Updated on July 8, 2016
Three more graphic novels!
Another day, another graphic novel binge! Each of these I read in less than a day – even the absolutely enormous one – because I often find that once you start a graphic novel it’s quite easy to get sucked in and not look up until it’s over.
27. The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins
This is a story set on the egg-shaped island of Here, where everything is neat and ordered, and everything beyond the boundaries of Here (out across the sea) is called There and is to be feared and hated. Dave is a man who lives on the very edge of Here – his house backs onto the sea, but there are no windows so he can almost pretend that it isn’t there – and he likes nothing more than to sit at his living room window and draw the tidy things he sees beyond his front garden. That is, until he begins to grow an unstoppable, unfathomable beard which threatens to tear apart the very fabric of Here.
I really loved the art style of this book – it’s very simple in black and white, and I just adored how tiny details like the placement of individual words reflect what is happening in the story. For example, the words ‘bleed through the seams’ are shown squeezing their way out between bathroom tiles. I really enjoyed the overarching concept of Here and There, and the small, humorous details of Here that make it believable, but at times the story lost me. This may be because the reason behind Dave’s mysterious beard is never confirmed and, although I found the ending quite heartwarming, I didn’t really understand what point the book was trying to make.
28. Pride + Prejudice + Zombies by Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith and Tony Lee
Zombies have come to Hertfordshire! Our favourite family, the Bennets, must deal with their usual problems – romantic entanglements, societal engagements and social faux pas – against a backdrop of the brain-munching walking dead, who threaten to turn up at any moment and ruin even the most elegant of balls. The Bennet sisters have all been trained by a martial arts master in China (although there is a certain snobbery from other young ladies who were trained in Japan), and qualities such as swordsmanship are now just as prized in a young lady as piano playing and needlework.
I really liked the concept of this book, and a lot of the time it is just so deliciously funny. Lizzie Bennet is excellent as an ass-kicking zombie killer, and I loved how her temper doesn’t just lead to her saying outrageous things, but also vowing to cut out her enemies’ hearts or drink blood from their severed heads – seriously, people have to hold her back from committing terrible acts of violence! The fist fights between characters are also brilliant, there’s a fair amount of lewd humour and innuendo (which I didn’t think worked all the time), and there are some truly laugh-out-loud exchanges (“I declare that there is no greater enjoyment like reading, wouldn’t you say, Mister Darcy?” “Spoken like one who has never known the ecstasy of holding a still-beating heart in their hand.”) Occasionally the pacing felt a little off – sometimes rushed, sometimes too slow – and the zombies were occasionally forced in rather than flowing as part of the story, but all in all I found it a thoroughly enjoyable read.
[A word on the movie: DEAR GOD, don’t watch it. It is truly awful. For some reason the film drops all the humour and tries to make this outrageously silly concept take itself seriously, as well as unforgivably lessening Lizzie’s badassery. I had to turn it off. Don’t waste your time.]
29. Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green
This is a non-fiction graphic memoir of Katie Green’s life growing up with anorexia, from the very early days of the disease to the impact of it at its very worst. We see how Katie comes to associate food with negative feelings from quite an early age, and how her inner voice turns against her and takes over her life. Katie tries alternative therapy (which eventually leads to devastating consequences) and deals with depression, suicidal thoughts and periods of unstoppable binging. She feels safest when she creates rituals and rules around her food, and we discover just how much of her disorder is down to issues with self-expectation and control.
This may be the best graphic novel I’ve ever read. It’s an absolute beast of a book – roughly A4 size and over 500 pages long – but it goes by in no time because it’s just so good. The art style is gorgeous (the people are simple and cartoon-esque, almost childlike sometimes; the recurring black scribble represents the anorexia ‘monster’ that plagues Katie’s days) and the writing is beautiful and searing and heartbreaking. The book provides an incredible insight into what it is like to live with an eating disorder, and it does this better than anything else I’ve read on the subject. Katie is complex, sympathetic, infuriating, inspiring and inescapably real. I simply can’t fault it.
“I want to live. I want to draw.” Lighter Than My Shadow, Green
Have you read any of these books or are you planning to? I’d love to know your thoughts with a comment down below!