For a long time, I avoided using the term graphic novel. No matter how good they were, even when the comics I was reading had characteristics of novels, I still thought of them as comic books. The name just seemed a bit desperate – like a kid puffing himself up to get served at the beer store.

I didn’t think comics should have to credentialize themselves or apologize for being comics. Over the last couple of years, however, I’ve been reading some illustrated sequential tomes that actually seem like novels.

Most recently, I picked up David Small‘s memoir Stitches. Not only was it fantastic, it felt like I had read a novel: the detailed evocation of place and time through little details; the powerful, painful moments of childhood torment; the powerful characters; and the sense it left me with – I absorbed and appreciated much of its greatness, but I will be coming back to read it again.

But here’s what floored me. I read the whole thing in 45 minutes.

This is not meant to belittle the book. It’s fantastic.

The art is great. Small is largely known as an illustrator of children’s books. He marries a fantastic gift for faces and expression with a very cinematic sense of perspective, framing and storyboarding.

The story is gripping and rewarding. It was powerful, and I’ve been thinking about it all day… since reading it last night in 45 minutes.

There is now so much amazing illustrated work being published across so many genres, choosing to read literary fiction almost seems spoiled to me – like watching a silent movie.

Go get Stitches. Treat yourself.

(If you need more convicing, David Small’s website has more art, interviews, etc. to give you the flavour of it.)



Via Dangerous Minds, this is an absolutely amazing homemade collection of musical robots playing the classic B-52 track, “Rock Lobster.” I especially love the printer sounds.

Random point of reference

Crawl as they might, the tendrils of online content have not yet dug into every nook and cranny of the physical world.

Unsurprisingly, 1970s Canadian poetry is one vein that has yet to be mined very deeply. 

That said, here’s a gem from 1977’s classic Garbage Delight, written by Dennis Lee and illustrated by  Frank Newfield. 

The Big Molice Pan and the Bertie Dumb

Once a big molice pan
Met a Bertie Dumb,
Sitting on a wide sock
Booing gubble chum.

“Hey,”  said the molice pan,
“Gum and simmy come.”
“Sot your rotten kicking pox!”
Cried the Bertie Dumb.

Then the big molice pan
Rank Jamaica drum,
Wide at dunce, but grows with runts.
(Kate to strinkum. DUM.)

Comic Casting Silliness

I just stumbled across the apparent foofarah that TV’s Community actor Donald Glover is campaigning for an audition in the upcoming movie reboot of Spider-Man, and he’s (gasp) not white.

I love comic book movie adaptions and I’m a huge Spidey fan, but as much of a geek as I am, I only get hung up on the details that matter.

Yes, he’s always been drawn white, but in terms of impact on the character or story, Peter Parker’s ethnicity or family culture was never more specific in the books than “working-class New York.”

Frankly I’m much more dismayed that a reboot means they’ll likely waste a whole new movie re-hashing an origin instead of crafting a good story.


At the other end of the plausibility spectrum, I couldn’t believe it when I read that the upcoming Captain America movie has cast somebody (trust me, it doesn’t matter who) as none other than mad scientist Arnim Zola.

Zola was one of the freakiest artistic creations of Jack Kirby, who wasn’t exactly known for his restraint or attachment to realism.  He wasn’t exactly famous, though. Even as a life-long Marvel comics fan, all I really knew about the character was that he was that guy with a little box for a head and a face on his chest. Sound goofy? Weird? Oh yeah. Don’t believe me?  Click to reveal the craziness:

Frankly, the only cool thing about this character is how utterly ridiculous he is.

Do I have any faith that a major Hollywood studio is going to put something that nuts in a movie?

Well, let’s just review what happened a few years ago when Kirby’s greatest creation was brought to the big screen.  In the comics, Galactus is a 30-foot tall cosmic mo-fo who eats planets.

Pretty nifty-looking, huh?

So how does Hollywood portray him?

A cloud. Oooooo…. menacing.

Given that, I give you my prediction for the best we can expect for the 2011 cinematic Arnim Zola. You were warned!