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One of Booklist's Top 10 Adult Graphic Novels for 2010
Ranked #1 on Rob Clough's Top 50 Books of 2010 at High-Low
Megan Kelso has proved herself a master of the cartoon short story with
Queen of the Black Black (1998)
and The Squirrel Mother (2006). With Artichoke Tales,
six years in the making, Kelso expands her range (and her page count) by creating
a family saga spanning three generations and an entire continent.
Artichoke Tales is a coming-of-age story about a young girl named Brigitte whose family is caught between
the two warring sides of a civil war, a graphic novel that takes place in a world that echoes our own, but whose people
have artichoke leaves instead of hair. Influenced in equal parts by Little House on the Prairie, The Thorn Birds, Dharma
Bums, and Cold Mountain, Kelso weaves a moving story about family amidst war. Kelso’s visual storytelling, uniquely
combining delicate linework with rhythmic, musical page compositions, creates a dramatic tension between intimate,
ruminative character studies and the unflinching depiction of the consequences of war and carnage, lending cohesion
and resonance to a generational epic. This is Kelso’s first new work in four years; the widespread critical reception of her
previous work makes Artichoke Tales one of the most eagerly anticipated graphic novels of 2010.
"Kelso’s striking visual conceits (e.g., singing expressed by two lines forming an opening funnel from the mouth), turquoise-on-white drawing, jump-cut transitions, and constantly shifting viewpoints conjure a richness of implication and feeling of which her light-seeming, cartoony style would seem prima facie incapable. But here, as in the contemporary nonfantasy stories of The Squirrel Mother, she is a thorough and intelligent artist whose work is moving and invaluable." – Ray Olson, Booklist (Starred Review)
"...Kelso's moral probing and feel for understated emotions goes far beyond the talents of most of her peers. The deceptively clean style and pastel colors suggest a light read, but Kelso's work can be devastating in the way she pares down the excess to get at the essence of a particular moment or situation…" – Ed Howard, "The Best Comics of the Decade," Only the Cinema
"These short stories offer a sweet respite from the high-stakes drama of most other graphical fiction. Kelso uses a warm, inviting style of soft colors and rounded, almost pillowy characters to explore the mysteries of people and relationships... Kelso's stories invite contemplation." – Time
"Kelso has sharp powers of observation, and many of her characters have a blank-eyed innocence that serves as a counterpunch to the acuity of the narratives." – People
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