old news (although if you never read Miracle of Science, it's complete and 435 pages long, just saying.)

Otherwise, some links:

FINISHED

14 Nights has trippy, SFnal dream imagery but is otherwise real-world. The author has said the one character isn't exactly asexual but there's some interesting stuff here about different-libido relationships. This comic is NSFW.

The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal is also not-SF and NSFW. Two guys on a cross-country road trip. Amazingly slow-paced and detailed and carefully constructed.

Nimona. Less romance, more SFF. Should we talk about Nimona? Are we nominating Nimona for the Graphic Hugo this year? giant spoilers )

STILL GOING

Strong Female Protagonist is so far superheroes and mostly not romance although I have Hopes. Thinky and (hopefully) still in its early days, it feels like there's a lot of story here left to tell?

O Human Star. Transhuman romance? I am so excited about this comic. Dying inventor wakes up sixteen years later in robot body, and then things get complicated.

Chester 5000 XYV is an extremely NSFW wordless erotic comic that is also telling a story about robots and inventors and romantic complexities. By Jess Fink, who also did one of my favorite comics in this year's Smut Peddler.

ETA: I forgot Check, Please! about adorable college hockey players.

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