Exhaustive but exhausting.

THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND

A metaphysical examination of 20th-century comics artists takes an odd turn.

With both metafictive and metaphysical slants, this exploration of midcentury photorealistic comics artists introduces Jack, a pretty young White woman working at Local Heroes Comic Books & Graphic Novels. She finds a strange comic on the counter called “The Strange Death of Alex Raymond,” and as she finishes reading it, the next issue suddenly appears. Chronicling the untimely death of artist Raymond, Sim and Grubaugh’s work transports readers along a comprehensive and dense history of the photorealistic style and the cadre of artists that shaped its evolution. However, about halfway through, the narrative switches course, eliminating Jack almost entirely and instead drawing increasingly tenuous and esoterically obsessive links to Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell. As the title dives down these rabbit holes, the text increasingly descends into incomprehensibility, punctuated with recursive chants and repetitive numerology. This devolution makes further reading extremely challenging, as intricate panels become cramped and text bubbles obscured. The finely detailed, highly stylized art, however, is beyond masterful and a true accomplishment. Ultimately, this is overly complex for a casual comics history buff and perhaps best appreciated by an academic audience.

Exhaustive but exhausting. (Graphic fiction. 17-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73686-050-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Living the Line Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Even so, this remains Macbeth, arguably the Bard of Avon’s most durable and multilayered tragedy, and overall, this enhanced...

MACBETH

From the Wordplay Shakespeare series

A pairing of the text of the Scottish Play with a filmed performance, designed with the Shakespeare novice in mind.

The left side of the screen of this enhanced e-book contains a full version of Macbeth, while the right side includes a performance of the dialogue shown (approximately 20 lines’ worth per page). This granular focus allows newcomers to experience the nuances of the play, which is rich in irony, hidden intentions and sudden shifts in emotional temperature. The set and costuming are deliberately simple: The background is white, and Macbeth’s “armor” is a leather jacket. But nobody’s dumbing down their performances. Francesca Faridany is particularly good as a tightly coiled Lady Macbeth; Raphael Nash-Thompson gives his roles as the drunken porter and a witch a garrulousness that carries an entertainingly sinister edge. The presentation is not without its hiccups. Matching the video on the right with the text on the left means routinely cutting off dramatic moments; at one point, users have to swipe to see and read the second half of a scene’s closing couplet—presumably an easy fix. A “tap to translate” button on each page puts the text into plain English, but the pop-up text covers up Shakespeare’s original, denying any attempts at comparison; moreover, the translation mainly redefines more obscure words, suggesting that smaller pop-ups for individual terms might be more meaningful.

Even so, this remains Macbeth, arguably the Bard of Avon’s most durable and multilayered tragedy, and overall, this enhanced e-book makes the play appealing and graspable to students . (Enhanced e-book. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: The New Book Press LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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DEAD WEIGHT

MURDER AT CAMP BLOOM

Four teens attempt to solve the mystery of a murdered camp counselor.

Latinx Jesse’s family makes her attend Camp Bloom, a summer weight-loss camp, while black Tony is excited to be with his buff role model, Counselor Cory, who is white. Third-year attendee Noah, also white, wants to prioritize his health and lose weight but is unsure whether he can. One night, Jesse sneaks out to procure contraband chocolate. Noah follows her, and both stumble upon Counselor Cory’s murder. Purely by chance, the crime turns out to have been documented on Jesse’s camera. Noah looks for help from Kate (also white), who finds Camp Bloom a safe refuge from homophobia. Kate includes Tony, heartbroken that his mentor is dead, in the investigation. Armed with a list of the camp counselors and a camp map, the foursome decides to find the murderer. Close-ups of the protagonists convey great emotion and are interspersed with more active panels featuring the quartet and other characters. As the teens work through the suspects, another murder occurs, and the young sleuths nearly become victims themselves. Exacting readers may be disappointed by the lack of clues or clear motives for the murders and by the strange ending. Those willing to forgive these shortcomings will find this lighthearted mystery with diverse characters an accessible, if not entirely satisfying, read.

Passable. (Graphic novel. 13-17)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62010-481-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Oni Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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