Comic Book Review – Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown

Ed the Happy Clown

Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown is one of my first real forays into alternative comics. The character and the strips within this book first appeared in the author’s initially self-published comic book Yummy Fur, where the story was serialized. For the most part the story follows Ed, a boyish-looking young man who likes to dress as a clown and bring joy to unwell children. This not what the story is about however, as Ed finds himself afflicted by one horrible, often bizarre, twist of fate after another. Focused more on what happens to Ed than how he deals with each obstacle, the story line includes pygmies infesting the city’s sewers, a man who cannot stop defecating, a vampire girl seeking revenge, miniature men from another dimension, and oh so much more.Read More »

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WWW Wednesday – 2018/09/19

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

AftermathLifeDebtI’m still reading Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig, though I’m about two thirds of the way through now. In some ways I’m finding I like this book a lot more than the first one. The amount of development and motion in the story has really made me realize even more in retrospect just how much the first book was spinning its wheels where plot was concerned. There are other hiccups in Wendig’s writing style that recur in this book as well, making them stand out worse. Nevertheless, I am enjoying it, and I’m especially happy to see core Star Wars characters like Han and Leia play significant roles in the story, rather than being more background figures.


Recently Finished

Ed the Happy ClownOver the weekend I finished reading Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown. While a big talking point about the book for me going in was just how weird things looked without any context, I must say that by the end I was thoroughly over it. Exhaustion was bound to set in, as I expected, especially reading it all at once (rather than serially, as it was originally published). That’s not to say that I think it is bad, however, just that that particular shtick stopped affecting me by the end. The story had grown out in a more coherent direction too, ending things on a surprisingly downer note for certain characters. I should have a review posted soon.


Reading Next

The TroopLike I said last week, with October a mere couple of weeks away I’ve been thinking a lot about the horror books I may want to start reading for the season. One that I’ve decided upon, and likely my next book, is The Troop by Nick Cutter. I’ve made to sure to limit my knowledge of the story to the back cover, so all that I can glean from that is it’s about a troop of scouts on a camping trip in the Canadian wilderness who encounter some sort of zombie-like threat. Nick Cutter is actually a pseudonym for a Canadian author I really like who typically writes fiction, so I’m especially intrigued to see what he comes up with as Cutter.

Until next week, thank you for reading! What did you read this week?

Comic Book Review – Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu

Yon & Mu

Master of Japanese horror manga Junji Ito presents a series of hissterical tales chronicling his real-life trials and tribulations of becoming a cat owner. Junji Ito, as J-kun, has recently built a new house and has invited his financée, A-ko, to live with him. Little did he know … his blushing bride-to-be has some unexpected company in tow—Yon, a ghastly-looking family cat, and Mu, an adorable Norwegian forest cat. Despite being a dog person, J-kun finds himself purrsuaded by their odd cuteness and thus begins his comedic struggle to gain the affection of his new feline friends.

In the last year I’ve become quite familiar with Junji Ito’s body of work, as far as English releases go, but this is the first time I’ve read anything that he’s created outside of the horror genre. Cat Diary: Yon & Mu is a short and sweet read, each chapter a vignette chronicling the mishaps he faces becoming a cat owner. There really isn’t a plot to follow throughout the book, though J-kun (Ito) does have a sort of arc that he undergoes throughout. I’ve lauded him in the past for his ability as a horror writer, but this book taught me something new: Junji Ito can be really funny.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/09/12

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

AftermathLifeDebtI started reading Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig, though I’ve only really just started. My impressions about these books have shifted a little bit since finishing the first one, due to some personal reflection and encountering how other people feel about these books. I stand by my review of the first one, but it is a little telling that my favourite parts of that book were the interludes. It seems this book will be just as focused on the characters introduced in this series. I’m not sure how I feel about that. At any rate, it has started out all right so far, though I’m noticing some negative points someone made about Wendig’s writing style I hadn’t noticed myself before. I shall maintain optimism, at an rate.

