Three on a Theme: Animal Comics

Animals often figure prominently in comic strips and graphic novels, but the ways in which they are represented and the roles they play in telling a story vary greatly across genres and the works of different authors. Often, animals in the comics genre exist mainly for comedic relief, representing cartoon caricatures or anthropomorphisms that tell us more about human beings than they do about the animal they are representing. Here are three graphic novels where animals are represented in a different way – as narrators, protagonists, or silent companions.

The Rabbi’s Cat by Jonathan Sfar
This is a gorgeous tail about humanity, religion, and… cathood… that takes place in 1930s Algeria and is imbued with a healthy dose of magical realism. The protagonist is a cat belonging to the daughter of a rabbi, who accidentally acquires the power of speech after eating a parrot. Now able to communicate with humans, the cat asks the rabbi for an education and to begin practicing Judaism, sparking a theological debate about whether or not a cat can be Jewish. This novel is beautifully illustrated, with bright colors, warm landscapes, and lively, dynamic characters (both human and non-human alike). The story deftly explores themes of what it means to have a religion, what it means to have a friend, and what it means to coexist in relationship with others. Continue reading “Three on a Theme: Animal Comics”

Who You Gonna Call?

Life can be uncertain, sometimes things get out of hand, and sometimes things are so bad that you need to call in a professional to solve it. Well, if you need help with an Ancient One, outbreak of werewolves, or just a simple disappearance, then these are the folks to call. (If it’s just ghosts, call these guys.)

The Atrocity Archives by Charles StrossThe Laundry Files by Charles Stross

Bob Howard is a computer expert. Not exactly a hacker, but with that little bit of curiosity that never ends well. Playing around with new (to him) fractal equations, Bob finds out, in a most direct manner, that he came quite close to “landscaping Wolverhampton with alien nightmares” and is, um, strenuously encouraged to work for The Laundry, a secret division of British intelligence. Though an office job (cubicle included) Bob does a surprising amount of travel for work, often to deal with Cthulian nightmares, suppress a breakout of Gorgonism, or the like. Unfortunately for Bob, though, saving the world requires quite a few meetings. Continue reading “Who You Gonna Call?”

Book Series by Volume – Sleuth Edition

Today’s Book Series by Volume adds three more cubic feet to your already stuffed bookshelves (if they aren’t over-stuffed then you need to get to work on that) with three series you should investigate.

Leaphorn and Chee by Tony Hillerman – This series of 18 books fills in about one cubic foot, though the area it covers is as large as the Navajo Nation. Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police Department is a craggy, quiet, and thoughtful man who is intensely curious and logically rigorous. Officer Jim Chee holds Leaphorn in great esteem, but feels the weight of his shadow at times. Chee has a greater attachment to Navajo spirituality than the Lieutenant which, at times, causes an odd juxtaposition where the younger man espouses traditionalism versus the older man’s respectful rejection of superstition.

Throughout this series, Hillerman educates the reader in Navajo social, spiritual, and artistic culture and somehow makes the intensely hot, dusty, and rocky expanse of the Navajo Reservation a thing of beauty. For someone born and raised here in the Evergreen state of Washington as I am, that is quite the trick. Continue reading “Book Series by Volume – Sleuth Edition”

Magical Tales by Women of Color

I went on a search for stories with a magical theme to them by authors who are women of color. On my search I managed to procure these six stories for your enjoyment. They are all a little different, so hopefully you’ll find one to strike your fancy.

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig is a novel with an unusual time traveling premise. To time travel you need an accurate map of when and where you want to go and a strong belief that time travel will work. Nix, our main character, is on her father’s ship as he time travels to Victorian Hawaii in an attempt to bring his wife, Nix’s mother, back from death. What will happen to Nix if her mother is saved?

Continue reading “Magical Tales by Women of Color”

Book Series by Volume – Classic Edition

Today’s Book Series by Volume looks at a few ‘classic’ series that have stood up to time fairly well. A reminder: all series are measured in hardback as we all know that’s the only proper way.

Image of book covers for the Chronicles of Narnia series
Image from Fantastic Fiction,

The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis – Filling over 1/3 of a cubic foot, this seven-book series seems rather small for my bookcase, but the enjoyment I get re-reading these books every few years fills the rest of the shelf snugly. Ostensibly written for the younger set and first published in 1950, the series has been in constant print since 1956. There has been considerable discussion over the years over Lewis’ allegorical use of religious and mythological themes, especially in the first book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Continue reading “Book Series by Volume – Classic Edition”