YuanYuan’s Bubbles

Cixin Liu Graphic Novels #4

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“Ever since she was a child, Yuanyuan always dreamed of blowing big bubbles. But her father worries about her fascination—he wants Yuanyuan to be as responsible and devoted to a calling as her mother was. As an adult, Yuanyuan creates a multimillion-dollar business out of the technology she developed for her doctoral thesis. But she still dreams of blowing the biggest bubble she can. When his daughter uses her high-tech methods to blow a bubble big enough to envelop a city, Yuanyuan’s father thinks back to the dreams he and Yuanyuan’s mother chased when they were young. In the end, Yuanyuan’s bubbles bring her father’s dreams to life.

The fourth of sixteen new graphic novels from Liu Cixin and Talos Press, Yuanyuan’s Bubbles is an epic tale of the future that all science fiction fans will enjoy. ” 

[Text from the publisher’s website; see also the backcover]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

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Cixin Liu Graphic Novels #4: YuanYuan’s Bubbles (刘慈欣科幻漫画系列:圆圆的肥皂泡 / Liú Cíxīn kēhuàn mànhuà xìliè: Yuán yuán de féizào pào / “Liu Cixin Science Fiction Comics Series: Yuán yuán Soap Bubbles”) was published in China in 2020 and was based on a short story by Cixin Liu originally published in 2004. It is part of a project by Chinese publisher FT Culture who is planning to adapt in graphic novels sixteen stories by the multiple award-winning Chinese author Liu Cixin. According to John Freeman, they asked creators from all over the world (twenty-six writers and artists from fourteen countries, including China, France, Spain, Argentina, Italy, Belgium and the USA) to contribute to the series. It will be translated and published in at least eight countries. The English adaptation is published in the USA by Talos Press and by Head of Zeus’ Ad Astra imprint in the U.K.  The French adaptation will be published by Delcourt starting later this year. The first four volumes of the series are already available in English: Sea of Dreams (#1), The Wandering Earth (#2), The Village Teacher (#3) and Yuanyuan’s Bubbles (I have already commented on the first three). Chaos Butterfly (#5, by Dan Panosian) and The Circle (#6, by Xavier Besse and Nicholas Blackburn Smith) will follow on September 6 2022. The series will also includes adaptations of Devourer (by Corinne Bertrand), The Wages of Humanity (by Sylvain Runberg and Miki Montllò), Up to the Ears (by Julien Moca and Wang Jing), Be With You, Sunflower Boy (by Nie Jun) and Ball Lightning (by Thierry Robin). It is a very promising series.

YuanYuan’s Bubbles offers a very interesting story telling us of a realistic future where global warming has already done its damages. It also demonstrate that even the most whimsical scientific endeavour can eventually be useful and even save humanity from disaster. The art is rather average but it is worth reading. I find the whole series fascinating because it offers a window on Chinese science-fiction and an easy approach, through comics, to Liu Cixin’s works. Because of his scientific background, his writings are considered hard science-fiction but they remain easy to read and offer stimulating reflections on the paths that humanity should (or not) take in the future. I also like the fact that this project is really an international collaboration. For example, YuanYuan’s Bubbles’ creators are both French speaking: Valérie Mangin is a French writer, a latinist!, and Steven Dupré is a Belgian artist who publishes in both French and Dutch languages. They also collaborated together on the series Le Club des prédateurs.

All in all, YuanYuan’s Bubbles is a very good reading, even more so if you are interested in compelling science-fiction, Chinese literature or Liu Cixin’s works. I can’t wait to read the other titles of this series…

Cixin Liu Graphic Novels #4: YuanYuan’s Bubbles, by Valérie Mangin (text) & Steven Dupré (illustration); translation by Nicholas Blackburn Smith, based on a story by Liu Cixin. New York: Talos Press (Imprint of Skyhorse Publishing), January 2022. 72 pages, 7 x 10 in., $US 17.99 / $C 24.99, ISBN 978-1-945863-71-4. For Teen readership (12+). stars-3-5

For more information you can check the following websites:

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© 2021 FT Culture (Beijing) Co., Ltd.

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The Expense

TheExpanseGN-cov“Chrisjen Avasarala, the former longtime Secretary-General of the United Nations, has found herself relegated to Luna after losing the latest elections…and she doesn’t plan on going down without a fight. So when Bobbie Draper – a former Martian marine – brings her intel on an intergalactic black market weapons ring, Avasarala sees a chance to reclaim her former political position of power through a clandestine operation. But as Draper digs deeper into this secret cabal, she soon realizes the threat they pose is far larger – and closer to home – than either of them ever imagined…

Corinna Bechko (Green Lantern: Earth One) and Alejandro Aragon (Resonant) present a powerful new story set between Season 4 and Season 5 of Amazon’s hit series The Expanse. Collects The Expanse #1-4.”

