A solid addition to the Manga Classics series of literary adaptations.

FRANKENSTEIN

Aboard a North Pole expedition ship, a gaunt Victor Frankenstein recounts the events that led him to the Arctic in this adaptation of the original 1818 version of Mary Shelley’s classic.

As a youth, Frankenstein had an interest in natural philosophy, which led him to pursue scientific studies at the University of Ingolstadt. His mastery of the curriculum progressed swiftly, and his thirst for knowledge turned toward the arcane—specifically, to the origin of life, which Frankenstein discovered after nights of grisly research and a moment of electrifying inspiration. He applied his discovery to the construction of a massive being, and on one fateful evening, he brought the being to life. What follows is a struggle between creator and creation, each presented as villain and victim and alike in wretchedness. Illustrator Liu vividly depicts Frankenstein’s and the creature’s emotions, capturing the force of their rage and horror. Frankenstein’s eyes are especially expressive, giving greater impact to the scenes in which his face is partially obscured. Visual details are concentrated on the foreground, with panel backgrounds frequently blank, filled by a gradient, or lightly sketched. This serves to draw readers’ attention to the characters, though the simplicity of the background art also detracts from scenes meant to highlight the sublimity of nature. Characters are depicted as White.

A solid addition to the Manga Classics series of literary adaptations. (cast of characters, how to read manga, character design sketchbook, artist's note, adaptor’s note) (Graphic novel. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947808-16-4

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Manga Classics

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A sure winner for any reader with a yen to become permanently terrified. Brilliant.

THROUGH THE WOODS

A print and Web comics artist offers five creep-out chillers (four new) with folk-tale motifs and thoroughly disquieting art.

Well-placed lines of terse, hand-lettered commentary and dialogue reinforce narrative connections but are also as much visual elements as are the impenetrable shadows, grim figures, and stark, crimson highlights in Carroll’s inky pictures. Making expert use of silent sequences, sudden close-ups and other cinematic techniques to crank up the terror, the author opens and closes in a dimly lit bedroom (much like yours), bookending the five primary stories. In “Our Neighbor’s House,” a trio of sisters are taken one by one by a never-seen smiling man. In the next, a bride discovers that “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold”—as are the other pieces (seen in close, icky detail) of her husband’s dismembered but not entirely dead former wife. Two cases of supernatural possession (“His Face All Red” and “My Friend Janna”) follow. The collection is capped by a true screamer in which a teenager’s memories of her mother’s tales of a cellar-dwelling monster with a “sweet, wet voice” segue into a horrific revelation about her pretty new sister-in-law. Lonely houses, dark woods and wolves? Check. Spectral figures with blood-red innards? Check. Writhing tentacles bursting from suddenly inhuman mouths? Check!

A sure winner for any reader with a yen to become permanently terrified. Brilliant. (Graphic horror. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6595-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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An affirming love story full of intriguing characters and a suspenseful plot.

ON A SUNBEAM

In this graphic novel/space adventure, a young woman discovers her place in a vast universe.

After graduating from an all-girls boarding school, Mia, a light-skinned, black-haired girl, joins a reconstruction crew traveling through space to restore crumbling buildings with ancient and forgotten histories. She carries with her memories of Grace, the girl she fell in love with and lost during her freshman year of school. As Mia develops close bonds with her teammates, she learns they each have mysterious and complicated pasts of their own. Despite their differences, the strength of their love holds them together on a dangerous journey to the farthest reaches of space. A deep color palette of blues and purples with bursts of warm shades captures the setting. Walden’s (Spinning, 2017, etc.) diverse cast of queer characters includes Char, a black woman who co-captains the reconstruction crew with her white wife, Alma; Mia’s past love Grace (a black woman); and Elliot, a white nonbinary person who communicates nonverbally. While Mia’s journey is central, every character experiences a moment of growth over the course of the narrative. The timeline alternates between Mia’s memories depicting the progression of her relationship with Grace and the present. At times both gently romantic and heartbreaking, the story ultimately celebrates love and the importance of chosen family.

An affirming love story full of intriguing characters and a suspenseful plot. (Science-fiction graphic novel. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17813-8

Page Count: 546

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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