Craig Thompson’s Habibi

“Then, as you transition to adulthood, you realize you have some responsibility to the world. Stories, as you grow up, are more about actually confronting the real world. In that sense, the art does hold some sort of sacred role.” – Craig Thompson, from an article titled “Square fare: The design secrets behind Craig Thompson’s Habibi

Years ago I read Craig Thompson‘s Blankets and fell in love with his wonderful storytelling and magnificent drawings. I have returned to each of his books countless times and am always enchanted the by warmth he brings to the comics form.

Craig’s latest book, Habibi, took years to create and its more than 600 pages are clearly the work of a master; the art is often intricate, delicately balanced and breathtaking and the effort put into research and worldbuilding become clear in the incredible immersion this story offers. Just brushing the surface, this book is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever encountered.

It’s also incredibly ambitious in it’s field of concern. Habibi is a magnificent love story but it also looks unflinchingly at gender, sexuality, environmentalism, poverty, religion, racism, globalization, and exploitation with nuance and obvious care. This work has as much concern for global issues as it does for the intimate details of life and every part of the story is challenging both intellectually and emotionally.

Another of my favourite authors, Cory Doctorow, wrote glowingly about the book and mirrors my own sentiment about it.

“Habibi is an enormous and genre-busting graphic novel that blends Islamic mysticism, slave/liberation narratives and post-apocalyptic science fiction, creating a story that is erotic, grotesque, and profoundly moving.”

Habibi is told in a dreamlike, non-linear, dense style, with asides for swirling Islamic legends, the theory and practice of magic squares, the hidden meanings in Arabic calligraphy, jumping from time to time and place to place, giving the book a deep, mythic resonance. The tale is epic and often horrific, but so well told that it grips you right through it’s 670-odd pages.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like this, and I expect I’ll be thinking about it for a long, long time.
– Cory Doctorow, “Habibi: graphic novel blends Islamic legend, science fiction dystopia, love and loss

Like Blankets, the book is receiving overwhelming and much-deserved critical praise. Other reviews can be found a the Habibi website and a fascinating interview is at “Craig Thompson—The Devil Made Me Draw It“.

Scott Pilgrim Volumes 4, 5 & 6

When i first wrote about the Scott Pilgrim series, I was warming up to it after the first half of its 6 books. Brian Lee O’Malley’s storytelling was greatly improved in these books, and his focus on relationships redeemed some of the sillier bits of the story.

Cory Doctorow’s With a Little Help

Cory Doctorow has established himself as one of science fiction’s most important voices, and With A Little Help is a marvelous showcase of some of his best short stories. A lot of attention has been paid to the fact that this book has been self-published, but the real value of this collection is the high quality of stories Cory has been writing in the past few years and the wonderful range of methods, sub-genres and themes he employs. Anyone concerned with how technology impacts us will find a rich discussion embedded in an even richer storytelling voice in many of these stories. My personal highlights include “The Right Book”, “Human Readable”, and “Epoch”. The book is available in print and in free ebook and audiobook formats at The audiobook is especially exciting, because it includes readings by Neil Gaiman, Mur Lafferty, Spider Robinson and Wil Wheaton.

Scott Pilgrim Volumes 1, 2 & 3

I began reading Brian Lee O’Malley‘s Scott Pilgrim series just after seeing the film. I enjoyed the film immensely, but with all the buzz the books have received, I was expecting a lot. While I was a bit disappointed in the first volume, I find that I am reassessing the series now that I just finished the third volume. It’s a series crammed with geek and pop culture references, but it does have a lot of focus relationships. It’s a much richer and nuanced experience to read the comics than it is to watch the film, and as I get further in the books I am appreciating the Scott Pilgrim story much more.

Podcast Selections: Integral Chicks and Weird, Weird Stories

I was setting up some automated podcast downloading across my devices today and I thought I should share some of the podcasts I have added to my weekly story and idea soak.

Integral Chicks

Kelly Sosan Bearer and Nicole Fegley recently fired up a new integral podcast, Integral Chicks. It’s engaging, funny, fun, wisdom-rich and deliciously integral. Each of the three guests so far —Marci Davis, Clint Fuhs and Sofia Diaz— have been brilliant and thrilling.

