An evocative meditation on personal pain and dreams deferred.

LUISA

NOW & THEN

A 30-something woman must reckon with judgments from her 15-year-old self.

In 2013, Luisa Arambol, a commercial food photographer, lives in the Paris apartment left to her by her late Aunt Aurelia, a woman she barely knew. Luisa has little contact with her mother, unsatisfying short-term relationships with men, and an irresponsible relationship with alcohol. In the 1990s, Luisa pops a cassette into her Walkman, hops on a bus to her home near Chartres, and nods off, waking up in Paris. She is rescued by Luisa’s neighbor Sasha, who deposits her with Luisa senior, and the two work out their connection—as well as a cover story about a long-lost cousin. Teen Luisa is horrified, regarding her older self as a sellout who compromised on artistic integrity. Even more painful to confront is both Luisas’ feelings about her sexuality and her treatment of a teenage friend who was a target of homophobic bullying. Lesbian Sasha becomes a lightning rod for adult Luisa’s conflicted feelings. As the two Luisas spend time more together, they experience greater conflict as well as a melding of sorts. The golden-hued illustrations vividly evoke the Parisian setting, with flashbacks rendered in sepia tones. The realism of the art accentuates the surreal dislocation both women experience. The story is told honestly, with no sugarcoating of painful truths, and will hold strong appeal for teen and adult readers alike. Main characters are white; there are secondary characters of color.

An evocative meditation on personal pain and dreams deferred. (Graphic fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: June 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59465-643-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Life Drawn

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

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Entertaining for fans of villain backstories and Disney classics alike.

EVIL THING

A VILLAINS GRAPHIC NOVEL

From the Villains series

A chronicle of Cruella De Vil’s descent into Dalmatian destruction.

The only child of Lord and Lady De Vil, Cruella was enamored by high society life from a young age. She idolized her cold, demanding mother and loved her caring father, despite his giving her less extravagant gifts. Both parents wanted her to distinguish herself, though they intended very different meanings by that word. While young Cruella believed that servants and others from less privileged backgrounds should know their places, Anita, her less socially lofty best friend, was an exception. But as she grew up and married, she had to face the question of what it really meant to possess wealth, beauty, and happiness. Framed as a memoir, this story vividly expresses Cruella’s personality. Valentino does a solid job of establishing the cast of characters, and fans of the animated film will enjoy connecting the threads. While there are moments of softness that evoke readers’ empathy, Cruella unapologetically wields her power to behave cruelly. She is ultimately fueled by her desperation for maternal validation, jealousy, delirium, and a perhaps-cursed pair of earrings. Jovellanos’ art deftly captures a range of emotions, specifically in showing how Cruella’s face is transformed in response to her whims. Using a color palette of muted reds, blacks, grays, and whites, the illustrations express a fitting tone for a Cruella tell-all. Characters read as White.

Entertaining for fans of villain backstories and Disney classics alike. (Graphic fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-06816-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A solid introduction for budding lovers of the Bard.

HAMLET

From the Campfire Graphic Novels series

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

The timeless tale of the young and disaffected Danish prince who is pushed to avenge his father’s untimely murder at the hands of his brother unfolds with straightforward briskness. Shakespeare’s text has been liberally but judiciously cut, staying true to the thematic meaning while dispensing with longer speeches (with the notable exception of the renowned “to be or not to be” soliloquy) and intermediary dialogues. Some of the more obscure language has been modernized, with a glossary of terms provided at the end; despite these efforts, readers wholly unfamiliar with the story might struggle with independent interpretation. Where this adaptation mainly excels is in its art, especially as the play builds to its tensely wrought final act. Illustrator Kumar (World War Two, 2015, etc.) pairs richly detailed interiors and exteriors with painstakingly rendered characters, each easily distinguished from their fellows through costume, hairstyle, and bearing. Human figures are generally depicted in bust or three-quarter shots, making the larger panels of full figures all the more striking. Heavily scored lines of ink form shadows, lending the otherwise bright pages a gritty air. All characters are white.

A solid introduction for budding lovers of the Bard. (biography of Shakespeare, dramatis personae, glossary) (Graphic novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-93-81182-51-2

Page Count: 90

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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