[Text from the backcover]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

A graphic novel that collects the four-issue comics based on the sci-fi book series by James S.A. Corey and adapted into a splendid TV series on Amazon Prime. The story is set between season 4 and season 5 of the TV series and recounts the investigation by former Martian marine Bobbie Draper (who is secretly working for former UN Secretary General Chrisjen Avasarala) to expose and dismantle a black market weapons ring…

It is well written and the art is nice enough. It provided a good reading and, while filling some gaps in the story, helped me wait for the next season to start… I wish there was more of those, like a full comic adaptation of the book series.

The Expanse, by James S.A. Corey (creator), Corinna Bechko (writer), Alejandro Aragon (illustrator) and Francesco Segala (colorist). Los Angeles: Boom! Studio, August 2021. 128 pages, 6.5 x 10 in., $US 16.99 / $C 21.99, ISBN 978-1-68415-691-7. For teen readership (12+). stars-3-0

For more information you can check the following websites:

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™ & © 2020 Expanding Universe Productions, LLC

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Slaughter House-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five-covThe first-ever graphic novel adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great anti-war books.  An American classic and one of the world’s seminal antiwar books, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five is faithfully presented in graphic novel form for the first time from Eisner Award-winning writer Ryan North (How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler) and Eisner Award-nominated artist Albert Monteys (Universe!). 

Listen: Billy Pilgrim has…
…read Kilgore Trout
…opened a successful optometry business
…built a loving family
…witnessed the firebombing of Dresden
…traveled to the planet Tralfamadore
…met Kurt Vonnegut
…come unstuck in time.

Billy Pilgrim’s journey is at once a farcical look at the horror and tragedy of war where children are placed on the frontlines and die (so it goes), and a moving examination of what it means to be fallibly human.” [Text from the publisher’s website and the backcover]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

I read this novel in high-school (a very long time ago) and I thought it was great. Indeed it is a classic of American science-fiction literature. When I saw that it had been made into a graphic novel adaptation, I thought it would be a great occasion to reacquaint myself with this story (a movie adaptation was also made a long time ago but it wasn’t very good). However I was a little worried because it is not an easy story to illustrate. After I finished reading the comics I was relieved: it was very well done (as far as I can remember the original book, of course).

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It is the story of Billy Pilgrim who has a strange power (well, it would be a super-power if he had any control over it, so it’s more of a curse): he has come unstuck in time. He doesn’t lives his existence in chronological order and his mind can switch at anytime to a different part of his life, from (not necessarily in that order) his birth in 1922, to 1943 when he refuse to fight in the war and becomes a chaplain’s assistant, to 1944 when he is a prisoner of war after the battle of the Bulge and find himself a slave-laborer in the Slaughterhouse-Five in Dresden until it is “liberated” by the Russians after much horrors, to 1948 when his PTSD lands him in a mental hospital, to 1955 when he is a successful optometrist, to 1964 when he meets science-fiction writer Kilgore Trout, to 1967 when he is kidnapped by the Trafamadorians (an alien species who experience time all at once) and put in a zoo, to 1968 when he survives a plane crash and to 1976 when he dies — So it goes. 

It is an extraordinarily compelling story, very complex and above all — although war is a very serious business — very funny. It is an antiwar manifest sugarcoated with humour. It is also a very clever time-travel story where science-fiction, as usual, becomes a mirror that reflects the joys and the cruelties of the human condition. And the art is very good too. I enjoyed this graphic novel adaptation very much and I can only recommend it for the reader either to discover the work of Kurt Vonnegut or to experienced it anew. 

Slaughter House-Five or the children’s crusade, by Ryan North and Kurt Vonnegut; illustrated by Albert Monteys. Los Angeles: Archaia (Boom Entertainment), September 2020. 192 pages, 7 x 9.75 in., $US 24.99 / $C 32.99, ISBN 978-1-68415-625-2. For a teen readership (13+). stars-3-5

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© 2020 Kurt Vonnegut LLC. All rights reserved.

