Monday, April 18, 2011

Graphically Altered Realities

Two of my favorite graphic novels of the last few months are RASL (Pocket Book One) by Jeff Smith and Brain Camp by Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan and Faith Erin Hicks.

Jeff Smith, of Bone fame, has constructed a story of parallel universes and an art thief, who goes by RASL. RASL jumps from dimension to dimension stealing and eventually selling rare and precious works of art. The story also jumps in time, so we learn about the military background of “drifting” and the two other researchers who created the technology. RASL was scared of the implications of such a possibility and those fears are embodied in the violent, lizard-type villain who is tracking down RASL and killing anyone close to him.

He has the impossible task of protecting those he loves, getting away from the military, keeping his secrets and surviving. RASL is a violent and very smartly written graphic novel. This is a wonderful story and made me think of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, though fans of Doug TenNapel’s graphic novels are probably a better match for RASL.

Brain Camp is a fun and creepy graphic novel. Lucas is a troublemaker, whose mom is at the end of her wits. Jenna is just not living up to her parent’s expectations. Suddenly, after the summer has begun a man from a prestigious camp gives their parents hope by offering a take-it-or-leave-it chance to attend Camp Fielding.

As soon as Lucas and Jenna arrive they realize things are not as they seem between the strange food, overprotective counselors and missing campers. As they start to realize what is going on they become endangered and struggle to resist being zombie-fied like the other campers. This is great fun with interesting banter and all sorts of creepiness. Fans of Shaun Tan's The Arrival and the Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O'Malley will enjoy this one.

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