Tag Archives: graphic novels

Random housekeeping

I was poking around in WordPress and wound up on the page that tells me about visitors and which posts are popular.  It’s an odd combination of posts, to be honest:  a cranky post about the difference between bequest (noun!) and bequeath (verb!) and a review of Black Wade, a graphic novel, which I had kind of forgotten about.  Black Wade is by far the most popular post I’ve ever written, which is kind of ironic since it’s not a post I put a huge amount of effort or thought into.

Seeing the stats made me go see if I still had it on my bookshelf.  Yes, there is was, sitting next to my Firefly graphic novels and also one of the early Mercedes Thompson graphic novels.  But, wow, has it *not* aged well for me.  In fact, re-reading it gave me a serious squick.  It’s going in the discard pile, although I’m not sure if it is appropriate for donation to the library or what.

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Because I have nothing original to say…links!

I have only just run across David Simon’s commencement address to Georgetown.  It’s…completely consistent with what his worldview would appear to be based on the shows he has written and produced.

I’ve got to dust off the Greg Rucka books in my TBR stack now that I’ve read his essay on why he writes strong female characters.

For some pretty good photos of the French Open, check out @adel1609‘s tweets.

…and that’s all I’ve got.  Back to work today after a four day weekend.

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Black Wade: The Wild Side of Love

Warning: there will be spoilers.

Why this book?
Black Wade came to my attention via a post at Babbling About Books.  I’ve never been a huge pirate fan (but for Darlene Marshall’s Florida-set privateer novels), but Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, who is by turns swishy and macho and pan-sexual, is intriguing. (Jack Sparrow/Will Turner has much more potential than Jack/Elizabeth. *adjusts slash goggles*)

Black Wade is a new subgenre for me — a gay erotic graphic novel. Before reading BW, I’d read a few graphic novels and a variety of gay romance and erotic romance, but nothing that blended the different formats together.

From the book:

There was a time when ships were the only form of transportation between the Old World in Europe and the new colonies across the waves. In those days, the oceans were full of bold pirates, waiting to seize large war-ships and merchant vessels and rob them of the riches they carried. There was not a port or tavern where the sailors did not recount the tales of the notorious Captain Black Wade, terror of the seven seas.

And from the authors:

The rough and merciless pirate Black Wade and his band are the scare of the seven seas. And just like his greed for gold is insatiable, his sexual craving knows no boundaries as well: When they board a British ship, Wade takes Lieutenant Jack Wilkins as a prisoner to satisfy his lust. At first Wilkins struggles with all his might, but soon he has to acknowledge that he actually has pleasure in the eager sexual encounters with the handsome pirate. In the meantime his fiancée Annabeth is waiting wistfully for the return of Jack, not knowing if he’s still alive. And on the pirate ship emotions are running high as well: Buccaneer Marak keeps a jealous watch over the prisoner Jack. He would love to polish Wade’s gun barrel himself. Due to the rising nervousness Wade realizes that he cannot allow himself the tender feelings he begins to have for Jack. To prove how merciless he is, he maroons Jack on a raft and relinquishes him to the forces of the wide ocean. But that’s nowhere near the end of the story…

BW opens with Lieutenant Jack Wilkins coming to in the dank hold of a ship; readers learn through a flash back series that Jack was aboard a British ship returning tax revenues to England when pirates attacked. Jack was taken as booty along with the gold being transported. His captor and tormentor is Black Wade, pirate captain and scourge of the seven seas. The rest of the 60 or so pages are spent on the sexual exploits of Black Wade and Jack; their eventual separation; and then their reunion and HEA as gay pirate kings.

Did I enjoy the book? Yes, although more for the art than the story told.

First, I know little about the tropes and themes underpinning graphic novels. If there are tropes or themes specific to gay adult graphic novels, I know even less about them. Second, I read the novel with my romance-goggles on, which skews my expectations and filters. A reader with more GN reading under his/her belt would likely have a different take on BW.

The art work was beautiful, from the character portraits to the landscapes to the action scenes. Some of the frames in which the characters had sex were startlingly erotic : not just the frames that were graphic but the frames with smaller details, like the inset focusing on a hand grasping at bedclothes.

The story telling fell a bit short, perhaps because of the brevity of the graphic novel (69 pages). To a reader well versed in graphic novels, the spaces that felt like plot holes to me may be filled with shorthand for the genre. But I was left wondering about many things: How was Jack rescued? How was Black Wade captured – please give more details than a throw-away line about a decoy ship. Who is Warrick and how did he know about what went on while Jack was captive? What purpose was served by Marak & the ogling sailor who was only named in the portfolio art at the end of the graphic novel? Where was the struggle with feelings and then succumbing that is mentioned in the story blurb? (It wasn’t shown on the pages, but maybe I was supposed to read between the lines?)  

The basic plot could be one from an early 80s genre romance novel: the hero is kidnapped and held captive, then falls in love with his captor/rapist. Given a chance to resume his “normal” life, he tosses it aside in order to be free and with the man he loves.

