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Book reviews - John C. Kirk

Mar. 5th, 2010

11:56 pm - Book reviews

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I've picked up some new reading material recently. Some of the books have more pictures than words, but I've enjoyed them all.

Mini Marvels Ultimate Collection

This is brilliant. It started out as a comic strip inside Marvel comics, which you can read at ChrisGComics.com. Early strips had the characters as adults, but this soon changed to them all being drawn as children instead (hence "mini Marvels"): it's a nice clean style, which is well suited to cheerful comics. You do need to be familiar with the characters and storylines to appreciate some of the humour, but that's not a problem for me.

Most of the book is taken up with longer stories, which work well. For instance, here's a small scan from one page:

Hawkeye MD

In the comics, Hawkeye is an archer who uses lots of "trick arrows". For instance, why fire a flare gun when you can tie a flare to the end of an arrow? Or why punch someone when you can put a boxing glove on the end of an arrow? I assume that this particular strip was inspired by the Hawkeye character in M*A*S*H, which leads to the inspired version of brain surgery. I think my favourite part is She-Hulk's enthusiasm for the ridiculous idea, and this made me laugh out loud when I read it (which got me some strange looks from other people on the train).

The only pages which didn't really appeal to me were the "Green Hulk, Red Hulk, Blue Hulk" ones. That may be because I haven't read the corresponding "Red Hulk" storyline, but it may also be due to the writer (they were all written by Audrey Loeb, and they were the only pages she wrote in the book).

Simon's Cat

This is drawn by the same guy who does the "Simon's Cat" videos on YouTube, which are very funny. I wasn't sure how well it would translate to individual drawings, but it works surprisingly well. There's no speech in the book at all, and a lot of it is individual drawings rather than sequential art. The situations cover a "sliding scale" on the reality spectrum. Some of them are very typical cat behaviour, e.g. the challenge of trying to walk downstairs while stepping over a cat that's asleep on one of the stairs. Others are more anthropomorphic, but it never goes as far as "Garfield" (who has been described as "a person in a cat suit"). Some of the pages are a bit repetitious, particularly the ones involving a bird house, but the book is well worth reading if you enjoyed the videos. Frankly, I'm happy to have an excuse/opportunity to send some money to the author.

Nee Naw (Real-life Dispatches from Ambulance Control)

This is a book based on a blog; if you liked "Blood, Sweat, and Tea" then you'll like this too. I've been reading the blog for the last few years, but it was good to read the posts again, and several of them were new to me. Some of the stories are funny, others are sad, but collectively they give a good insight into how the 999 system works. I'll lend this to my SJA colleagues, and I recommend it to a general audience as well.

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