Karin L. Kross

  • culture July 22, 2009

    Far Arden by Kevin Cannon

    Trying to sum up Kevin Cannon’s Far Arden in brief is a challenge on the order of the one that the characters face in their epic attempt to locate the titular fabled island. Cannon’s graphic novel is an adventure, a comedy, a mystery, and a tragedy. It’s the story of a crusty sea-dog named Army Shanks, an orphan named Alistair, two college students, and the femme fatale Shanks once loved. There are fox pelts, a polar bear, a ship named the Areopagitica, a circus, fears of global warming, a college on the Boothia peninsula, and a deadly MRI machine. There’s a politician, plainclothes Royal

  • culture July 15, 2009

    Cecil and Jordan in New York by Gabrielle Bell

    Fans of filmmaker Michel Gondry may already be familiar with some of Gabrielle Bell’s work without knowing it. “Cecil and Jordan in New York,” the title story of Bell’s new collection, was recently adapted by Gondry into the short film Interior Design, one-third of the tripartite Tokyo! This deceptively simple fable contains the best aspects of Bell’s work: a sharp eye for human foibles, especially in relationships, and a dry, melancholic sense of humor. Jordan is an aspiring filmmaker, and his girlfriend Cecil accompanies him to New York, where her isolation and loneliness grow until she

  • Daddy’s Girl

    Debbie Drechsler’s semiautobiographical Daddy’s Girl first ran as a series of strips in the New York Press in the early 90s. Published in book form in 1995, the graphic novel was nominated for an Ignatz Award but was sold only in comic-book stores and fell out of print. Its reissue in hardcover speaks to the lasting quality of the material and should act as a reminder that, despite the large number of similar memoirs and graphic novels published in recent years, the original strip was groundbreaking in its frank depiction of sexual abuse.

    That Daddy’s Girl is a troubling read is evident from

  • Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean

    As comic books and graphic novels achieve greater literary prominence, they require a critical context that encompasses not simply writing and art as separate entities but also the unique interaction between visual and textual elements. In Reading Comics, critic Douglas Wolk wants to provide just that: His aim is “to explore some of the ways it’s possible to read comics, and to figure out where their power comes from.” For Wolk, comics have won the battle for respectability, and he here develops a structured method for readers and critics to evaluate and analyze them.

    Wolk’s style is chatty

  • Need More Love: A Graphic Memoir

    Aline Kominsky Crumb was born Aline Ricky Goldsmith in Long Beach, New York, in 1948 and grew up in a chaotic household behind a tidy suburban facade. Her mother came from a well-to-do family and found success as an ad agent; her father was a small-time businessman and possible small-time crook, who died of cancer when his daughter was nineteen. Her escape into the counterculture of the 1960s led her to New York City, Tucson (with her first husband, Carl Kominsky), and, finally, San Francisco, where she became prominent in the underground comix scene of the late part of the decade and met and