Criticism: Reviews Of Recent Graphic Novels - Essay

Gregory Cwiklik (review date July 1999)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Cwiklik, Gregory. “Paranormal Popularity.” Comics Journal, no. 214 (July 1999): 34-6.

[In the following review, Cwiklik traces the development of Mike Mignola's Hellboy series, praising the “wit” and “intelligence” of Mignola's story arcs and noting the influence of previous artists on Mignola's work.]

It's hard not to like Hellboy. First created by Mike Mignola in 1993, Hellboy is a supernaturally-spawned investigator of the paranormal and star of a series of short stories and graphic novels which have now been collected into several full-color books by Dark Horse. Hellboy may be popular entertainment, but it is popular...

(The entire section is 2400 words.)

Roger Sabin (review date 24 December 2000)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Sabin, Roger. “Strip Teasers.” Observer Review (24 December 2000): 18.

[In the following review, Sabin discusses several modern graphic novels, including Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, Daniel Clowes's Ghost World, and Joe Sacco's Safe Area Goražde, arguing that such works represent “a new generation of cartoonists pushing the envelope of what a comic can encompass.”]

The rise of the graphic novel as a format has meant that publishers can market their products to bookshops, and thus reach an audience away from the specialist—and very male-dominated—comics shops. Which is just as well, because those shops...

(The entire section is 794 words.)

Laura J. Kloberg (review date summer 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kloberg, Laura J. Review of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, by Chris Ware. National Forum 81, no. 3 (summer 2001): 44-5.

[In the following review, Kloberg praises Chris Ware for his use of visual imagery to connect the past and present in Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth.]

Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan is a compilation of individual comic strips published over a period of several years. It is a remarkable visual treat, a book in which intricate drawings convey the story of three generations of Corrigans. The overall story is about a young man who lacks confidence and a sense of self-worth. When the book begins, he is looking for...

(The entire section is 1345 words.)

Roger Sabin (review date 2 September 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Sabin, Roger. “Side by Side in the Fantasy League.” Observer Review (2 September 2001): 16.

[In the following review, Sabin examines a selection of graphic novels—including Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Mark Kalesniko's Mail Order Bride, and Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima's Lone Wolf and Cub—asserting that such works should “appeal to readers beyond comics fans.”]

The forthcoming release of two major movies based on graphic novels—Ghost World, derived from Dan Clowes's tale of teen angst, and From Hell, based on Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's Jack the Ripper story—represents something of...

(The entire section is 840 words.)

Jeremy Russell (review date January-February 2002)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Russell, Jeremy. “True Crime.” American Book Review 23, no. 2 (January-February 2002): 18.

[In the following review, Russell lauds Brian Michael Bendis's Torso: A True Crime Graphic Novel as “a tour de force of graphic storytelling,” complimenting Bendis's use of photographs, collage, and realistic art.]

“Find the heads.”

It seems at first a simple investigation. If the two Cleveland homicide detectives who form the backbone to Torso's morbid tale can find the heads to two dismembered bodies, they figure that will give them enough clues to at least discover the identities of the victims if not the motive for the...

(The entire section is 1410 words.)

Larushka Ivan-Zadeh (review date 16 November 2002)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ivan-Zadeh, Larushka. “Fast Train to Weirdsville.” Guardian (16 November 2002): 29.

[In the following review, Ivan-Zadeh offers a positive assessment of Daniel Clowes's “compelling” characterizations in David Boring, asserting that “this is Clowes at his mature best.”]

Daniel Clowes's breakthrough book, Ghost World, was the tale of Enid and Rebecca, two cooler-than-thou teens caught in limbo between high school and the rest of their lives, and was hip in a way that only truly anti-hip stuff can be. With his crisp graphics, ironic tone and uncanny insight into teenage hell, 40-year-old Clowes has been creating two-dimensional characters...

(The entire section is 757 words.)

David Thompson (review date 5 January 2003)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Thompson, David. “Eyewitness in Gaza.” Observer (5 January 2003): 15.

[In the following review, Thompson argues that Joe Sacco's Palestine and Safe Area Goražde act as vivid examples of the powerful messages that comic narratives can convey.]

If the mention of comic books still calls to mind images of caped crusaders and anthropomorphic mice, the graphic front-line reportage of Joe Sacco should upend your preconceptions. While the comic-book form typically deals with fantasy of a lurid and questionable kind Sacco's cartoons address the extremes of an altogether different world—our own.

With a degree in journalism and a...

(The entire section is 1012 words.)

Debbie Notkin (review date June 2003)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Notkin, Debbie. “Growing Up Graphic.” Women's Review of Books 20, no. 9 (June 2003): 8.

[In the following review, Notkin lauds Marjane Satrapi's frank autobiographical perspective in Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, noting that “Satrapi's unswerving commitment to the complex truth over the comfortable platitude will shake your expectations.”]

In the second panel of Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi lets her readers know what we can expect from the rest of the book. The panel shows four little girls in Islamic veils, lined up in a neat little row. On the far left, we see the barest suggestion of a fifth girl. The text reads, in part, “This...

(The entire section is 1499 words.)