Graphic Novels from Kirsch; Larsson, Runberg, & Homs; and Various Faces of Horror | Xpress Reviews

Week ending August 11, 2017

starred review starKirsch, T.J. Pride of the Decent Man. NBM. Sept. 2017. 96p. ISBN 9781681121208. $19.99; ebk. available. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Andy Peters has had a hard life. He wants to be a decent man, but events both within and outside his control have prevented this. As a young man, he endures an abusive household and is beaten by his father. For a respite, he visits his grandmother in her nursing home but never tells her about his violent home life. As he gets older, he lands a job and finds a girlfriend, but the negative influence of his pal Whitey helps to destroy that dream. After pulling off a heist with Whitey, Andy is sent to prison for five years. Now a free man back in his New England hometown, Andy is provided with a fresh opportunity once again to become a decent man. As things have gone in the past, though, our hero’s destiny may not be a happy one. Kirsch (So Buttons) performs double duty as both writer and artist, filling this volume with beautiful if often sad color drawings and spare dialog. Most of the narrative is provided via Andy’s journals, both from a younger age and the present.
Verdict A complex story told in a thoughtful, moving manner. Highly recommended for anyone trying to be a better, decent person.—Jason L. Steagall, Gateway Technical Coll. Lib., Elkhorn, WI

starred review starLarsson, Stieg & Sylvain Runberg (text) & José Homs (illus.). The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Hard Case Crime/Titan Comics. (Millennium, Bk. 1). Sept. 2017. 128p. tr. from French by Rachel Zerner. ISBN 9781785861734. pap. $19.99. MYS
Upon its release in Sweden in 2005 and subsequent English-language debut in 2008, Larsson’s best-selling novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the first book in the late author’s “Millennium” series, captured the imagination of millions of readers. The story follows the recently disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the enigmatic, punk info-mercenary Lisbeth Salander as they work to solve a mystery involving one of Sweden’s wealthiest families. This English translation of the now modern mystery classic, first published in graphic form in France in 2013, presents a vivid reimagining of Larsson’s saga, in which Belgian comics writer Runberg (Drones; Conquests) adapts the original plot with great fidelity, expertly distilling its vast exposition of sharp dialog and striking scenes. Aiding him in this effort are the expressionistic illustrations of Spanish artist Homs (Blade; Red Sonja), which underscore the drama of the narrative, creating characters slightly cartoonish in their lines yet perfectly evoking the raw emotion that helped catapult this book to international acclaim.
Verdict For any library looking to expand its graphic novels collection, this is a valuable addition, embodying the many strengths that make the format an exceptional medium for modern storytelling.—Alger C. Newberry III, Genesee Dist. Lib., Flint, MI

starred review starVarious. The Dark Horse Book of Horror. Dark Horse. Aug. 2017. 362p. ed. by Scott Allie. ISBN 9781506703725. $19.99. HORROR/ANTHOLOGIES
This comprehensive anthology of tantalizing tales includes spirits both benevolent and malevolent; stories of witchcraft sinister yet heartfelt; the tombs of the undead rising through the darkness; and all manner of bewildering beasts who crawl, slither, and roam. The book is divided into “Hauntings,” “Witchcraft,” “The Undead,” and “Monsters,” with each section containing a story starring creator Mike Mignola’s monster-fighter supreme Hellboy and a classical short piece from the monstrous minds of writers Clark Ashton Smith (The Door to Saturn), William Hope Hodgson (The House on the Borderlands), Perceval Landon (“Thurnley Abbey”), and Robert E. Howard (Conan), with lushly illustrated line art by Gary Gianni (Prince Valiant) and many others. As a bonus, editor Allie conducts substantial interviews with séance medium L.L. Dreller and Wiccan priestess/lawyer Phyllis Curott. Yet the greatest ghoulish delight comes from the initial adventures of Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s beloved Beasts of Burden, in which a feisty band of dogs and cats face off against myriad supernatural menaces unknown to the surrounding human community.
Verdict The high level of beautiful and terrifying work, present in every component of this volume, ensures that readers will revel in these tales from the first through final page.—Douglas Rednour, Georgia State Univ. Libs., Atlanta

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