Dans Les Griffes reviewed + what I’ve been reading & seeing

Blandine Longre, the editor of the French literary magazine, sitartmag.com, just sent me the link to a lovely review of Dans les griffes de la sorcière, the French version of Magic or Madness. From what I can tell from babelfish it looks like Anne-Judith Descombey’s translation is a very good one indeed. Thank you! This is the first review of any of the translated versions of MorM. Colour me excited!

To reward myself for sending off the first rewrites of MorM 3 on Friday I’ve been reading whatever I want to read! Woo hoo! And seeing some movies. Namely V for Vendetta—most entertaining, though what accent was Natalie Portman doing?—and last night Night Watch. Wow. Oh my Elvis. It’s gotta be one of the coolest looking films I’ve seen in ages. (Well, aside from this more-beautiful-than-a-mangosteen Hong Kong film I saw chunks of on Singapore Airlines: The Promise. That was brain breakingly gorgeous—can’t wait to see the whole thing.) Not only is Night Watch beautiful it’s also fabulous. A kind of grungy, well-acted and written Russian Ghostbusters crossed with Ludmilla & Russalka and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It made me so very happy.

I also finished reading the first volume of Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy. Loved it. I especially loved that it’s completely standalone. That’s right: first volume of a trilogy and yet the story comes to a conclusion. There are no loose ends, no cliffhanger, just lots of story conclusioney goodness. Good on ya, Mr Stroud. (And, yes, I know I left the first volume of my own trilogy a bit up in the air. I’m writing about Stroud as a reader, not a writer, okay? In other words: do as I say, not as I do.)

I also love the ethical wobbliness of the two protags, Batrimaeus and Nathaniel. And the excellently done world building, especially the footnotes. Have I mentioned that I love footnotes? And it’s a cracking, hard-to-put-down read. My only complaint is that there coulda been a few more explosions. Wouldn’t have to be heaps more, just two or three . . .

Yesterday I read five novels. Graphic ones. Y’know what I like most about ’em? That I can read five in a day without breaking into a sweat. Blissful. I’m kind of new to graphic novels and manga and shall report in a later post. But so far I’m having fun. Feel free to hit me with more recommendations. So far I’ve liked Fables and Scott Pilgrim best. But The Runaways is fun, too. More to the point I haven’t disliked anything yet, though I confess I haven’t started on the manga yet. But I will! (Thank you Holly, Rachel, Mely, and Will.)


  1. Sophie on #

    Have you read Sandman, by Neil Gaiman? If you liked Fables, I bet you’ll love it.

  2. Chris McLaren on #

    Stroud did a really nice job, didn’t he? It continues through the next two books as well. I think the main thing is the voice of Bartimaeus–the unforgettable character, you know–but the moral ambiguity is also very nice. It’s almost subversive at spots, especially when you consider it’s nominally a children’s book.

    Oh, and on the name dropping front, Bryan Lee O’Malley, the author/artist of Scott Pilgrim, lives here and is in my weekly poker game.

  3. Mely on #

    I like the Dans les griffes de la sorcière cover: it looks a bit like something Leo & Diane Dillon would do.

    Isn’t Scott Pilgrim great? I can’t wait for Book 3 to come out.

  4. Andrew Macrae on #

    sacre bleu! c’est formidable.

  5. Justine on #

    Sophie: Thanks for the rec.

    Chris: I have the second book sitting by the bed. Once I run out of comics I’m onto it. I dunno, sometimes I think kid’s books are the most subversive of all.

    Tell O’Malley he’s a fracking genius. And where’s book 3, damn it?!

    Mely: I just started Nana and I’m really liking it. Scott’s already halfway through book 2 and is completely addicted. Look what you’ve done!

    Yup, Scott Pilgrim is of the awesomeness. I too am cranky that book 3 ain’t out yet. Hurry up!

    Andrew: Ta! Now that I’m not only translated into French but reviewed in French I must be much more sophisticated than I was, yes?

    Cecil: Who publishes New Warriors? Everything here is arranged by publisher. I think I’m addicted to comics . . . Oh oh.

  6. cecil on #

    Oh read New Warriors. It’s funny. I read it the other day.

    Zeb (the writer) is also doing a Runaways / Young Avengers crossover for the marvel civil war. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s awesome.

  7. Mely on #

    That’s just intrigued. Addicted is when you learn how to use IRC/bittorrent to download scanlations because you can’t wait for the official releases.

    Ai Yazawa, who does Nana, has another series out in English translation, Paradise Kiss; Nana’s better (larger cast of characters, deeper characterization, more thematically complex), but Paradise Kiss is still very good–and relatively compact, only 5 volumes.

  8. jennifer, aka literaticat on #

    I know I have said it before, but I am OBSESSED with that cover. It is just fabulous.

    Also, speaking of Night Watch, did you get the Sarah Waters book yet? It was just shortlisted for the Orange Prize.

