No one is happier to see another North American publisher putting out French graphic novels in translation. So when I found these two among the review books at December’s WASHYARG meeting, I was ecstatic.
The Attack by Loïc Dauvillier and Glen Chapron. Adapted (into a graphic novel) from the novel by Yasmina Khadra. Translated by Ivanka Hahnenberger. Firefly, 2016. 9781770857612. 152 pp.
Dr. Amin Jaafari and others at the Israeli hospital where he works feel the explosion when a bomb detonates in a nearby restaurant, then spend hours trying to save the victims. (Among them, one man who would rather die than be touched by an Arab. Dr. Jaafari helps him anyway.) He’s soon called back to the hospital for what he thinks is a medical emergency. But he is asked to identify his wife’s body.
Dr. Jaafari thought his wife had gone on a short trip to see her grandmother. Instead she became the latest suicide bomber in Israel. The police don’t believe that he didn’t know she’d been radicalized. Others attack him and vandalize his home. As an Israeli citizen of Arab descent he is distrusted by Jews and Arabs alike. After a colleague takes him in, Jaafari goes on a dangerous journey to find out who his wife was.
I particularly liked the view the story offers into life in different parts of Israel. (I’ve been corresponding with an Unshelved reader who lives there, so I couldn’t have found this at a better time.) The images in the book feel incredibly straightforward, and the colors are marvelous. Makes me want to read Joe Sacco’s Palestine and Guy Delisle’s Jerusalem again, though I’m going to read Sarah Glidden’s How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less first.
WASHYARG rating: (For WASHYARG, member librarians write short reviews for each other with an emphasis as to where a book belongs in the YA library world: middle school libraries, high school libraries, public libraries, or none of the above.) While there’s nothing beyond a bit of violence to keep this out of the most conservative high school libraries, it would have trouble finding an audience there. I recommend it for public libraries’ adult collections.
Night of the Living Dead Volume 1: The Sins of the Father. Jean-Luc Istin and Elia Bonetti. Firefly, 2016. 9781770857995. 56 pp.
This is supposed to be a rewrite of the classic movie, but I just don’t see it. Maybe it’s not a good idea to have two Europeans rewrite a cult American movie from 1968 and then re-translate that to English. Trite crapola.
I want to say this: the drawings are fine. The best two-page spread is reproduced on the endpapers where it’s been colored blood red to great effect. But everything else is so poorly done in every way that the book made my head hurt. No suspense. No characters to care about. And worst of all, even the word balloons are terrible — they change form from panel to panel and page to page for no reason. One’s a circle! Another’s a rounded rectangle! This one has a curved tail! This tail looks like lightning! This is the comics equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard. It’s unbelievably bad.
For a fresher take on the zombie genre, go watch The Walking Dead (or, better yet, read it). Or go play The Last of Us (or read Faith Erin Hicks’ companion graphic novel). Or if you want an entertaining, apocalyptic horror graphic novel with a very tiny child in the middle of it all (plus cannibals) read Spread.
WASHYARG rating: recommended for zero libraries.