Graphic Novels from Davis & Kettner, Malet & Tardi, Moen & Nolan, and Quinn & Sharma | Xpress Reviews

Week ending July 14, 2017

starred review starDavis, Lacy J. (text) & Jim Kettner (illus.). Ink in Water: An Illustrated Memoir; or, How I Kicked Anorexia’s Ass and Embraced Body Positivity! New Harbinger. Oct. 2017. 272p. ISBN 9781626258310. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781626258334. MEMOIR
Young punk artist Davis experiences minor thoughts of dissatisfaction that gain an unfortunate hold in her psyche, eventually transforming into a full-blown eating disorder threatening to consume her. Gia, a groovy friend dealing with her own addictive struggles, refuses to allow Davis to wallow in misery, ultimately getting her in contact with the group Overeaters Anonymous (OA). Davis’s inner punk feels that OA is a betrayal of her basic operating principles. She doesn’t like the idea of surrendering herself to conventional spiritual forces, but she forges ahead with the group, incorporating her own DIY twists. After a while, she begins to stabilize and develops an incredible new relationship, but every step toward regaining normalcy creates prime situations for the doubts of addiction to haunt her. Both Davis’s story and the fantastic illustrations from Kettner (podcaster, Adult Crash) are compelling, funny, occasionally heartbreaking, and full of genuine hope in ways that most graphic memoirs never achieve artistically.
Verdict A beautifully realized biographical comic that tackles a tough subject head-on while offering no easy answers or stultifying platitudes. With aplomb, this work gives voice to humane, body-positive sincerity, capturing a condition that affects many. Don’t miss this one. [See Graphics Novel Preview, “Comics Cross Over,” LJ 6/15/17, p. 40.]—Douglas Rednour, Georgia State Univ. Lib., Atlanta

Malet, Léo (text) & Jacques Tardi (illus.). Fog over Tolbiac Bridge: A Nestor Burma Mystery. Fantagraphics. Jul. 2017. 80p. tr. from French by Kim Thompson. ISBN 9781606997055. $19.99. MYS
While American crime fiction masters such as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett got most of the attention, Malet (1909–96) represented France with his stories featuring private detective Nestor Burma. In this reprint of the first graphic adaptation of Malet’s work, Burma prowls the bohemian Left Bank of 1950s Paris to find out who killed an old friend and how that murder is connected to the tragic fate of an ex-cop obsessed with another unsolved case. Of course, a beautiful, mysterious woman is involved. Read this book once to meet the characters and follow the plot, then again to admire the gritty, finely detailed black-and-white illustrations by French artist Tardi (Céline), the startling conclusion worthy of crime writer Mickey Spillane.
Verdict If Fog is any indication of how well Nestor Burma’s travails compare to those of his American counterparts, fans of detective thrillers and nonsuperhero comics will be impressed. As will those interested in the history of Paris by the realistically rendered artwork; strongly recommended for those readers. Violence, profanity, and nudity; suitable for teens and up.—J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB

Moen, Erika & Matthew Nolan (text & illus.). Oh Joy Sex Toy. Vol. 4. Limerence: Oni. Nov. 2017. 312p. ISBN 9781620104446. pap. $29.99. HEALTH
This fourth volume of the popular webcomic continues to excel in embracing the wide and fascinating world of sexual health, pleasure, and relationships. Subjects range from the broadly conceptual (virginity, douching, definitions of “real sex”) to the niche, depicting fetishes such as boot blacking (erotic boot polishing), cuckolding, and puppy play. As expected, a hearty portion of the collection is dedicated to sex toy reviews, complete with detailed illustrations and device measurements perfect for visual learners. A few panels focus on the medical side of sexual health, covering gynecological exams, Pap smears, and vestibulodynia, a condition causing pain in the vaginal opening. Moen and Nolan’s trademark pink-tinged art style gives way to a plethora of vibrant guest comics in the book’s second half; highlights include Sarah Winifred Searle’s meditation on body positivity and sister team Kickingshoes’ almost entirely wordless tentacle romp. Bonus materials feature Moen’s “Hourly Comics Day” panels, sketches of “Introduction Erikas,” and a glimpse at Moen’s earlier autobiographical series “DAR!”
Verdict Oh Joy Sex Toy consistently educates and titillates with playful, informative, and honest comics. Highly recommended for the diversity of partnerships, body types, kinks, and perspectives. Series fans won’t be disappointed, though this entry is comprehensive enough to stand alone.—Ashleigh Williams, School Library Journal

Quinn, Jason (text) & Lalit Kumar Sharma (illus.). The Beautiful Game: Survival. Campfire. (Graphic Novels Originals). Sept. 2017. 160p. ISBN 9789381182116. pap. $12.99. SPORTS
In Sandford Town, football (soccer) is everything. The once-great English football league is on the verge of total disaster, with its rival team too close to winning its way into the Football Association Cup finals. Can the club be brought back from the brink? It falls to Bob Evans, former Sandford star player, to coach the group back into shape. But the road to victory is fraught with drama, jealousy, sibling rivalry, and pain. Quinn (The Kaurava Empire) weaves a soap opera–esque tale of intense football fandom in which everyone is affected by how well their favorite team performs. Even boy bands play a key role. Illustrator Sharma (World War One; Leonardo Da Vinci) adds gravity to the story with sharply drawn, brightly colored panels. Throughout, each character’s victory, loss, and challenges are clearly expressed and felt by readers.
Verdict This stand-alone volume will appeal to both teens and adults who enjoy soccer. The language used to describe the game and fandom bleeds authenticity. Yet, at times, the scope of the work feels too large for just one book and would do better as a series.—Laura McKinley, Huntington P.L., NY

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