Monday, August 22, 2011

Pre Matriculation SEQA Grad Student Recommended Media

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Solanin-By Inio Asano

I'm going to limit how much manga I recommend on this list because I realize that there's a fair amount of comic artists and enthusiasts who claim to outright hate it.  However, Solanin is a well told, sensitive story with beautiful artwork that manages to surpass many of the tropes that plague most manga.  Even if you dislike manga, if you plan on entering SEQA at the grad level, you should be familiar with a few titles and artists, just as those who dislike mainstream should be familiar with mainstream work.

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Three Shadows- Cyril Pedrosa-  Beautiful brushwork, a story well told, and a fantastic cartoony style.  If your roots are in manga and you are looking to branch out, Three Shadows is a fantastic start.

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Fun Home- Alison Bechdel-  Autobio has long been a staple of the indie comic genre.  While it may not appeal to everyone, everyone should be familiar with one or two autobio works.   An extensive reading list makes it easier to converse intelligently in class.

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Blacksad-Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnid-  Before you swear away from anthro, at least give Blacksad a shot.  Its an excellent example of anthro done right.  Gritty, dark, and moody, you'll probably finish Blacksad in one sitting, and then read it again to catch everything you've missed.

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Akira-Katsuhiro Otomo- The only other manga on my list, Akira is themematically the opposite of Solanin, but shares many graphic traits.  Akira may be too graphic for some reader's tastes, but few can argue that Otomo is a master draftsman who created an engrossing world.

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Blankets- Craig Thompson- Another autobio comic that everyone seems to have read while in highschool.  Craig Thompson's work has been highly influential to other comic artists, and while this tome is heavy, you can get through it in an afternoon.

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Acme Novelty Library- Chris Ware-  You should at least be familiar with Chris Ware's stuff.  The Acme Novelty Library is a large book, not really intended for tucking under the arm and reading on the go, but you should be able to find it at the Jenn Libary.

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Persepolis-Marjane Satrapi- I really enjoy learning about other cultures, and found Persepolis, set in pre and post Islamic Revolution Iran to be engrossing.  Marjane Satrapi's art may be described as 'naive', but it is effective in conveying the story.

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Maus I & II- Art Spiegelman-  Many of my classmates at the grad level insist that this was required reading for them in highschool.  I was not so lucky.  My first exposure to Maus was after I'd graduated undergrad, in that busy summer before starting grad school.  Maus is both an unpleasant and pleasant read.  I've always had a fascination with the Holocaust, as a child, I devoured survivor memoirs.  Maus appealed to me in that regard.  However, the subject matter, even when veneered with mice, cats, pigs, and dogs, is much less pleasant.

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Asterios Polyp- David Mazzucchelli-  Beautiful caricature, bold use of color, and an engaging story.

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Scott Pilgrim Series- Bryan Lee O'Malley-  I admit it, I hate this series with a burning passion.  The art is fine.  The writing, I suppose, is fine.  The characters remind me of everyone I hated in highschool.  I realize this was done on purpose.  That doesn't change my dislike of the books. Everyone has read this book, so it's a bit strange to recommend it, but if you're one of the few who aren't familiar with Scott Pilgrim, consider changing that now.

More topical comic treats:

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Anya's Ghost-Vera Brosgol- Released in 2011, so people are actually still actively reading this comic.  There's a bit of a trend with me recommending books with a cartoony style, and Anya's Ghost is no different.  An engaging story and well illustrated.

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Koko Be Good-Jen Wang-  I'm kinda tired of constantly writing 'beautiful art' or 'nice illustration' or what have you.  From now on, unless I say otherwise, it's safe to assume any graphic novel/comic/strip/whathaveyou is well drawn.  I personally think there are some problems with this book, but I still think you should read it for yourself, especially since it was recently released and is still quite popular as conversation fodder.

General  Art Instruction:

Andrew Loomis Books (available in PDF form here:)-  I haven't had a drawing instructor yet who hasn't advised 'READ LOOMIS!'.  Honestly, I prefer Glen Vilppu's Drawing Manual for anatomy over Figure Drawing for All It's Worth, but you should read both if you can.
The Famous Artists Course and Famous Artists Cartoon Course Library (Try Scribd)
The Vilppu Drawing Manual
Perspective for Comic Book Artists

Books ABOUT Comics/Craft:
A Comics Studies Reader
Drawing Words and Writing Pictures
Drawn To Life Vol 1 and 2
Reading Comics


Any recommendations for what SHOULD be on this list?  Drop me a comment and tell me about it!

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