Were Money No Object on September 21st

The Book I Want to Buy:

Habibi

by Craig Thompson; Knopf, $35

I’ll admit that I’ve not read any of Thompson’s work, despite his having such high acclaim among literary comics fans.  I’ve almost picked up Blankets a bunch of times, but for whatever reason, still haven’t.  It does look good though, and I know that when I get around to reading it one of these days, I’m going to kick myself for waiting so long.

Habibi, however, is much higher on my want to read list.  Habibi is set in the Arab world, at some point in history.  It’s about a pair of child slaves who run away together, and I guess, fall in love or something.  I know that it’s been researched in detail, and the preview pages I’ve seen look terrific.

Really, it’s one of those books I have a good feeling about, so I don’t spend much time trying to figure out what it’s all about – I’d rather come to it with few preconceived notions or expectations about the story.  At over 670 pages, I can tell it’s going to be the type of book I can really immerse myself in, having more in common with the types of novels I enjoy than my typical choice of graphic novel.

The Book I Think You Should Buy:

New York Five

by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly; Vertigo, $14.99

I’m a little hesitant to recommend this sequel to New York Four, which was released as part of DC’s Minx line of comics.  In it, Wood and Kelly told the story of four girls who moved to Manhattan to attend school, and became friends.  They each faced a bit of an adjustment to college life, although the focus of the book was squarely on Riley, a cellphone obsessed girl from Park Slope who had a difficult relationship with her older sister.

Now this new series continues with their stories, while adding in a fifth girl, the homeless and mysterious Olive.  As always with Wood’s writing, the characterizations are very strong.  Ryan Kelly does a terrific job on books like this (similar to the brilliant Local), helping breathe life in to the characters, and the city itself.  The best part of this comic is the frequent establishing shots and asides about New York City and its culture.

The problem is that the story is terribly choppy and hard to follow.  The series was going to come out as a graphic novel, and then had to be re-worked as a four-issue mini-series (which is now, once again, a graphic novel).  Somewhere along the way, the editor (Karen Berger?  I’m too lazy for research) helped rearrange scenes to make the story flow better, but I don’t think it worked all that well.  Perhaps it will read better in trade than it did monthly, but really, if you are going to get this book, know you are getting it for the art and the characters, not the plot.

So, what would you get, Were Money No Object?

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