27 August 2012

27 August 2012–A Foreign Affair (plus the usual nonsense)


Alright folks, News first, then reviews.

One of the things I always try and look for when reviewing new books are books that are aimed at, or at least have, girls as the protagonist. Girls are a traditionally under-represented demographic in graphic novels, and I think it’s very important that girls are presented in a positive light. So, imagine my surprise and delight when I stumbled across A Mighty Girl (Thanks go out to Jeremy Whitley of Princeless fame – my review can be found here), who posted the Top Graphic Novels for Mighty Girls. They have a fantastic selection of graphic novels aimed at girls, and the few that I haven’t read personally have all been highly recommended, so please check the list out! It’s well worth the trip.


In Bloop news, Steve is still chugging along, having hit 134% of his goal (and he still has 21 days to go!) He’s now added the coolest Bloop plush. If you’ve already sponsored Bloop, you can kick in a little extra for the plush (Full details are at Kickstarter). plushieIn turns of full disclosure, I do not have anything to do with Bloop other than being a vocal supporter – I do not and will not get any financial recompense (nor would I want it). I do this purely for the fact that I believe in this project. (Thanks again to Steve Conley for letting me borrow this image)



Well, as far as I know, that covers the news in this part of the web for this week. Now, on to the reviews review. Due to technical difficulties, I’va had to cut the reviews short this week. All will be explained below.


This first book is rather interesting, in that they’ve been in print in English, since approximately 2005. Why review it now? Jr Comics is reissuing it in a Library Binding (thick, heavy duty covers), and its just too much fun to pass up. Plus, it’s not that often I get to review Chinese manhua, so I totally jumped on this.


The Monkey King Vol. 1

Monkey King 1

Image Courtesy  Jr Comics

Written by Wei Dong Chen, Illustrated by Chao Peng

Jr Comics (Lerner Publishing), 2012

ISBN: 978-8-99420-869-5 (Library Binding)

$29.27, Ages: 10+


The Monkey King, or “The Journey to the West” as it is more commonly known, is one of the oldest and most revered Chinese tales, one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature. Combining folklore, legend, and fantasy, this tells the story of Sun Wu Kong, a.k.a. the Stone Monkey, a.k.a. the Handsome Monkey King, as he first comes into being, and then gets into mischief with the various kings and gods of Chinese myth. This is the first volume in a twenty volume set, that shows the birth of the Monkey King and his various early adventures, where he’s little more than a vain, imperious, petulant child. Over the course of the next 19 volumes, he becomes a powerful, wise and benevolent character that brings Buddhism to China.


“The Journey to the West” is as important to China as the tales of Johnny Appleseed, Pecos Bill or Paul Bunyan. It has been the source of such works as DragonBall, American Born Chinese and My Son Goku, and influences can been seen in games (both computer and table top), movies, and television. The artwork is absolutely stunning, and the story moves at a measured, but very brisk pace.  There is very little (if any) objectionable material, mostly concerning itself with big explosions and bloodless violence.

Final Thoughts

When I started this book, I had only the vaguest idea of what the story was (having previously read American Born Chinese – which is brilliant by the way), but there is a fascinating and very illuminating explanation and overview at the beginning of the book that makes it much easier to understand, and then an analysis at the end that helps westerners parse what exactly what has happened. This would be great for a unit on Chinese or World mythology, but it’s just as fun on it’s own. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that a paperback copy of this title was released back in January, and the price is much more cost effective.


My Second review was going to be a retelling of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, by Wei Dong Chen, but unfortunately, I cannot find any information related to it’s purchasing information anywhere! As soon as I get a release date (and a webpage), I’ll review it, because just like The Monkey King, this is also going to be a 20 book series detailing a huge instance in Chinese history. I’m very sad that I can’t find the information about it.


No comments:

Post a Comment