Classic Graphic: Moby Dick

Written by Herman Melville , adapted by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Pascal Alixe for Marvel Comics.

There have been film and television adaptations of Herman Melville’s classic American novel Moby Dick and even an opera, which was recently performed in Adelaide.  Now we can read the graphic novel.

Set in the nineteenth century America, Moby Dick is the story of Ishmael, a young American man who goes to sea in order to relieve a bout of depression.  His plans do not go as expected when he secures employment among a strange, multiracial crew on the whaling ship Pequod, under the command of the fanatical Captain Ahab.  Rather than fulfill their whaling contract, vengeful Ahab leads his crew into mortal danger across the world in pursuit of killing the white whale they call Moby Dick.

Roy Thomas has attempted to remain faithful to the tone of the original text rather than modernising the language for his graphic novel.  He provides the reader with an introduction to Herman Melville’s original novel and a concise biography of the author.

Pascal Alixe’s illustrations are excellent.  Alixe uses subdued tones of blue, grey, green and brown to create an atmosphere through which we can visualise the cold, bleak coast of New England and what it would be like aboard a sailing ship in treacherous seas.

Facial expressions superbly convey the emotions of each character, especially the crazed Captain Ahab and add to the high drama of the story.  Those readers who are familiar with Moby Dick on film will not be disappointed by the graphic novel’s rendition of the Polynesian harpoonist Queequeg, who is a favourite character of many people.

After the horror of seeing Japanese whaling vessels pursuing whales on the television news at least you can rest assured that when reading Moby Dick that the whale will come out on top.  As a modern reader, I found it interesting to consider that the issue of whether the whale would survive to be important to me but to readers in 1851, the morality of whaling probably did not come into question.  Moby Dick is even referred to as a great fish!  Moby Dick was essentially about one man’s obsession, to the point of madness, in seeking revenge against the greater force of nature.  Reading Moby Dick, one learns not only about the superstitious nature of sailors but also of how much people used to believe in the concepts of fate, omens, retribution and the wrath of God.

Readers should be aware that this graphic novel features illustrations of whales which have been hunted and killed.

You can search the Library’s online catalogue to reserve the graphic novel Moby Dick or Herman Melville’s original novel, a DVD or even a children’s version of his classic work.  Or enquire next time you visit the Library.

Did you know…About the Avengers?

Avengers #1, September 1963

“And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth’s mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat…foes no single superhero could withstand… Avengers Assemble!”

The Avengers are Marvel Comics’ premier superhero team and answer to DC’s Justice League. The original team-up occurred in Avengers #1, written by Stan Lee with art by Jack Kirby and released in September 1963. The original members of the team were Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man and his partner Wasp (who came up with the name), who teamed up to do battle with Loki, the Norse god of mischief.

April 25th will see the very first big screen outing on the Avengers team, something Marvel Studios (the cinematic arm of Marvel Comics) have been building to since the release of Iron Man in 2007.

 Check out the lead-in films (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America), some of the amazing Avengers graphic novels or the Avengers Animated Series, all available at the Library.

Did You Know…About Graphic Novels?

A selection of the latest Graphic Novels added to the collection.

The Tea Tree Gully Public Library boasts a collection of more than 2400 graphic novels. The collection is very popular, but to many people the term ‘Graphic Novel’ is something of a mystery. Just what are Graphic Novels? Are they a new phenomena? Where did they come from?

Graphic Novels have been around for quite a long time, with so called ‘prototype’ graphic novels appearing as early as the 1920s! Launched in the 1940s, the magazine Classic Illustrated contained public domain novels re-produced in comic book form. The book ‘Blackmark’, published in 1970 by Gil Kane and Archie Goodwin is considered to be the first true Graphic Novel, though that term would not appear until 1976. The story ran 119 pages and was told using art and word balloons, making the book a novel but told in a graphical format.

