Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, November 8, 2013

Week ending November 8, 2013

starred review starMartin, Alan (text) & Warwick Johnson-Cadwell (illus.). Solid State Tank Girl. Titan. Jan. 2014. 88p. ISBN 9781782760030. $19.99. F
This hardcover volume collects the four-issue miniseries taking the punk heroine on an extremely bizarre adventure that defies expectation, logic, and the laws of science. Par for the course, writer and series creator Martin takes the mundane and blows it up into the barely conceivable while the unimpressed Tank Girl and her friends treat it like another day at the office. A simple trip to a radio repair shop results in Tank Girl and her friends Barney and Jet Girl shrinking down in a miniaturizing submersible to save her mutated kangaroo boyfriend from a volatile brain aneurism, only to end up in his testicle where they find a baby growing. And that is where things get really crazy.
Verdict Tank Girl was created in the late 1980s in the style of British punk art and music and through continuous publication has kept a firm hold on the feel of punk culture. Providing art for the series is Johnson-Cadwell, debuting in his first major publication with a whirlwind story of quick humor, action, and gratuitous violence and profanity that unapologetically fulfills a 25-year-old legacy of absurdist, alternative adventuring.—Alger C. Newberry III, Genesee Dist. Lib., Flint, MI

Skinner, Penelope & Ginny Skinner (text & illus.). Briony Hatch. Limehouse. 2013. 128p. ISBN 9781907536144. pap. $19.95. F
While other 15-year-olds are interested in makeup and making out, Briony Hatch is preoccupied with the magical world of her favorite book series, “The Starling Black Adventures.” But when she comes to the end of the series’ final novel, Briony is left to face reality: her parents are getting divorced, she is moving to her dead aunt’s house, and she has no idea how to be a proper teenage girl. The Skinner sisters (The Art Room) have done an outstanding job of making Briony sound like an adolescent; she is a bundle of emotions that often conflict, and as a result she is frustrating and heartbreaking all at once. Although the lettering feels awkward and some of the panels lack depth, the rendering of the main character is delicate and subtle. Simple lines reveal classic teen gestures such as an insecure slouch or a nervous hunch.
Verdict Penelope (The Village Bike) and Ginny Skinner have created a tender, funny, and a pitch-perfect coming-of-age tale sure to resonate with awkward girls both young and old.—E.W. Goodman, Art Inst. of Pittsburgh

Summers, A.K. (text & illus.). Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag. Soft Skull. Mar. 2014. 128p. ISBN 9781593765408. pap. $17.95. MEMOIR
As one can tell by the title, this graphic memoir is refreshingly direct. Rhode Island–based writer and artist Summers (Negativa: Chicago’s Astute Lezbo Fantasy Mag) depicts her thinly veiled fictional stand in Teek Thomasson as a Tin-Tin-esque masculine lesbian, struggling to navigate her way through the maze of pregnancy. Since giving birth is widely regarded as one of the most “feminine” things that can happen to a woman, Teek, as a masculine lesbian, must forge her own path to deal with the puzzled judgments of doctors, friends, her partner, and even her comically awkward apartment manager. Not to mention dealing with the changes going on in her own body! This comic’s strength is its ability not to devolve into the oversentimentality or overseriousness that marks many pregnancy narratives. Instead, it forges ahead and finds complex personal meaning, and great inner strength, in the experience of bringing a child into the world. Summers’s voice is fresh, honest, biting, and funny. Her art ranges from precise to sketchy, a bit unreliably. But the drawings do their job, telling a familiar story that is far more hilarious than it might at first appear.
Verdict A surprisingly universal and refreshingly self-aware pregnancy memoir for graphic novel readers of all stripes.—Emilia Packard, Austin, TX

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"