Monday, March 26, 2012
My Review of "I Kill Giants" and Man of Action at Planet Comicon KC
Have you ever met a celebrity or personal hero and been disappointed? Sometimes they don’t live up to expectations or turn out to be a jerk. Well, for the Man of Action studio team… I have nothing but great things to say. The most genuine and down to earth group of creators that I’ve had the ability to speak with in our time with Comicbook Crossfire. I felt like as a group they understood and appreciated their influence that held the attention of so many children globally. Kids that were at their panel as well as their booth at the show were greeted with silliness and appreciation. Free comic book hand outs and immediate attention to their biggest fans each time someone young would ask a question or have the courage to come to their booth. In short, Man of Action uses their powers for good! And we at CBXF found this incredibly endearing and commanded nothing but respect! Thank you Steven, Joe and Duncan for your presence at Kansas City's Planet Comicon!
Having said all that, during their Man of Action/Ben 10 panel, Steven T. Seagle mentioned many times about a book his partner, Joe Kelly had written that had received a ton of acclaim. Now Tracie had mention “I Kill Giants” multiple times to me. But non-superhero comic fiction usually takes a back seat for me. Its not that I don’t like it, but its not the first thing I read. So it wasn’t until I heard the rave review of his colleague did it click, “Maybe I should check this out?” I’m a monster big fan of Kelly’s “What’s so funny about Truth, Justice, and the American way.” So why not? Kelly was grateful for my purchase at his booth and said, “I’m very proud of this book” as he signed my copy of the large graphic novel.
This book has been out for a couple of years, but that last thing I want to do is spoil it for anyone. I think if you have any desire to read this, please do not go any further. Any critique of the content will reveal parts that make this book special, and if you want the impact that I had. Please do not read after the jump. So my overall general take on the book. “IT’s DAMN GREAT!” Now go buy this book.
Ok, if you are still reading… then hopefully you’ve already read the book and I’m not spoiling the content… Again, buy this book.
I opened the book and the first thing that smacks you is the incredible fluid and fun art. JM Ken Niimura's art is incredible. A beautiful and painterly amalgam of Japanese Manga and thin, but powerful American comic strip linear feel. It’s simple but elegant and visually tells the story with mastery of the medium. The depiction of this early teenage girl named Barbara, who has obvious problems and some not so obvious. We feel great pain from her. The "why" is slowly revealed over many pages without losing a drop of interest. We learn she thinks she is a Giant Killer. She believes she has magical items and using certain elements, she is keeping her community safe. She knows a Giant will eventually come. So she prepares. She isn’t afraid of the bully at school and gets in the face of authority figures like her teachers, her principal and her school counselor. She is a troubled girl. And her constant talk of giants and other non-sense is causing those around her to fear she is beyond their help. Other children see her as crazy and scary. Her older sister is stressed and her brother seems to be little help. She feels alone and single minded to protect and defeat the giant that’s coming.
So much is going on in this book. So much. The levels of friendship and feelings of betrayal. Feelings of being powerless and helpless. Feelings of anger and most importantly… fear. We learn she’s scared. Scared to face something. Scared of what’s coming. Scared to open up. Something is upstairs and it frightens her. She made up the giants as a way to distract her. Something she could fight and win against. Giants aren’t real… there is no such thing as a Giant. Right?
Ok... here goes.
About 2 year and a half years ago, my Mother was diagnosed with stage four melanoma, skin cancer. They gave her 5 years to live. She underwent all the treatments and it left her incredibly weak. She needed 24 hour care and supervision. The medication and chemo was so exhausting, she would spend most of her time in bed. My brothers and myself slowly watched her go from a strong woman to a frail flower. I’m not going to lie and say it was some quiet, peaceful “Hollywood-ized” death. It was terrible. It was slow. And I was powerless to even ease her pain. She lasted for 6 months and fought hard to stay with us with every breath. In short, it was the worst 6 months of my life. Sometimes, it became too much for me. I dare say sometimes… I wanted my mom to hurry up and go. I was mad. It was interfering with my life. It was a burden. It was torture. And I hated myself for feeling that way. This was my mom... I love her dearly. Why would I wish this over? I dreaded her house. I hated spending the night. Her breathing… scared me. It was like a looming monster. You knew it was slowly coming. You could hear it. You could see it. But you could do nothing to prevent it. It was so hard to accept.
Joe… this book hit me like a freight train. Blind-sided me and knocked me on my ass. The monster rising from the water… the child asking… demanding… “I beat you. You will not take my mother!” His answer… “No… I came for you.” There is metaphor, yes. But the literal monster that in many ways… saved her. Brought her peace. Understanding. Acceptance.
Joe, when I turned the and saw her crawl in bed with her mother and say “I'm sorry”. I sobbed. Out loud. Un-expectedly cried. The art and few simple words captured the moment masterfully.
Joe told me he was proud of this work. And with no ounce of sarcasm or hyperbole. This was the best thing I’ve read in years. Mr. Kelly and Mr. Niimura have every reason to be proud of “I Kill Giants.” It is a true piece of literary art.
Acceptance of death so hard. The pain gets easier, but is still there. This book connects to me in so many ways. I absolutely love this trade paper back. Thanks Tracie for the recommend. And thanks to Steven T. Seagle for talking about this book at the panel.