Our Comic-Con International Graphic Novel Book Clubs met in April and discussed two more books. These graphic novels provided extremely lively discussions at both meetings!
This month’s book (the second discussion so far this year) was The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire. The group was divided in how they felt about this book, although there was some common ground: Everyone agreed at how cinematic the book was and how the introduction, which likened Lemire’s story to a classic episode of The Twilight Zone set the book up to a height it could never quite reach. Many of the readers couldn’t relate to the central character and his dilemma. A few readers thought he was sent to an alternate world when he came in touch with a lost artifact from his childhood; one diehard simply refused to believe he was suffering from anything other than oxygen deprivation. Everyone agreed they’d like to read more of Lemire’s work (Sweet Tooth was mentioned). And it was obvious that this book made people THINK, not only about the story, but about how Lemire used the medium to tell it, especially the scenes under water. Like their counterparts at the Mission Valley book club, most of the readers felt the book deserved a second read after hearing what everyone had to say.
Next up for Downtown in May: Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover.
The second book for the Mission Valley Book Club was also the first book to be chosen by the group: Fashion Beast by Alan Moore, Anthony Johnson, Malcolm McLaren, and Facundo Pericio. The meeting got off to a great start as the moderator, Lisa, brought a fantastic cake she made that actually had art from Fashion Beast printed on top! While everyone dug into some cake, the first question asked was who had liked the book? This actually turned out to be a harder question than it seemed, as many people were unsure how they felt about it. A strange mix of characters—and what some felt was a limited storyline—left most feeling confused and with the notion that the story needed to be fleshed out more. What were the authors trying to say with this piece? Since it’s origin was a 1980s screenplay written by Moore, was it dated? Did it not translate well to the graphic novel form? What makes a great discussion is that it opens your eyes to things you may not have noticed and gives you a new appreciation for a book. Encouraged by the discussion, many people said they would give Fashion Beast a second look and maybe delve further into what it was trying to say. At the end of the meeting, some people decided they liked the book, others did not, and some were still unsure, but everyone agreed on two things: that whether or not you like a book doesn’t you wouldn’t enjoy the discussion … and that Lisa’s cake was delicious!
Next up for Mission Valley in May: Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.