“PTSD,” by Guillaume Singelin

“PTSD,” by Guillaume Singelin. First Second, February 2019. 208 pp. Hardcover, $24.99. Adult, maybe older teen (some graphic violence).

“PTSD” opens with the elements: wind, rain, cold and other forces beyond human control. A woman named Jun, striking for her red hair and eye patch, navigates a dark city teeming with sights, smells, sounds, and textures so rich as to be claustrophobic. A veteran, Jun spends much of the story struggling for control of her self, her life, and especially the addictions she’s been unable to shake since the war in which she served as a sharpshooter.

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“Hey, You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”: The Fifth Beatle

This post was originally published in the “Elkhart Truth” in August 2014. I thought it was a good time to resurrect it, because “Yesterday” is about to disappear from theaters. It’s a beautiful and brilliant film whether or not you know the Beatles’s music well, and it’s definitely worth catching on the big screen before it disappears.

“The Fifth Beatle,” written by Vivek Tiwary and illustrated by Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker is not a book about The Beatles themselves—plenty of those have been published, and plenty more are surely on the way. Neither is this book about the person usually referred to as the fifth Beatle: Pete Best, the drummer who preceded Ringo Starr.

The book’s title instead comes from a 1999 quote by Paul McCartney: “If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian.” Brian Epstein was the manager—and some would argue the “designer”—of the Beatles, the man who transformed a witty and talented but ragged band into the polished, worldwide zeitgeist we remember them as today. Continue reading ““Hey, You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”: The Fifth Beatle”

A Story Unfinished for Seventy Years: “The Shadow Hero” by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

This post was originally published in “The Elkhart Truth” in October 2014. 

What makes Gene Luen Yang stand out as a comic book creator is his background in education: until fairly recently, he was a high school computer science teacher, who created comics as a hobby. Then “American Born Chinese,” which he both wrote and illustrated, became the first comic to be a finalist for the National Book Award in 2006.

Yang’s works always aim to educate, whether about immigrant stereotypes in “American Born Chinese” or the complicated history of the Boxer Rebellion in his more recent “Boxers & Saints.” (You can read my review of “Boxers & Saints” in the Commons Comics archives.) His newest work, “The Shadow Hero,” a collaboration with Malaysian-born illustrator Sonny Liew, is a prequel to the short-lived “Green Turtle” series from the 1940s, and closes with an essay about the original series, as well as a complete reproduction of the first issue.

But since some readers, especially of comics, tend to associate “educate” with “zzzzzzz” or “too many words,” let me assure you: “Shadow Hero” is not just smart and instructive, but also visually striking, action-packed, and often surprising.

Since my last post was about comics for very young kids, I should note that “Shadow Hero” is written for teens and older. As with a lot of superheroes, a violent family tragedy catapults Green Turtle into maturity and responsibility—as well as into a vaguely silly costume that needs a few revisions before it settles into a final form.

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