The second book in Monte Schulz’ Jazz Age trilogy (the first, This Side of Jordan, was released in 2009; the last, The Big Town, will be released in 2012), The Last Rose of Summer examines the relationships among three women under the same roof in late 1920s Bellemont, East Texas: Maude, Marie and Rachel. Marie and her two small children, Cissie and Henry, are sent by her husband Harry to live with his mother Maude while he is on business elsewhere. Marie observes her sister-in-law Rachel’s tempestuous love life while trying to abide by Maude’s house rules, keep track of her children and provide for her family. When a boy is found dead in the river, Marie worries that his killer may still be lurking in the shadows. As a Northerner, she is also disturbed by the town’s overt racism, especially that of her in-laws. Meanwhile, she resists the advances of her boss, Jimmy Delahaye.
[The Comics Journal intern Laura Pieroni put together this series of discussion questions about Mark Kalesniko's Freeway for use in book clubs. As this is intended for those who have read the book and contains spoilers, the conclusion of the synopsis and the questions can be found behind the jump. – Ed.]
Alex, Mark Kalesniko's recurring dog-headed character, has been stuck in Los Angeles traffic for longer than he can remember. In fact, Alex has been stuck in traffic through multiple time periods and alternate lives.
Freeway is a non-linear compilation of various alternate realities centered on Alex and his dream of being an animator at Babbitt Jones Studios. Alex takes readers through his memories as a child dreaming of a career in animation and into his experiences working that same dream job turned nightmare. Through the story Alex also has multiple visions of violently dying, and a fantasy of what it might have been like to work at Babbitt Jones during its Golden Age when the animators were treated like royalty instead of assembly-line workers.
[The Comics Journal interns Laura Pieroni and Chi-Wen Lee put together a series of discussion questions about Linda Medley's Castle Waiting Vol. 2 for use in book clubs. As these questions are intended for those who have read the book, please be warned that they may contain mild spoilers. – Ed.]
Linda Medley's fairy-tale misfits are back in the second volume of Castle Waiting. While some of Castle Waiting's residents reminisce, a Hammerling pair ventures to the castle for assistance in putting together a woman's wardrobe. In return for Lady Jain's help with the clothes, the Hammerlings assist in the unearthing of a secret passageway. Castle inhabitants' pasts are revealed through flashbacks: Dr. Fell's dark history with the plague, Lady Jain's childhood experiences with her betrothed and evil half-sisters, and the story of Simon's father are brought to light.
Genre and History
What are some of the ways that Linda Medley stays faithful to the "fantasy" genre, and in what ways does she break from it?
The second volume reveals Dr. Fell's past as a doctor during the Black Plague; what effect does incorporating historical events/facts into the story have?
What part does Christianity play in the series?
How does Sister Peace interpret the role of the nun? How is she the same or different from a traditional nun?
What is the relationship between Leeds and Sister Peace?
How has Pindar affected those living in the castle?
What can the reader infer from Jain's relationships with Tylo and Pindar's father?
What is the relationship between the Hammerlings and humans?
What is the relationship between Jain and her (half?) sisters?
At one point in the story, Flora is trapped in the armory pen to keep her from chewing out of the wooden one; how does this reflect Jain's situation in the castle?
Sister Peace, Simon and Mr. Rackham exhibit traits that are atypical of traditional gender roles. What are these characteristics, and how does this affect their interactions with the other members in the castle?
What does this say about the author's view on traditional roles?
[The Comics Journal interns Andrew Davis and Chi-Wen Lee put together a series of discussion questions about Stephen DeStefano & George Chieffet's Lucky in Love Book 1: A Poor Man's History for use in book clubs. As these questions are intended for those who have read the book, please be warned that they may contain mild spoilers. – Ed.]
At age 15, the only things on Lucky's mind are women, sex, movies, and, to some degree, the war. He fantasizes about being a hero, much like in the Tex Stengler films his friends and he watch. When he does enlist, however, it appears his "heroic" adventures consist of nothing more than removing guns from warplanes and failed attempts to get a girl. But the war has still changed Lucky in some way; whether he is conscious of it or not, he becomes more aware of social and racial perceptions.
What function does the book's disclaimer about characters' usage of racial slurs serve? Did the characters' usage of these terms affect your perception of the story?
How racially accepting is Lucky? Does he grow more fair-minded throughout the book?
In the story, has Lucky actually been "lucky" in any sense of the word?
Is Lucky ever "in love"?
Can you detect influences in Stephen DeStefano's artwork?
How is Lucky's encounter with the prostitute significant beyond being his first sexual experience?
Is Lucky a hero for serving in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II?
Why is the third chapter entitled "Lucky Triumphant"?
Since the war had ended, Lucky's life in "Lucky Triumphant" takes a different tone compared to the first two chapters. Does the third chapter continue any threads begun earlier?
Did Lucky accomplish anything during his early years (the course of this book)? Does it matter?
This "Handy Fantagraphics Map/Staff Field Guide" was created by Chi-Wen Lee and Andrew Davis to help future interns: it dates roughly back to the third week of October, where it originated over a bubble tea-fueled discussion about Lucky in Love, how awesome the Fantagraphics people are, the awesomeness of Seattle, the mysterious stairway that leads to the upstairs apartment, how hard it is to remember everyone's names, and Pinocchio with a gun. Yes, in that order.
Summer 2010 interns Ian Burns, Melissa Gray, Jamie Hibdon, Kailyn Kent, Michael Litven and Christina Texeira put together a series of discussion questions about Tim Hensley's Wally Gropius for use in book clubs. As these questions are intended for those who have read the book, please be warned that contain spoilers [We've placed any spoilers behind the jump – Ed.].
How the Story is Told
Wally Gropius is broken up into a collection of small episodes that end with punch lines. How did this affect your reading experience, i.e. your engagement with the story and feelings for the characters?
What affect does solid color instead of detailed backgrounds have on the story? Did they affect the sense of "reality" in the comic?
Do all the visual and textual puns create their own narrative, or do they just exist for humor's sake? Do they add complexity to narrative?
Compare and contrast the punning in the sound effects of Wally Gropius with how other creators use onomatopoeia. How did you respond to that?
One of the trickiest things about selecting interns is finding just the right balance of a person who will be helpful, but who will also gain something useful from the experience.
I was put in mind of this when Claire Burrows, a graduate student and an awesome winter intern, just sent a lovely goodbye e-mail which included this line: "I feel like I achieved what I came for, plus had some excellent conversations (my next blog: talking catswho use sex as a weapon)."
Ah, Claire, you've learned your lessons well. Thank you for your help and good luck with your dissertation!
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