A colorful collection of Native American and First Nations trickster tales.

TRICKSTER

NATIVE AMERICAN TALES, A GRAPHIC COLLECTION, 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Twenty-three comics show how natural phenomena from the stars to buzzards have been affected by tricksters.

The 10th-anniversary reissue of this compilation, which features an introduction to trickster tales by Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki), contains traditional stories from across Canada and the U.S. retold by Indigenous authors and illustrated by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists. An editor’s note explains that each author chose the artist who would illustrate their story and approved their work. Bruchac’s introduction describes how the stories serve a dual purpose, both entertaining and educating listeners and readers. Many are of the pourquoi tale type, offering etiological narratives, such as “Rabbit’s Choctaw Tail Tale” by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Pat Lewis, which explains why rabbits have short tails. The Catawba story “The Yehasuri: The Little Wild Indians” by Beckee Garris, illustrated by Andrew Cohen, tells readers about mischievous beings who trouble travelers and punish naughty children. The stories vary in length, but most are in the range of 10 pages. The full-color artwork varies dramatically in style and quality; some is exceptionally skillful, making creative use of layout and panels, while other is more static. The range of nations represented is a strength of the work, offering readers a glimpse into both common elements of trickster characters and the sheer diversity of such stories.

A colorful collection of Native American and First Nations trickster tales. (contributor biographies) (Graphic anthology. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68275-273-9

Page Count: 242

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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Will appeal to manga fans but raises questions around depictions of racialized material.

OTHELLO

From the Manga Classics series

An illustrated reimagining of one of Shakespeare’s most memorable tragedies.

From the very beginning of this clever adaptation, effort is made to prioritize accessibility of both the manga form and the classic Shakespearean play: The frontmatter briefly highlights the reading direction of the panels, and characters are labeled when introduced, coming to life via a striking combination of early modern Venetian dress; quintessential manga hairdos and facial expressions; and pronounced linework. Like the rest of the series, this account of Othello remains faithful to the original. The black-and-white illustrations allow for Iago’s conniving manipulations to manifest visually as well as animating characters’ bigotry in impactful, distressing ways. However, there are shortcomings: Where the original text may use parentheticals and asides to progress the story, the occasional appearance of parentheses in speech bubbles are a distracting reminder that comics utilize storytelling tools that haven’t been fully adopted here. Likewise, panel after panel of Othello’s turn to violence and his enraged face obscured by shadow provide a poignant dramatic effect but seem to exacerbate prejudices inherent to both the play and medium. Not only is the titular character visually distinguished from other characters by his shading, hair, lips, and overall size, unfortunately neither Shakespeare nor the illustrator seem wholly prepared for a contemporary conversation regarding racial representation in one of literature’s most infamous depictions of othering.

Will appeal to manga fans but raises questions around depictions of racialized material. (adapter’s notes, character designs) (Graphic fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-947808-13-3

Page Count: 420

Publisher: Manga Classics

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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