Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, May 17, 2103

Week ending May 17, 2013

starred review starMalkasian, Cathy (text & illus.). Wake Up, Percy Gloom. Fantagraphics. Jun. 2013. 200p. ISBN 9781606996386. $28.99. LITERARY FANTASY
In her second Percy Gloom book, Eisner Award–winning animation director and cartoonist Malkasian (Rugrats; The Wild Thornberrys) follows her lovable, lazy-eyed hero on a quest through an unpredictable land peopled with opera-singing goats, electric apple trees, and zealous joke-book devotees. The immortal Percy has just awoken from what he believes to be a 200-year nap. Sorrowfully realizing that his true love, Miss Margaret, likely died of old age more than a century ago, he sets off to find his mother and start life anew. Along the way he picks up a patriotic customs officer who has never seen the land whose borders he faithfully protects, and together the two find their way to the mythical holy land of Voatzle, where all things are possible for those with a good sense of humor and a taste for apple pie.
Verdict Malkasian’s gentle pencil drawings, reminiscent of Raymond Briggs’s The Snowman and Gentleman Jim, are simultaneously magical and reflective of aspects of humanity. Allegorical, surreal, and thoughtful, this book is recommended for readers who prefer comics with philosophy as a side.—Ingrid Bohnenkamp, The Library Ctr., Springfield, MO

starred review starNilsen, Anders (text & illus.). The End. Fantagraphics. Jun. 2013. 80p. ISBN 9781606996355. $19.99. LITERARY MEMOIR
Writer and illustrator Nilsen (Big Questions) collects the short comics composed in his sketchbook following the death of his partner and offers them as one volume here. While very personal, the work gives readers much to identify with in its authentic depiction of grieving. In one of the most powerful pieces, “Since You’ve Been Gone I Can Do Whatever I Want All the Time,” which consists of a series of captioned illustrations that frequently show the author crying while trying to get through mundane tasks, Nilsen amazes in his ability to bring about laughter from tears. Much of the artwork is minimalistic. In “Talking to the Dead,” two silhouettes, one living and one dead, have an imagined conversation frame after frame. As the living character acknowledges coming up with the dead one’s answers, the very powerful reading communicates the mourning creator behind the pen.
Verdict Poignant, engaging, and philosophical, Nilson’s graphic memoir documents loss and is a testament to grieving. Fans of graphic memoirs will find the creator’s use of surprise appealing.—Brian Looker, Appleton P.L., WI

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"