comicbookGRRRL Do not offend the chair leg of truth; it is wise and terrible.

5Feb/150

Panel Mania: Fashion Forward with ‘Girl in Dior’

This month's first Panel Mania spotlights the upcoming translation of French comics maestro Annie Goetzinger - Girl in Dior.

A love letter to fashion, Paris, and the House of Dior, NBM brings French superstar Annie Goetzinger to conquer the US, following in the footsteps of the titular designer. One of the rare Grandes Dames of comics in France, Goetzinger is well known for her blend of the historical and nostalgic, most often with a societal sting in the tale.

Her works (Agence Hardy, Paquebot, Le Tango du disparu), with their sumptuous Art Nouveau-influenced style, have rarely been translated for the English market, but Jeune fille en Dior perhaps has a wider audience than most – the world of fashion is rarely restricted by mere geographical borders.

The heroine of the title, Miss Clara Nohant, is a fictional creation serving as our viewpoint on the rise of Christian Dior and the fierce loyalty he inspired in those around him. Given little personality of her own, the cub reporter gazes in wonder upon his creations, with her mother and grandmother giving their own, generationally different, opinions.

For those looking for a hard-hitting historical expose, be warned – this is a feather light kiss upon history, with only a slightly belligerent sabre rattle of socialist concern, but oh the dresses. The beautiful, stylish, inspired dresses. Goetzinger’s background in fashion is apparent not only in the flowing lines of the countless outfits and the way they gloriously capture the light, but in the layouts, backgrounds, and characters of the entire comic.

This is for fans of beauty and refinement, both in comics and in clothing, an indulgent present for those who love fashion and the female form. The original French edition by Dargaud was praised for its lavish presentation and exquisite binding, a trait that NBM have consistently proved to be a mutual priority.

Goetzinger has been working in comics since the ‘70s, and while this is far lighter than most of her body of critically acclaimed work, it’s lovely to see a subject often derisively dismissed as “feminine” being treated with such love and respect. A guilty pleasure? No guilt required!

Girl in Dior opens with a quote from Dior himself: “In a machine age, dressmaking is one of the last refuges of the human, the personal, the inimitable.” Comics, perhaps, is a similar refuge.

Read the full preview here: Fashion Forward with ‘Girl in Dior’

Girl in Dior

23Jan/150

Panel Mania: Lucy Knisley Explores Aging in ‘Displacement’

I always love Lucy Knisley's work but this new title is particularly special. It's very uplifting, though I did have a wee cry afterwards.

Touching and relatable, New York Times best-selling artist Lucy Knisley follows up her previous hit autobiographies with a travel journal of her trip aboard a cruise ship with her elderly grandparents. With memories of a childhood shared with an active grandma and grandpa, Knisley is forced to confront the mortality of those dear to her alongside the sheer exhaustion of being their temporary carer.

Knisley’s previous works have focused on a trip to Paris with her mother (French Milk), her love of food (Relish), and a travel memoir of her adventures in Europe (An Age of License). Travel then is certainly a topic of speciality but the focus here is very much upon feelings of grief, guilt and compassion rather than youthful adventure.

Knisley’s grandma has dementia, which is getting worse, and her grandpa also needs near constant care and supervision. It’s a sad flip of the parent-child relationship that comes with advanced age, and something many of us struggle with and try to avoid even thinking upon. Knisley though is unflinchingly honest in her writings – her love for her grandparents is powerful even when she is gripped with guilt and fear over the many daily decisions she has to make. Her anger too at family members who avoid dealing with the realities of her grandparents’ situation is palpable, her emotions conveyed not only in carefully chosen words but in the expressive drawings of chosen moments.

The clever blend of comics, illustrations, and hand-lettered text is Knisley’s signature and her skill increases with every book – in some ways Displacement almost feels too short as the reader wishes desperately to stay in Knisley’s world just a little longer. Her art too, with soft lines and colours and occasional humorous expressions act as a wonderful filter for the story. What could be rather depressing is lifted by the human moments shown; small changes in expression, little thought bubbles of the artist’s thoughts, emotions hinted at that are far harder to convey in text alone.

In contrast to the daily routine of caring for an elderly couple are the grandpa’s journal extracts peppered throughout. His jotted down experiences of being a pilot in World War II are a sharp reminder of the young man he once was, with his own opinions, memories and life revealed, brought to life by his granddaughter. It can be difficult to connect the elderly relatives we have with the people they once were, and for older grandchildren in particular it can be heart breaking to see once active grandparents seemingly fade away as visits unintentionally decrease.

Displacement is a travel memoir on the surface, but the journey is through time and emotion rather than to any one particular destination. As Knisley struggles with the task of caring for her grandparents, schmaltz is avoided by the genuine internal arguments laid out on the page. There is no grand reveal or change of minds, but there is a whole lot of heart and truth and love, and for grandchildren everywhere this is an absolute gift.

Read the full preview here: Lucy Knisley Explores Aging in 'Displacement'

Displacement

16Jan/150

Review: Henni by Miss Lasko-Gross

In a year already tragically marked by the ever familiar battle between art and religion, freedom of speech and religious (in)tolerance, this fable about faith, identity, and art within an oppressive society from the critically acclaimed Miss Lasko-Gross has been noted as being particularly timely.

It's a tale that will be relevant for a long time to come, commenting not only on fundamentalist beliefs but societal oppression of women, rebellion against repression, and the power of art.

Underground comix star Lasko-Gross is well known for her celebrated semi-autobiographical graphic novels Escape from "Special" and A Mess of Everything (available from Fantagraphics), as well as featuring in the Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women touring exhibition.

Henni cover

8Jan/150

Top of the Shops: January 2015

January is traditionally a quiet month in the book industry, the relentless torrent of autumn releases and Christmas gift books swept aside by diets and wishful thinking texts of the new year, but nobody seems to have told the comics industry. Thank goodness.

With such a wealth of intriguing new titles on sale it's easy for some of the smaller fish to get lost in the gigantic pond, so without further ado here are some choice pickings on the shelves this month - indies, graphic novels, and floppies alike!

Top of the Shops: January 2015

2Jan/150

Vector: Sequentials #1 – Women and SF Comics

As promised, the first instalment proper of my new column for the British Science Fiction Association's critical journal, Vector. Coverage of the world of SF literature can be a tad bloke heavy, and comics are no exception.

Time then to delve into the truly groundbreaking work from SF comic creators that just happen to be female: Starstruck, A Distant Soil, and Finder; and their modern successors Saga, Decrypting Rita, and Grindhouse.

Hit the jump for the full article!

Starstruck

29Jul/141

Marvel and DC: Recognising Progress Doesn’t Ignore The Fake Sound Of It

The world of superheroes is a funny old place, home to some of the craziest and most imaginative storytelling of the last century, but eternally trapped in a constantly regressive rut. Long time fans simultaneously demand change and uniformity, for heroes to evolve and remain the same age forever more.

This month Marvel announced three key upcoming changes in its comics line, which was met with familiar outrage and increasing mainstream press interest towards this medium that has given the public their favourite superhero movies. But what was most interesting to many onlookers were not the announcements themselves, but the chosen method of broadcast.

The View, a US daytime talk show, exclusively announced that Thor was to be female in an upcoming title. "It’s a huge day in the Marvel Universe," revealed Whoopi Goldberg. "Thor, the God of Thunder, he messed up. He is no longer worthy to hold that damn hammer of his. And for the first time in history that hammer is being held by a woman."

Cap and Thor