I’ve never really owned graphic novels before, I wasn’t much into comic books as a kid, and I’ve just never really thought about picking them up. So, this is officially my ‘first’ graphic novel haul. My personal experience of the genre almost solely comes from The Broons and Oor Wullie – which are very much Scottish classics.
Buying up a few different books was definitely inspired by my recent visit to the comic book museum in Brussels, where they showed a variety of different comics, from the child friendly- to the more sophisticated political cartoons. It also had exhibitions from different parts of Europe, to see how comic styles change with the different countries. What I found interesting was the top floor, which was dedicated mainly to Chinese art, and how that differs to European art.
I thought it was just going to be a bit of fun, and it definitely was, but if you’re going to be in the area and you’re interested in comics and graphic novels, or art in general, I’d suggest giving it a go.
This past week i’ve picked up five different novels, all with very different plots.
Here’s what I chose:
Vincent by Barbara Stok
This is the first one I picked up, whilst I was actually still in Brussels. I studied art whilst at school (all those many years ago now) and do still have an interest in the area, despite no longer being even remotely artistic myself.
Vincent follows, unsurprisingly, Vincent Van Gogh, but specifically the period of his life he sent in Arles, the south of France, near the end of his life. He hopes to set up an artist house for him and his friends, which will allow them to draw inspiration from each other and the surrounding.
It discusses his hopes and dreams, his mental illness, and his relationship with his younger brother, Theo. And yes- the famous ear cutting.
I’ve already read this one, and I absolutely loved it. Five stars loved it. It really highlights Van Gogh’s passion, and how he just really wanted everything to come together, and how he felt when things were slipping out of his control. The art style is adorable, and I will definitely be picking up more of Stok’s work. I believe she’s got a few biographical graphic novels, so I might look at picking those up in the future.
Black Hole by Charles Burns
Out of all the novels I picked up, this is the one I’m most intrigued by, story wise. It’s a pretty hefty book, there’s no page numbers inside but according to Goodreads it’s 368 pages long (as I have the whole collection in one).
The premise reminds me a bit of It Follows, although Black Hole predates It Follows by quite a number of years. It follows a group of teenagers in the mid-70s in Seattle, when a weird plague starts to affect the teens in the area. It turns out the plague is transmitted sexually, and manifests in a variety of different ways, from subtle to grotesque. However, once you’re infected, you can’t get rid of it.
It follows a few key characters on all areas of the spectrum of the disease, in this look into adolescence and alienation.
And there’s also apparently murders in it too. Sounds interesting, and I can’t wait to get stuck in.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
I’ve heard quite a lot about this series, and decided to pick it up on the back of recommendations from Booktubers.
A memoir, it follows Satrapi’s childhood, growing up in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution, and going to school in a country away from her family. She returns, to see how things have changed, and whether her future would be continuing on in the country.
This version is the complete series, but the graphic novel comes in two parts- The Story of a Childhood and The Story of a Return.
Persepolis has received amazing reviews, mostly 5 and 4 stars, so I’m pretty excited to get started on this one.
Maus by Art Spiegelman
The complete series of Maus encompasses two graphic novels. It follows the story of Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, who are living in Europe at the time of Hitler and the Nazis, and his son, and the relationship between the two.
It tells the story of a family living in the Holocaust, capturing the everyday fear and how people survive/come to terms with what happened. It’s also obviously drawn with mice instead of people.
This is a pretty popular graphic novel, and like Persepolis, is extremely highly rated. Considering the subject matter, I think this will be quite a profoundly sad read, but as it’s such an important and tragic piece of history, it’ll definitely be an interesting read.
Epileptic by David B.
The last graphic novel I picked up is Epileptic. As the name suggests, it focuses on epilepsy, but is an autobiographic graphic novel about growing up with a brother who suddenly suffers from epilepsy, aged 11.
It’s a look into how the family desperately tried to find a cure for his brother, but also how he coped with the fact that his brother continually got worse.
This one I actually picked up on a whim because it was recommended from the others I’d been looking at. It seems pretty fantastical, and has a lot of different elements going on, so I’m confident that it will be a great read. It’s also 361 pages, which is pretty lengthy, but I don’t think it will take me too long to get through.
If there’s any graphic novels that you think I should definitely pick up, please let me know!