I don’t usually read graphic novels, junior graphics even less frequently, but this, I think, is one of those that transcends any attempt to pigeonhole it into a specific age category (see Maurice Sendak on the subject). The only reason I stumbled upon this gem was because I absolutely adore Isabelle Arsenault’s illustrations, which led me to do a search to sate my need for more Arsenault in my life.
Jane, the Fox & Me takes you through the life of a girl being ostracized from her class- and schoolmates, told in quiet, black-brown & white illustrations – the blacks not quite black and, in not being starkly contrasted with the white, soft – with sudden pops of colour that introduce the protagonist’s, Hélène’s, inner world and imagination. The use of colour plunging the reader into the world of Hélène was a lovely touch, the illustrations of Jane Eyre appearing in full colour, seeping out into Hélène’s dull reality through the fox (then again, perhaps not – who knows where the fox existed, in truth?) before she is able to see the world as she saw her escapes from reality before.
I don’t read nearly as many graphic novels (or comic books, if you will) as I used to. To be honest, I often find myself a little intimidated about starting in on any long-running series – because I can easily get through three or four volumes on a regular day’s commute, I find it especially hard to manage reading comic series’ through the library, and since that’s where I get all of my reading material these days, it means i mostly stick to regular old prose. But, that’s not really a great excuse! The thing is, there’s plenty of great stand-alone graphic novels out there, and I have been remiss in dropping them off my reading repertoire.
So, anyway, as a reminder to myself to get back into the graphic novel-reading game, here’s a list (in no particular order) of some of my favourite stand-alone graphic novels:
Pride of Baghdad Brian K. Vaughan
Pride of Baghdad, by Brian K. Vaughan
Based on true events, this graphic novel follows the story of a pride of four lions that escaped from the Baghdad zoo following an American bombing raid. The lions ‘ newfound freedom is, inevitably, fraught with danger and new challenges that they can’t understand and were not prepared for.
To be honest Niko Henrichon’s artwork is more than enough reason to pick up the book, but I also found the story deeply affecting, as the lions leave behind the caged safety they’ve always known, instead choosing freedom, whatever the cost (and the cost is high). Continue reading
Although having a seemingly lighthearted cover, this graphic novel explores the journey of grieving over the author’s young daughter’s unexpected and unexplained death. Rosalie Lightning is a brave book, for searching for representations to express ones grievance is incredibly hard. I find some parts of this book very fragmented, and a little hard to follow. To me, it was these fragments that make this book even more heartbreaking–it is the feeling of not knowing and emptiness. The style of drawing for the main story line contains lots of thick strokes; the characters do not really express any happiness on their faces. These details also contribute to the chaotic undertone of the book as well as the feeling of lost and sorrow. However, I also see this book as a form of closure for Hart, because in the book , he describes the process of discovering love and reflections of his daughter through the surroundings, that helps him to heal.
At the very end of the book, a little girl of a stranger gave Hart a kiss on the cheek. That was a heartwarming moment for a parent looking to rekindle the flame of hope, and brings the readers some relief.
To read more about Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC), visit http://sudc.org/