Sublimely illustrated and often droll tale of quirky humans and winsome monsters.

THE BOOK OF MAGGOR THOOM

In this offbeat graphic novel, a demon who’s lost his zeal for sowing chaos among humanity seeks inspiration on Earth.

Maggor Thoom lives in a hellish dimension rife with grotesque Lovecraft-ian monsters. His job is to drive humans into “total insanity,” which is fodder for his powerful dad, Azathoth. Though he was once the best among his peers, Maggor Thoom has grown bored with his work. This lack of enthusiasm must be an infection of some sort, and the answer to reigniting his passion for driving people mad, he feels, lies on Earth. Maggor Thoom passes through a pandimensional nexus and lands in Toronto in the United States of North America. There, he hijacks the body of disillusioned priest Father Marlowe and takes a simple step toward easing his lack of zeal—seeing a shrink. But he faces a threat from the Archon Hunters, a group aiming to protect the world from eldritches like him; the New York organization is on the lookout, knowing that potential trouble has arrived on their planet. Maggor Thoom will have to steer clear of the Hunters if he hopes to find meaning somewhere on Earth. It’s an arduous undertaking, as many humans already seem insane, from the blindly faithful Cult of Thoom to the country’s two loopy presidential candidates. This story from the author of Theo Paxstone and the Dragon of Adyron(2017) satirizes everything from U.S. politics to people’s obsession with social media. Archon Hunter Siva, for example, is determined to see footage of her demon-fighting go viral. The stark black-and-white artwork—which may remind some readers of that of the late Edward Gorey—is wonderfully stylized; characters travel in steampunk cars and dirigibles, while the book’s imagery sometimes slips into the abstract, particularly in Azathoth’s world. At the same time, the art complements the narrative’s absurdist humor, which includes distributing impossible-to-open tear-open packets as a way to foster humans’ madness. Myriad otherworldly creatures are more gleefully cartoonish than scary; an organic elevator sports surprisingly inquisitive eyes, and the rather charming nexus gatekeeper calls Maggor Thoom “Lil Buddy.”

Sublimely illustrated and often droll tale of quirky humans and winsome monsters.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59362-303-6

Page Count: 164

Publisher: SLG Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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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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Using modern language, McDonald spins the well-known tale of the two young, unrequited lovers. Set against Nagar’s at-times...

ROMEO AND JULIET

From the Campfire Classics series

A bland, uninspired graphic adaptation of the Bard’s renowned love story.

Using modern language, McDonald spins the well-known tale of the two young, unrequited lovers. Set against Nagar’s at-times oddly psychedelic-tinged backgrounds of cool blues and purples, the mood is strange, and the overall ambiance of the story markedly absent. Appealing to what could only be a high-interest/low–reading level audience, McDonald falls short of the mark. He explains a scene in an open-air tavern with a footnote—“a place where people gather to drink”—but he declines to offer definitions for more difficult words, such as “dirges.” While the adaptation does follow the foundation of the play, the contemporary language offers nothing; cringeworthy lines include Benvolio saying to Romeo at the party where he first meets Juliet, “Let’s go. It’s best to leave now, while the party’s in full swing.” Nagar’s faces swirl between dishwater and grotesque, adding another layer of lost passion in a story that should boil with romantic intensity. Each page number is enclosed in a little red heart; while the object of this little nuance is obvious, it’s also unpleasantly saccharine. Notes after the story include such edifying tidbits about Taylor Swift and “ ‘Wow’ dialogs from the play” (which culls out the famous quotes).

Pub Date: May 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-93-80028-58-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Campfire

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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