intraspace: the review lounge

Saturday, January 28, 2006

safe area gorazde

safe area gorazde, by joe sacco

i guess you could say that the genre of 'graphic novel' is still young enough that certain artist/writers dominate the sub-catagories of the genre, and that new sub-catagories are still being invented. joe sacco is THE man when it comes to comic book journalism.

sacco goes to various hotspots and gets up close to the human side of the conflict. he collects stories and turns them into comic book form. having a comic of real human suffering probably seems inappropriate at face-value, but sacco is a master of it, bringing humour, humanity and realism to the stories he covers.

i had already read his other book 'palestine' and comparing the two, i have to say i 'enjoyed' this book better. enjoyment is definitely a relative concept at times - the book brings another meaning to the term 'graphic' novel, but the violence in this book isn't gratuitous - it is merely an accurate rendering of the true scene.

highly recommended.

on the headphones: 'hora' by oi va voi, from the album 'laughter through tears'.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

hiphop music in aotearoa

hiphop music in aotearoa, by gareth shute

here we have, for the first time, a history of the hiphop music movement in new zealand. to those of you outside nz, you will find this a pretty obscure topic, but in new zealanders the impact of hiphop has been extensive. in fact, in a wider sense, the whole new zealand music scene has undergone a huge revolution over the last few years - a fact which we new zealanders are immensely proud of.

this is an A4 landscape sized book, very visual, incorporating black and white photography and very nice design work. the book was nominated for a montana book award.

i'm not specifically a hiphop fan but i am known to listen to hiphop and i'm certainly a fan of music that has been influenced by hiphop - so there was plenty here to hold my attention. not least of all reading about aspects of my country's culture - a welcome respite from the onslaught of american pop culture. you know?

i'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to expand their knowledge about nz music.

on the headphones: 'riders on the storm / pink solidism' by yonderboi (not nz hiphop). here

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Friday, January 13, 2006

quimby the mouse

quimby the mouse, by chris ware

as you can see, the library had more than just one chris ware book - i found this one on a different floor to the graphic novels in amongst the books on illustration (i found 'in the shadow of no towers' by
Spiegelman up there once too), so i got it as well.

so now, if you have already read the review of 'the acme novelty library' i just did, then you'll be asking yourself, "hang on, i thought he found ware a little bit too depressing." and you'd have a point, but i am so attracted by his artwork and book design that i can't help it, and i'm happy to annouce that quimby the mouse didn't leave me feeling quite so depressed. but it still has sadness in shovel-loads and my earlier comments still stand.

nonetheless, to reinforce my main opinion on ware - overall this is an astonishing piece of work. not least of all if you are just wanting to check out brilliant artwork - ware has an amazing ability to use both minimalism and pain-staking detail to striking effect.

this volume is a kind of survey of his early work (early 90s). the book looks back on two levels - 1. because it is a retrospective, and 2. because so much of ware's work seems to be dealing with his own childhood and past.
but despite being a retrospective, it doesn't seem 'juvenile' at all, which shows that ware's been brilliant for ages.

on the stereo: 'don't look back' (wow, that's ironic) by telepopmusik, from the album 'angel milk'.

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the acme novelty library

the acme novelty library, by chris ware

if you check out my profile you'll see that i have ware's 'jimmy corrigan' on my list of favourite books. i really like ware's drawing style and his use of bold outlines.

jimmy corrigan blew me away as being a thoroughly excellent post-modern novel quite apart from its being a graphic novel to boot. it deserved all the accolades it got.

so i was tremendously excited when i found that the local library had anticipated my request and already got 'the acme novelty library' in. hurrah!

the novelty library is a kind of annual, featuring a range of cartoons and all the usual ware graphical trappings that make his books so fascinating, and mean that his cartoons always take a lot longer to read than you thought they would. the novelty library is a brilliant example of graphical work.

if jimmy corrigan constantly verges on the tragic, then this book could be accused of wallowing in it. i must admit that i got a little depressed by the end of it. the main story that weaves through all of ware's cartoons (regardless of the characters) is about a little boy who got picked on at school then grew up to be disenchanted lonely adult.

maybe there is a high degree of authenticity in ware's work, but i can't help wishing that he would balance out the sadness a bit more. for me the balancing is in his beautiful drawing style, but at times i think that is overcome by the sheer weight of the tragedy.

i still think ware is a genius, but hope that his genius will be revealed more when he goes on to exhibit an ability to portray the hopeful, more beautiful aspects of life with the same accuracy as tragedy in future works.

on the stereo: 'hi-fi trumpet' by stephane pompougnac, from the album 'hotel costes vol 3'. here

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

the jesus i never knew

the jesus i never knew, by philip yancey

this is a book i've been meaning to read for ages (probably nearly 10 years). at christmas i grabbed it off mum's bookshelf.

i'm glad i did - i'd put this book in the top 10 christian books i've ever read. yancey sets out to view jesus objectively, using the gospels themselves as his only source of information. weighed down by the baggage of a christian upbringing, this is a necessary quest but also a difficult one. how do you rid yourself of pre-conceptions?

in the event, yancey succeeds. he not only made fresh discoveries himself but succeeds in conveying these to the reader, meaning that i, too, got a fresh perspective on this revolutionary figure and saviour, jesus christ.

from a literary perspective, i believe that yancey is probably the best writer that the christian world has to offer in this genre at present. he has always utilised an excellent writing style that incorporates a wide range of quotes from, at times, difficult sources. but he communicates everything in a way that doesn't alienate the reader and holds your attention.

highly recommended.

on the headphones: 'waltz' by craig armstrong, from the album 'as if to nothing'.

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