The Property and You're All Just Jealous Of My Jetpack on Robot 6

“What Are You Reading? with James Hornsby” / Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources / Brigid Alverson / April 21, 2013

(...) Well, I just ended the weirdest week of my life -— I live just north of Boston, ’nuff said — so the package of advance review copies from Drawn and Quarterly couldn’t have been a more welcome distraction. And when I opened it up, I thought “They read my mind.” The first book out of the box was Tom Gauld’s You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack. I thought Gauld’s graphic novel Goliath was the best graphic novel of 2012, so I’m predisposed to like anything he does, but I have to admit Jetpack is very different in tone. Gauld’s trademark style—silhouetted figures, simple settings, muted palette—remains the same, but the subject matter is much lighter. The book is a compilation of short gag comics originally drawn for the UK paper The Guardian. This is comics for the well-read, filled with knowing jokes about literary and film tropes. Some of them made me laugh out loud, while others are almost like abstract exercises that stretch the capabilities of the medium a bit. It’s a smart, funny, handsome little book that is a nice read and would be a great gift for a Serious Reader as well.

The term “graphic novel” is used these days to refer to pretty much any comic in book format, but Rutu Modan’s The Property really feels like a novel. The story of a young woman and her grandmother who travel from Israel to Warsaw to reclaim property lost during the Holocaust, it has a fairly complicated plot and an interesting cast of characters. It’s not a simple read, but it is impossible to put down, and Modan takes full advantage of the economy that the comics medium provides, letting the pictures provide the setting and descriptions and the dialogue carry the story. In one sequence, for instance, the grandmother looks out the window of a cab and sees the modern Warsaw cityscape morph into the Warsaw of her girlhood. Modan also uses changes in palette to signify shifts in time and place, and each of her characters has a distinct personality that you can take in at a glance (although things are not always quite what they seem). There is a particularly beautiful scene toward the end that is set in a cemetery, done mostly in dark, muted colors, punctuated only by the bright colors of the candles that visitors have placed on the graves. There is no question that this will be one of my picks for the best book of 2013. (...)

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