Book reviews for the comic lover’s soul
I’ve been noticing things getting more graphic. I see comics everywhere—on billboards and the subway and nerdy girls’ Adrian Tomine tote bags. There’s an entire section in a local comic shop devoted to graphic versions of the classics. You can read Jane Erye in word bubbles, friends. That shit has been drawn and paneled. Suddenly high school lit is a little more interesting for those strange souls who don’t adore Dickens as much as I do. It’s the best of times.
In third grade we had to write reports on books we took out from the library. We had two options: We could write something out in the dreaded cursive or we could work with the nice folks in the library to type and illustrate a report as a book. I was one of the Midwest’s most dedicated 8-year-old pterodactyl enthusiasts. I checked out books almost exclusively set in the prehistoric era. I owned two copies of The Land Before Time. And I wrote a book all about dinosaurs and their ways called Paleontologists and Me.
I guess what I’m saying is I started the trend of graphic book reviews. You’re welcome, fellow Americans.
The Barnes & Nobel Review hosts a monthly column called “Drawn to Read,” which is what this column would have been called if it wasn’t already taken. The column is illustrated by Ward Sutton, whose work has appeared in such lauded publications as Esquire, The New Yorker, and Rolling Stone, as well as other lesser known outfits like The New York Times.
Sutton’s “Drawn to Read” provides short illustrated book reviews of both fiction and nonfiction books. The images and text capture the feel of the book the way a perfectly executed cover or book trailer might. A recent review of Disaster Preparedness: A Memoir by Heather Havrilesky is a particularly good example. It seems silly to explain in words what Sutton does graphically to a book composed solely of words, so take a look. It’s the NYT Book Review for the comic lover’s soul.
Last week I noticed another site I love, The Rumpus, is also featuring graphic book reviews. A recent review by Kevin Thomas, a self-described unemployed former film critic, covers Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. The review appear as part of Horn! Comix Supplement, the archive of which can all be found here.
Are there other graphic book reviews I’m missing out on? How do you feel about illustrated reviews of literature? Are you a slave to the NYT‘s Sunday Book Review? Is a graphic novel of Othello the comic kid’s equivalent of cliff notes or just plain awesome? I might have to read an illustrated classic to find out.