Graphic Novels from Wilson & Shimojima, plus Debuters Simon & Brascaglia and Tung | Xpress Reviews

Week ending February 2, 2018

Simon, Eddy (text) & Vincent Brascaglia (illus.). Pelé: The King of Soccer. First Second. 2017. 144p. ISBN 9781626729797. $19.99; pap. ISBN 9781626727557. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250194619. SPORTS/BIOG
[DEBUT] American attitudes toward soccer ebb and flow with World Cups and Olympics, as international stars rise and fall and professional teams work their way to visibility and major league status. But football, a truly international sport, has gradually grown in popularity for many decades, and Pelé’s story is a microcosm of its travails and triumphs. Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento and raised in the Brazilian slums, Pelé became the first real soccer superstar. Through hard work, family talent, and a sportsman’s bravado, he would go on to win three World Cups with Brazil, score more than 1,200 goals, work to bring professional soccer to the United States, and raise the sport’s profile by way of his own star status. Here, newcomers Simon and Brascaglia render a loving but astute biography, drawn in an unadorned, manga-influenced style that focuses on the athlete’s complex character. Pelé used strategy as well as speed on the field, respected family deeply, but also abused fame to philander and struggled in business and political ventures.
Verdict Though its visual simplicity and vocabulary offer a great read for younger audiences, this volume gets into superfan specifics and sports politics, making it more intricate than it first appears.—Emilia Packard, Austin, TX

Tung, Debbie. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story. Andrews McMeel. 2017. 184p. ISBN 9781449486068. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781449488802. COMICS
[DEBUT] Introversion is in vogue these days. And why not? The vast yet anonymous expanse of the Internet is the perfect place for folks to be themselves while remaining guarded by digital distance—and loud-spoken introversion paradoxically flourishes. Tung’s comics are a great example of this phenomenon of the introvert in the spotlight. In this loosely knit memoir about realizing that one must work with one’s shy character rather than against it, episodes range from growing up quiet to finding a respectful romantic relationship to the crush of a mundane office job. Tung’s experiences are instantly recognizable for anyone who has ever chosen bed and a book over happy hour, but they also feel tidy and safe to the point of oversimplification. The precise, cute but not cloying panel comics are satisfying as small, emotionally vivid stand-alones, but the arc of the artist’s young life begs a bit more self-revelation.
Verdict Well drawn and gently told, Tung’s tale is pleasant but does little to distinguish itself from the pack.—Emilia Packard, Austin, TX

starred review starWilson, Sean Michael (text) & Akiko Shimojima (illus.). The Satsuma Rebellion: Illustrated Japanese History–The Last Stand of the Samurai. North Atlantic. Apr. 2018. 112p. ISBN 9781623171674. pap. $12.95; ebk. ISBN 9781623171681. HIST
Wilson (Secrets of the Ninja) and Shimojima (The 47 Ronin) follow up their first book in the “Illustrated Japanese History” series, Black Ships, which presented the opening of feudal Japan to the West in 1854, with this second volume, detailing the aftermath of that event and the turmoil it caused as Japan set a course to modernization. These socioeconomic troubles came to a head in a conflict called the “Satsuma Rebellion,” led by Saigō Takamori, known as the “last samurai.” Fans of the Tom Cruise film The Last Samurai will recognize parallels, as this incident and its architect, Takamori, were the real-life inspiration. At the heart of the uprising was the conflict between old and new, tradition and innovation, loyalty and duty, and how these concepts coalesce is beautifully explored by both author and illustrator. As with their first volume, this work offers a comprehensive overview of the event from all sides and insightful dialog accompanying the narration. Shimojima’s artwork also maintains its exceptional quality.
Verdict An excellent addition to any graphic novel collection and for all readers interested in nonfiction and historical works.—Alger C. Newberry III, Genesee Dist. Lib., Flint, MI

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