Varon shows a knack for both verbal and visual storytelling, but this showcase is likely to be of more interest to confirmed...

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SWEATERWEATHER

& OTHER SHORT STORIES

The graphic novelist updates her first solo collection (2003) with additional art, commentary, and minicomics.

Like the understated quality of the drama and humor that infuse these very short pieces, Varon’s (seemingly) casual drawing style hardly changes over the decade-plus of stories. The first entry is a wordless tale from 2002 about a rabbit and a tortoise sheltering inside the tortoise’s shell for tea on a wintry night, and the collection closes with a mid-2014 story in which animal figures share crowded panels with an autobiographical essay on turning full-time freelancer. In between she tucks graphic exercises such as a connected narrative with one panel for each letter of the alphabet, paper dolls (she suggests making photocopies to cut out), reports on beekeeping and on a trip on Mexico City’s subway, a discomfiting predecessor to Robot Dreams (2007) in which a dog abandons a rusty robot on a beach, and other abbreviated stories or personal incidents. Though a pervasive palette of deep blue, pale pink, and gray lends visual unity, as do the neatly hand-lettered texts and introductory notes, in subject matter this retrospective is all a bit of a hodgepodge, and any technical development in the artist’s craft revealed here will likely be visible only to experts.

Varon shows a knack for both verbal and visual storytelling, but this showcase is likely to be of more interest to confirmed fans and budding graphic artists than to general readers. (Graphic short stories. 8-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62672-118-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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Though classified as a graphic novelist, Delisle has claimed territory all his own as a graphic-travel memoirist.

BURMA CHRONICLES

Insightful, illuminating memoir of a year under a totalitarian regime.

In 2005-06, Delisle (Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China, 2006, etc.) accompanied his wife, who works as an administrator for Doctors Without Borders, to the country recognized by the United Nations as Myanmar. The United States and other democratic countries, however, still call it Burma, refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the military junta that seized power in 1989. As in the illustrator’s previous adventures in China and North Korea (Pyongyang, 2005), the focus is less on politics and more on the lives of the people he encounters—though such lives are profoundly shaped by politics. He comes to accept checkpoints and censorship as routine, and he does his best to find a suitable home, survive with intermittent electricity and Internet access and take care of his toddler son Louis, whose charm transcends cultural borders. The author also fears malaria, bird flu and poisonous snakes, though the DWB medical community provides more comfort than much of the Burmese citizenry enjoys. Delisle writes and illustrates a children’s booklet on HIV, an important contribution to a country in which heroin and prostitution are rampant. As in previous volumes, his eye for everyday detail combined with droll, matter-of-fact narration humanizes his 14-month experience in a country that might seem traumatic, even intolerable, in other hands. “There were no demands and no uprisings either,” he writes. “Things are always very calm here, thanks to a regime that creates paralysis by fomenting fear on a daily basis.” The undercurrents of Buddhism throughout the book culminate in his visit to a temple, where his meditation proves transformative.

Though classified as a graphic novelist, Delisle has claimed territory all his own as a graphic-travel memoirist.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-897299-50-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2008

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