Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Listed in "500 Essential Graphic Novels" as: General Fiction (Best of the Rest)
Contains: Sshhhh! (Orignal Graphic Novel)
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Whoa! Here we are back here again, faithful readers! Is this the third day in a row?! No, I really don't know... Is it?
Anyway, I wanna try and keep the blog going on a daily basis because I wanna try and do a sort of summarization of all the books we've looked at in September come the end of the week or this weekend. If I get two more done this week, we'll have a sort of three set thing going on. And by that I mean three groups of five that all ended with a Top 10 pick from the 500 Essential Graphic Novels book by Gene Kannenberg (click the link on the top right of the blog to buy) that I'm working my way through.
Now then, before I get started... I've doled out thanks in the past and it occurs to me that I've forgotten one very special one. I'd like to thank the Bridgeville Public Library and the Allegheny County Library Association for running smoothly enough that I can get books to review on here so easily. If I were to want to do something like this and didn't have them, it'd be a LOT slower-going and I'd have to spend countless dollars on the books (something that I'm already probably going to do in finding things that I love from this list I'm going through).
So anyway, a big thanks to all who make the Bridgeville Public Library and the Allegheny County Library Association do what it does. You all have been courteous, timely, and just fantastic.
Let's get into Sshhhh!, shall we?
I'm going to try and get as long a review out of this one as I can. There's really not much to talk about.
Let me start by saying that this is the only book in our little efforts here that I've read twice so far. I did so because it only takes about twenty minutes to get through the book's some 120 pages.
But let's break it down for you like I usually do...
The book opens with the main character, an anthropomorphic cartoon crow character (in fact, I think ALL the characters in the book are anthropomorphic animals), sitting on the street playing a recorder-type-instrument and panhandling for money. He gets a coin thrown into his hat, buys a hot dog, and soon retires to his nest to go to sleep.
This troubled character awakes the next day, walking the streets and feeling sorry for himself, seeing other upright-walking animal characters who have all found and are spending time with dear romantic loves. He walks and walks, gazing at his feet, down and depressed, until he comes to a bridge where he decides to throw a rock into a stream underneath. When he looks up, there is a lady crow staring into his eyes...
And we pretty much go from there, folks. We go with this central crow character through all sorts of things. He finds his love, loses her, is followed around by a skeleton character, meets more lovers, has a son, and so on and so forth...
You might be saying to yourself right about now, "Hey, pal! I thought you read this book twice! What's with the "central crow character" and "lady crow" and "skeleton character" bit? What are their names?"
And, dear readers, I haven't the foggiest...
You see this entire book has not one word in it. It's all pictures. As I say that, I see the "DRRRRR" of the electric razor in the above panel, but aside from that (that's a sound effect anyway, smarties)... There's not one bit of dialogue between the characters. When they do speak... For instance, the crow is at a cafe and he wants a cup of coffee. There is a word bubble with a cup of coffee drawn in it, signifying that he's asking for a cup. No "I'll take a cup of coffee please, sir." No dialogue.
This is really a very interesting book being that it's in that format and for so many other reasons. It kind of reminds me of Pop Gun War (which I reviewed on this very blog not too long ago), but it's nowhere near as obtuse in terms of plot. The plot's there. You can discern for the most part what's going on, but I don't think that means that this one isn't up for a bit of interpretation.
Could all these tales of our little crow be a metaphor for the life a human man and all the things he experiences, fears, goes through, endures, and thinks? Could they be the dreams of the crow character after he climbs into his nest to sleep in the very first sequence?
I couldn't definitively tell you, friends, but what I will impart is this: I had to go back and read this book a second time. I had to experience all those things with the crow character again, especially since it was only going to take me another twenty minutes. Those of you who know me know that I love to puzzle strange stories and films out and this one is definitely ripe for that. And it compels you to want to do so.
Also, I couldn't stop thinking about the life and times of this little crow all day today as I went about my business. There were events in these pages that were truly sad and touching, events that deserve pondering, events that will stay with you, even though there are only little cartoon animals in this book.
Could the plot be a little more overt? Sure, but then again, that may take a little bit away from this artistically. And speaking of art, the artwork here is perfect for such a tale. At once cute, strange, unique... It fits.
Mr. Kannenberg says in his book as he reviews this work that it "leaves a deep impression". Whether you love or hate this thing, I don't think it can be said any finer. You're going to ponder this one for a while...
Mr. Kannenberg's rating: 4 out of 5
My rating: 4 out of 5
13 down, 487 to go
Next time: "I Love Led Zeppelin" which, I expect, has little to do with loving Led Zeppelin.
Have a good one until then, guys...