Fall is a Beautiful, Bleak, Bizarre and Bountiful season. Things start falling apart and looking strange, half eaten, fiery and orange. You can smell the death and decay, feel the sting of the wind, and the wind of things slowly but surely changing into the mood for Halloween. Crisp fall leaves fall down making us cold and wanting to snuggle up with a good cozy book. It is a suitable time to explore the bizarre. We have some amazing YA Graphic Novels (aka comic books) that have beautiful art and strange stories. So much so they are more like ART novels. The black ink drawing's in Salem Brownstone could be compared to Aubrey Beardsley's illustrations of Salome by Oscar Wilde. An unusual story involving an unexpected inheritance, a contortionist, the circus and Salem's mission to battle out evil using his amoeba like familiar and a crystal ball to restore the balance of good in the world. The black and white graphic detail is stunning. More like Art Nouveau gone comic book.
For Bizarre/Strange Steampunk is the New Black with Tim Burton's new Alice in Wonderland movie being exemplary of this style. We have a new cool graphic novel inspired by the movie, the dvd, blu-ray, 2 movie book (s), and the CD. Avril Lavigne who composed the title track Alice on this album: Almost Alice is playing in Calgary at the Saddledome tonight! (October 11th). Rounding this out are 3 YA Graphic Novels that are definetly NOT childish: Alice in Wonderland (based on the new film), Wonderland (a fun re-imagining) and Hatter M, vol.1: The Looking Glass Wars (a little bit like Mad Hatter Karate!).
Alice is considered to be the first book that was written not as a moral tale for children but with the specific enjoyment of it's audience in mind. Technically classified as Non-sense Literature and having never lost it's grip on our imaginations, these books do much more than entertain. When our lives are turned upside down,
when we fall through the rabbit hole, when we enter the matrix: they are tales of survival in strange and bizarre circumstances. They stretch our minds and imaginations, enabling us to conjure solutions to the strange sudden bizarre and REAL events of our lives - like your grandfather dying, suddenly growing pubic hair (how weird was that!), moving to a new house, having sex for the first time, finding out you have an unknown sibling, accidentally being pregnant, being kicked out of your house, etc. etc., etc. At the library we have 11 illustrated versions of Wonderland, two of my favourite being Ralph Steadman's which isalso very Art nouveau/Aubrey Beardsley-ish and Robert Ingpen's 2009 edition illustrated with finely detailed pencil/watercolour illustrations from unusual perspectives. This is my favourite Alice to date.
Paul Stewart's Edge Chronicle's illustrated by Christopher Riddell are also fantastically strang. Riddell's The Emporer of Absurdia definitely falls into Dr. Suess territory both in terms of graphic illustration and imagination. There are even echos of Dali. Fine line work and stunning hat collections!
Shaun Tan has written some great books for down days. These include The Red Tree, The Arrival (a YA graphic novel) and The Lost Thing expanded as Lost & Found and recently made into a short animated film. Watch the Trailer here! The Lost Thing reflects on the doldrums of conformity and things that just don't quite fit in - highlighting the importance and value of the weird and the wonderful. Happy Fall!
..... to be contiued (we have such a beautiful, bleak & bizarre collection you can look forward to more!)