Another lil’ wrap-up of things I read in 2013. As a sometimes-member of the Politics & Prose Graphic Novel book group, I have enjoyed discussing graphic novels/comics/graphic narrative/sequential art/whatever with others who enjoy the genre. It has been fun to read different works and discern what I like and don’t like within the genre.
Siegfried Vol. 1 (2012)
By Alex Alice
Volume 1 of a three part graphic adaptation of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. The French just know how to do comics. The art looks very Disney, Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Neverending Story to me. Unnecessary section on the creative and development process in the back. I don’t read much/any fantasy, so this was a nice departure from my usual picks. So very Franch.
By Ellen Forney The best book I’ve read about mental illness. (I haven’t read many on the subject.) Solid graphic memoir that isn’t weepy. Very practical story about her illness and career. One of the top three books I read this year. Highly recommended.
The Nao of Brown (2012) By Glyn Dillon Big volume lushly published. I like the immensity of the work. Good art. Lazy ending. Twee. Odd. Plot aspects, like the protagonist’s Buddhist faith, don’t lead anywhere. Everyone in the book group was confused by this one.
Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life (2004) By Bryan Lee O’Malley Great story. Fun art. The first graphic novel I’ve read on Kindle. Loved the movie. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series. Makes me want to visit Toronto.
Optic Nerve #13 (2013) By Adrian Tomine As good an artist and writer as Tomine is, I wish he could lighten up a bit.
I do not like to buy print books unless they are unavailable on Kindle. Space is a luxury, so all the better if I can keep my library in the cloud. I’ve enjoyed reading literary journals because I usually do not know any of the writers published in them. The content can be a mixed bag. Because my brain isn’t primed by social media, reviews, or marketing, it is easier for me to distinguish what I like in them. Below three I read this year and two I have not yet finished.
I began reading Bob Woodward’s Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi (1984) about a week before Tanner Colby condemned Woodward’s only book about the entertainment industry on Slate.
The book was sitting on my shelf, and I don’t know where it came from. I thought I’d do it justice by reading it. Since I read The Price of Politics (2012) last fall, I was interested in how Woodward would handle a story like this one.
During the final years of his life, Belushi worked into a cycle that went a little like this…
1. Belushi wants to make a movie
2. Others involved are worried Belushi’s drug addiction will mess up the movie.
3. Belushi’s agents assure them he won’t.
4. Belushi does cocaine/other drugs and messes up the movie.
The first parts of the book are exciting, as Belushi rises to fame with Saturday Night Live (1975-1979), Animal House (1978), and the Blue Brothers act. The second half is scary. Belushi’s addiction takes over his life, and films like 1941 (1979), Neighbors (1981) and Continental Divide (1981) do not match his earlier successes.
The way the production sounds like in the book, Neighbors seems like an extraordinarily strange movie, which I will make an effort to view soon.
I was pretty bummed by the end. Addiction is ugly, and Wired wasn’t a redemption story a la VH1’s Behind the Music. Like Price of Politics, Wired ends in anticlimax. Congress never reached a grand bargain, and Belushi died of a drug overdose at the Chateau Marmont. I knew it was coming, yet it was still is a punch in the gut.