Midwest Book Review May 2008

by Jeff
MidwestBookReview Midwest Book Review May 2008

Midwest Book Review

May 2008

The Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf

The Midwest Book Review is an organization of volunteers committed to promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. We accept no funds from authors or publishers.


Lars Martinson
Pliant Press
c/o Top Shelf Productions (distributor)
P.O. Box 1282, Marietta, GA 30061-1282
9780980102321, $19.95

A serious minority – Daniel Wells is the only American in a rural Japanese Village, where he serves as an assistant junior high school teacher. “Tonoharu: Part One” is the start of his story as Daniel must deal with everything coming with his new job – language barriers, culture shock, it’s a lonely existence. His only relief comes from the pursuit, although not effective, of an American girl who resides in a town not far from his own. His adventures often turn offbeat and intriguing, making “Tonoharu: Part One” highly recommended for community library graphic novel collections.

All-Star Companion V. 3

Roy Thomas
TwoMorrows Publishing
1047 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614
9781893905801, $26.95

Followers of the Justice League of America, Black Bart, Super Squad and other All-Star Comics will relish this third collection providing insider insights into issues and series. Each listing comes with a synopsis, review of characters, and sidebars of notes and information. No color – the illustrations from comics are all in black and white – but the comic cover reproductions and data are invaluable for collectors and comic fans, and a top pick for any collection catering to them.

Fantasy Classics

Tom Pomplun, editor
Eureka Productions
8778 Oak Grove Road, Mount Horeb, WI 53572
9780978791933, $11.95

Volume fifteen in the Graphic Classics series, Fantasy Classics is an anthology of black-and-white comic adaptations of timeless fantasy (and horror) stories by great literary authors. Each adaptation is illustrated by a different artist with a fiercely individual style. The adapted literature selections are “After the Fire” by Lord Dunsany, “Fantasmagoriana” (a prologue to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, telling of a creative exchange of ghost stories Shelly once had with fellow writers), “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, “Rappaccini’s Daughter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Glass Dog” by L. Frank Baum, “The Dream-Bridge” by Clark Ashton Smith, and “The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath” by H.P. Lovecraft. The resulting compilation is highly recommended as an invaluable introduction to the worlds of fantasy, wizardry, and dreaming that took root in humanity’s collective psyche well before “The Lord of the Rings” established certain tropes as mainstream. Due to mature and often tragic themes, Fantasy Classics is recommended for readers who are at least twelve years of age.

Rex Libris: I, Librarian

James Turner
Slave Labor Graphics Publishing
PO Box 26427, San Jose, CA 95159
9781593620622, $14.95

Rex Libris: I, Librarian is a black-and-white graphic novel collection of the time-and-space spanning adventures of Rex Libris, librarian extraordinaire. Originally a librarian of ancient Rome, Rex has devoted himself to protecting books throughout millennia; his present- day librarian duties include preventing patrons from straying to their deaths amid nigh-endless bookshelves, stopping demon-possessed samurai from taking books without a library card, and reclaiming overdue books held by mad galactic overlords. Aided by a telekinetic songbird with a thirst for world conquest, Rex’s latest challenge begins by accidentally teleporting into freefall and only gets harder! The over- the-top two-fisted action combined with fiendishly overwrought narration and tongue-in-cheek lampshading of comic genre conventions make for an exhilaratingly funny read cover to cover. Highly recommended.

The Wind in the Willows

Kenneth Grahame, author
Adapted by Michel Plessix
40 Exchange Place, Suite 1308, New York, NY 10005
9781597070966, $13.95 1-800-886-1223