There is a scene as end of the book approaches that was rather disturbing. Black Wade is gang raped by a group of soldiers while in prison. Take away the dialog and the art work could be gorgeous and erotic; it could be a man into bondage and multi-partner sex. Add the dialogue demonstrating his lack of consent and their abuse of power, and the erotic turned to squeamish. I’m not sure about the purpose of this section of the novel, unless it is to drive home to Jack 1) the relative good treatment he received while prisoner since he was only raped by Black Wade and 2) how much he loves Black Wade and is disgusted by the hypocrisy surrounding him back in his Old Life.

Keep or pass on? Haven’t decided yet. It was a little expensive, even for a used copy, so I’m not inclined to just toss it immediately.

Would I read more by this author? Yes.

Anything else I want to share? I noticed a than/then misusage fairly early on in the book. Knowing now that the book was written in another language and translated into English makes me slightly more forgiving of this typo, but it still irked me. Given the scarcity of words in a graphic novel, I expect those that appear to be carefully selected. McVane pointed out that the editor had to deal with the art and the words, which is harder than just copy-editing. Acknowledged, but then/than remains one of my pet peeves.

BW was written and illustrated by Franze & Andärle (Italian illustrators) and the novel was originally published as “Jimbo” by H&O Editions, a French publisher.  The English language version is published by Bruno Gmünder.  IMO, the title and change of name for the English version was good for marketing. Jimbo the dread pirate just doesn’t conjure up a swashbuckling image. Also, for me, the name Jimbo carries a good old boy connotation with a thin rime of racism. YMMV.


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Pride and Prejudice graphic novel

I bought a copy of Nancy Butler’s graphic novelization of Pride and Prejudice after @avidreader tweeted about it. P&P is not my favorite Austen (hello, Persuasion), but I’m enjoying the GN. Butler and her collaborators did a pretty good job getting the heart of the book illustrated.

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Where are you?

Where are you, oh anxiously awaited final volume of Y: The Last Man?  I received a notice that you were shipping on June 30th, and the 3rd was the estimated delivery date, but still you are not in my possession.

If I had known that the two day mail would actually take eight days, I’d’ve bought a copy when I was out shopping on Thursday.

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Academic science in fiction

Being biology and chemistry stupid for the most part, I tend to give movies, books and TV shows a pass when it comes to their science. Those CSI shows? I’m pretty sure those machines don’t spit out results that fast, but won’t quibble about it. The Biochemist, on the other hand, is not nearly as tolerant as I am.

I’d forgotten how much suspension of disbelief was required with respect to the science in Y: The Last Man, and forgot to warn TB. And thus I received this message from her:

Dr. Mann is 31, and she a) already has tenure b) at Harvard teaching “biotech” and c) was using funding obtained via Harvard (b/c universities generally have to sign off on shit, part of the contract, which includes stuff like copyright/patent rights going to the school) to do human cloning? My bullshit meter is PEGGED, okay?

There was more, but it was profane and capslocky, so I’ve left it off. I’m hoping that she’ll like Pride of Baghdad, which doesn’t include any science at all.


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Checking in

Check out this little bit on the history of chocolate in Spain. My chocolate favorite from Tienda would be the piedras de chocolate. But the turrón piglet seen here is what I hope to find in my Easter basket.

After reading the fabulous Dragon Blood, I was reluctant to try anything new.  Would the next book be as good?  Would it suffer in comparison?  I picked up a copy of Meljean Brook’s Demon Moon at the same time I purchased Dragon Blood, but was a bit worried about high expectations and the BD reading euphoria wearing off.  So instead I moved on to Pride of Baghdad.  Being from a different genre entirely, my expectations were different.  But they, too, were met and exceeded.  PoB rocked.  The art.  The colors, the fonts/typeface used.  The story.  The whole thing.  So my next graphic novel purchase will be another selection from Vaughan’s backlist of comics and collaborations.  Excluding maybe the Buffy ones, since I’ve never been a Buffy fan.

 I have the last two recaps of my Restaurant Week experiences to share.  Longer version with menu details will be forthcoming.  Short version:  one fabulous lunch that made up for a 25 minute wait (even with reservations) at Oya and one good enough meal at Cork’s that would not be worth full fare during non-Restaurant Week.


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Pimping graphic novels

I raved about Y: The Last Man to The Biochemist, and she’s reading volume one now. Her comment: I’m confused about the stupidity of the Amazons. I mean, if there’s only one man left and you CAN’T REPRODUCE WITHOUT HIM, why try to kill him? Yeah, I thought that was stupid but a commentary on the blindness or intransigence of a group based on their political perspective without acknowledging practicality. Plus, it reminded me of Children of Men and the disintegration of a society within sight of its own end.

And I picked up a copy of Pride of Baghdad yesterday. My local library had it listed as juvenile fiction, but it didn’t seem particularly juvenile to me. Am I missing something? Or maybe just immature?

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I’ve seen the light

, if you were within arms reach right now, I’d give you a huge hug.  Why?  Because you recommended that I try Y: The Last Man back when I was bitching about being in a reading slump and not getting graphic novels.  It finally arrived via my library’s loan system.  Then it sat at the bottom of a stack of books.  But last night, it shuffled its way to the top; I finished it on the way to work this morning.  


Loved it.

And I’m sorry I let it languish in the bottom of the pile.

Must go now to find the next volume.

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