Neil Gaiman, Mike Carey, Glenn Fabry – Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere

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18th – 22nd November 2014

I recently listened to the BBC’s Audio Version of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and it got me hooked again in the story. I had read the book back in 2005 and really enjoyed it.

Having heard the audioplay and also seen the BBC TV series, I also wanted to read the Graphic Novel.

So here we go.

It is interesting to compare what each of the three tells and leaves out, and how they interpret the original source. I liked the graphic style of the comic, it somehow reminded me a bit of Sandman. In some instances, there was too much cut or the pace was too quick for my liking, but overall, a very nice read.

Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell – The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel: Volume 2

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9th – 17th November 2014

This is the second part of the comic adaption of Neil Gaiman’s novel. It continues with the same level of depth and dedication as the first, being a very close retelling of the story without any drop in quality. I like the style of the drawings very much. It’s nice to experience the story again in a visual form.

October has been a very great month with three new Neil Gaiman books. Three steps closer for me to read everything he wrote.

Neil Gaiman, Chris Riddell – The Sleeper and The Spindle

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9th November 2014

Neil Gaiman’s latest book is his interpretation of Grimm’s Märchen Dornröschen. He tells the story in a new and different way… the Gaiman way, where he changes small things and adds his own style. I especially liked that all the major protagonists are female. It was about time.

It is a beautiful story. While reading it, you can hear Neil narrating in his peculiar English style.

The book is wonderfully illustrated in black & white ink by Chris Riddell. The picture on page 50 leaves you longing. Pure bliss.

Neil Gaiman & Lorenzo Mattotti – Hansel & Gretel

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9th November 2014

Neil Gaiman’s second new book is his re-telling of the famous fairy tale “Hänsel & Gretel” (he must have gotten into the Grimms lately).

He sticks very much to the original story (which is anyways told slightly different depending on region), but he tells it in a more modern form, again adding his own style.

Lorenzo Mattotti illustrated the book in black ink, reminding me very much of the Limbo silhouette optic.

Eerie.

Tad Williams – Tailchaser’s Song

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16th October 2014

Shortly before my vacation this year, I decided that I shall read everything Tad Williams has written. I am not sure where that came from, maybe because I read most of his books, but not all. And I am a completionist.

I am a cat guy. I really hate dogs, but I truly love cats. Hence a story about my most famous species? Sign me up.

I finally read the book in almost one go on the flight from Frankfurt to Kathmandu.

Tailchaser, the main protagonist goes through an epic adventure to find his true love (neighbouring cat). The story is a mix between real-world setting and fantasy. While cats live with humans (on their own choosing), there is also a cat kingdom, cat language and history carried over in songs.

Towards the end the story fully drifts over to fantasy of epic battles, heroism and true friendship.

I very much enjoyed the book. Very uncommon for Tad, it is rather short and down to the point, hence I made it through in a day.

Kevin Guilfoile – A drive into the gap

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11th – 12th October 2014

I spotted this book on the Field Notes Homepage and just bought it with my last color edition order. It’s a story about Baseball. Although the sport says very little to me, I always had this strange interest in it. And being a Field Notes book, I was convinced of the quality upfront.

The story is about the author’s father, who worked for the Pittsburgh Pirates and later president of the Baseball union. In his role he encountered many famous players. One – Roberto Clemente– gave him the bat with which he scored his 3.000 hit. The bat is placed in the Baseball union’s Hall of Fame.

However, years later two people tell a similar story and claim to have been given the bat. The author’s father has dementia and does not remember. People from back then who could have known have died, so he can’t really figure out what happened.

The story is not really about discovering the true nature of the bat, but about the love for the game. It reminded me of summer evenings, where fathers introduce their sons (and hopefully daughters, too) to the game and tradition. It is a feeling of longing. And of loss – when these times are gone.

It’s a bittersweet book, a quick read and very enjoyable. Field Notes quality.

Maike Hallmann – Shadowrun. Pesadillas

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      1. Oktober 2014

Ich habe schon sehr lange Zeit keinen Shadowrun Roman mehr gelesen. In den 90ern las ich fast alle der damals bei Heyne verlegten Reihe (mein Lieblingsroman ist immer noch 2XS), allerdings nicht im Original. Es gab damals mit der Deutschland in den Schatten Trilogie von Joachim Alpers schon deutsche Romane. Shadowrun Romane wurden ab 1997 von Fantasy Productions veröffentlicht, dann gingen die Rechte an Pegasus Spiele. Im Laufe der Zeit verlor ich den Anschluß.

Im letzten Schriftsonar Podcast stellte FC Stoffel „Pesadillas“ von Maike Hallmann vor, Band 58(!) der Shadowrun Reihe, erschienen 2003. Ich fand das spontan interessant und kaufte das Buch einfach.