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The Call of Cthulhu & Dagon

CallOfCthulhuAndDagon-cov“In this hauntingly illustrated adaptation of two of H. P. Lovecraft’s most famous stories from the Cthulhu Mythos, illustrator Dave Shephard captivates readers with stories of supernatural monsters so powerful that humanity is deemed irrelevant. The Call of Cthulhu and Dagon introduce the Great Old Ones, powerful deities who reside outside the normal dimensions of space-time, with physical forms that are impossible for the human mind to fathom. This handsome thread-bound edition presents these stories in rich and colorful detail, making it an accessible and entertaining gateway to Lovecraft’s world. Makes a perfect gift for fans of Lovecraft, his work, and the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

[Text from the publisher’s website; see also the backcover]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

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Pp. 24-25

This graphic novel offers the adaptation of two stories by H. P. Lovecraft. The first one is “Dagon”. Written in July 1917, it is one of his first stories and it is also the first time that he mentions the Cthulhu Mythos. It was first published in issue #11 of The Vagrant in November 1919 and again in Weird Tales vol. 2 #3 in October 1923. It is a short story (about two thousands and two hundreds words) and the graphic adaptation (by Pete Katz) is also quite short (sixteen pages). A man is writing down the incredible experience he endured at sea: captured by pirates he escapes on a small boat and, after drifting for days, he wakes up to find himself stranded on land, no sea in sight. It was full of decaying dead fishes like if it was the bottom of the ocean. He waits a couple of days for the mud to dry and then decide to walk toward an elevation in the horizon. He climbs it and finds a cyclopean monolith covered with drawings and hieroglyphs that evokes a marine world. It seems to be the focus of the cult of some aquatic deity. Then, from a pool of dark water at the bottom of the monolith, rise a giant sea monster that bows to the monolith! The man goes mad and run. Somehow, he finds his way back to his boat and to the sea. He wakes up in a San Francisco hospital. He tries to make sense of what he has seen, learn about the legend of Dagon, the sea-god. Now he is afraid and fear the monsters will come for him. He put down on paper the account of his ordeal and jump out a window…

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Pp. 76-77

The second story is “The Call of Cthulhu”. It was written in the summer of 1926 and first published in the February 1928 issue of Weird Tales (vol. 11, #2). It is a more sizeable story (nearly twelve thousands words) that comprise much of the graphic novel (one hundred and twenty pages). It is the most significant story related to the cult of Cthulhu. This adaptation takes many short cuts but, like the original, still recounts three different stories linked by one main narrative. Prof. Angell, a specialist of Semitic language, helps a young sculptor who has strange dreams during which he produces weird artwork with inscriptions in an unknown language. This leads him to investigate the cult of Cthulhu but he dies in a mysterious incident a year later (this story was told as “The Horror in Clay” in the original novella). His nephew, Mr. Thurston, inherits of his belongings, including a mysterious statuette representing an octopus-like creature with wings and many papers mentioning Cthulhu and R’lyeh, as well as various strange events all occurring in March 1925, and a letter from an inspector Legrasse from New Orleans (this is the main narrative). He meet with Mr. Legrasse (in the original chapter “The Tale of Inspector Legrasse”) who recounts a raid the police made in the swampland south of New Orleans that busted a voodoo-like cult. His investigation revealed that its was more than that: similar cults were found among the eskimos and the sailor Castro tells him about Cthulhu, the great priest of the Great Old Ones who came from the stars and are now sleeping under the sea in the ancient city of R’lyeh waiting to be awaken. Then Thurston finds by chance in the newspaper the story of the sole survivor of a yacht found in possession of a strange idol (that’s the original chapter “The Madness from the Sea”). He travels first to New Zealand and then to Oslo to locate this sailor. Unfortunately, the man died in a mysterious incident but he left behind a journal recounting his ordeal. In March 1925, after being attacked by pirates, they arrive at an uncharted island that looks like it just came up from the bottom of the sea. There they find strange ruins, from which a sea monster come out and attack them. They use the ship’s cannon to neutralise it and escape. Thurston concludes that Cthulhu had awaken but was put back to sleep. He fears the day it might awaken again but also fears that he might now be a targeted man. Indeed, not long after, he narrowly escapes death… this time.

This adaptation is quite disappointing and the art rather basic. It’s not really worth reading. The stories of Lovecraft have received many adaptations, some better than others. I recommend you avoid average works like this one and read instead the adaptations from artists like Culbard or  Gou Tanabe (which I have already commented in the past). Those are much more interesting — particularly the mangas by Tanabe which are real masterpieces.  

H.P. Lovecraft’s The call of Cthulhu and Dagon : a graphic novel, by Dave Shephard. San Diego: Canterbury Classics, March 2021. 144 pages, 7.5 x 10 in., $US 19.99 / $C 26.99, ISBN 978-1-64517-707-4. For teenage readership (12+). stars-2-5

For more information you can check the following websites:

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© 2021 Quarto Publishing plc

 

[ Traduire ]

Cartoon tradition

It is the tradition for my Christmas vacations to read and watch lots of cartoons. Sometimes I read again the complete collection of Astérix or of Tintin. And, at this time of the year, there’s plenty of cartoon on TV. This year, since I am already reading plenty of manga, I decided to go in the documentary way. I’ve found and watched two interesting documentaries about famous cartoon artists (and I read a book of each for good mesure).

