Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World

“Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World,” by Penelope Bagieu. Trans. Montana Kane. 296 pp. First Second. Cloth, $24.99; paper, $17.99. Ages 13+.

Thanks to Better World Books, 215 S. Main St. in Goshen, for providing me with books to review. You can find or order all of the books I review at the store.

“Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World” is a powerhouse collection of 29 biographical comics about women from around the world who got things done—or, in some cases, are still at it. Comics bios can be difficult to pull off: I’ve seen a lot of clunky ones that fail to use the genre to its best effect, and get squashed by the weight of wordy exposition. Penelope Bagieu, however, is a master of the genre. Her instinct for the arc of a life is spot-on, well-balanced by emotionally dense visuals that keep the story moving, while also conveying humor and compassion.

Take for example, the first three panels of the book, which introduce Clementine Delait, a bearded lady born in eighteenth-century France:

Continue reading “Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World”

Batman, Bieber, and the Black Prince: “Step Aside, Pops” by Kate Beaton

This review first appeared in the community blog section of the “Elkhart Truth’ in late February/early March of 2016. I’m resurrecting this review now because Kate Beaton is a transatlantic artistic soulmate of French cartoonist Penelope Bagieu, author and illustrator of “Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World,’ which I’ll be reviewing in August.

I highly recommend stopping by Better World Books on 215 S. Main St. in Goshen to pick up a copy of your own and get a head start. If you like the title and the cover, you won’t be disappointed!

(Thanks to Better World Books in Goshen, for providing me with books to review. You can find all of the books I review at the store.)

Comics collections don’t tend to include an index, but Kate Beaton is not your typical comics artist. Here’s an excerpt from the Bs at the back of her most recent collection, ‘Step Aside, Pops’:

Baker, Dr. Sara Josephine   66-68
Batman   58
Battle of Ridgeway   146-147
Beaton, Laureen   10-15
Bell, Alexander Graham   107
Bennett, Elizabeth   33
Bieber, Justin   78 Continue reading “Batman, Bieber, and the Black Prince: “Step Aside, Pops” by Kate Beaton”

A Story of Improbable Hope: “Fatherland: A Family History” by Nina Bunjevac

This review first ran in the “Elkhart Truth” in April 2015.

Thanks to Better World Books, 215 S. Main St. in Goshen, for providing me with books to review. You can find all of these books at the store.

Nina Bunjevac’s “Fatherland” is about many things, some quite difficult, some—like the history of the former Yugoslavia—quite dense. At root, this story is about a young girl losing a father she barely knew. Peter Bunjevac, a Serbian nationalist, died in a garage explosion in 1977 in his adopted country of Canada. No one knows exactly what happened, but he was likely assembling bombs. His daughter Nina was preschool age at the time, living in Yugoslavia with her mother, sister, and grandparents.

Now in her forties and living in Toronto, Bunjevac understands a lot more, both about the history of the region that her parents came from—now Croatia—and about the politics behind the Serbian loyalist terrorist organization with which her father became entangled. Continue reading “A Story of Improbable Hope: “Fatherland: A Family History” by Nina Bunjevac”