Archive for August, 2012

We are packing up for a move, and while going through my books, I found two graphic novels that I bought at 2011 SPX last September. One of them I read almost immediately, and one I put down until just now, but both were fun.  Both were about life under Communist rule — one in Hungary in  the 1950s and 1960s and the other about a more recent trip to North Korea.

(Parenthetically, SPX is always a great time — if you have any interest in comics and are in the greater DC area, it’s a great way to blow a weekend and some Unites States currency.)

To take them in order of when the stories occur, the first is From Hungary, written and drawn by Tom Galambos. It tells the (apparently true) stories of how his mother and father separately escaped from Hungary.  I’m a sucker for this kind of story – I lived in Hungary for about a year, and am fascinated with true stories and fiction alike about the country and what it was like under the Communists.  A particularly harrowing vignette is about the girl who just couldn’t resist looking out the window at the Soviet tanks rolling by.  It’s well-told and well-drawn, in black and white, and relatively brief — I read it in under an hour, which is exactly the right length, I think.  It came out in 1996, and so may be out of print.  The cover price is $5.95, and I bought it directly from Tom for that price, I think (another advantage of going to SPX!).  It’s on Amazon for more than that, but perhaps you can find Tom online and buy it from him directly.

The second is more recent and more famous: Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, by Guy Delisle.  (Buy it here or somewhere else.)  This is a hilarious book about a Canadian artist who went to North Korea for a few months to work on an animation project.  Along the way, Delisle encounters unreliable translators,secret radios,  hilarious propaganda, giant-yet-empty restaurants, and other bizarre elements of the Hidden Kingdom.  I particularly enjoyed the installments of the “Spot the Decadent Bourgeoisie” quiz scattered throughout the text. This is really a must-read.

And finally — SOMEONE please make a graphic novel series of Life and Fate.  Please!  I’ll buy 10 copies!



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