Kafka by Steven T. Seagle, Stefano Gaudiano and Marco Cinello

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Noir like some of the usual genre fiction is a male escapist fantasy. This graphic novel didn’t skimp on the atmosphere and relish under the genre in this newly reissued 80’s graphic novel. Instead of being a genuine Kafka as the title, the fiction is a tale of its own and does not carry Kafka-elements at all. ‘Kafka’ told a story of a man struggling with his identity and in the run from the people threatening to take everything from him.

Although I do enjoy noir thrillers, I hardly find myself enjoying the novel as I should. The comic-style art is raw and darkly uninviting like the noir environment it thrive and it have its cheesy predictable moments associated with man-on-the-run trope to keep up the pace while sacrificing on plot and character substance. There’s hardly any speaking female characters and from the history, there were issues associated with the comic at the original publication. But the sparsity and the atmosphere explained why its being revived as a tv series which would be popular with thriller fans.

In any type of fiction, I appreciate depth and characterization if plot became an issue but I don’t find myself intrigued by the whole story once I figured it to be a Running Man trope with some flashbacks. I was not emotionally invested into the plot nor does it invested with me as a reader nor does it memorable besides being a noir. In whatever adaptation this book might have, I hope they would give the whole story a new lifeline and intelligence in it.

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville

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Bartleby The Scrivener are a ridiculously significant modern tale from late 19th century which question morality and humanity that goes beyond the world of productivity and capitalism. As much as Melville drawing the humanism inspiration from Hawthorne in science, he did it by human ethics. In a simpler way of generalizing this book, this is one weird crazy book. They call this book an absurdist and existentialist fiction but I find its a lot harder to round up the author easily. I genuinely prefer the discussion on this book than the book itself because the book is confusing while reading but became more clear when you’ve find that its filled with metaphors on some kind.

The story is narrated by a lawyer who told a story of the most peculiar person he ever met; Bartleby. He had problems regarding his scriveners, Nipper and Turkey who have their own temperament which leads to the hiring of Bartleby. At first, he was a good and wonderful employee until one day when asked by the narrator to proofread a document, Bartleby would say “I would prefer not to”. The narrator let it slide until Bartleby grew increasingly unproductive and eccentric with his repetitive that he would prefer not to do everything asked by everyone even for his own well-being that it alarmed the narrator that he tried to persuade Bartleby to give a reason why but Bartleby would say continuously, “I would prefer not to”.

A scrivener is a copyist. You could say it is a modern equivalent of a xerox machine. While in this story, Bartleby became the main focus due to his persistence and curious way of conduct that frightened everyone around him.  He contrasted the world the narrator lived in. His depression became so infectious that the narrator who sympathize but fear him enough that he relocated his business after failing to nudge Bartleby to any form of work or life that Bartleby caused the tenants and new occupants trouble which lands him to even worst condition.

Some would consider Bartleby as a language and by his action, he became a verbal succubus sucking emotions around him just by his verbal persistence. He can also be seen as a victim of the modernity and this degradation began from his previous employment which the narrator sadly mourn the lost of humanity in him. The novel even question about the right of the living if only the living could choose to not proliferate under productivity. It also shows how being different can be misinterpreted if not being understood and in search of knowing, the narrator found himself unwittingly empathized with Bartleby who continued to eluded him by being passive until the narrator became helpless as it destroyed Bartleby from the inside. Maybe Bartleby aren’t meant to be understood nor to be saved but the situation around him are relevant in this time to ignore the underlying clues embedded inside the novella. Even still, it alludes me.

Moriarty (Moriarty #1-2) by Daniel Corey, Anthony Diecidue, Mike Vosburg & Perry Freeze

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Moriarty is a collection of the graphic novel series written by Daniel Corey about the Sherlock Holmes’ archnemesis set in the backdrop around the WW1 era and two decades after the ‘Reichenback Falls’. After Holmes’ death, Moriarty have been living under unassuming name, living as an investigator and involved in trade businesses and neglected his broken crime empire since he had lost his motivation or called his ‘dragon’ which drove him on as the notorious Professor Moriarty. However, while war is looming ahead, he was approached to find the missing Mycroft Holmes and found himself facing another ‘dragon’ hell-bent on destroying the world.

I noticed there was two element at work here, Corey’s compelling prose and artworks by Anthony Diecidue, Mike Vosburg & Perry Freeze which translates into a very dark gothic horror atmosphere of the novel and a story about a broken man finding his purpose to be alive again. “Moriarty” is about the an anti-hero side of the renown criminal genius and his story where we were able to glimpse into his dark mind and the dangerous world he’s living in which is a shade of grey where even the good guys doesn’t seem to be good either. Despite being older and haggard than the person he once was, he was no less dangerous opponent in this re-imagined universe. Admittedly, the story were more similar to Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies.

The artwork in the novel were adult, heavily noir, action packed and carry some Asian exoticsm in the mix like the second episode of BBC’s Sherlock Holmes. Its definitely not a lighthearted novel, and despite being coloured, the stroke made the graphic novel accessible in grayscale and quite similar in style to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. There were some moment where it does get predictable, deary and convoluted with action and violent scenes but  the dense written part kept me going to the end. The graphic novel seemed to skewed more towards the novel part than the graphics which at some time seems to be more of a sketch to be consistent through the novel.

However, I really like the idea of Moriarty’s side of the story and I think the graphic novel would be even more successful if being adapted in the big screen. Preferably by Doug Jones, obviously.

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review