Friday, November 9, 2012

30 in 30: I Kill Giants

#9: I Kill Giants
Storytellers:  Joe Kelly & J. M. Ken Niimura
Publisher: Image
Year Of Publication: 2009
Page Count (can be approximate or in # of issues format): 184 pages

When writing a strong emotional reaction from a character, it is far more affecting if you have set up a baseline previously to gauge this crescendo against.  For example, within the first half of I Kill Giants, we see the main character, Barbara bullied or reprimanded a few times.  In each instance, her reaction is to make a sarcastic remark and accept the consequences otherwise.  But, when the bully of the school crosses the line (grabbing at a purse Barbara always has with her, which has been shown to be special to her previously), Barbara loses it and reacts physically, laying a beating on the bully.  This was an incredibly affecting scene for me, made possible by the fact that he rreaction had been so different previously.  It was really well done and something to keep in mind when working on big emotional moments in my own writing.
Speed lines can be a very effective tool when handled well.  I’m not a big manga reader but I have read all of Lone Wolf & Cub as well as Akira and Fist of the North Star, so I am familiar with manga and its tropes, and, for me, speed lines have rarely worked in these books.  I can’t say exactly why that is the case (I’m thinking they may have been overused, but I’d have to go back and look to see if that is the case).  But in I Kill Giants, Niimura – who worked in a manga style – utilizes speed lines sparingly to great effect.  


This was a deeply moving and incredibly affecting story.  One of the best books I’ve read in a while.  Kelly & Niimura weave imaginary fantasies with harsh, and sometimes touching, reality to create a tale that feels genuine.  I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but there is a secret in Barbara Thorson’s life that she is avoiding, as she tries to navigate the hardships of being a young girl who does not “fit in.”  Preferring to lose herself within the fantasies around her – manifested in her hardcore dungeon master style during D&D games with friends – she must eventually come face to face with the reality she has denied for too long.  And in that acceptance she discovers a truth about herself, and the rest of her family, she had not realized.  I cannot recommend this highly enough.  Brilliant, brilliant book.

No comments: