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Do ideas of war and enemies hold a people together? Is a culture of conflict too seductive not to be irresistible? These are the questions Cathy Malkasian explores in her second graphic novel, Temperance.
Malkasian creates, as she did in the critically acclaimed Percy Gloom, a fully realized, multi-layered world, inhabited by vividly realized characters. After a brutal injury in battle, Lester has no memory of his prior life. For the next thirty years his wife does everything to keep him from remembering and re-constructing a society, Blessedbowl, that elevates him as a hero. Blessedbowl is a cultural convergence of lies, memories, stories, and beliefs. Its people thrive on ideas of persecution, exceptionality, and enemies, convinced that war lurks just outside their walls. They have come to depend on Lester, their greatest war hero, to lead the charge once the Final Battle begins.
What kind of enemy could topple such a people and its walls? Mere memory, it seems, as Lester gradually emerges from his amnesia. Temperance is an eyewitnesss account of recovery and awakening. The graphic novel works on two levels. It considers the concepts of violence, stories, and belief, and their place in holding a culture together, slyly echoing contemporary political issues in a nation at a stressful time currently at war with a ubiquitous enemy. Secondly, the fissures in Lester and Minervas marriage is echoed in the greater political upheaval around them.
Malkasian creates a densely textured social context, masterfully conveying the idiosyncratic physical domain with its spiraling structures and quasi-medieval architecture along with intimate yet plastic portraits of her characters in a rich, tonal pencil line. Temperance is a galvanizing work of empathy and violence by one of todays most thoughtful and accomplished cartoonists.
2008 Eisner Award Winner: Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award — Cathy Malkasian
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Cathy Malkasian has made the jump from animation to the printed page with a graceful, delicate leap. She deftly uses her pencil to create thick, expressive characters moving through the twilight of a shadowy Orwellian world. Humorous and bewitching at the same time, Percy Gloom is a unique gem of a story. The story begins with our hero bravely striking out on his own for the first time, leaving his mother's house to apply for his dream job as a cautionary writer for the Safely-Now Corporation. In the process, he uncovers an unreal world of secret societies, benevolent families, and bureaucratic security. Lazy-eyed Percy Gloom fights to overcome the loss of his wife, Lila, to a truth-pointing, lotharian cult leader. Approached by his doctor to help protect some special people and given advice by some talking goats, Percy comes to terms with his place in the gloomy world and finds himself reaching enlightenment (literally). Percy Gloom is an absurd but hopeful fable for these strange times we live in.
Cathy Malkasian was the director of TV's Rugrats and the movie The Wild Thornberrys Movie, and has been nominated for a British Academy Award. This is her first graphic novel.
2008 Eisner Award WINNER: Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award — Cathy Malkasian
2008 Eisner Award Nominee: Best Graphic Album — New
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Praise for Percy Gloom:
"Cathy Malkasian's Percy Gloom shines a light on a hidden world, using language and ideas that are daringly naked and vulnerable, evoking something real, rare, and relevant. Such exquisite drawing, in the service of such rich ideas, sustained for such a long, lovely dance! The world looked differently to me after I'd finished reading it." – Jim Woodring
"I love this book! Cathy Malkasian's Percy Gloom swirls with echoes of cartoon landscapes from the past and present. You can almost hear Percy Gloom's meek, docile little voice. Her writing is so full of wit and charm that we, like the title character, walk dutifully to the edge and fall in. And like Percy, we are rewarded equally with night terrors and secret treasures." – Jeff Smith
"Percy Gloom is one of the best books out this year... I can't imagine we'll see a more assured and surprising debut this year." – The Comics Reporter
"A stunning debut, filled with striking, smart ruminations on the brevity of life and happiness and the sweetness of both." – Harrisburg Patriot-News
"There's a sense of joy and creepiness on every page, and Malkasian keeps the story lively and even suspenseful as she slowly unravels the story's themes, twists and turns. The result is a new kind of 'fairy tale' with abundant charm and surprising depth." – Sequart
"Of all the graphic novels I have read this year, Cathy Malkasian's Percy Gloom is the one I have been consistently recommending to friends and family of all ages. Imagine Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth written by Tony Millionaire..." – "Favorite Graphic Novels of 2007," Largehearted Boy
"This all has the charm of something like Howl's Moving Castle or Yellow Submarine, and Percy and his friends are drawn in a lovely, old-timey way that made me smile on every page. This is a big, solid, handsome hardcover." – Cory Doctorow
"Amazing, smart, heartbreaking, and beautiful." – Kevin Church
"Malkasian's art is absolutely lovely — filled with curving, collapsing architecture rendered in sepia colored pencils.... Malkasian delivers a positive message about the ephemeral nature of life." – Dick Hyacinth, "Best Comics of 2007"
"This reads like a Kafka tale, had Kafka also been a cartoonist who trained under Edward Gorey, Richard Sala and Dave Cooper." – Chris Reilly, Bookslut "Best of 2007"