Graphic Novels from Tom Hart and Edward Ross | Xpress Reviews

Week ending October 2, 2015

starred review starHart, Tom (text & illus.). Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir. St. Martin’s. Jan. 2016. 272p. ISBN 9781250049940. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466851009. GRAPHIC NOVELS/MEMOIR
rosalie100215The death of a child is one of the heaviest subjects imaginable, and to capture that devastation in a very cartoony style, as Hart (Daddy Lightning) does here, is no small feat. This beautiful and gut-wrenching book chronicles the sudden, unexplained death of Hart’s 23-month-old daughter and the beginning of the lifelong process of grieving that loss. Hart fills the pages with flashes of the mundane and transcendent experience of parenting a toddler, centering on the incredulous discovery of Rosalie’s lifeless body in her crib and drifting through the subsequent months of hazy despair. His pacing is what makes this book so extremely effective. By mixing up his time line and interspersing characters and scenarios from Rosalie’s and Hart’s own favorite stories, the reader feels the depth of his grief. As the parent of a young child, this reviewer could relate to Hart’s memories of Rosalie’s precocious nature and intoxicating smile, which reappear from time to time as the book progresses. This becomes ever more painful and beautiful as the full weight of her loss is realized.
Verdict When grieving, friends can help with everyday tasks and your spouse can hold you while you cry, but ultimately you alone must bear the pain of that loss to integrate it into your life. That’s exactly what happens in Rosalie Lightning; a gift to every reader and to anyone who has grieved.—Emilia Packard, Austin, TX

starred review starRoss, Edward (text & illus.). Filmish: A Graphic Journey Through Film. SelfMadeHero. Nov. 2015. 199p. ISBN 9781910593035. pap. $24.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS/FILM
Writer/artist Ross uses a drawing style and approach similar to that of Scott McCloud in the 1993 classic Understanding Comics to produce this illustrated crash course in cinema history and technique. Pertinent scenes and dialog from a wide range of movies are reproduced alongside Ross’s concise prose, which digests and clarifies academic film theory. Just as McCloud in his work, Ross lightheartedly inserts himself into the proceedings as guide and narrator. Discussions of politics in film and criticism vs. reviewing are absent, analysis skews toward contemporary and fanboy movie favorites, and scholars and snobs may carp about the depth and breadth of its bibliography, but Filmish is illuminating, accessible, and hugely enjoyable.
Verdict Highly recommended to anyone interested in cinema (and who isn’t?); it’s informed enough to be an introductory film studies textbook. Some disturbing images but suitable for most readers.—J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB