The OF Blog: 2010 in Review: Reading Blindspots (Graphic Novels, YA fiction)

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 in Review: Reading Blindspots (Graphic Novels, YA fiction)

In my previous essay, I discussed works that for some reason or another were "disappointing reads."  For this third installment, I want to turn the tables a bit and highlight areas where I as a reader fell somewhat short this year.  I may have catholic tastes, but this does not mean that I am going to be inclined to cover various subgenres as much as others.  Leaving aside paranormal romances, the newer style of "urban fiction," and other fields that I've stated several times in the past that do not interest me at all after several attempts to enjoy them, I think it might be illuminating, both for myself and for certain readers, to see just how woefully short my reading was in the fields of graphic novels and Young Adult fiction, both of which I do read and enjoy on an occasional basis.

This past year saw a decrease in reads in both categories for me, at least in terms of 2010 releases.  I began the year reading the second volume of G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker's Air, followed by their earlier graphic novel, Cairo.  However, these are pre-2010 releases and as much as I enjoyed Perker's illustrations and Wilson's storytelling, for some reason I have yet to order the third volume, which came out this past spring.  It is a series that I would recommend several trying (Cairo is standalone), but yet I have neglected to keep up-to-date with it.  Another graphic novel, 2009's Noir:  A Collection of Crime Comics, edited by Diana Schutz, was an entertaining, albeit uneven series of short noir pieces illustrated and told in comics format.  Yet it too was not a 2010 release.

Still in January, I see in my reading log that I re-read Italian illustrator/storyteller Sergio Toppi's retelling of the stories of The Arabian Nights, Sharaz-De (two volumes).  Although these two volumes are not yet (as far as I know) in English translation, they are outstanding in terms of their mixture of art and story.  But alas, it too is not a 2010 release.  In late January, I re-read Italian writer Dino Buzzati's Poema a fumetti, which is a retelling of the Orpheus/Eurydice myth in modern Italy.  But yet again... Same goes for Adam Rapp's 2009 graphic novel, Ball Peen Hammer, which I reviewed in February.

In fact, it wasn't until August that I read my first 2010 graphic novel, Kazu Kibuishi's Flight:  Volume 7 anthology, which contained several amusing, diverting stories interspersed among more serious pieces.  I found it to be a fitting addition to a graphic novel anthology series that I've enjoyed, more or less, for the past three years.  And that is that, as there were no other graphic novels/comics that I finished reading in 2010.  It is well below my 2009 performance, when I reviewed over a half-dozen releases (and left several others out of that list), or even my 2008 readings, when I first began to try and read graphic novels.  No excuse really for this poor reading performance, so perhaps I'll aim to read and review at least a dozen 2011 graphic novel releases, time permitting.

Poor as this showing was, it pales in comparison to my 2010 YA Fiction reading.  For someone who tries to read at least a few new releases each year, there was only one 2010 release read, Paolo Bacigalupi's National Book Award-nominated Ship Breaker, which I found to be a much smoother and more interesting read than his 2009 novel, The Wind-Up Girl.  Outside of that, the only pre-2010 YA releases I read were the first two volumes of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials (which I found not to my liking, as it was a bit dull for long stretches) and Walter Moers' Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures, which I adored.

Sometimes, patterns shift without the reader being at first aware of the change.  Such was the case for me this year.  I had thought I might be able to do individual summaries similar to what I had done in 2008 and 2009 for these two categories, only to discover that between the two of them, I could count the number of 2010 releases read on one hand and have the majority of the fingers (and thumb) available for use.  I suspect part of the reason why the numbers dropped were a combination of receiving fewer graphic novel review copies and not seeing as many graphic novel or YA novel recommendations from those few critics whose opinions generally inspire me to explore those titles mentioned.  I will try to do my best to reverse this trend later, but for now, these two categories mark major "blindspots" in my 2010 reading.

1 comment:

Amy said...

I love examining my reading each year to find the holes like you have here. I certainly lack in the graphic novel department, but I've never read many for some reason. I always say that I should, but then for some reason just don't pick any up. As for YA... I read WAY too much of it this year because I just got so swept up in review copies. Next year I hope to read less of it.

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