Who are you, Charlie Brown?

WhoAreYouCharlieBrown-posterThis documentary, narrated by Lupita Nyong’o, is covering three subjects. First, it brings us a new animated story where Charlie Brown agonize on the fact that he must write an essay about himself for school and he goes on a quest of self-discovery. Also, with the help of old interviews with Charles M Schulz (aka “Sparky”) and some of his close friends and family members we learn about who was the creator of Peanuts and about the genesis of the comics. Finally, fans, actors and other creators discuss the influence the comics had on them and on the global culture. 

The documentary is interesting and also very entertaining, but also a little short and somewhat superficial. We see some early drawings of the Peanuts’ gang (a comic strip called Lil’ Folks) but it never mentions his other comic series, like Young Pillars (which I commented in 2015) or It’s Only a Game. It also doesn’t mention the fact that Schulz’ house was burned down during the Santa Rosa’s fire in October 2017. Fortunately, the nearby Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, where the original illustrations are stored, was spared.  Nevertheless, this documentary is a great way to celebrate the cultural icon that Charlie Brown is and introduce him to a new generation of comic readers.

Who are you, Charlie Brown? : USA, 2021, 54 min.; Dir.: Michael Bonfiglio; Scr.: Michael Bonfiglio & Marcella Steingart; Ed.: Tim K. Smith; Music: Jeff Morrow; Rated PG. It has received a score of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes (91% from the audience) and 7.2/10 on IMDb. stars-3-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AppleGoogleIMDbWikipedia ]

NiceShotSnoopy-covOf course, after viewing this documentary I was feeling like reading some old Charlie Brown comics. I chose a short one and got lost in nostalgia. When I was a kid, having outgrown the school library, I was making regular trips to one of the city’s libraries to borrow Peanuts’ compilations (the library was located on top of an old fire-station and it reeked of gaz and engine’ oil — for years after that the idea of a library was evoking in me a mix of awe and nauseous feelings!)

This book offers a selection of cartoons from the compilation The Way of the fussbudget is not easy, vol. III. Part of the Peanuts Coronet collection (#79), it was meant to provide a shorter and more affordable sampling of the Peanuts’ world. It present a single four-panel strip per page. The volume doesn’t have a particular thematic and I don’t know if the strips are in chronological order. It is simply a variety of stories involving all characters (Snoopy and Woodstock, Linus and Lucy, Peppermint Patty and Marcie, Schroeder, Pig-Pen, Spike, and, of course, Sally and Charlie Brown). It is a light reading that provides mindless vintage entertainment.

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Nice shot, Snoopy!, by Charles M Schulz. New York: Fawcett Crest (Ballantine Books/Random House), May 1988. 128 pages, 4.25 x 7 in., $US 2.95 / $C 3.95, ISBN 0-449-21404-4. For readership of all ages. stars-3-0

For more information you can check the following websites:

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© 1983, 1984 by United Feature Syndicate, Inc

Capsules

Dear Mr. Watterson

DearMrWatterson-posterThis is an older documentary but I just discovered it. It explores the phenomenon that is the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, interview lots of people (fans, actor Seth Green, editor Lee Salem and other artists) who pay tribute to its popularity and talk about how it influenced them and the global culture. It also talks a little about its creator, Bill Watterson, who NEVER appears in the documentary (apparently he is a very shy and private person). 

It is a very interesting documentary and it reminded me of all the reasons why Calvin and Hobbes was my favourite comic strip. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed that I couldn’t learn more about its creator (although I can understand why someone who’s such a purist about his art would shy away fame and a fortune in licensing). However, the documentary also talk about the cartoon world in general and, if I couldn’t see Mr. Watterson, I could hear from many of the artists who created other strips that I like a lot too: Berkeley Breathed (Bloom County), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), Jan Eliot (Stone Soup), Bill Amend (FoxTrot), Wiley Miller (Non Sequitur), Dan Piraro (Bizarro), etc. It was definitively worth watching.

Dear Mr. Watterson : USA, 2013, 89 min.; Dir.: Joel Allen Schroeder; Phot.: Andrew Waruszewski; Ed.: Joel Allen Schroeder; Music: Mike Boggs; Prod.: Chris Browne & Matt McUsic; Rated PG. It has received a score of 62% on Rotten Tomatoes (51% from the audience), 54% on Metacritic and 6.4/10 on IMDb. stars-3-0

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ Apple TVGoogleIMDbOfficialPrime VideoWikipedia ]

EssentialCalvinAndHobbes-covAgain, watching this documentary made me want to read the comic again. I have a little less than a dozen compilations and I chose to read the one that I thought would be the most representative: The Essential Calvin and Hobbes, which includes all strips from the first two compilations (Calvin and Hobbes and Something Under the Bed Is Drooling). In this strip we enviously follow the (mis)adventures of an over-imaginative boy with his pet (stuffed?) tiger. It is superbly drawn in a simple, clean but descriptive style. The humour is brilliant. It is both entertaining and full of meaning. A must read.

The Essential Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson. Kansas City: Andrews & McMeel (Universal Press Syndicate), March 1989. 256 pages, 8.5 x 10.7 in., $US $18.99 / $C 37.99, ISBN 0-8362-1805-1. For teenage readership (12+). stars-4-0

For more information you can check the following websites:

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© 1988 by Universal Press Syndicate.

Capsules

 

[ Traduire ]

Cixin Liu Graphic Novels #1-3

Vol. 1: Sea of Dreams

Cixin-SeaOfDream-cov“An annual ice sculpture festival draws the attention of an extraterrestrial visitor, who learns how to create such art and decides to use local resources to sculpt a piece in a gesture of goodwill. All the water in the ocean is sent to the stratosphere, where the ice sculptor uses splendid techniques to create crystal dominoes scattered by a giant of the cosmos. In the world of the ice sculptor, art is the sole reason for civilization’s existence. After the ice sculptor creates the pinnacle of beauty, but also brings forth devastation and disaster, humanity decides during Earth’s last breaths to fight for their survival.

The first of sixteen new graphic novels from Liu Cixin and Talos Press, Sea of Dreams is an epic tale of the future that all science fiction fans will enjoy.”

[Text from the publisher’s website ; see also the backcover]

Cixin Liu Graphic Novels #1: Sea of Dreams, by Rodolfo Santullo (writer) & JOK (Illustrator). New York: Tales Press (Imprint of Skyhorse Publishing), June 2021. 96 pages, 7 x 10 in., $US 17.99 / $C 24.99, ISBN 978-1-945863-67-7. For Teen readership (12+). 

Vol. 2: The Wandering Earth

Cixin-WanderingEarth-cov“The life-bringing sun is on track to have a catastrophic helium flash within the next four hundred years, which would wipe the Earth from the universe entirely. To survive, humanity constructs massive engines on Earth that keep running nonstop, gradually taking Earth out of the Sun’s orbit. Braking, escaping, and hostile living conditions wear down humanity’s hope. People who believe that civilization has already been destroyed form a rebel faction, carrying out a ruthless execution of those who still believe that the Sun will undergo a helium flash.

The second of sixteen new graphic novels from Liu Cixin and Talos Press, The Wandering Earth is an epic tale of the future that all science fiction fans will enjoy.”

[Text from the publisher’s website ; see also the backcover]

Cixin Liu Graphic Novels #2: The Wandering Earth, by Christophe Bec (writer) & Stefano Raffaele (illustrator). New York: Tales Press (Imprint of Skyhorse Publishing), September 2021. 128 pages, 7 x 10 in., $US 17.99 / $C 24.99, ISBN 978-1-945863-65-3. For Teen readership (12+). 

Vol. 3: The Village Teacher

Cixin-VillageTeacher-cov“In the depths of mountains shrouded with ignorance and superstition, a man dedicates his life to igniting a passion for science and culture in children’s hearts. As his life draws to an end, he uses his dying breaths to impart knowledge on others. Fifty thousand lightyears away, in the depths of outer space, an interstellar war that has lasted for twenty thousand years draws to an end. In order to preserve the Milky Way’s many civilizations, the victor begins to exterminate lower-level life forms. When they reach Earth, they pose a test. The eighteen children deep in the mountains use the last lesson their teacher taught them to shine bright the hope of civilization…

The third of sixteen new graphic novels from Liu Cixin and Talos Press, The Village Teacher is an epic tale that all science fiction fans will enjoy.”

[Text from the publisher’s website ; see also the backcover]

Cixin Liu Graphic Novels #3: The Village Teacher, by Zhang Xiaoyu. New York: Tales Press (Imprint of Skyhorse Publishing), September 2021. 108 pages, 7 x 10 in., $US 17.99 / $C 24.99, ISBN 978-1-945863-69-1. For Teen readership (12+).

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

I have read two of Liu Cixin’s book (The Wandering Earth and The Three-Body Problem). He is certainly the best known Chinese science-fiction writer and has received many awards (Hugo, Locus, Seiun, Arthur C. Clarke and the Chinese Galaxy and Nebula). As an engineer he writes mostly hard science stories but his writing is also very imaginative and interesting. I am looking forward to reading more of his stories and, of course, the easy (or lazy) way is to read comic book adaptations instead. Luckily for me, Talos Press has started releasing a series of sixteen adaptations of Liu Cixin’s short fiction work. Three has already been published and a fourth one is due in January 2022 (Yuanyuan’s Bubbles).

