Slush Pile Cleanup: Graphic Novels

All books covered are complimentary copies provided by the creators.

Broken Chain

Broken Chain cover

by Aaron F. Gonzalez, $7 US, Self-Published

This wordless graphic novel about the start of a relationship is naive in style, with flat figures and simple shapes. He’s obsessive and orderly; she lives in the apartment building he moves into. He loses a photo album that she reads before returning to him, and he buys a bicycle that needs repairs. The storytelling is, like the art, minimal and straightforward, a series of incidents. Gonzalez said, about creating it, that, “It was a good experiment. I’m glad I did it, but also glad to not be doing it anymore. I was going a little crazy towards the end!” I can imagine. Like a good experiment, it was probably of more use to the development of the artist than the enjoyment of the reader. It’s not terrible, but there’s no lasting moment or image that will stick with me.

Goofyfoot Gurl

Goofyfoot Gurl cover
Goofyfoot Gurl
Buy this book

by Realbuzz Studios, $10.99 US, Thomas Nelson

Distinctively sun-splashed art with soft curves and colors that appear to be just about to wander outside the lines illustrates this inspirational comic about a lovely half-Japanese surfer chick who solves the problems of those around her. She even has a dolphin friend who saved her life.

The book, like its beachside setting, is free-wheeling and conversation-driven. Suki and her friends struggle with step-parents, absent parents, controlling parents, and figuring out what to do with their lives. It’s a lot less didactic than the studio’s previous series Serenity. This would be a great read for any teen interested in shows like Gossip Girl or 90210 — it’s got similar characters and challenges, and a comforting feeling that everything’s going to work out ok.

The Hunter #1

The Hunter #1 cover

by Adam Hamdy and David Golding, $5.95 US, Dare Comics

Four simultaneous terrorist attacks in major US cities. Some freaky-looking supervillain in the Middle East facing off against a superpowered CIA agent. Various people dying in unpleasant, graphic ways. Clichéd catch phrases when smacking each other down. Given all that, and the cross-cutting structure without grounded introductions of premise or character, this feels like a wannabe movie script. It’s very professional, though. The creators have obviously thought through a lot more of background than they’re putting on the page; that can be tricky, to make sure they’re giving the reader enough to stay involved. The individual scenes are well-done, but they don’t entirely add up to a satisfying package.

Paradigm Shift

Paradigm Shift: Equilibrium cover
Paradigm Shift: Equilibrium
Buy this book

by Dirk I. Tiede, $10 US, Self-Published

It’s self-published manga, although at a slightly larger size than the big publishers’ standard format. Cops in Chicago find themselves investigating what may be a werewolf attack. The book is well-drawn with a distinctive sense of place. Art-wise, I found the manga-style “bangs with a life of their own” a little distracting on the female police officer, and there were times when the balloon placement could have been improved in terms of the correct reading flow, but those are minor flaws.

64 of the 100 pages are comics; the rest is background material, including character profiles, annotations, and lots of information on his artistic process. It’s an entertaining read with characters that grab you. Here’s another review for comparison.


Wizzywig cover

by Ed Piskor, $15 US, Self-Published

I had high hopes for this story of the life of a hacker — that culture has been an interest of mine since grad school — but the pedestrian presentation took all the fun out of it. Most of the panels are so literally drawn that you can read only the captions and dialogue and get the entire story. The art contributes little, with lots of talking heads.

Kevin is a picked-on outcast who’s skilled at manipulating adults to get the information he needs to beat the system. He thinks to himself a lot to clue us in on his schemes… but I had a hard time believing that a kid, no matter how smart, would think so stiltedly, “I thought it would be a long shot hoping they would discard them this carelessly.” And why would a kid who’s clearly beating a video game with a quarter on a string need to think to himself that that was what he was doing? There’s no confidence in ever letting the art carry its own weight.

Anyway, Kevin learns to phreak phones for free calls and, just as this volume is ending, gets his first computer, which will lead him into the world of hacking. Many of his exploits are based on real-life cases, although some of them are a bit exaggerated. It’s a shame that a story with so much innate drama feels so dead on the page.

6 Responses to “Slush Pile Cleanup: Graphic Novels”

  1. Aro Says:

    Thanks for doing these reviews, Joanna — with so many comics and graphic novels out there now and so few of them getting any real press, it’s interesting to see some of the books that are flying below the radar. I shudder to think how big your slush pile must be now. How often do you get sent new review copies? I imagine there’s probably been a big increase over the past five or six years.

  2. Johanna Says:

    I’m glad to know someone’s interested! I get maybe, mmm, an average of 10 pieces a week? (That’s not counting anything I buy myself, many of which I also want to talk about.) It’s definitely something I have to get more of a handle on, which is why I’m making this concerted effort to get caught up. I need a fresh start! Now I’m down to three shelves instead of the whole bookcase. :)

    The increase more recently has been in page count. Instead of comics (32 pages), I get sent manga or graphic novels (100-200 pages), which take longer to read and ponder.

  3. SPX 2008 Graphic Novels: Slowpoke, Baby-Sitters Club 4, Soddyssey, Emiko Superstar, more » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] at the time, but he hadn’t gotten it. So I pulled up my site on my cellphone and let him read the review right there. Ah, modern […]

  4. Hits & Misses » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Dixon, previously of Realbuzz Studios, the home of Christian manga-inspired series Serenity and Goofyfoot Gurl, is back with new firm Snokie. It’s described as a “home for Christian-themed digital […]

  5. Read Wizzywig for Free Online » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] thing will be available online, I think it’s found its medium. When I reviewed the first graphic novel, I found the art too static … but as a webcomic, the focus is different, and the art style […]

  6. Wizzywig Free Download » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] enjoying watching how much Ed Piskor’s Wizzywig comic is progressing. After starting with a graphic novel, he moved the comic online, with revisions and improvements. Now he’s completed the first […]




Most Recent Posts: