Notes on a Thesis – Tephanie Riviére

One of my current goals is to undertake a PhD, although life events keep stopping me from starting that (such as children!) But the cynical look at PhDs in the comic press always helps steer me away, as opening up for such a long drag always comes with hesitation. Riviére’s examination of a PhD is one of that tone, a woman who starts with dreams and ambition, and just about manages to end it.

A grim and adult look at relationships under pressue, family, ambtion and poor mentor support. Only the last I thought was unfair – putting words into the mouth of an advisor to make them unsympathetic rather than just distracted. Although French academic culture may be different in this regard.

But there are plenty of dry laughs in here, and a driving need to see if Jeanne succeeds. The art is also inspired, with lecture theatres full of vicious tigers one moment and shy kittens the next as she learns to manage lecturing and conferences. Worth a read!



Two Brothers – Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon

Two Brothers is a graphic novel by the same artists as those who illustrated How To Talk To Girls At Parties. I’d enjoyed their artwork enough that I looked up something else that they had both worked on. There is also the appealing symmetry in reading a story about two twin brothers, illustrated by two twin brothers. The artwork was again very good, crisp pictures and distinctive figures carrying us through the story.

This was fundamentally a story of family dynamics, passions,  mistakes made and resentments and family ties carried through a lifetime. How imperfect parenting causes a divide that runs deep, and how adult choices lead to very different lives. But it is set against a wider background of political uprising and violence as Brazil goes through a period of change.

There is then the minor mystery of our narrator, A young boy growing up in this household, working out how he fits and who he can rely upon.

Overall, a strong story with good artwork.

The Eleventh Doctor: Doctor Who Archives Volume 1 (Graphic Novel)

I couldn’t really get on with the Eleventh Doctor, too lacking in gravitas, and more importantly he replaced Ten, who may be my favourite of all time. But this was a fast-paced set of stories that created their own episodes of the Doctor with Amy and Rory, who are a lot less irritating on the page than on the screen.

The art in this book is good, but the silly still didn’t feel like the Doctor. I’m glad we have moved on to Twelve, who has the gravitas, charisma and humour that the Doctor needs.

How To Talk To Girls At Parties – Neil Gaiman, Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá

I hadn’t been aware of this graphic novel’s release until I found myself sat knitting at a train table with someone who pulled it out of their bag to read on the journey. Of course we had a chat, and he told me that he’d found it in his local library, on the same network as my local. So I did the sensible thing and was straight onto the library website to request it when I got home.

So there is nothing quite like Sunday morning in bed than a devouring a graphic novel by one of my favourite authors with a cup of tea. This was perfect, setting up a separate world which can be trivially stepped into, and which is difficult to escape from afterwards.

Like many things in Gaiman’s writings, the fantastic is terrifyingly everyday, and very believably easy for anyone to innocently step into.We start with traditionally naive teenage boys, and swiftly move into something much darker.

The artwork was perfectly otherworld, depicting Gaiman’s imaginings as they depart from, and return to, the everyday world. I have now requested “Two Brothers” by Moon and Bá to read some of their own distinct work.

Loved it.

What have you been thrilled to discover recently?

Aya of Yop City – Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie

Set on the Ivory Coast in the 1970s, this graphic novel is half childhood memoir, half cultural commentry. Abouet grew up on the Ivory Coast before leaving in late childhood.

This work reflects changes ongoing, from sexual liberation to development of big business, and how these echo through individual’s lives. THere is also a dry humour twisting throughout, and an absolutely perfect closing page. The whole cast interact and interweave seemlessly, drawing up a society in turmoil, with old cultural standards changing and being forgotten.

The art quality is good, with realistic vivid images.