Ed the Happy ClownI’ve also been reading Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown, which came a little out of left field. A friend of my showed me their copy and offered to let me borrow it, which I accepted. Shortly after last week’s post I started reading it and it’s really bizarre. Apparently, Brown’s idea was to take the story in random directions with each strip, though there are twisted threads the story is following along at the point I’ve reached. It’s not completely non-sequitur throughout. I’ve read two books of his before this, though they were a biography and a memoir respectively, so this is quite a dramatic shift in content.


Recently Finished

Hellboy Bones Of GiantsOver the weekend I finished reading The Bones of Giants by Christopher Golden, which you can check out my review for here. Unfortunately I didn’t not quite live up to my admittedly arbitrary expectations. I really liked the lore the novel introduced into the world of Hellboy, but a lot of the story ended up meandering, the characters dwelling on concern for one another repetitively without the plot escalating these issues much. I still liked it for what it was, since the novels are really only side stories to the series proper, but I’m starting to wonder if Golden is the negative x-factor for me.

Yon & MuI also finished reading Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu. I absolutely loved this book. The art was great, the stories in each chapter were well told, and most importantly it showed that Ito’s got surprisingly good chops as a comedy writer. It was just the right length too; not overdoing it yet short enough to leave me wanting more without being disappointed. I should have a review posted of it soon.

 


Reading Next

I’m really not sure what to read next. I’m starting to suspect Life Debt will take me longer than I think it will. It’s not a dense read, but it’s still 500 pages long. With October only a few weeks away I’ve started to think more about horror books to read, though I’ve no idea what I’ll start with just yet. I do think I should start one before September is over though so I can spread some reviews throughout the month.

Until next time, thank you for reading!

Book Review – The Bones of Giants by Christopher Golden

Hellboy Bones Of Giants

On the frozen shores of Sweden, lightning strikes from a clear sky. The skeleton of a huge man is revealed, its fingers clutched around the handle of an iron hammer. No one who comes to see this marvel from Norse mythology can lift it—no one but Hellboy, who lifts the hammer just in time for lightning to strike again, welding it to his hand and leading him towards a bizarre series of visions and encounters.

The Bones of Giants by Christopher Golden is the second Hellboy novel, written with the creator of the character and comic book series Mike Mignola, who also provided illustrations. There was always something about this book that appealed to me more than its predecessor The Lost Army. I did enjoy that book, but it felt fairly garden variety as far as Hellboy stories go. This second novel sported Hellboy on the cover wielding what is in fact Mjollnir, the legendary weapon of the Norse god Thor, promising something a little different for the world’s greatest paranormal investigator, who typically deals with less divine forms of the otherworldly.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/09/05

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

Hellboy Bones Of GiantsNot unexpectedly, I’m still in the middle of reading Hellboy: The Bones of Giants by Christopher Golden, nearing the halfway mark. It was a rather busy long weekend for me and I didn’t find much time to read between being busy and/or exhausted. Nevertheless, I’m enjoying this book quite a bit more than the previous Hellboy novel. It feels much more like there’s a mystery at play; I still don’t even know why Mjollnir has fused itself with Hellboy’s hand nor the extent of the forces at play against him. He’s living up to his job as a paranormal investigator a lot more here, as he should, rather than just a big guy there to clobber things.


Recently Finished

Regrettably nothing this week. I’ve been wanting to at least have a comic done for this section every week, but like I said it’s just been a tad too busy.


Reading Next

Yon & MuI still have my plans of continuing The Dark Tower comic book prequels and starting Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig soon, but I’ve got some new books in the pipeline too. I went to Fan Expo over the weekend and among the comics I picked up was Cat Diary: Yon & Mu by Junji Ito. In this book, the master of Japanese horror manga and creator of Uzumaki chronicles his real-life struggles with becoming a cat owner. His creepy art partnered with feline antics should make for an exceptionally unique read.

Until next time, thank you for reading!

New Books & Novel Discoveries (August 2018)

I meant for August to be a much more conservative month in terms of spending money on books. I’m going to Fan Expo in Toronto tomorrow, so I meant to hold back on buying things since the purpose of that expo is essentially shopping for me. Despite my intentions I happened across too many thrifty opportunities to pass up, so I ended up bringing in a fair few books after all.

