A vibrant, delightful tale of life, death, and all the amusing stuff that comes after.

BEYOND!

Two English brothers, one dead and one alive, face off against a powerful, otherworldly group in this debut graphic novel.

After their father dies, Tibbs and Victor Baz inherit the bulk of his vast estate. They’re set for life, only Tibbs suddenly and inexplicably dies the same day as the reading of the will. He awakens in Terra Mortuum—he’s now gray and mostly skeletal but still wearing his snazzy trench coat and red scarf. He quickly earns a gaggle of posthumous friends, from Slimy Bob to whip-smart pilot Ada. But the afterlife, even with a bureaucracy and an established city like “Necro England,” is confusing and chaotic. This may stem from the Brotherhood of the Watch, a nefarious organization with chapters in the afterlife as well as the mortal world. The group, it seems, wants Tibbs and Victor’s deceased father, who oddly hasn’t shown up in Terra Mortuum. Victor and some allies, including his mother, search for his dad’s body while fending off red-cloaked Brotherhood members. As Tibbs and pals look for answers to the afterlife’s perplexities in northern Terra Mortuum, both brothers have a chance to stop a sinister plan already under way that threatens many. Howell’s story isn’t always easy to follow, though the plentiful exposition eventually clarifies most of it. But the quirky novel is consistently funny, sporting witty dialogue and visual gags. Historical figures, for example, crop up in Terra Mortuum, including Shakespeare, who turns out to be a jerk and a mean drunk, and Hitler, who offers unexpectedly sound advice. The characters, too, especially in the afterlife, display plenty of personality, like Clyde, who tends to yell whatever pops into his head. The author’s artwork also shines. Although most people in Terra Mortuum appear monstrous, their comically animated faces give them immense charm. Similarly, violent turns rarely seem intense, as even explosions burst with bold, lovely colors. The story ultimately winds down, delivering a sublime visual and narrative denouement.

A vibrant, delightful tale of life, death, and all the amusing stuff that comes after.

Pub Date: April 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5255-9257-7

Page Count: 216

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2022

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Even so, this remains Macbeth, arguably the Bard of Avon’s most durable and multilayered tragedy, and overall, this enhanced...

MACBETH

From the Wordplay Shakespeare series

A pairing of the text of the Scottish Play with a filmed performance, designed with the Shakespeare novice in mind.

The left side of the screen of this enhanced e-book contains a full version of Macbeth, while the right side includes a performance of the dialogue shown (approximately 20 lines’ worth per page). This granular focus allows newcomers to experience the nuances of the play, which is rich in irony, hidden intentions and sudden shifts in emotional temperature. The set and costuming are deliberately simple: The background is white, and Macbeth’s “armor” is a leather jacket. But nobody’s dumbing down their performances. Francesca Faridany is particularly good as a tightly coiled Lady Macbeth; Raphael Nash-Thompson gives his roles as the drunken porter and a witch a garrulousness that carries an entertainingly sinister edge. The presentation is not without its hiccups. Matching the video on the right with the text on the left means routinely cutting off dramatic moments; at one point, users have to swipe to see and read the second half of a scene’s closing couplet—presumably an easy fix. A “tap to translate” button on each page puts the text into plain English, but the pop-up text covers up Shakespeare’s original, denying any attempts at comparison; moreover, the translation mainly redefines more obscure words, suggesting that smaller pop-ups for individual terms might be more meaningful.

Even so, this remains Macbeth, arguably the Bard of Avon’s most durable and multilayered tragedy, and overall, this enhanced e-book makes the play appealing and graspable to students . (Enhanced e-book. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: The New Book Press LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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A Rand primer with pictures.

ANTHEM

THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

A graphic novel for devotees of Ayn Rand.

With its men who have become gods through rugged individualism, the fiction of Ayn Rand has consistently had something of a comic strip spirit to it. So the mating of Rand and graphic narrative would seem to be long overdue, with her 1938 novella better suited to a quick read than later, more popular work such as The Fountainhead (1943) and the epic Atlas Shrugged (1957). As Anthem shows, well before the Cold War (or even World War II), Rand was railing against the evils of any sort of collectivism and the stifling of individualism, warning that this represented a return to the Dark Ages. Here, her allegory hammers the point home. It takes place in the indeterminate future, a period after “the Great Rebirth” marked an end of “the Unmentionable Times.” Now people have numbers as names and speak of themselves as “we,” with no concept of “I.” The hero, drawn to stereotypical, flowing-maned effect by illustrator Staton, knows himself as Equality 7-2521 and knows that “it is evil to be superior.” A street sweeper, he stumbles upon the entrance to a tunnel, where he discovers evidence of scientific advancement, from a time when “men knew secrets that we have lost.” He inevitably finds a nubile mate. He calls her “the Golden One.” She calls him “the Unconquered.” Their love, of course, is forbidden, and not just because she is 17. After his attempt to play Prometheus, bringing light to a society that prefers the dark, the two escape to the “uncharted forest,” where they are Adam and Eve. “I have my mind. I shall live my own truth,” he proclaims, having belatedly discovered the first-person singular. The straightforward script penned by Santino betrays no hint of tongue-in-cheek irony.

A Rand primer with pictures.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-451-23217-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: NAL/Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2010

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