A luscious, reimagined biography that will attach a personality to a famous name for 21st-century readers.

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AUDUBON

From the On the Wings of the World series

Scenes from the life of the famous 19th-century naturalist John James Audubon, presented in graphic-novel format, demonstrate his passion.

Grolleau and Royer introduce the ornithologist in a dramatic prequel in which Audubon, enraptured by a skein of Canada geese, ignores a coming thunderstorm—behavior that will recur throughout his life as he ignores his family, his physical well-being, and the opinions of others to follow his dream of painting all the birds in America, a new and relatively unexplored world for white settlers in the early 19th century. The narrative is organized into 5 sections, roughly identified by the location of his travels: to Kentucky, down the Mississippi, New Orleans, Great Britain, and west on the Missouri. Flashbacks provide background: meeting his faithful wife, feuding with scientists, and competing with ornithologist Alexander Wilson. He bands birds, kills a bear, experiences a three-day flight of passenger pigeons, and laments the disappearance of wildlife with the coming of Europeans. In embellished or imagined episodes he is guided by a Native American, helps a runaway slave, and meets and encourages Darwin. First published in French, this has been smoothly translated by Gilfillan, but it is the picture story that will most engage American readers. The inclusion of four reproductions of Audubon’s birds as well as a portrait of Audubon adds a lovely grace note.

A luscious, reimagined biography that will attach a personality to a famous name for 21st-century readers. (biography, notes, selective bibliography) (Graphic novel. 10-15)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-910620-15-1

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Nobrow Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Brutally explicit visuals add immediacy to a serviceable but not exceptional historical overview.

WORLD WAR ONE

1914-1918

From the Campfire History series

Graphic in both senses, a history of the War to End All Wars with a fictional overlay.

The narrative uses the experiences of British Tommy George Smith in the trenches to put a human face on the broader pictures of events in various theaters of the war. It opens with the almost-accidental assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, then goes on to tally land and sea battles, the exploits of T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) and other iconic figures. It covers technological advances, from poison gas to tanks, and distinctive events like the Christmas Truce. George’s bitter judgments of “the generals” who ordered millions of “[y]oung lives thrown away for no real reason” accompany scene after scene of sodden, muddy misery, bullets blasting into soldiers’ bodies and fields strewn with corpses. The war behind the lines and at home is rarely seen, and though other participants occasionally step in for a few panels, the point of view is so Anglocentric that the German and even Russian sides merit barely a glance. Most of the casualty figures and other statistics are buried in the text, and though backmatter includes notes on a Croix de Guerre–winning homing pigeon and other animal “heroes,” there is no index or bibliography.

Brutally explicit visuals add immediacy to a serviceable but not exceptional historical overview. (maps, sheet music) (Graphic fiction/nonfiction hybrid. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-93-80741-85-7

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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An overstuffed patchwork.

THE COMIC BOOK STORY OF BASEBALL

THE HEROES, HUSTLERS, AND HISTORY-MAKING SWINGS (AND MISSES) OF AMERICA'S NATIONAL PASTIME

A visual history of the game, from playfully imagined early precursors (“Overrunneth not the bag, Prudence!”) to 21st-century feats and follies.

Everything in baseball gets mythologized,” Irvine writes, and accordingly he dishes up scornful dismissals of Abner Doubleday, Babe Ruth’s “called shot,” and even the Cubbies’ “curse of the billy goat” in this overview. Still, he sometimes succumbs to the lure himself, as when he declares Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak “in all likelihood, the most improbable feat in the history of organized sports.” His minute tallies of the comings and goings of leagues and teams and stadiums down the years make arid reading, but even indifferent fans will find his profiles of colorful figures (particularly the “misfits and weirdos”) and their pithy comments (Mantle, on Koufax: “How the f*ck are you supposed to hit that sh*t?”) entertaining. Moreover, his frank acknowledgement of the sport’s racist past as well as worthy if sometimes tone-deaf nods to players in and from Japan and Latin American countries, to women, to Native Americans (in a box headed “Hail to the Chief”), and to select stars of the Negro Leagues add at least some depth to the historical picture. Unfortunately, the story is not shaped into a coherent narrative but presented in fragmentary bits, with many digressions and glances ahead. Shoehorning the text boxes and speech balloons into cramped black-and-white panels only adds to the general disorder.

An overstuffed patchwork. (glossary, index) (Graphic nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-57894-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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