Es ist ein gut geschriebener Thriller mit überraschenden Wendungen, ein klassischer „Pageturner“. Es geht um einen kleinen Jungen der von einem Runnerteam mehr zufällig gerettet wird. Der Junge hat merkwürdige magische Fähigkeiten und ein Konzerntrupp ist ihm auf der Spur. Die Runner versuchen den Jungen zu schützen und herauszufinden, was es mit seinen Fähigkeiten auf sich hat. Die Autorin zeichnet sehr schön die Charaktere und ihre Motivationen. Die Geschichte nimmt einen mit und macht einfach Spaß. Vor allem die unerwarteten Wendungen sind toll.

Leider konnte ich nur sehr wenig über Maike Hallmann online finden. Ich denke, ich werde auch ihre anderen Shadowrun Bücher lesen. Weiterhin hat FC Stoffel „Die Feen“ von ihr empfohlen.

Schön, mal wieder eine neue Autorin zu entdecken und in eine alte Serie wieder einzutauchen.

David Candless – Knowledge is beautiful

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1st – 5th October 2014

This is David McCandeless’ second book on information graphics and data design. The underlying idea is to display complex data in a simple graphical way which explains datasets and the relationship of data elements. Hence the title, that knowledge can be shown in a beautiful way and made interesting for the reader by using graphics instead of large tables with figures.

The second book is a mix of continuing the first one with what I would call more straight forward data projections. For example, showing the timeline of the universe over several pages with all the events from the big-bang to humanity rising up. There is solid data to back this up and a timeline is a meaningful way to display it. Or the very famously recently published “How many gigatons of CO2”. These are classics.

On the other hand, David introduces a new quality of graphics which have a more political touch. For example, he shows several so-called “superpower run-downs” in which he assesses the US, China, India and the EU on selected indicators, such as GDP growth, armed forces, or unemployment rates and then ranks them. Depending on which indicators you combine, one superpower fares better than the other. I found the ranking a bit problematic. Is having armed forces good or bad? Your own political view influences on how you think about these graphics. Their purpose is more to provoke thinking and debate than to explain.

I found this book a bit more challenging to read than the first one, but I guess this is expected. Infographics have been around for quite some time and it is only natural that they should evolve towards the more complex side.

David provides most of the datasets online for common use, which I really appreciate. As usual the best pages of the book are at the very end where he lists the fonts used and has a very nice infographic on all the people who helped with the book.

Mike Carey and Peter Gross – The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship that sank twice

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26th – 28th September 2014

This book is the prequel to the “Unwritten” comic series. It is a full volume length 160 pages issue, published after volume 9.

It contains the story of Tommy’s real life father Winston and how he came to write the Tommy Taylor series books. While he was already a successful author before, the series was fully orchestrated to bring him to world fame. That included divorcing his wife and having a mysterious model pose as his real wife and marketing his young child as a wizard. For example, baby Tommy was even wearing glasses already.

Interspersed in this story is the fictional Tommy story of how he lost his magician parents and came to work at the Tulkinghorn magic academy as a kitchen boy, under supervision of professor Tulkinghorn. He soon fiends two very close friends, Susan and Peter, who are pupils at the school. Together they study magic. Although Tommy is not a magician yet he learns all the material and gains a deep understanding. But he is forbidden from attending lessons and he does not have the magical spark in him.

One day, the evil vampire Count Ambrosio is awoken from his grave and soon brings the entire town under control. Only Tommy and his two friends escape and finally fight him off.

The story reminded me a lot of Harry Potter, not sure if that is intentional, since it was written after JK Rowling’s books. It is also pretty much foreseeable. But since it is the prequel to the series it was clear how the story would run and end. Still, it is well told and a nice read.

I think you can read it first and then start with the series, but I would recommend not doing that. If you don’t know the series, the story seems too mundane and you might not continue afterwards and miss all the fun.

Kelly Sue Deconnick, Emma Rios – Pretty Deadly: The Shrike (vol. 1)

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23rd – 26th September 2014

I read the first issue of Pretty Deadly digitally somewhen last year. It fascinated me, but for some reason I did not follow the story. Now the first volume has been published, and of course I picked it up.

Pretty deadly is a strange tale where I am not yet sure where it will go. It is set in a weird western world that reminded me somewhat of the Dark Tower.

The main characters are Ginny, who is Death’s rebelling daughter, a mean gunfighter, not dead, but also not living (“You are not dead. You are something else”). Then there is Sissy, a girl who wears a vulture cloak and has a blue and a brown eye. She travels with Fox, an older man, who has been blinded by Death.

They are being hunted down by Alice, another gunfighter created by Death. Like Ginny, she is a mean fighter. She tries to get hold of Sissy. Fox and Sissy are first fleeing from Alice, but then Ginny comes in to help.

The whole story is framed by Bunny, a dead skeleton rabbit telling it to Butterfly, well, a butterfly.

Very strange and weird, but also very great. I really like it very much. At present, the story is up to issue #5 (2nd April) and I surely will follow along.

Oh, and the title of course. Anything that has a Shrike in it I must read!