LJ Best Books 2016

A jury of our peers discussed, debated, disagreed, and finally declared LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles. VISIT THE WEBSITE

Graphic Novels: Ban on Tezuka, Hanawalt, plus Rall and Trudeau on the Donald | Xpress Reviews

Week ending August 5, 2016

Ban, Toshio & Tezuka Prods. The Osamu Tezuka Story: A Life in Manga and Anime. Stone Bridge. Jul. 2016. 928p. tr. from Japanese by Frederik L. Schodt. ISBN 9781611720259. pap. $29.95. BIOG
For true fans, this near 1,000-page biography of manga artist Osamu Tezuka (1928–89) will spark excitement and rabid consumption. The illustrated saga began serialization soon after Tezuka’s death and was first published as a book in Japan in 1992. The timing of its recent English-language translation works just fine for U.S. readers of his work, which has been rendered in multiple languages over the past few decades. Created by Ban, a close assistant of Tezuka’s, this portrait of the artist preserves his bubbly, detailed illustration style, offers glimpses of his many and ever-changing work environments, traces his transition from manga to anime, and even shares some of his earliest artistic creations, beginning at the tender age of five. As with Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life, it captures the harried existence of a manga creator, and similar to Shigeru Mizuki’s Showa, it portrays the artist in the context of a period of great upheaval in Japan. Perhaps because of its immediate, serialized nature, it’s a bit procedural and doesn’t plunge far into the depths of Tezuka’s endlessly creative mind—the documentation herein is almost academic, for better or worse.
Verdict A must for Tezuka devotees, a maybe for manga lovers, and a pass for the simply curious.—Emilia Packard, Austin, TX

starred review starHanawalt, Lisa. Hot Dog Taste Test. Drawn & Quarterly. Jun. 2016. 172p. ISBN 9781770462373. pap. $22.95. LITERARY/GRAPHIC NOVELS
hotdog080516While the title and marketing material focus on cartoonist Hanawalt’s latest release as a lampooning of foodie culture, Hot Dog Taste Test actually covers a variety of topics, from travelog to meditations on modern life and love to explorations of the animal kingdom. Some readers will recognize Hanawalt as the designer of the popular Netflix series Bojack Horseman, and fans of that show’s irreverent, screwball humor will find much to embrace here. Hanawalt has a sharp eye and keen wit and is an incredibly talented illustrator as capable of selling a joke in a pencil sketch as she is at capturing a domestic scene in beautiful watercolors. While the collection might seem scattershot at a glance, the quick skipping among topics and tones puts readers in the mind of the author and is in fact a strength.
Verdict Fans of independent comics, alternative humor, and vibrant illustration are sure to embrace this charming, occasionally bawdy collection.—Thomas L. Batten, Grafton, VA

TALKING TRUMP
Rall, Ted. Trump: A Graphic Biography. Seven Stories. Jul. 2016. 192p. photos. ISBN 9781609807580. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781609807597. BIOG
trump080516Donald Trump: Is there a method to his madness, or is there just madness? While commentators both liberal (Salon.com) and conservative (RedState.com) have suggested psychopathology, award-winning political cartoonist Rall (Snowden; The Book of Obama) maintains that it’s method. Rall first describes why Trump’s angry fans support such an unconventional presidential candidate who lacks political background and is given to unpredictable, insulting diatribes. Shrinking job markets, a perceived threat from immigrants, and the failure of both parties to address working-class concerns all enter into the appeal of Trump’s “America first” approach. This contextual material is intercut with the Republican candidate’s biography, from hyperconfident rich kid and wily protégé of his workaholic father to business mogul dogged by labor and tenant lawsuits and media darling in pursuit of the Oval Office. Most striking is his ability to read an audience and exploit opportunities. But Trump hasn’t reliably delivered on past promises or contracts; if elected, would he make good on his claims? Rall’s text-heavy art features talking heads drawn like a more serious version of The Simpsons interspersed with photos, headlines, and news clips—all well referenced.
Verdict Sympathetically written, readable, and accessible to a wide range of audiences, this careful effort goes heavy on evidence and light on hyperbole to lend insight about this unexpected, would-be world leader.—Martha Cornog, Philadelphia

Trudeau, G.B. Yuge! 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump. Andrews McMeel. Jul. 2016. 112p. ISBN 9781449481339. pap. $14.99. COMICS
Arriving just in time for the 2016 U.S. presidential race is Trudeau’s collection of three decades of his acclaimed comic Doonesbury on Republican candidate Donald Trump. Beginning with the late 1980s when Trump teased the public with political aspirations to the current decade of his GOP nomination, Trudeau’s cartoons showcase it all with a foreshadowing that is almost scary, as though he is getting inspiration from a crystal ball. The left-leaning author highlights the controversial moves of the millionaire’s signature style conveyed uniquely in his comics, in which Trump’s larger-than-life ego interacts with the full spectrum of Doonesbury favorites and enlarged panels make the reading experience laugh-out-loud enjoyable.
Verdict Essential for Doonesbury fans, who will relish the story arcs with familiar and beloved characters, as well as anyone who has reservations about Trump. Recommended for political collections and especially poignant considering the current governmental climate. Trump supporters should avoid this book.—Laura McKinley, Huntington P.L., NY

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