Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Books of Magic

Neil Gaiman
John Bolton
Scott Hampton
Charles Vess
Paul Johnson

I keep returning to this book every so often because the fantasy is so primal. Who didn't think as a kid that magic was awesome. You just had to meet that certain stranger, find a book or a token, open the right door and bam! Magic!

It's too bad that Tim Hunter is untouchable thanks to Harry Potter. They are very similar, both are British boys with brown hair and glasses and they are both destined to be the greatest mages of their time.

In books of Magic, Tim is guided by the Phantom Stranger though Magic's past, by John Constantine and Zatanna through Magic's present, by Doctor Occult through Faerie and the Far Lands, and by Magic's future by Mister E. Neil Gaiman weaves DCs history around these voyages and gives you a sense of the history of magic in comics.

Books of Magic is full of wonderful tidbits. My favorite are: Zatara handling dead rabbits and explaining that he hides in plain sight. Zatanna and Tim partying with black and white magicians at Halloween, seeing Hamnet by Titania's throne in Faerie, and the weird green transparent humanoids living at the end of time.

So put down your Harry Potter and the whatever, if you want to read about true magic get the Books of Magic and the accompanying series.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chicken With Plums

Marjane Satrapi

What I like most about this comic is the structure of the story. It simmers like a nice stew and as you stir the pot secret desires and connections reveal themselves in the most appetizing ways.

The story follows a man, Nasser Ali, a famous Tar (traditional Iranian percussion instrument) player. His wife in a fit breaks his Tar and since he cannot find solace in another instrument decides to lay down and die. He doesn't eat for seven days.

As he dies slowly, certain events in his life float to the surface of his memories and we come to find that no one in the story is blameless, or innocent, or truly guilty. They are all petty, foolish, grubby, selfish, heartbroken people.

The story has as many layers as the title dish, chicken with plums, has flavors and Marjane's unique illustrations provide the depth we need to empathize with Nasser, a selfish and tragic character.