Everything is Teeth by Evie Wyld & Joe Sumner

, 6 May 2017


Everything is Teeth is a memoir of childhood that narrates Evie's fearful obsession and fascination with sharks during her summer holidays in Australia.

Sweet and gory at equal doses, the story transported me to the fears and monsters of my own childhood. In a way, this memoir is also a horror story as Evie had a powerful imagination and a special liking for the gory details of shark attacks.

We see a bit of Evie's adulthood, life goes on, she gets older, her family does too. I found this part beautifully captured on paper, but also a bit hurried; I kept wondering, does she still go to Australia? Does she still have a fear or not? How did her fascination with sharks evolved?

Jose Sumner does a terrific job at conveying Evie's memoir with originality and versatility, using different techniques, styles and colour schemes. Most of the book is drawn in a very sweet mix of black, white and vanilla hues, but Evie's imagination and thoughts are drawn in black, grey and mauve, while the shark attacks are depicted with almost realism in full splendour and plenty of red.

This is an original lovely graphic memoir, and really enjoyed it. I think it is good for teens and adults, and children not so much, but perhaps under parental supervision.

I read this book in the hard copy version. It is quite large in size, very well bound, so one can open it in full without difficulty, and the paper is really thick and strong. A great edition.

Kill My Mother: A Graphic Novel by Jules Feiffer (2014)

, 1 May 2017

I had many expectations about this book, mostly because of the ratings and praise received. I'm a usual reader of graphic novels, of those that aren't of super-heroes, so I approached this book with excitement. Unfortunately, my excitement was short-lived.

I love clean imagery, polished drawing, detailed clean scenes and and minimalist landscapes. I like creative lettering and vignetting.  I always  prefer graphic novels with limited amount of words because, when there are too many bubbles in the page, they become overwhelming; one of my joys when reading graphic books is delighting at the artwork, so if there are too many bubbles, my enjoyment decreases.  I love stories that are fun and entertaining, but always favour those that make feel, think or both, and those that have great characters. I love full-colour gorgeous colours, black-and-white, and sepias of a certain hue. 

If you read the above and browse the book you know by now that I was set for disappointment.

Feiffer's is certainly a great artist, and this work has many elements to praise: His ability to do amazing things with simple pen traces and basic watercolour is incredible. He portraits movement with easiness, captures the vibrancy of life in the streets with conviction, and reproduces the ambience of the Noir movies an the  1940s-1950s with accuracy.

Having said that, I had a great difficulty finishing the book. The sketchy jazzy convoluted drawings, the hyper-filled pages, the use of redundant text and bubbles, the overall hues and tones used create a noisy feeling that I did not find enjoyable. The graphic depiction of the characters is confusing, and not polished enough either; most women in the book look alike, who is who? I kept asking myself.

This would have not mattered if the story and the characters had been better. Unfortunately, none of them  is likeable; except for Elsie, they are all really bad people: selfish, angry, manipulative, deceiving, abusive, egocentric, liars,murderers, and so on. there is not enough humour to counterbalance the overall wickedness of the characters, and not enough background for us to understand their erratic behaviour. this is especially the case with the character of Annie because, in the last pages of the book, she comes with an explanation for her behaviour with her mother, the explanation and her sudden change of heart felt psychologically and narratively is not credible. Needless to say, some of these characters are quintessentially Noir, but the balance between hero-villain is missing. I watched tons of American Noir films in my youth, read classic Noir novels, and in them there was usually a sort of soulful human being; when there was none, some of the bad guys would show a bit of soul, or we would learn something that helped us to understand why they turned out to be that bad. This does not happen here. Elsie is a naive good-hearted character, but she is the only good person in the story.  

This review is about my experience and feelings about the book, so if yours are different, good for you. I'm not saying that Feiffer is not a good artist or the novel is not good. I'm saying, that I did not like it or enjoy it. 

I read this book in the  hard-copy version. The book is really good quality, great binding, which allows readers to open the book easily and fully, thick soft paper and mate printing.