The Wind in the Willows is a full-color graphic novel adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s classic anthropomorphic fable following the adventures of the humble Mole, the river-loving Water Rat, the gruff yet wise Badger, and the fabulously wealthy yet all-too-easily worked- up Toad. Toad has many foibles, some more endearing than others, but perhaps the most troublesome is his sudden obsession automobiles – a trait that prompts his downfall when he commits a sudden infraction of grand theft auto out of his pure love for reckless driving! Though Wind of the Willows is set in a quasi turn-of-the-century motif, with subtle issues of class and social station, The Wind in the Willows has a timeless grace that makes it a joy to read for adults and children alike. The caricatures of the story’s many creatures, as drawn by Michel Plessix, perfectly capture the quirks and enthusiasm of the many woodland denizens. Perhaps most awe-inspiring, though, is Badger’s prediction that rings as true today as it ever did: “If this contraption [the automobile] keeps on, people will invade all the beautiful places! You’ll have to build roads to go there and buildings to house them, thereby destroying what they came looking for in the first place… And then you’ll have to park the cars somewhere. They’ll hog the sidewalks and the squares. Children will no longer be able to play in the streets, and the people strolling will disappear because it will become necessary that everything go as fast as that machine. Since people will spend all their time in this rolling cage, they’ll lose the habit of speaking to one another and will no longer understand one another. Then they’ll hate each other.” Highly recommended for readers of all ages.

Dominatrix: You Want Me

Gene Simmons
IDW Publishing
580 Santa Fe Street, San Diego, CA 92109
9781600101571, $19.99

Gene Simmons is more than just a tongue and a pretty face for the legendary rock group Kiss. He’s also a gifted creator of a fiction/ fantasy genre as evidenced by his coming up with the idea of Dominique Stern, a young woman with no family, few friends, a past, and makes a profitable (albeit unusual) career in the sex industry as a professional dominatrix. A woman who inflicts pain and humiliation on her clients at their request — and expense! It’s while servicing a client that Dominique finds herself having to become a superhero and dealing with government arrogance, a diabolical cabal, and dangers to herself, her friends, and her country! Engagingly written by Sean Taylor, superbly illustrated by the team of Flavio Hoffe and Esteve Polls, colored by Debora Carita, and with a superb staff of cover artists, letterers, and editors, “Dominatrix: You Want Me” first appeared as a mini-series of individual comics from IDW Publishing that has now been collected together into a magnificent graphic novel format that is highly recommended for mature readers.

The Complete Peanuts 1967 to 1968

Charles M. Shulz
Fantagraphics Books
7563 Lake City Way, NE, Seattle, WA 98115
9781560978268, $28.95 1-800-657-1100

The Complete Peanuts 1967 to 1968 continues Fantagraphics Books’ marvelous definitive compilation of Charles Shulz’s iconic newspaper strip, including both daily and Sunday strips (all strips are reproduced in black and white). Featuring an introduction by John Waters – which draws the reader’s attention to Shulz’s uniquely expressive art style when drawing facial expressions such as a “total- warfare frown”, and his starkly accurate portrayal of the crushing humiliation of defeat. In the 1967 to 1968 comics, Peppermint Patty tries to trade Charlie Brown five baseball players for Snoopy the shortstop; Charlie Brown makes a new friend in Franklin (who is initially scared off from the local neighborhood when Linus tells him about the “Great Pumpkin”); and Snoopy (a.k.a. the “Masked Marvel”) and Lucy get into a championship arm-wrestling match! Like all previous volumes in the series, The Complete Peanuts 1967 to 1968 is highly recommended for comic lovers of all ages and backgrounds, and simply cannot be praised enough.


The Midwest Book Review is an organization of volunteers committed to promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. We accept no funds from authors or publishers. Full permission is given to post any of these reviews on thematically appropriate websites, newsgroups, listserves, internet discussion groups, organizational newsletters, or to interested individuals. Please give the Midwest Book Review a credit line when doing so.

The Midwest Book Review publishes the monthly book review magazines “California Bookwatch”, “Internet Bookwatch”, “Children’s Bookwatch”, “MBR Bookwatch”, “Reviewer’s Bookwatch”, and “Small Press Bookwatch”. All are available for free on the Midwest Book Review website at www (dot) midwestbookreview (dot) com

Anyone wanting to submit books for review consideration can send them

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129

To submit reviews of any fiction or non-fiction books, email them to Frugalm…@aol.com (Be sure to include the book title, author, publisher, publisher address, publisher website/phone number, 13-digit ISBN number, and list price).

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review

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