Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hella History

So, I think I posted here that I got an e-mail inviting me to try out "Blogging for Books," which, when I went to check it out, appears to be a Random House thing where you get free books if you post a review about them somewhere.  Free books is never a bad deal and they had a graphic novel check-box, so I thought, okay, what the heck, and had them send me "The Harlem Hellfighters" Max Brooks/Caanan White.

So, here are my thoughts:

The Harlem Hellfighters follows an all-black regiment in WWI and showcases the racism they dealt with and their astounding bravery in spite of it.  This is typically the kind of tale that I never get tired of, the against-all-odds heroes who go above and beyond duty—all while being spit on (and worse) by their fellow soldiers.  This story gets an extra boost because the regiment is real and many of the characters that appear in the pages come straight out of history.

The author, Max Brooks, is best known for his World War Z comic book, which, admittedly, I haven’t read yet.  And, while I enjoyed The Harlem Hellfighters, I’m not sure that this book would make me seek out his other work.  I feel that maybe because Brooks was trying to hit all the history, he missed out on a stronger narrative opportunity or two.  The Harlem Hellfighters would make a great addition to a junior high/high school library because it’s really more a ‘fun’ way to read about history than a graphic novel for comic book fans, you know?  I didn’t leave this graphic novel thinking, “Wow, this was a great story! I loved Edge’s character!” so much as, “Wow, I learned a lot.”

Which surprised me, because there are some amazingly moving scenes and we, for the most part, follow a single character.  I can’t quite put my finger on why I was never able to sink my teeth into this.  It might be the skipping through history; it might also be the art.

Like a lot of graphic novel/comic book fans, I need to have both working for me to get the ultimate experience.  I can enjoy a book where the art is better than the story, and visa versa, but it’s a far better ride for me when both are hitting the same notes.  I wonder if I’d have felt differently if it were an affordable option to print all the pages in color.  Regardless, at this point it comes down to preference and stylistic bents… and, thus, to each their own.  My experience with the Caanan White's art might be completely different than yours.

So, I guess, ultimately, I’d give The Harlem Hellfighters a recommendation to anyone interested in World War 1 history, African American experiences, or the history of racism in America (and Europe.)  For comic book/graphic novel fans, it could be hit and miss.  I would still say check it out if this sounds like your kind of thing. (I should note, the cover price is $16.95, not too steep for a graphic novel, many Marvel collections for instance are much higher, though you do often get full-color pages in those.)

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Tuesday with Tate

Yep, so here it is, Tuesday...  and yes, a new installment is ready for you at WattPad, which I cleverly named, "Part 15: A Damn Dam" (wait for it, it makes sense.  I promise), in which the two demons continue to interrogate Alex:

Sorry I didn't continue my convention report.  I got caught up in some post-con drama (all of which has been not only resolved, but well exceeded my expectations.)  I may write about all of it at some point, but suffice to say that there was some panel confusion and Programming is awesome.  My take away being, however, that there are some regional conventions that could learn a lot about conflict resolution from the folks at CONvergence.

I will, however, post more about it (including more cool costumes) this week.  I do, however, considering that today is more UnJust Cause, show you something AWESOME.  A friend of mine cosplayed Alex!

Amazing, right?  She even has (thought you can't see it because my camera decided to act up), blue extensions in her hair--because Alex's blue dye-job is growing out, if you remember that detail from the book.  The snake tattoo and the coroner shirt, of course, make it.