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Bite-Sized Book Reviews: RAT QUEENS, SECONDS, and UNDERSTANDING COMICS

Comics and MangaKristina PinoComment

Welcome to another comics-filled edition of Bite-Sized Book Reviews.

Rat Queens vol. 1

I can't really gush enough about this book and how obsessed I am with it right now. And it's a weird kind of obsession - I'm waiting for trades, because I want to own it in pretty editions I can put up on my shelf. So I'm waiting - patiently.

This book is about the Rat Queens, a 4-lady team of mercenaries who kick some serious butt for money. Or pleasure. It's got this fantasy setting, not unlike Lord of the Rings, or World of Warcraft, or Final Fantasy... lots of fighting, magical monsters, and our main team has a basic fantasy game party setup.

I love everything about this book - it doesn't lack in depth despite the super high level of fun (it gets a little dark), and also I really want to cosplay as Violet sometime next year. "Sass and Sorcery" is basically the perfect title for the first trade.

The team: Kurtis J Wiebe (writer), Roc Upchurch (art), Ed Brisson (letters), Laura Tavishati (editor).

Seconds

Seconds is about a 20-something girl, Katie, who is rather successful, but has some anxieties about a new restaurant she wants to open, her love life, and other things. They get the better of her when she learns she could turn back time to try and fix some of her past mistakes, and of course, things get out of hand. The story goes to some extremes - Katie really makes a mess of things - but I thought it was interesting. Why should she be rational?

In our own heads, we've probably all imagined ourselves trying to fix things, big and small, about our past, and have wondered how it would affect our future. In this book, we get a look at how differently some things might pan out. It gets a little scary.

I liked this story because it speaks a lot to where I am in life right now. I'm taking steps towards something bigger and better, and it's easy to get lost in all the doubt.

Recommended! Team: Bryan Lee O'Malley (art and story), Jason Fischer (art assistant), Dustin Harbin (letters), Nathan Fairbairn (colorist).

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

I read this book on recommendation of folks I work with at Book Riot and Panels. It's a great introduction to the history of comics, and an explanation of the kind of story-telling devices that make up the panel layout on the pages of a comic book. It helped me understand some terminology better, and was fantastically thorough, even including European and Japanese comics in the scope of its explanations.

This book is really dense with information, and it took me a while to read through it. That isn't to say that Understanding Comics is a drag - it's fantastic, and rich. It was nice to read a comic that was designed to teach, with Scott McCloud's character giving me a one-on-one lesson on all of the things he had to say.

I recommend this book for anyone who wants to get a better understanding of where comics come from and gain a deeper appreciation for storytelling through sequential art.