We are both passionate about the Integral movement – the emerging worldspace of conscious individuals who care about development, increasing awareness, authenticity, multiple perspectives, and a better understanding of our world – and fundamentally just living more good, true, and beautiful lives. We have both lived and worked at the heart of the movement for many years, side-by-side in the trenches with the best Integral teachers, experiencing what Integral truly means and offers, while at the same time having witnessed (and been caught up in) the pitfalls and projections of the leading – bleeding edge. We’ve produced over 40 personal, professional, and spiritual events, and studied Integral Theory for decades. We’ve, in essence, grown up Integral (and despite the claims of some well-meaning new agers, NO, we were not born that way!). We believe that’s a uniquely new perspective to share.

… we decided to create a show and web offering that highlights:

The hilarity of it all…we believe if we can’t laugh, we’re truly f*****ed!
The amazing projects, initiatives, thought, practices, and simple and elegant wisdom that is emerging out of the 20-40ish crowd.
The continued unfolding of the great wisdom in the always-already amazing teachers in the Integral community, particularly as it can be directed to the next generation!
And of course…our Unique Lovin’ Ways!
The free website and podcast will feature fun and useful bite-size segments and exercises that will get you laughing, thinking, and practicing your way to a stronger and freer You. Think Car Talk for the human vehicle. Each show will also have a short interview featuring kick-ass wisdom from the younger Integral generation (the iGens) or advice for the next generation from a wide array of Integral teachers we love, admire, and have a lot to learn from.

The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine

Dunesteef, the mad creation of Rish Outfield and Big Anklevich, has quickly become one of my favourite fiction podcasts because of its excellent production values and wonderfully strange selection of short stories. The stories often feature multiple great voice actors and come from all over the speculative fiction field. My favourite story so far was “The Lost Boy Of The Ozarks” by Steve Friedman, so I recommend that as an excellent starting point.

The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine is what its name says it is. We produce audio files of fiction stories for people to listen to. Check them out, they’re free to download. Share them with your friends, the more people who listen, the better.

Our focus is on our favorite genres, namely: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. However, we will not limit our listeners to this narrow classification. If a story is good, but contains no elements of SF/F/H, we will still produce it for our listeners to enjoy. After all, it’s good to have a little variety in one’s diet. While pizza and Coke are wonderful, and good enough for daily consumption (in my mind), even a fatso like me wants an apple or an orange or even (gasp!) a salad once in a while. In other words, The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine hopes to bring you a nice variety of fiction to please your ears and invigorate your mind and soul.

Uvula Audio

Uvula Audio is a beast of a podcast: it releases full books split into weekly podcasts. Those books are often genre classics from authors such as H.P. Lovecraft, Lester Dent, Jack London, Thomas Merton, L. Frank L. Baum, P.G. Wodehouse, and E.E. Doc Smith. I’m currently enjoying the audiodrama of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness.

Our mission statement is very simple. We want to bring you the highest quality audiobooks and podcasts absolutely gratis. The Uvula Audio crew has their roots in academia, and we believe in delivering all we can to get the signal out to you. Whether we are sending you audio books or restaurant reviews, we promise to keep you entertained.

Berlin: City of Smoke, Book Two

Berlin: City of Smoke is an incredible historical graphic novel. Set between May 1929 and September 1930, it brings together a diverse set of perspectives in a politically and socially turbulent Germany. Jason Lutes is remarkably successful at creating fascinating characters and fleshing out worldviews in a way that makes the story both engrossing and information-rich. The wait of 8 years between volumes in this trilogy has certainly been rewarding.

A Child’s Life and Other Stories

Phoebe Gloeckner’s A Child’s Life and Other Stories is incredibly difficult to take in. At once it is a wholly heartrending account of a woman’s life and a masterpiece of the comics form. It is not an accessible work and can very accurately be described as disturbing, but it is clearly an important work in the comics field.

Museum Vaults: Excerpts from the Journal of an Expert

Marc-Antoine Mathieu’s Museum Vaults: Excerpts from the Journal of an Expert is a wonderfully strange short graphic novel that blends surrealism, philosophy of art, and humour in an exploration of a fictional Louvre. It’s smart, the visuals are expertly chosen and absolutely worth the few minutes it takes to enjoy.