THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

A graphic-novel treatment of Shakespeare that fails miserably where others have succeeded. In this brutally savaged graphic adaptation of the play, the Bard’s lines have been transformed into conversational banality (“How is it going, Shylock?”; "That goes for me too!") within often-misplaced dialogue balloons. Astonishingly, there’s nary a mention of Jews, leaching all the power from Shylock's "Has not a Jew..." speech ("And why has [Antonio] done this? Do I not have eyes like everyone else..."). Actually, just about all of the set speeches are nearly unrecognizable: "The quality of mercy is not strained" becomes “You don’t need to have a reason to show mercy.” Visually, the floridly dressed Venetian figures in Kumar’s showy illustrations just stand about in panel after panel, gesturing awkwardly and looking past one another’s shoulders. Portia’s taste for revealing, off-the-shoulder gowns may give adolescent gawkers pause, but as an invitation to read the original or see it performed here’s sure proof that all that glisters is not gold. A closing set of riddles is offered as an activity link to Portia’s three boxes in the play. Skip. (Graphic adaptation. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 17, 2011

ISBN: 978-93-80028-59-0

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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Taking advantage of a very fast-growing fan base, this outing aims to expand Olatunji’s branded empire with a video...

KUNG FU HERO AND THE FORBIDDEN CITY

A COMEDYSHORTSGAMER GRAPHIC NOVEL

YouTube sensation ComedyShortsGamer takes his signature blend of hilarity and hijinks on an unbelievable journey into the fantastical Beijing underground with his brother/nemesis, KSI.

With over 9 million subscribers and 3 billion views on his YouTube channel, Olatunji has become an icon of sorts for his idiosyncratic mix of gamer culture, internet pranks, and viral challenges. First published in the U.K. in 2017, this graphic novel allows Olatunji to bring some of the more costly “crazy ideas that go on in [his] head” into print, embracing the adolescent ridiculousness that brought him and his brother international fame. The plot: In an effort to bring the family together—and get the boys away from video games—the Olatunjis take a family trip to Beijing, where one intricate Deji-led prank leads the Triad crime syndicate to believe he may have heroic kung-fu powers and pose a threat to their takeover of the Forbidden City. All this is further complicated with a stereotypical (if not just downright problematic) pseudo-Chinese mythological quest that has world-ending implications. These characters might as well have been stolen from bad gamer archetypes: the “smokin’ hot love interest,” the street punks and the crime boss with “bad ass haircuts,” and let’s not forget Shi—a beer-drinking, cigar-smoking, woman-ogling, “very inappropriate”–talking, animated Chinese lion dog statue. A clue to the tale’s end is noted in Deji’s introductory character bio: “It’s usually some freaky twist of fate that gets Deji out of sticky situations.” This whole ordeal seems nothing but a sticky situation.

Taking advantage of a very fast-growing fan base, this outing aims to expand Olatunji’s branded empire with a video game–inspired graphic fantasy but delivers nothing more than cheap prepubescent thrills. (Graphic fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4091-7428-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Trapeze/Hachette

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A.L.I.E.E.E.N.

Designed to look like a weatherworn comic found in the woods, this outrageously imaginative graphic novel touts itself as the “first extraterrestrial comic book on earth.” Through a series of untitled nonlinear vignettes, the wide-eyed and seemingly innocent-looking alien characters embark on a series of adventures (and misadventures) that capture intrinsically human characteristics. In some episodes, bright, boldly colored cutesy aliens—who bear a toy-like resemblance—juxtapose violent situations, portraying both beauty and horror, in smart cohesion. Evincing the cruelties, the comedies and the oft-bizarre traits of the protagonists through an inventive and unique format, Trondheim distinguishes himself as a trailblazer in the youth graphic-novel market. Readers will be delighted by the wordless tale with its endearing, yet rascally alien characters and the sometimes crude plot that encompasses a variety of motifs, from invoking compassion to scatological humor. Not for the younger set, but an accomplished offbeat selection worth considering. (Graphic novel. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-59643-095-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: First Second/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2006

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