A Slice of Fried Gold

#12 - Carnet de Voyage by Craig Thompson and #13 - Aqua Leung by Mark Andrew Smith and Paul Maybury

Sunday, June 8, 2008

#12 - Carnet de Voyage by Craig Thompson
#13 - Aqua Leung by Mark Smith and Paul Maybury

Currently, I am simultaneously working through two legitimate books (aka not graphic novels) in Bill Bryson's Neither Here nor There and Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, but while reading them I've been simultaneously reading many (many, many, many) comics on a weekly basis and the occasional original graphic novel. These two were finished back during my Sasquatch trip, but I never had the opportunity to write about them before now.

Also, I just want to say that I am resigned to the fact that I likely will not reach my 52 book goal for the year, but eclipsing thirty is still a very real and far more possible goal for myself.

No less, on to the books!

As some of you may have noticed, I've been on a bit of a Craig Thompson kick lately. First, one of my all-time favorite graphic novels in Blankets, then Good-bye Chunky Rice, and now Carnet de Voyage. The reason why is in terms of graphic novelists, I find him to be one of the most interesting, real, and visually intriguing of the whole bunch.

Now Carnet is a bit of an oddball, as it isn't really an OGN (original graphic novel for the uninitiated) but a travel journal that Thompson made while he was travelling on a signing tour through Europe and northern Africa (latter part was just visiting, not actually signing). Within the pages of this we just get a bit of insight into who he is as a person while also getting a view into what it's like to travel the world in this modern age of amber alerts and strained foreign relations.

Overall, it's an interesting if not somewhat repetitive read. It cannot compete with his other works, but as an unabashed fan of his visual style, I dug it. Thompson gets the opportunity to stretch his legs even more within these pages, as instead of needing to tell a story he simply has to journalize events which leads to even more creative layouts (I'm a huge fan of his layouts). Additionally, he gets to get into far more interesting landscapes and architecture, which allows him to really show what he can do in terms of intensive detail.

If interested in traveling and/or a fan of Thompson's artwork, definitely give this a shot. I enjoyed it, but I'm really big on both sides of that and/or equation.

Aqua Leung on the other hand is a far more successful venture as it is actually a story based OGN, thus having the inherent boost of having the structure (you know, beginning, middle, end...ish) that Carnet lacked.

This book is Mark Andrew Smith and Paul Maybury's very own rendition of the legend of Atlantis, and it is an extremely interesting interpretation and read. Although it starts a bit unfocused with a bit in the beginning with some sort of massive cosmic turtle who acts as the storyteller introducing us to the backstory and to the characters. Once we get involved with Aqua, the story really takes off and we're treated to a very fun romp where a young boy finds out that he is not just an ordinary kid but the savior of the kingdom of Atlantis.

Sure, it sounds slightly ridiculous, but it's very fun and has a big imagination to it. The visuals do take a bit to get used to, as I found them to be a bit cluttered at times and the coloring to be a bit overly dark. Midway through the book though the storytelling duo really finds their visual niche and the quality of art begins matching the quality of the writing, and the second half is far more interesting than the first because of that.

Aqua Leung was a very interesting read, but one major problem that I was unaware of going in is that it is secretly a part one. Or at least I hope so, as the story of Aqua was only partially told and there was no resolution in terms of Aqua's attempts to unify the kingdom of Atlantis.

Because of that, you have to be willing to wait for the completion of the story at a later, unknown date. The main problem with that is I'm unsure whether the completion of the story is really worth the wait in the same way that Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim series or Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet series is. We'll see, pending further volumes. An interesting start, I just wish I knew it was only the first volume going in.


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