    Oh, and also, I loved the first Bartimaeus also. funny footnotes are my secret passion.

  9. Rachel Brown on #

    oops, i should have recommended scott pilgrim. I like it a lot. runaways is great fun, but vaughns other series (ex machina and y: the last man) are just as much fun but have more depth.

  10. Rachel Brown on #

    yay nana! I forgot to mention paradise kiss; i like nana better but paradise kiss has the advantage of being complete in five volumes, all of which are available in english. plus, wacky punk fashions.

  11. Rachel Brown on #

    i plan to buy the sarah waters book in england.

  12. Justine on #

    Mely: Addictive is a relative term. You have to allow for the laziness of some of us who would never download stuff from the intraweb because it’s a hassle. For lazy me I’m showing definite addictive signs. Like going to the purveyors of comics on Saturday and then on Sunday and now because we’ve almost run out again we’ll have to go back tomorrow . . .

    Jennifer: I do indeed have a copy, but am yet to read it. I was working on MorM 3 between 8 and 12 hours a day and was just too tired to read anything. Hence my joy at reading again! Yay!

    Funny footnotes are the very best.

    Rachel: I will be getting hold of all Vaughn now. Though it’s been frustrating cause at most of the shops we’ve been going to the early volumes of these series are missing. It drives me crazy! And it’s a two-three week wait if you order it in and we’re leaving in three weeks. /grumble

  13. Rachel Brown on #

    You cannot read Vaughn out of order. (Not that you would.) But those series are all extremely arc-y, and you cannot miss a single volume. also, you need to have them all at once, because they all end on the most wonderful and horrible cliffhangers.

  14. Justine on #

    And yet I go into the shops and they have Y: The Last Man vollume 4, 6 and 9. And Saiyuki vols. 7, 9 & 22. Thank you so very much, stupid shops!

  15. Andrew Macrae on #

    mais, bien sur! you are now entitled to treat all lesser mortals (anglophones) with haughty indifference and a well-timed flick of cigarette ash.

  16. Rachel Brown on #

    I would buy what they have, then collect the others as you find them, then when you have a complete set, read all day.

  17. Justine on #

    Rachel: But I wanna read them now!!!!!!

    Andrew: Oh crap, does that mean I have to take up smoking? Ack!

  18. Rachel Brown on #

    are you in nyc? email mely and ask her to recommend a comics specialty store.

  19. Justine on #

    Nope in Sydney. I know the places to go in both cities. But they all have the same very-few-of-the-early-issues problem. Curse them!

  20. Mely on #

    have you been trying just comics stores or also regular bookstores? at least in us, the chain bookstore selections of manga are often surprisingly comprehensive. for western comics they’ll often have a lot of stuff put out by dc & marvel, not so much the smaller presses like oni — though i did love seeing scott pilgrim and other indie faves hit the chain shelves in time for christmas, good on whatever distribution deal launched that.

  21. Rachel Brown on #

    I agree with mely. start telephoning the major chain bookstores. they often have a great selection. independent bookstores frequently don’t carry manga or comics at all, and if they do (and they’re not comics specialty stores) the selection usually sucks. I buy a lot of my manga at borders, brentano’s, barnes and noble, etc.

  22. Mely on #

    though yes, when back in nyc, you’ll have access to a lot of comics specialty shops. the one closest to you & scott is st. mark’s comics, which i haven’t been to for years; forbidden planet can be pretty comprehensive, although i hate the way it’s set up. it’s probably easier to navigate if you’re willing to talk to the shop clerks. manga’s on a mezzanine, not the main floor.

    my “local comics shop” is midtown comics because it’s three blocks from my office. i adore it.

  23. claire on #

    re: graphic novels, i tried a few “sandman” books and didn’t like ’em, but that’s just me. i loooved “watchmen”, and if you wanna get old school and haven’t already, “love and rockets”. the “locas” and “palomar” stories have each been collected into one, very expensive, hardbound volume which you might be able to find at the library.

    manga: the first two “crying freeman” novels were great. (i thought they got cheesy really fast after that.)

    there’s also the lovely and bizarre “goodbye chunky rice” novel, by … um … help me out here. he followed it up with a graphic memoir called “blankets” a year or two ago which was, well, memoir. yuk. greg something?

  24. Mely on #

    Goodbye Chunky Rice and Blankets are by Craig Thompson. I haven’t tried them because of the air of “young man reflects on his life after not enough distance.” This is entirely a snap judgment based on the covers.

  25. James A. Owen on #

    Hi Justine –

    I’ve just started becoming acquainted with your books (and your husband’s), but came across this thread, and wanted to point you to something I think you’d enjoy. On my livejournal, third post down, is a link to a gallery with a sixteen-page comics story. You can read right out of the gallery (no need to download), but I do hope it’s to your liking.

    More intelligent discourse coming – after I’ve had a chance to read some of your work, which sounds fascinating!



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