I was bouncing around TED|Talks today looking for videos about storytelling and education when I came upon Beatrice Coron‘s video. Coron, originally from France, is an artist who specializes in paper-cuttings. As I watched her talk and saw the paper cuttings, I was impressed by the detail in her work as well as worlds that she is able to create. It’s really amazing. Check it out. It’s kind of long-ish but at around 10:31 you can see a speed-motion visual of how she puts her larger works together.
I think it would be fascinating to do a comic with a paper-cutting artist. I think her silhouette style lends itself well to the comics medium. Can you see it? It’s like the pop-up book all grown up and hip.
For the last eight months, I’ve been reading nothing but graphic novels and comics. I figured that if I was going to write one myself, I’d do well to immerse myself in that world as much as possible. During that time, I’ve read some iffy ones, some good ones and some that made me want to curl up into a little ball and give up any and all dreams of ever writing again (see pic).
Zahra’s Paradise by Amir and Khalil is one of those books…
Zahra’s Paradise started off as a free webcomic but the power of social media turned that little webcomic, about life in Iran after the 2009 elections, into a literary phenomenon. It has since been published by First Second Books. Below is an excerpt of my review for Hyphen Magazine or click here for the full article.
“Zahra’s Paradiseis a fictionalized account about the search for a young university student, Mehdi, who fails to come home one night after participating in the protests. It is also the story of his mother, Zahra, and brother, Hassan, as they navigate through Iran’s labyrinthine bureaucracy in an attempt to track him down. The book is written and illustrated pseudonymously by ‘Amir’ and ‘Khalil’ — an Iranian American activist and an Algerian artist respectively — and is packed with literal and figurative criticisms against the Islamic Revolution, Ahmedinejad, and the Ayatollah. They are depicted variously as vultures, scarecrows, and at one point, even as cannibalistic machines intent on “feeding their morgues.” So, it comes as no surprise that both the author and illustrator have chosen the protection of pseudonyms.”
The House Baba Built. Img from: Hyphen Magazine
Sometime in late August, Hyphen Magazine contacted me and asked me if I would like to do book reviews for them. Naturally, I said ‘yes’. I mean, I already read way too many books, why not write reviews about them as well, right? The best part about this gig is that I get to keep the books and they’re usually first editions. This particular copy I received of Ed Young’s The House Baba Built is actually uncorrected colour proofs. Honestly, at first I thought something had happened to the book. I picked it up and it fell apart in my hands! It was only then that I realised I was holding something kind of rare: a book in the final stages of editing. I’m sure the actual book does not look radically different from the one I have with the exception, I suppose, that the book has now been stitched together.
Anyway, click here to read my review. Below is an excerpt:
“Using a creative blend of collages, old photographs and pencil and ink portraits to tell his story, the author implies that one’s memory of events does not really present the truth of those events. What we remember is colored by the mind’s ability to reorder events, assign personal meanings to them and revise entire sequences to fit in with our own perception. Young himself remarks in his Author’s Note that he “also learned to come to terms with the limits of human efforts in recreating reality — any human creation, no matter its completeness or point of view, is at best a mere fragment of life itself.” In keeping with that idea, Young populates the pages with family portraits right next to cut-outs and photographs pasted onto sketches.”