DEATH, TAXES and PHILOSOPHY: Reviews For Three New Releases Arrive
With three new books currently in stores, we’re enthusiastically reading reviews.
First up is Lover’s Lane: The Hall-Mills Mystery, Rick Geary’s latest volume in his Treasury of XXth Century Murder series.
“In my search for bad love gone worse, Lovers’ Lane delivers. More a true crime graphic novel than a romance comic, it’s pretty salacious, even with an affair at the center of it all. In fact, that’s the tamest part of the story and, even as a ‘20s story going up against the horrors of today’s modern news, the tale is still pretty jarring…”
For a better example of how good a true-crime comic can be when rendered by a master, see Rick Geary’s latest “Treasury Of XXth Century Murder,” Lovers’ Lane: The Hall-Mills Mystery (NBM/ComicsLit), which continues one of the most impressive winning streaks in the medium. Tackling “The Hall-Mills Murder Case”—at one time, one of the most famous crimes of the century, though less-remembered now—Geary brings his usual eye for the off-kilter to his illustrations, which is especially helpful for a story defined by its curious details.
Geary’s impeccable research helps him lay out the facts in ways that police and prosecutors never quite could, and he allows you, the reading jury, to come to conclusions of your own. It makes for gripping reading, and once you start, you can’t put it down. LOVERS’ LANE is another instant classic from a creator who does this better than anyone ever has. Highly recommended.
What else is there to say about Rick Geary’s Treasury of 19th/XXth Century Murder series, published by NBM? The series has been going on forever, every volume is a delightful and offbeat look at a genuine historical murder mystery, and Geary is probably one of the three or four most talented and accomplished North American cartoonists alive today… The delight in Geary’s ongoing investigations into some of the weirdest murders in history is seeing how he gathers his facts, and how he lays them out for us, and the little touches he injects along the way that add gravity, legitimacy and often whimsy to his reflections on the darkest of all human impulses.
Next up is Stan Mack’s Taxes, the Tea Party,and Those Revolting Rebels: A Comics History of the American Revolution.
This re-issue of cartoonist and social chronicler Mack’s thoroughly researched 1994 history of the American Revolution offers a spectacular, unvarnished account that runs counter to the mythology-as-history often taught in American schools. Mack’s re-telling avoids speechifying and presents realistic motivations for the rebels. It also manages to depict the towering figures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other founding fathers as mere men, some of whom were not necessarily as commanding or even competent as legend would have it. For those raised on the hyperbolic children’s book versions of the people and events surrounding our nation’s independence, this is a strongly recommended work whose “cartoony” art style works well with a narrative that openly addresses the roles played by women, slaves, and Native Americans in the twenty-eight year struggle and its aftermath.
“Writer/artist Stan Mack offers up a terrific, well-researched look at the events that formed this country, and the men who put those events into motion. These days, history is barely presented as more than a soundbyte. Kids might know that Washington crossed the Delaware, but do they know why? Mack explains the circumstances perfectly. This happens quite a bit in the book, making it educational as well as entertaining.”
Mack did his homework here; this is no cursory, elementary-school view of the American Revolution. He fills the book with details, like the fact that Paul Revere didn’t actually yell, “the British are coming,” and he isn’t afraid to take shots at the founding fathers — George Washington in particular comes off rather badly…Although Mack crowds the book with his hurried handwriting and although his art has a rough edge to it, Taxes never becomes a dreary slog or appears slapdash.
Red Eye Chicago also has a terrific piece by Stan, The Revenge of the American People: An Op-Art Piece that’s definitely worth checking out.
And finally, Philosophy: A Discovery in Comics by Margreet de Heer.
This book combines simple and elegant visuals with a linear explanation of the topic to create a work that pumps energy and intrigue into the topic. Whether it’s biographical information about the great philosophers or a comprehensible explanation of their works that conveys what they were about in modern language, everything here just works. I was completely impressed by how good this book is, and it is most definitely a keeper.
Philosophy starts off strong, with de Heer addressing some basic existential questions and then delving back into the theories of famed Greek philosophers. Each philosopher gets a page to cover his bio and another page or two to explain his general theories as simply as possible.