Normally I’d say September is going to be heavy with new books, since I’m going to Fan Expo, but lately I’ve been a lot less motivated to buy physical comic book volumes. Considering I’ve no desire to read most of them as they come out, I’ve found it’s much cheaper to buy digital volumes, especially since they frequently go on sale. I’m sure there’s a few I will pick up anyway, but I’m mostly on the hunt for art and artifacts, which is a fancy way of saying merchandise and stuff from Artist Alley.

Anyway, onto the books!Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/08/29

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

Hellboy Bones Of GiantsLast night I started reading Hellboy: The Bones of Giants by Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola, though I haven’t read further than the prologue so far. There’s something about the cover and the title that’s always given me a good feeling about this book (not the most reliable impulse) and this has been emboldened by the brief introduction in which Mignola states his belief that this book surpasses the previous novel, which he believes to have been great too. He’s probably just a little biased, but I’m looking forward to getting into it all the same. Gods have only occasionally been touched upon in Hellboy stories in the past so I’m especially curious to see how this incorporates the Norse pantheon.


Recently Finished

The Princess BrideOver the weekend I finished reading The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Check out my review here! I ended up liking this book quite a lot. The characters were excellent, it balanced some complex themes with fairy tale ideals rather well, and played with the medium in unexpected ways. It’s now no wonder to me that it’s considered such a classic. Inigo and Fezzik especially stole the show for me. They have a great dynamic together. I only wish there were more story. My edition included the first chapter of the “sequel” called Buttercup’s Baby, and it literally ends with a massive cliffhanger. Goldman sure is a cheeky fellow.

The Gunslinger BornI also started and finished reading The Gunslinger Born by Peter David et al, which is the first in the comic book adaptations of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. While I think later volumes will cover details about Roland’s past that we have not seen before, this book specifically adapted his becoming a gunslinger from The Gunslinger and the story from Wizard & Glass when he fell in love with Susan Delgado. It was a pretty faithful adaptation, though I prefer the novel for how in-depth it goes. This felt a little bit like reading the cliff notes. I did however like getting a good visual look at the Crimson King and Walter, whose forms are often nebulously described in the books.


Reading Next

AftermathLifeDebtThe Bones of Giants should not take me too long, so once I finish that I’m going to get started on Aftermath: Life Debt so I can continue with that trilogy of Star Wars books. I’m hoping things pick up a lot more plot-wise with that book now that origins and introductions are out of the way for the characters. It also hints at including some of the core characters from the films more, which I hope is the case (it’s got the Millennium Falcon on the cover, dang it!!).

Until next time, thank you for reading!

Book Review – The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Princess Bride

As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she’ll meet Vizzini—the criminal philosopher who’ll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik—the gentle giant; Inigo—the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen—the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup’s one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate.

It was impossible for me to start reading The Princess Bride without some preconceptions. The film alone is such a huge cultural influence that even without having seen it or read the book I knew some things about it. I think you’d be a little hard-pressed to find someone in North America who has not heard the line “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” I also knew of the film’s narrative frame; a grandfather reading the story to his ill grandson who at first has misgivings about hearing it. What I didn’t expect was the bizarre metanarrative that the novel had in store for me.Read More »

Grant Us Eyes: The Storytelling Veil of Bloodborne

This post contains some spoilers.

Video games are a frequent hobby of mine but something I talk about very infrequently on this blog, especially over the last couple of years. Nevertheless, every once in a while I play a game that really grabs me with its story. Not simply in how well it tells this story, but the ways the story is integrated with the video game medium itself.

In Bloodborne, developed by From Software, you play as a foreigner who has come to Yharnam, a labyrinthine city of Gothic/Victorian architecture, seeking the miraculous blood healing of their Healing Church to cure an unspecified malady. Your character also seeks something known as “paleblood,” though what this is isn’t explained. Upon signing a contract and receiving a transfusion of strange blood your character becomes a Hunter—people made exceptional by “blood ministration.” When you awaken after the transfusion you are alone at dusk on the night of a hunt, when Hunters and citizens alike take to the streets to hunt the Beasts that plague Yharnam. You have no choice. A Hunter must hunt.

Read More »