Graphic Novels from Alekseyeva, Elliot, and Uslan & Timpano | Xpress Reviews

Week ending March 31, 2017

Alekseyeva, Julia. Soviet Daughter: A Graphic Revolution. Microcosm. (Comix Journalism). Jan. 2017. 191p. ISBN 9781621069690. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781621060765. MEMOIR
Alekseyeva’s first full-length graphic memoir serves as a loving tribute to her great-grandmother Lola while intertwining her own immigrant experience in America. Lola was born outside of Kiev, Ukraine, in 1910 to a poor Jewish family. She lived through some of the most perilous times in history, including the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, civil war, Stalinist purges, and the Holocaust, which took the lives of her parents and other family members. Although she experienced near starvation and death, Lola managed to survive and start a family of her own. After the frightening Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Lola immigrated to America with her family, which included Julia. Throughout, the author weaves in her own narrative of assimilating in a new country, including learning a new language, being asked by her mother to deny her Jewish heritage, and later being diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The black-and-white watercolor illustrations convey an intimate style that works well for this very personal account.
Verdict This authentically rendered story of strong, independent women will appeal to both adults and teens, especially those who enjoy graphic biographies such as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis.—Lucy Roehrig, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

starred review starElliot, Ruby. It’s All Absolutely Fine: Life Is Complicated So I’ve Drawn It Instead. Andrews McMeel. Mar. 2017. 254p. ISBN 9781449480424. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781449484033. MEMOIR/HUMOR
itsabsolutelyfine033117Elliot, author of the popular Tumblr blog Rubyetc (rubyetc.tumblr.com), takes readers down the winding path of what it means to live with mental illness. By way of dark humor, readers will laugh, cry, cringe, and, ultimately, relate to everything discussed. Elliot’s daily struggles are depicted in stick-drawn strips in which no subject is taboo. In brief, text-based chapters peppered throughout, she talks openly about her battle with bipolar depression, eating disorders, and poor self-image. Although the topics are approached in a humorous manner, there is gravity to what is being said. Some strips are also just plain entertaining and not as heavy. Overall, the images will make readers curious to learn more about what Elliot is trying to express.
Verdict A wonderful exploration of the myriad conditions that stem from mental illness. Anyone who at any point in their life has endured similar experiences will come away with a sense that they are not alone and will likely find comfort in Elliot’s work. Highly recommended for adults and older teens.—Laura McKinley, Huntington P.L., NY

Uslan, Michael (text) & Giovanni Timpano (illus.). The Lone Ranger/Green Hornet. Vol. 1: Champions of Justice. Dynamite. Mar. 2017. 148p. ISBN 9781524102944. pap. $19.99. SUPERHERO
This unsuccessful attempt to capture the nostalgia of the Lone Ranger and Green Hornet, arguably the most popular radio shows of the 1930s, centers on the titular characters clumsily connected through family. Here, the aging Ranger and upstart Hornet tackle corny villains in order to save the day once again. Yet, while Uslan’s writing is admirable, his plot to link the two heroes proves to be no easy feat; the Ranger’s history is traced to the mid- to late 19th century, while the Hornet emerged in the early 20th century. The story is hard to follow, and the portrayal of sidekicks Tonto and Kato is handled poorly. Timpano’s art carries a distinct style, but the action scenes in particular are baffling in their construct.
Verdict Unable to rekindle whatever magic the original radio shows had, this volume might be picked up for sentimental reasons, but readers will be disappointed by the interpretation of their childhood champions, and newcomers will be thoroughly disengaged.—Ryan Claringbole, Wisconsin Dept. of Pub. Instruction, Madison

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