“The Golden Age: Book One,” by Roxanne Moreil and Cyril Pedrosa.

“The Golden Age: Book One.” By Roxanne Moreil and Cyril Pedrosa. Trans. from the French by Montana Kane. (Originally published 2018.) First Second, February 2020. 224 pp. Hardcover, $29.99. 14 and up.

Thanks to Fables Books, 215 South Main Street in downtown Goshen, Indiana, for providing Commons Comics with books to review.

COVID-19 PROTOCOL: Please wear a mask as required by local mandate, and follow store guidelines. You may enter at either the front or back entrances. High risk customers can still make browsing appointments before or after hours, and all customers can continue to order online at fablesbooks.com, over the phone 574-534-1984, or via email fablesbooks@gmail.com. *Order deadline to ensure Christmas delivery: December 15.*

Right from the opening pages of “Golden Age,” French artist Cyril Pedrosa catapults readers into his surreal, color-lush medieval-era landscape:

Co-writer Roxanne Moreil doesn’t waste time either, swirling the class divide central to this story immediately into the visual soup. The peasants pause their work to watch the nobles and their dogs trample their crops for the sake of royal recreation. Trouble bubbles up from the very soil of the kingdom of Antrevers. Continue reading ““The Golden Age: Book One,” by Roxanne Moreil and Cyril Pedrosa.”

“When Stars Are Scattered,” by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

“When Stars Are Scattered,” by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. Color by Iman Geddy. Dial Books for Young Readers, April 2020. 264 pp. Paperback, $12.99. Recommended for ages 9-12, although my eight-year-old loved it, and I’m way older than 12 and loved it, too.

Thanks to Fables Books, 215 South Main Street in downtown Goshen, Indiana, for providing Commons Comics with books to review.

COVID-19 PROTOCOL: Please wear a mask as required by local mandate, and follow store guidelines. You may enter at either the front or back entrances. High risk customers can still make browsing appointments before or after hours, and all customers can continue to order online at fablesbooks.com, over the phone 574-534-1984, or via email fablesbooks@gmail.com.

This story has a happy ending. But it’s not an easy road there. “When Stars Are Scattered” is a true story narrated by Somalian refugee Omar Mohamed, the book’s co-author. Mohamed and his younger brother Hassan, grew up and lived for fifteen years in Dadaab, a Kenyan refugee camp, before finally being cleared to resettle in America. Awash in bright colors, Dadaab looks like a fairy-tale landscape:

Continue reading ““When Stars Are Scattered,” by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed”

“The Man Without Talent,” by Yoshiharu Tsuge

“The Man Without Talent,” by Yoshiharu Tsuge. New York Review Comics, February 2020. 240 pp. Paperback, $22.95. Adult.

Thanks to Fables Books, 215 South Main Street in downtown Goshen, Indiana, for providing Commons Comics with books to review.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Please help your local small businesses stay afloat! At the time of this post (Tuesday 3/24), you can still order books from Fables and arrange to pick them up curbside or have them delivered. Contact the store at fablesbooks@gmail.com or call (574) 534-1984 to order.

If you can afford it right now, you can also support Fables and Goshen’s other downtown small businesses by ordering gift certificates from them now, and then going on a big spree later on, when we’re all allowed out of the house again.

Note: New York Review Comics sent me a free copy of this book.

Contrary to the title of “The Man Without Talent,” Sukezo Sukegawa, the book’s main character, is exceptionally talented. His problem—which becomes the problem of his wife and young son as well—is that he insists on starting his own business in an entirely different field. If Suzeko lacks talent, it’s as an entrepreneur, not an artist. He and his family live in poverty as he tries and mostly fails to sell attractive found stones, old cameras, and other assorted junk. When he visits his local bookstore, however, the bookseller practically begs him to write more comics. His wife does too—not out of love for his comics, but out of desperation.

Witnessing Sukegawa and his family negotiate his aimlessness can be, at times, sad and frustrating. This guy is maddening: he refuses to act as the “hero” of the story, which likewise refuses the narrative a standard trajectory.

Part of the story’s point, however, as you soon figure out, is the failures of its inert protagonist—although, fortunately, there’s also more to the book than that. Much like the work of Frank SantoroSeth, or John Porcellino, “The Man Without Talent” will slow you down as it repeatedly rejects your expectations—you can’t speed from one plot milestone to the next. Once you give in and let the book shift you into a lower gear, however, the level of detail in the landscape is a reward in itself:

Continue reading ““The Man Without Talent,” by Yoshiharu Tsuge”