Sea of Dreams (梦之海 / Mèng zhī hǎi) is based on a story published in the Chinese monthly magazine Science Fiction World (科幻世界 / Kehuan Shijie) in 2002. An interstellar artist is inspired by an ice sculptor on Earth but his work of art threaten the whole planet! It is a cute story but the art of the adaptation doesn’t appeal much to me. stars-3-0

The Wandering Earth (流浪地球 / Liúlàng dìqiú) is based on a story published in the Chinese monthly magazine Science Fiction World in 2000. The sun is about to burst into a red giant threatening to destroy the earth. Instead of build generation ships and save a few, the humanity decide to transform earth itself into a spaceship and save everybody (or almost). This is a real epic spanning several millennia and the adaptation succeeds very well to tell that complex story. And I really like the art: it is realist, smooth and with well balanced colouring. It is definitely my favourite book. stars-4-0

The Village Teacher is based on a story (乡村教师 / Xiāngcūn jiàoshī / lit. “The rural teacher”) published in the Chinese monthly magazine Science Fiction World in 2001. In order to defend themselves against an invasion of silicon-based creature, the carbon-based lifeforms of the Milky Way decide to create an isolation zone five hundred light years wide in the middle of spiral arm one by destroying almost all stars and therefore preventing the enemy from using them to leapfrog from a stellar system to another. They’ll be confined to the outer reaches of the galaxy and never be a threat again. However, they must quickly test each planet before destroying their sun to safeguard all star system with level 3C civilizations. Meanwhile on Earth, in a very rural region of China, a dying country teacher is doing his best to spread knowledge despite the opposition of some of the villagers. Will his students know enough to save Earth? This story emphasize the importance of a good education… A nice story with a moral. This time the artist, Zhang Xiaoyu, is Chinese and, if the art is not totally to my taste, its realism has some charms. stars-3-5

Three graphic novel adaptations that provide a nice reading and can introduce the reader to the works of Liu Cixin. It is worth having a look. I can’t wait to see the fourth volume…

For more information you can check the following websites:

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© 2021 FT Culture (Beijing) Co., Ltd.

[ Traduire ]

March, vol. 2-3

Three years ago, in order to celebrate the Black History Month, I commented on the first volume of this biographical comics by John Lewis. And last month, as I was talking about the Congressman death, I urged people to read this series. Then it occurred to me that I should follow my own advice and read volume two and three…

Book Two

March-Book-Two-cov“After the success of the Nashville sit-in campaign, John Lewis is more committed than ever to changing the world through nonviolence — but as he and his fellow Freedom Riders board a bus into the vicious heart of the deep south, they will be tested like never before. Faced with beatings, police brutality, imprisonment, arson, and even murder, the movement’s young activists place their lives on the line while internal conflicts threaten to tear them apart.

But their courage will attract the notice of powerful allies, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy… and once Lewis is elected chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, this 23-year-old will be thrust into the national spotlight, becoming one of the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement and a central figure in the landmark 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”

[Text from publisher’s website and the inside flap; see also the back cover]

March: Book Two, by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. Marietta GA: Top Shelf Productions, January 2015. 192 pg., Softcover, 6.5″ x 9.5″, 19.95 US / $25.95 Can. ISBN: 978-1-60309-400-9.

Book Three

March-Book-Three-cov“By the fall of 1963, the Civil Rights Movement has penetrated deep into the American consciousness, and as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis is guiding the tip of the spear. Through relentless direct action, SNCC continues to force the nation to confront its own blatant injustice, but for every step forward, the danger grows more intense: Jim Crow strikes back through legal tricks, intimidation, violence, and death. The only hope for lasting change is to give voice to the millions of Americans silenced by voter suppression: “One Man, One Vote.”

To carry out their nonviolent revolution, Lewis and an army of young activists launch a series of innovative campaigns, including the Freedom Vote, Mississippi Freedom Summer, and an all-out battle for the soul of the Democratic Party waged live on national television. With these new struggles come new allies, new opponents, and an unpredictable new president who might be both at once. But fractures within the movement are deepening … even as 25-year-old John Lewis prepares to risk everything in a historic showdown high above the Alabama river, in a town called Selma.”

[Text from publisher’s website and the inside flap; see also the back cover]

March: Book Three, by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. Marietta GA: Top Shelf Productions, August 2016. 256 pg., Softcover, 6.5″ x 9.5″, 19.99 US / $25.95 Can. ISBN: 978-1-60309-402-3.

