25 February, 2010

Book 48 - "Things were very strange 'Back East' and even stranger 'Down South.'"

Title: Roadstrips: A Graphic Journey Across America (2005)

Author: Pete Friedrich (ed.)

Why this book:
My brother-in-America sent it to me for Christmas.

What's it about?
Edited by Pete Friedrich, Roadstrips is a collection of comics - um, I guess basically the graphic equivalent of short stories - looking at different parts of America. It includes contributions by over twenty different 'alternative' cartoonists. The stories are divided by region - "Pacific Northwest", "The South", "East Coast" and so on, but are incredibly diverse in terms of art and story (and I'm not going to list them all here!)

The Good and the Bad
Like any anthology, there were some narrations that really appealed to me and some that didn't, and there were one or two that must have just gone straight over my head because I didn't get them at all. But none of them were bad - it was simply a matter of taste.

What is interesting is that this book was published in America's Bush Mach II years, and the feelings that are in a lot of the stories - helplessness, and hopelessness - already feel like they're part of a bygone era. However, just because the stories already feel a little 'of the past' doesn't mean they're not still moving - several of the stories dealing with the aftermath of September 11 had me in tears. Other works dealt with the huge cross-section of people in the States, family and belonging, and that whole 'What it means to be American' thing, but in a way that even a non-American could appreciate without rolling her eyes.

I loved being introduced to so many talented artists - the only one I knew before reading was the fabulous Keith Knight whose take on the 1992 Football World Cup is pretty hilarious - and taking in so many different points of view. The stand-out for me was probably Pat Redding Scanlon's heartland Q&A, simply because it made me laugh the hardest - one of her 'interviewees' answered the question, "Where is the Midwest?" with

"I consider Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, India, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Nebraska, Wiskonsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Liverpool, England, to be Midwestern states. I scoff at the notion that Missouri is a Midwestern state because they want to be shown things, which makes them weird."

The other respondents are equally chuckle-worthy, but it was the inclusion of Liverpool that really did it for me.

So should I read it or what?
Yes, yes, yes. This is a beautiful book, and I recommend it to everyone.

Link of the day: Willow's blog post on the latest book-to-film, The Lightning Thief, and Recognition Rejection.


Sadako said...

Looks like a fun read. Usually not into comics (reading them is so hard for me for some reason), but I think this one looks really good, actually. The 9/11 parts sound sad, though.

Sadako said...

Hey, thanks for the comment on my blog earlier--it's not up b/c for some reason it didn't go through when I tried to approve it...sorry, don't know what's up with blogger! :(

HelenB said...

Haha, maybe blogger thinks I'm spamming you...