Graphic Novels from Czap, Durand, Lemire, and Wazem & Tirabosco | Xpress Reviews

Week ending October 13, 2017

Czap, Kevin. Fütchi Perf. Uncivilized. Oct. 2017. 88p. ISBN 9781941250211. pap. $15.95. F
[DEBUT] A community in Cleveland transforms as the mysterious collective known as Kid Mind refashions ordinary reality into a fully inclusive, beautiful society. Like-minded individuals meet on a physical and aesthetic level, embracing who they are without shame and without negative repercussions while being made more complete than they were before, uniting as a group that retains and even enhances individual identity. Concurrently, futuristic infrastructure springs to life as social media take on a form not unlike magic, influencing the lives and loves of ragtag youth as they come together through all available ports. Czap’s debut is an artistic feat, daring to showcase brief vignettes of an ideal world that is not a mere sham concept but instead an examination of the conditions under which utopia would be possible. The impressionistic-style cartooning mixed with a street-art vibe is perfectly complemented by limited palette choices and excellent color printing to convey a new beginning for humanity.
Verdict Brief but memorable, this bold tour de force of illustrative, imaginative chutzpah will be enjoyed by a variety of readers. [See “Comics Cross Over,” LJ 6/15/17.—Ed.].—Douglas Rednour, Georgia State Univ. Libs., Atlanta

Durand, Anouck. Eternal Friendship. Siglio. Oct. 2017. 96p. tr. from French by Elizabeth Zuba. ISBN 9781938221149. $36. GRAPHIC NOVELS/HIST
[DEBUT] In the 1960s, creating color photographs without Kodak film was nearly impossible, but Chinese photographers, who couldn’t get access to this Western technology, created their own system and shared their ideologically pure trichrome method with their Communist allies, including Albania. Eternal Friendship tells the parallel stories of a small delegation of Albanian photographers sent to China in 1970 to learn this technique and the reunion of two friends separated by decades of war and political unrest. Using photographs, speeches, letters, and other materials, Parisian creator Durand’s first work to be translated into English employs the world-weary voice of Albanian Refik Veseli to narrate and humanize the story. Veseli, working under Enver Hoxha’s regime as a propaganda photographer, is a complicated historical figure who understands his role but also knows that things are not always what they seem. This tension underlies the photo-essay style of this book that leaves readers looking for nuance in the images and documents.
Verdict This chilling testament to Cold War propaganda will intrigue those interested in Communist China or Albanian history. Students of photographic history will find much to savor as well. [See “Comics Cross Over,” LJ 6/15/17.—Ed.]—E.W. Genovese, Andrew Bayne Memorial Lib., Pittsburgh

starred review starLemire, Jeff. Royal City. Vol. 1: Next of Kin. Image. Sept. 2017. 160p. ISBN 9781534302624. pap. $9.99. Rated: Mature. FANTASY
This latest work from writer/artist Lemire (Essex County; Roughneck) is an engrossing human drama that tells the story of the Pike family in the titular city whose decline mirrors their own. Following the massive stroke of patriarch Peter, the clan attempts to come together after their paths diverged for more than two decades. Lemire ties the urban decay of the setting with the personal degeneration of each family member, weaving a tapestry of hard decisions and heartbreak. Yet despite their difficult times, they look to youngest son, Tommy, for hope, and it is through Tommy’s different roles and what is desired of him by others that the author roots the moral heart of this series. Lemire’s art style is uniquely original and evocative, granting an eerie elegance to the gripping plotline. It is impossible not to feel something genuine about the trials and tribulations of the Pikes and Royal City.
Verdict A worthy selection for those interested in literary graphic fiction.—Alger C. Newberry III, Genesee Dist. Lib., Flint, MI

starred review starWazem, Pierre (text) & Tom Tirabosco (illus.). The Retreat. Humanoids. Sept. 2017. 112p. tr. from French by Mark Bence. ISBN 9781594656156. pap. $14.95. Rated: Mature. F
Three friends decide to get away from it all and head into the forest to spend the weekend in a lovely, tranquil cabin. During the sojourn, they fuss, kid with one another, and share intimate moments and memories. Then, there are two. In fact, it was always two good friends trying to come to grips with the loss of a companion who remains fixed in their minds like a pleasant phantom. Writer Wazem (Koma, with Frederik Peters; Snow Day, with Aubin) and Swiss illustrator Tirabosco produce a haunting treatment of loss, effectively using fuzzy edges and long, silent passages, punctuated with realistic dialog and a sincere depiction of self-examination.
Verdict This fine little stand-alone is quiet, dignified, and strangely relaxing. Mature young adults and older readers will no doubt be moved by this open-ended and somewhat philosophical offering.—Russell Miller, Prescott P.L., AZ

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