Monday, April 19, 2010

What I Read - Apr 19, 2010

Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery - written by Dave Roman with art by Jason Ho, Xave Roman, Raina Telgemeier, Jeff Zornow, and Jen Wang. This is a collection of stories about Agnes Quill, an orphaned teenager who can communicate with ghosts. She lives in the city of Legerdemain where she follows in her grandfather's footsteps by solving mysteries for ghosts and the undead. This collection is printed in black and white.

There four distinct stories in this collection, each drawn by a different artist with a distinct style. I like all four artists styles, even though Agnes is not drawn consistently from story to story. I get the impression that the the printing process did a disservice to the art in the first and third stories. There is little other than black and white in those stories, very little in the way of gray. That's too bad.

There are a few extras in the back: excerpts from Agnes' journal, a field guide to the world of Agnes Quill, and a gallery of sketches and drawings of Agnes by various artists. Both the field guide and the journal delve into background material that is not covered or only mentikoned briefly in the stories. The gallery includes pages by the artists who drew the stories and a few others.

Ooku: The Inner Chambers v2 - written and drawn by Fumi Yoshinaga. For my description of the premise of this series see my posts about volume 1.

This story takes place a few decades before the one in the first volume. It is the story of the newly appointed abbot of Keiko-in who pays a visit to the Shogun in Edo. His plan was to pay his respects and then return to the monastery but the Shogun's wetnurse, who has a considerable amount of power in the court of the Shogun, thinks otherwise, after seeing how handsome the abbot is. This story is set at a point when the red face pox had not decimated the male population of Japan as much as it eventually would. The Shogun is still a man when the book opens, but succumbs to the mysterious disease in the first pages of the book. This isn't a spoiler. The description on the back of the book indicates that this volume contains the story of the first female Shogun.

At this point I've read the first two (of five) chapters. I like the tension. Its very different from the first volume. There is a lot of dialogue, which surprised me a bit. The notes in the back of the book explain the cultural references which would otherwise be uncomprehensible to many unfamiliar with Japanese history and culture of this era.

One thing that I do find interesting about this series is that the main character in the two big stories so far have been men. There are women that play important roles but given the fact that the author is a woman and the sort of world it is set in I expexted otherwise. This has not negatively impacted the pleasure I get from reading this series. It is just something that occurred to me since starting v2.

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