Book Reviews: Strange Graphics

“I love sour cream.”
“On what?”
“On my tongue!”

The Trouble with Women
When a book begins with “In the olden days there were no women, which is why you don’t come across them in history lessons in school” you can only hope the rest of it will be as satirical and funny. And for the most part it is.
Each page has a drawing that adds to the point of the prose, which is presented in sometimes-hard-to-read cursive. It’s an intense combination of history lesson and barbed sarcasm smoothed over by honey-covered humor. This can probably be read simply for its humorous value, but it’s better to risk a little uncomfortableness and take it in the spirit it was presented.
Some of the highlights:
The embroidery begging for help almost made me spew. “So so bored.”
“It wasn’t till the 1960s that women were allowed to uncross their arms, and even then only in emergencies.”
“Women who studied science also ran the risk of growing a beard.”
There’s even a whole section on corsets.
At the end there’s a drawing of women escaping the Dustbin of History via waterslide, which would make a great attraction at some amusement park.
I was lagging at the end, as there are only so many ways to make what is basically the same joke over and over. So do not read this in one sitting. Some of the captions were unnecessary, like the shriveled child, or the four dogs named Psyche.

Rendez-Vous in Phoenix
As told in the intro, this takes place in the late 1990s, definitely not today. It also says it’s a true story, of which I have no doubt.
Basically a young artist in Mexico—who looks like Geddy Lee minus the glasses—fell in love with an American girl and now they need to be together. The story chronicles his—and others’—struggles to cross the border illegally and then get together after that, as even when across the border there’s still dangers.
The best thing here is the artwork, colorful yet conveying the starkness of the desert. But the story was depressing; even when Tony’s at his most hopeful, it’s still bleak. Stories are supposed to entertain and/or educate. There may have been some education here, but I definitely didn’t find it entertaining.
Eight pages of sketches round it out.

Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: Wild Card
A demonic soul-sucker is terrorizing Chicago, but has a hidden agenda beyond just scaring everyone. A lot of different factions get involved, being manipulated into fighting each other, with Dresden stuck in the middle.
I like how he calls his apprentice padawan, and refers to what he does as “make things go boom” magic. Considering all the things that’s happened to Dresden over the years, he probably didn’t expect “kidnapped by a giant owl” to make the list.
There’s a flashback to Murphy’s childhood, and if you pay attention to these kinds of stories you’ll know exactly what’s being set up.
“A guy who made Darth Vader look like Mr. Rogers.” Can’t have noir without that kind of comparison. And yet it might be true; the bad “guy” is a much more powerful and horrifying version of the Joker.
Despite how simple the ending was, I liked it.

The Twilight Zone: The Shadow David Avallone
I don’t have a history with the Shadow, so it was difficult to understand the plot at first. I may not have this completely right, but I think The Shadow’s mind is now inside a guy who impersonates him—possibly a security double—after being gassed fleeing from an attack on some Nazis. Then it takes a Twilight Zone twist we’ve actually seen before in the original series.
As if it wasn’t confusing enough, he’s wandering through different worlds in different bodies, even makes like Gumby inside a book, where Lady Justice has a go at him, first with a sword and then pointed words as he fills her in on his backstory.
I was wondering if the Jedi mind trick was something he’d always had or part of the Twilight Zone twist, but apparently the power to see into men’s hearts is literal.
The image of the typewriter keys coming down was the best in the book.
There’s both humor—“Hit him with a cheaper vintage!”—and pop psychology/philosophy—“The war didn’t change me. It revealed me.” He also gets called a big goof, which is fair.
The author obviously had a point to make and spelled it out at the end, but if he hadn’t I wouldn’t have gotten it. Most of it was just too confusing.



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