Magic Trixie and the Dragon

The new Magic Trixie book, Magic Trixie and the Dragon, is simply outstanding, the best yet! First off, there’s an awful lot going on. I’m okay with having a minimum of plot so long as there are plenty of amazing Jill Thompson pictures to look at, but that’s certainly not the case here. Trixie’s grandmother Mimi takes her to the circus/carnival, where she falls in love with the dragons and wants one. Of course, she can’t have one, even though […]

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Magic Trixie

Jill Thompson’s Scary Godmother series never got the success I thought it deserved. Her new series, Magic Trixie, takes a different approach to a world of magic and fun. Instead of a niece who gets to wander into a fantasy world occasionally, Magic Trixie is a little girl with her own powers, a talking cat, and a wild shock of blazing orange hair. She’s also incredibly realistic, which makes her behavior believable to anyone who’s either seen a been a […]

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Understanding Comics

Understanding Comics started a revolution in the medium that’s still being worked through. Scott McCloud created this book to analyze how comics work and what the medium is capable of. He did it in a clever and unexpected way; instead of writing text, he drew it as a comic book. A friendly version of himself is the main character, the narrator, leading us through his thoughts on the history of the medium, its strengths and weaknesses, the definition of art, […]

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Reinventing Comics

I thought of Reinventing Comics as the ugly middle child of Scott McCloud’s trilogy of books about the medium. Understanding Comics was revolutionary; nothing like it had been done before in discussing the theory behind the art. Making Comics was needed; there aren’t enough good books about the practice of craft. But as I remembered it, Reinventing Comics was a bunch of outdated gee-whiz-aren’t-computers-cool bits and pieces. I was surprised, then, upon rereading it, to realize how current and up-to-date […]

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Making Comics

Scott McCloud revolutionized discussion of the comic medium with his instant classic Understanding Comics. It gave many a new way to talk about comics, the beginning of a language with which to discuss and analyze the form. Now, a decade later, he’s created Making Comics, promising “storytelling secrets of comics, manga, and graphic novels”. Instead of theory, this book is about practice. And it’s not just about linework or anatomy or common elements of popular genres or styles… it’s about […]

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The Cartoon History of the Modern World

Larry Gonick’s books are impressive: they’re wickedly funny, culturally insightful, and more educational than some college classes I’ve attended. His latest series, following up from the The Cartoon History of the Universe books… well, I’ll let the PR explain it: Cartoon History of the Modern World Part I covers the history of ancient Mexico, the Spanish conquests, the Portuguese empire in Asia and Brazil, national and religious upheavals in Europe and India, the colonial ventures of France, Britain, and the […]

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Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person

43-year-old Miriam Engelberg decided to cope with a diagnosis of breast cancer by creating a comic journal. The back cover calls Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person “devastatingly humorous”, but much as I appreciate black humor and laughing in the face of trouble, I didn’t find the book funny at all. Her style is best described as naive or primitive; it’s flat, with no backgrounds and a heavy reliance on text, both dialogue and captions. Most of the art is […]

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