After introducing John Lewis in Book One and explaining how he cames to be involved in the civil rights movement by joining the Nashville students nonviolent protests against segregation, we see him pushing forward, in Book Two, by participating in the Freedom Riders actions. His determination, despite the increasingly violent response to the movement, bring him to a leadership position as the chairman of the SNCC and to a speaking spot at the landmark March on Washington.

Book Two, pages 47 & 150

In Book Three, Lewis is involved with the organization of the Mississippi Freedom Summer. College students flock to the South to register as many as possible Black voters. Despite the fact that the Fifteenth Amendment gave the African-Americans the right to vote, they were facing unjust registration suppression (poll taxes and literacy tests). The project goal was to publicize and counteract this injustice, but it was met with great terror and intimidation (including the tragic events recalled in the movie Mississipi Burning). They also created the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in order to put delegates at the Democratic National Convention with great controversy. It failed but prompted Lyndon B. Johnson to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The protests, and the violent response from the South authorities, continue to escalate up to the march from Selma to Montgomery (on March 7, 1965) where Lewis led six-hundred marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and was gravely wounded. This event was a turning point that brought national and international attention to the question and prompted Johnson to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Interestingly, through the recounting of his involvement, Lewis doesn’t shy from talking about the dissent within the various civil rights organizations (mainly the SNCC, CORE, NAACP, and SCLC) and even to sometimes criticize the positions of Martin Luther King or Malcom X.

Book Three, pages 30 & 86

The storytelling of March is excellent and compelling. It is well supported and illustrated by the pretty good black and white art of Nate Powell. However it is sometime quite dark (lots of ink!) and the text in some speech balloons is way too small for my eyes — I guess the artist wanted to express the sound level of distant speech. This book is a real history lesson, and the perfect way to learn about the Civil Right Movement.

Strangely, everything I read in this comics sounds familiar. It seems that what’s happening right nowBlack Lives Matter, the increasing violence against minorities and even from the government itself — is eerily similar to the situation during the civil rights movement. We all thought that our society had made great progress since then, but sixty years later we realize that we find ourselves at the same point! The disease is apparently running deeper. It laid more or less dormant for a while but seems to have been awaken by the “insult” of having a black president, creating a slow resentment. Now, with the strong encouragement and even its institutionalization by President Trump,  there’s an increasingly strong push back against all civil rights (of the ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender or all sort of minorities) by the conservative Republicans (mostly the religious right). The United States are really in need of strong and comprehensive reforms to address this pervasive problem…

History is repeating itself (to quote Battlestar Galactica, “All this has happened before, and all this will happen again” — which seems inspired by the Bible, Ecclesiastes 1:9) but it shouldn’t ! That’s why reading this comic is extremely important. If you understand the problem of the civil rights in the fifties and sixties — the what, why, who, where and how of it — you will understand what’s happening now: what it means, why it is so important. And maybe we will start to see how all this pervasive ethno-socio-economic inequity could be solved. 

Reading this book is an absolute must. It is an easy way to understand a complex problem that affects all our lives — but mostly the black lives. It really matter. Read it. Now. stars-4-0

For more information you can check the following websites:

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© 2015-2016 John Lewis and Andrew Aydin.

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RIP John Lewis

March-Lewis-covSadly, Congressman John Lewis died yesterday [BBCCNNGoogle  NYTUSA Today]. He was a hero of the American Civil Right Movement, one of the “Big Six”. In March 1965, he received a severe head injury during the “Bloody Sunday” as he led protesters across the Edmund Pettus Bridge while attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery. Since 1988 he has held a seat at the U.S. House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district. He must be remembered for his accomplishments which are even more important in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement.

I also want to remind everybody that John Lewis (in collaboration with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell) wrote a biographical comic book retelling his struggle. More than ever it is worth a look…

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The Walking Dead vol. 26

the-walking-dead-vol-26-cov“After being betrayed by members of his own community, Rick Grimes charts a new course and marshals his forces against the Whisperers.”

[Texts from the publisher’s website]

 

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

What better to read in the midst of a pandemic than The Walking Death comics?

In volume 26, the Alexandrians starts learning to use weapons and combat tactics. However, amid the paranoïa someone shot a member of another communities that he didn’t know. Eugene has repaired the radio and is trying to reach someone, anybody, without much success… until someone finally answers! Both Eugene and the woman he is talking to are cautious not to reveal too much information about their own community. As they slowly gains trust she reveals that her name is Stephanie… A young man named Brandon, who hasn’t forgiven Rick for the fair’s massacre, frees Negan from his prison with the intention of joining the Whisperers. Heading a party searching for Negan, Aaron is stabbed by Beta and Michonne is nearly captured but Dwight intervenes on time. Negan slowly gains Alpha’s trust, just enough to be able to carve himself a trophy that he hopes would please Rick.

The comic storyline has just about caught up with the TV series. It progresses at a much quicker pace — it took several episodes of the TV series for Negan to gain Alpha’s trust. There is a lot of action in this volume and the storytelling remains captivating. The art is great and makes it easy to follow the story. The comic is very constant in its quality and this volume is as good as the previous one. 

This comic is now less about zombies than about preserving civilisation. It could be set in the early time of the American colonies or in the far-west, where the Americans are competing with other colonies (Spanish or French instead of Saviors or Whisperers) while fighting hostile natives (instead of the undeads). I enjoyed it and, considering the time we are living in, it is quite entertaining.

The Walking Dead, vol. 26: Call to arms, by Robert Kirkman (Story), Charlie Adlard (Pencil), Stefano Gaudiano (Ink). Berkley: Image Comics, September 2016. 136 pages, 17 x 25.7 cm, $US 14.99 / $C 19.99, ISBN 978-1-63215-659-4, For Mature readers (17+). Includes issues 151-156. See back cover.  stars-3-0

For more information you can consult the following web sites:

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© 2016 Robert Kirkman, LLC. All rights reserved.

Please read my other comments on The Walking Dead:

WALKING DEAD 01  - C1C4.indd WalkingDeadCompendium-3-cov the-walking-dead-vol-25-no-turning-back-tp_8be0c98b12

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Capsules

The Walking Dead vol. 25

the-walking-dead-vol-25-no-turning-back-tp_8be0c98b12“After a devastating act of war by the Whisperers, Rick must chart a path for his community. But when his leadership is questioned, how will he respond?”

[Texts from the publisher’s website]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

“The world we knew is gone. The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibility. An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe (…).”

That quote feels eerily familiar. It’s on the back covers of The Walking Dead comic books. Considering the situation that the COVID-19 virus has put us in, I thought it would be a good time to continue reading the comics. I like to wait a little before reading them because I don’t want to get ahead of the TV series — although both stories have diverged so much by now that it is quite an unnecessary precaution. 

The last TV episode to air was episode 15 of the tenth season. The last episode of the season, #16, was due to air this week but the post-production was not completed because of the coronavirus shutdown and its airdate remains unknown. The producers say they have enough material to continue the TV series (including spin-off series and feature films) for another ten years! However, pre-production and filming of season eleven was also delayed by at least a month because of the pandemic. How ironic. 

As for the comic book, it has ended with issue #193 (vol. 32), therefore I still have eight volumes to read — actually six volumes since I just finished volumes 25 & 26. Strangely, I never talked much about this series. I usually don’t like horror and zombie stories, but I am a great fan of post-cataclysmic worlds, so it’s not that. Maybe it is that, between the comics and the TV series, there would be so much to say. I already commented (in 2011 !) on the first eleven volumes along with the first season of the TV series. Last year, I also commented on the third compendium (vol. 17-24). Besides the progression of the story, I feel I don’t have much to add since the series has remained of a steady quality.

In volume 25, the Alexandrians discover that, during the fair, the Whisperers have abducted and killed a dozen members of the communities (including Rosita and Ezekiel !). They have also put their heads on stakes delimiting their territory. Rick don’t want to overreact and is hesitating. But his people are VERY angry. As this anger turns toward him he sends Lydia and Carl to the Hilltop for their safety. After being hardly beaten by his own people, he follows the advice of Negan. He deflects the anger by announcing that everyone will train in order to create a military force to defend the communities. Or, to quote Vegetius: Si vis pacem para bellum.

As I said before, it is quite weird that some characters die in the comics but not in the TV series and vice versa. The storytelling is fluid, riveting and move much faster than in the TV series. I like the art which is clean and easy to “read” despite being rather dark because of its heavy inking — although using simple textures (zip-a-tone) for the shading helps avoid overloading the pages. It is a well-written and interesting story about survival and the workings of a human society. 

The Walking Dead, vol. 25: No Turning Back, by Robert Kirkman (Story), Charlie Adlard (Pencil), Stefano Gaudiano (Ink). Berkley: Image Comics, March 2016. 136 pages, 17 x 25.7 cm, $US 14.99 / $C 19.99, ISBN 978-1-63215-659-4, For Mature readers (17+). Includes issues 145-150. See back cover. stars-3-0

For more information you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblioGoodreadsTWD WikiWikipediaWorldCat ]

© 2016 Robert Kirkman, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Capsules