Last weekend I was supposed to speak at the Kidlit Blogger conference in New York, but I had to bow out shortly beforehand because of scheduling problems. However, in preparing for the panel, I pulled together some notes on reviewing graphic novels that I thought might be of interest to writers, and maybe to readers as well. And because a good writer wastes nothing, here you go!
Types of reviews: Most of my reviews are written for the mildly interested reader, a group that could include casual readers, fans of any genre and librarians, and the aim of the review is to help that reader determine whether he or she would like that book. That’s different from me liking the book. There’s always a large measure of taste involved in any review, and if a book is solid but somehow done in a style or genre I don’t care for, that doesn’t mean someone else won’t like it. Having had the experience of totally trashing a book that other people love, and loving a book most people hated, I don’t even try to believe that my taste is universal.
So, in this type of review I give an indication of what the story is about, who the characters are, what the art is like, and how the story is told, then discuss what worked particularly well or don’t work at all. If I have a physical copy of the book, I might note the presentation, particularly if the production values are especially good (or especially bad). I seldom do an entirely positive or entirely negative review of a book, because most books have flaws and high points. I generally avoid spoilers in those types of reviews.
Occasionally a book is so bad I just pull out the sledgehammer and trash it. The book has to be spectacularly, offensively bad for me to do that—if it’s merely boring, the muse won’t come. So that doesn’t happen too often. Actually, my favorite kind of review is the one where I think a book is going go to be awful and I am pleasantly surprised when it turns out to be good.
To see what Jessica and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Libraries | A middle school library in New Brunswick, Canada, has been asked to remove Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim’s Dungeon series for review after the mother of a 12-year-old student complained about the depictions of sex and violence in one of the volumes. The CTV News reporter goes for the easy gasp by showing the scenes in question to a variety of parents, all of whom agree they don’t think the book belongs in a school library, and in this case the mom has a good point: The book received good reviews but is definitely not for kids. [CTV News]
Publishing | John Jackson Miller has been looking at the fine print in old comics — the statement of ownership, which spells out in exact numbers just how many copies were printed, how many were sold, etc. One of the highlights is Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge, which sold more than 1 million copies, making it the top seller of the 1960s. “It’s meaningful, I think, that the best-seller of the 1960s should come from Barks, whose work was originally uncredited and who was known originally to fans as ‘the Good Duck Artist,’” Miller concludes. “Fandom in the 1960s was bringing attention to a lot of people who had previously been unheralded, and Barks is a great example. He changed comics — and now comics were changing.” [The Comichron]
Joann Sfar Draws From Memory, director Sam Ball’s documentary portrait of the French comics artist and filmmaker (Dungeon, The Rabbi’s Cat, Little Vampire) will receive its world-premiere screening at 8:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater in New York City.
The film follows Sfar to his favorite neighborhood spots and muses about his artistic process and the influence of his Algerian and Eastern European heritage. Tickets are still available for the screening, which also includes the U.S. premiere of The Silent Historian and a Q&A with Ball and executive producer Valerie Joseph.
Joann Sfar’s not the first (or the last) comic creator to make the transition to movie-making, but a recent interview for the Wall Street Journal on his French film Gainsbourg the artist-turned-director laments about the difficulties of comics versus that of film.
“It’s actually more difficult to do a comic book than a movie,” Sfar told WSJ‘s Nick Andersen. “If something doesn’t work in a movie, you can blame the crew or do it again. If it doesn’t work in a comic book, then it’s your fault. I know I have many things to learn in movies, but I had so much fun making the movie. Comic books may not have been useful for making a movie, but drawing was. My crew all had more than 20 years of experiences, and I’m a newbie. So I didn’t come with orders, I came with graphical suggestions. There are visual propositions in the film that may be appealing for the studio people.”
Sfar goes on to explain that when creating the animated film The Rabbi’s Cat, the production of animation was much slower than drawing comics, comparing his page rate of five pages per day as a cartoonist with an animator’s typical rate being one second of film per day.
To see what Daniel and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew talk about the comics and graphic novels that they’ve been enjoying lately.
Today’s special guest is Ryan K Lindsay, a staff writer for comic news and reviews site The Weekly Crisis. He also runs a comic scripting challenge site called thoughtballoons where each week a character is picked, and every member of the site must write a one-page script about that character. He’s also been known to throw a think piece up at Gestalt Mash and is hoping one day to have his many comic pitches drawn by people with pencils.
To see what Ryan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading this week, click the link below …
With the school year ending and summer arriving faster than you know it, now’s the time to update your summer reading list — and there’s no better place to find some good stuff to read than right here in our weekly What Are You Reading? column. This week our guests are Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, the creative team behind The Sixth Gun, published by Oni Press. You’ll be seeing a lot of Cullen and Brian over the next few weeks here at Robot 6, so here’s the perfect opportunity to find out what comics they’re into.
Cartoonist Joann Sfar (The Rabbi’s Cat, The Little Vampire) is apparently directing a film about the famed French singer Serge Gainsbourg, titled Je t’Aime Moi Non Plus:
The film … will be more of a fantasy than a biopic and will feature animated creatures, crafted by the “Pan’s Labyrinth” designers, which will symbolize the spirit and imagination of Gainsbourg.
The World of Kane has more details and some concept sketches. The movie will be released in January of next year. Sadly, one of the stars of the upcoming film, Lucy Gordon, who played Gainsbourg’s lover Jane Birkin in the film, was recently found dead of an apparent suicide.