Nightingale by Jerry Pinkney (2002). This was a beautiful picture book version of the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale but set in Morocco. There is a little girl with more than her share of common sense in the story. The symbol of death is a little creepy but otherwise a lovely, lovely book.
Drama! the Four Dorothys by Paul Ruditis (2007). This is a cute mystery with a teenage detective Bryan Stark. He attends the elite Orion High School filled with Hollywood’s progeny. The egos are so big that the school’s musical production features four leading ladies. The mystery is so-so as the Dorothys are incapacitated one by one but Bryan’s amusing observations more than make up for it. It’s the first in a series.
Romeo’s Ex by Lisa Fiedler (2006). This is Rosalind’s story in which we find out that she was much smarter and more mature than Romeo. She finds a worthy man but not without death, revenge and a painful amount of self-destructive behavior by everyone involved. Not for the fan of the romantic Romeo & Juliet.
Improper English by Katie Macalister (2003). A young American woman Alexandra goes to London to write a romance novel. She regales everyone from her cabdriver to her landlady with her progress. The problem is, the stuff is awful. It’s abysmal. In fact, Macalister could have eased up on us a little.
Alexandra does meet a handsome man there, named Alexander. He, understandably enough, shudders whenever she approaches him with her manuscript in hand. Not bad but I like Macalister’s vampires better.
Serenity: Those Left Behind. Story by Joss Whedon & Brett Matthews. Art by Will Conrad. It had some beautiful artwork but the story was unimpressive.
Fables: Legends in Exile. Story by Bill Willingham. Art by Lan Medina. The trouble I had with this one was that it was just a mystery. They didn’t have to be ageless or fairy tale characters. That bothered me a lot. Once I got past that, it was an entertaining story and I enjoyed reading a comic with ‘super-hero’ art rather than manga. This the first mainstream American comic I’ve read in a while.
Fables: Storybook Love. Story by Bill Willingham. Art by Mark Buckingham, Lan Medina, Bryan Talbot, Linda Medley. I liked this one better than the first one. For one thing, the magic came back in, and for another, I know the characters a little better. Goldilocks was freaky. Wolf’s appearance changes pretty drastically and that disturbed me. I liked Snow a little better this time around. Sleeping’s affliction was funny. I think I will try to read the others now.
Love Roma. Minou Toyoda. I really liked the simple, lively artwork on this one. Hoshino decides to ask Negishi out on a date. His matter-of-fact and public declaration embarrasses her but she agrees. This is low-key but funny little dating comic. Nothing outrageous happens. They do ordinary things and sometimes they fight or misunderstand each other. But they value the other person’s honesty, a quality that they believe will keep their union strong. I’m making it sound treacly but it’s not.
My favorite story is when he goes to meet her family. They decide they would feel better if they had her father’s approval. Hoshino announces that they are dating. (For some reason, the father’s spit take looks like bars of crystal.) Then when the father hedges a question about their sexual activity, Hoshino reports they have kissed but not had sex. The father is relieved but Negishi smacks Hoshino and the mother just laughs. It’s refreshing to read a Japanese comic about love without tear-filled eyes.
Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts
What could be more perfect than inheriting a cottage in Ireland? Well, it’s considerably less perfect when it involves the matchmaking prince of the fairies.
Jude, miserable because of her recent divorce and professional burnout, quits her job as a university professor. Things would be really bleak except that she inherits a cottage in a remote village in Ireland. She goes there to regroup, and maybe, come alive again.
There she meets a whole passel of charming, eccentric villagers who generally converge on the local pub. Three siblings are the lively owners of the pub: Brenna, Shawn and their extra handsome sibling Aidan.
Not only is there a bit of Enchanted April for Jude but a genuine fairy tale is mixed into the story. Once upon a time, a fairy prince wooed but did not win his human lady. The ghost of his lost lady is reputed to haunt Jude’s cottage. On occasion a strange man appears and cryptically urges her to look on Aidan kindly.
I got this short graphic novel, Sorcerers and Secretaries, at the library and I loved it so much that I bought it and plan to get the sequel soon.
Amy Kim Ganter writes and draws the romantic misadventures of a introverted fantasy-lover, Nicole. She works as a secretary and is lonely and unfulfilled so she retreats into her favorite fairy tales and the fantasy novel she is writing.
Her mother’s injunctions and a womanizer-in-training Josh change things for her. Josh wants the one woman who hasn’t succumbed to his line and at the same time her mother is urging her to open up a little.
Nicole used to have a crush on him when they lived in the same apartment building – until she realized that his only ambition is to make as many conquests as possible.
She gives Josh one more chance but that turns out to be a mistake…
Her artwork is quirky but gentle and she puts in funny bits that don’t depend upon super deformed style. It is perfect for a modern day fairy tale. I like her coloring choices on the cover and I wish that the book was in color but that’s alright.
It wasn’t until I visited her website Felaxx.com that I realized Ganter had done the character designs for one of my favorite games , which is a micro-management game with the cutest plants and grubs ever.
On her website, she has some short pieces and a very long comic series (250 pages!) that she is no longer updating. I’ve been reading it and it’s very good as well. She says she plans to publish the revised version and I hope she does. Her work is charming.
Ember is a twisted retelling of Cinderella. In this story Prince Charming is a jerk and Cindrella is a dangerous woman to cross.
Adrian Juste (Prince Charming) had a “charm” spell placed on him at birth and he did not acquire the moral character to resist the helpless adoration that the spell brings him. What it doesn’t bring him is Ember (Cinderella).
Ember is no big-eyed ingenue – she is a powerful witch. She is also independent and well-educated, and she hates being coerced by anyone or anything.
Here’s hoping Cinderella takes Charming down a peg or three. (Oh, and it’s meant for grownups. Violence, sex, etc.)
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