Since that time both DC and Marvel now make a habit of collecting their larger story arcs and classic issues into what used to be called ‘Trade Paperbacks’. These days, graphic adaptions of films and computer games are fairly standard as part of the larger promotional efforts as are graphic adaptions of popular print novels.

Why are they so popular? I think that it may be a case of people being more aware of their existence, not just through public library collections, but through regular bookshops and department stores as well.  The influx of Japanese animation (Anime) and it’s accompanying print form (Manga) may also have contributed. At Tea Tree Gully, approximately half of our graphic novel collection is Manga format.

Why not check some out for yourself? If you are a big fan, check out our new Facebook page Talking Graphic Novels, Manga and Anime at TTG Library!

Farewell To Two Comic Book Legends…

December saw the passing of two legends of the comic book world.

Artist Jerry Robinson (born Serrill David Robinson), best known for his creation of Batman villain The Joker in 1940, passed away on December 7. Robinson is also credited with coming up with the name Robin for Batman’s sidekick, as well as contributing to the creation of Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred Pennyworth and the scarred villain Harvey Dent/Two-Face. He was a strong advocate of creators’ rights and was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2004.

Just one week later, on December 14, Joseph Henry “Joe” Simon, the co-creator (along with comic legend Jack Kirby) of Captain America also passed away. In addition to creating the Star Spangled Hero, Simon also worked for DC Comics on such titles as Sandman, Newsboy Legion and Manhunter as well as Captain Marvel for Fawcett Comics. Working with Kirby, Simon also pioneered the Romance and Horror comic genres. Simon was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1999.

WoW gamerz – a graphic novel for you.

Now most World of Warcraft gamers are probably well versed in the myriad of interweb memes and webcomics out there,  but recently the ongoing series CTRL+ALT+DELETE internet comic has been released as a series of Graphic Novels. Started in 2002 this comic follows the lives of a small group of Online Gaming addicts, whose very being revolves around gaming, to the point where the lines between online life and RL (that’s gamer talk for Real Life I’m told) become a little blurry. The library has started collecting the series, but if you want to see the latest strip go to the original website here, where a new strip is published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

New Evangelion

evangelion1Neon Genesis Evangelion, arguably the most popular and influential anime and manga of the past 20 years, has yet again re-emerged in another re-imagined manga series titled Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji Ikari Raising Project. This series, the third mainstream NGE based manga release, diverges from the original series and is very loosely based on the 2004 computer game of the same name.

The underlying tones of depression, family dysfunction and religious symbolism of the originals is toned down and it has more upbeat emphasis on the daily relationships of the main characters (primarily Shinji, Asuka and Rei) coupled with a more positive outlook of the Ikari family (Shinji’s mother is still alive!). It shares some of the story arcs and the relationships featured in the second manga spin-off, Angelic Days, itself a spin-off from the alternate reality glimpsed in the anime’s last episodes.

Are you lost yet? I wont even try to explain the number of re-imaginings of the anime TV series and its sequel films…

neon-genesis-evangelionBut like it’s predecessors it’s still full of giant robots fighting the enigmatic ‘Angels.’

The library maintains both the manga and anime collection of the original series and is currently stocking up on both the Angelic Days and the Shinji Ikari Raising Project manga series. Keep your eye on the catalogue as the new titles are added.

End of an era for DC Graphic Novel Hero

Batman is really deadRIP
1939 -2009

 The Dark Knight, who has protected the streets of Gotham City and the world at large finally met his end on January 14th, 2009 at the hands of the Darkseid, God of Evil.

Where The Joker, Mr. Freeze, Bane, Ras Al Ghul and many other failed, the power of a god finally succeeded as the caped crusader was felled by Darkseid’s ‘Omega Sanction’ effect.

 Written by Grant Morrison, Batman: RIP forced the Caped Crusader  to question his own beliefs, leaving him mentally and physically shattered before facing Darkseid alone in Issue 6 of Final Crisis.

 Farewell Batman, your legend shall live on forever.

Why not relive some of the Dark Knight’s adventures with the large range of graphic novels at the City of Tea Tree Gully Library.