Blue is the Warmest Color / Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes

Two graphic novels I read most recently:

Blue is the Warmest Color – Julie Maroh

blue is the warmest color
First published in 2010, published in English in 2013, translated from French by Ivanka Hahnenberger

I watched Blue is the Warmest Color film 2 years ago and really liked it, and since then I’d been meaning to read the graphic novel it was based on. A visit to the library offered this opportunity.

I don’t read YA novels, but I guess much of my dose of “YA”-ness is provided through graphic novels. Blue for instance is a classic coming of age story between two girls, how they come to term with their homosexuality, the exploration of foreign territory, and the real life implications after the so-called honeymoon period is over.

Much of the story in the book has been changed in the film, however this is one of those cases that I think the movie is better than the book. It seems to often happen with short stories and graphic novels. I was very impressed with the film – it was so fresh. Very rarely would I excuse a 3-hour movie – it has to be very special to take my life for 3 hours – and watching this 3-hour coming of age French (!) drama I was never bored at all.

blue film

Highly recommend the movie. And the book too for that matter, but only if you like the movie :). The use of Blue in both media is very effective and visually striking, though I’m not sure if there’s a meaningful symbol behind it apart from being a symbol of attraction. And the title most of all I think is very catchy and memorable. In a way the 2 things are probably the main reasons the film is told to adapt from the book (without the use of blue there are very few similarities). It works cinematically. Just look at that poster!

Mee’s rating: 4/5

Dotter of her Father’s Eyes – Mary M Talbot and Bryan Talbot

dotter of her father's eyes

Dotter of her Father’s Eyes won the Costa Book Award for Biography in 2012, which is no mean feat for a graphic novel. I read The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot a few years ago, and in Dotter he collaborated with his wife Mary M Talbot (he the illustrator, and she the writer).

This book contrasts the biography of Mary M Talbot herself, with that of Lucia Joyce – the daughter of James Joyce. Mary’s father James S. Atherton is a dedicated Joycean scholar. So this is a story of two daughters and their fathers – who never crossed path, so there are 2 parallel story lines.

I, for one, was quite confused at the beginning about who is who. Mary’s change of name to Talbot added to my confusion, creating a disconnect with the name Atherton – her father’s. I have also not read any James Joyce, so I know very little about the man, not to mention his daughter.

I quite enjoyed this graphic novel, but would probably appreciate it more if I’m a fan of Joyce.

Mee’s rating: 4/5

 

The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot

thetaleofonebadrat

The Tale of One Bad Rat tells a story about Helen, a shy young girl who runs away from home under the shadow of childhood sexual abuse. Following Beatrix Potter, Helen goes through her own journey from the city to countryside, with rat as her friend.

I haven’t read any of Beatrix Potter books, only watched the movie with Renee Zellweger titled Miss Potter. To be honest, I’ve never heard of Peter Rabbit before until that movie. It wasn’t just in my childhood zone somehow. I like the illustrations from what I saw in the movie.

On the other hand, this is probably the first serious Western graphic novel that I read. Reading around fellow bloggers, I knew that a lot of people just started reading manga. For me, I grew up with manga. I read manga constantly since primary school up to high school. I didn’t read any Western graphic novels. I did read some comics, like Asterix, Lucky Luke, Smurf, Tintin, etc. Anyway, comparing the style between Western and Japanese comic, I’d say the biggest difference is the sense of motion. In manga, there are always excessive lines showing the movement of the characters, while here the pictures are… static. Not that it’s a bad thing, it feels very clean.

I applause Bryan Talbot for bringing such a difficult issue into a graphic novel. It works very well too in my opinion. The expressions of the characters are very real down to the pain. I like how the main character could face up her abuser in the end and had a closure. I was kinda worried for a while that she was just gonna drift along and suffer forever.

I read that the book is used as a resource in schools and child abuse centres in several countries. So Talbot is definitely successful in creating this graphic novel. He said,

“This has been the most worthwhile book that I have been involved with and the best- not to mention the hardest- comics work that I’ve ever done.”

“The more child abuse is discussed in society or fiction in whatever medium, the more likely it is that the victims will realise that it is something that happens all the time, that they can speak out, be believed, and get it stopped.”

Rating: 4 out of 5
Pages: 136
Publication year: 1995

Awards:
1996 Eisner Award for best Graphic Album Reprint
1999 Haxtur Award for Best Long Comic Strip

Also reviewed by
Dewey | Nymeth | Valentina | Comics’ by Products | Related Reading | nothing of importance | Stuff as Dreams Are Made On

talbot_01

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