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Elmer Paperback – November 25, 2010

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Jake Gallo is an angry young man, frustrated at his lack of employment and easily provoked by perceived slights. It is not until we are several pages into the book that we discover that he is also a talking, thinking chicken. He is no anomaly; decades earlier, all of chickenkind suddenly gained intelligence and speech; by the 2000s they are legally human. Jake's father's illness and subsequent death lead Jake to read his father's account of the early days after the change; this in turn allows Alanguilan to show the reader the often horrific sequence of events that followed chickenkind's sudden elevation to sapience. Used to seeing chickens as food or worse, humans are not shown at their best as they react, often violently, to this sudden alteration of the natural order. The gorgeous b&w art, full of lush pen work and strong expressions, takes what should be a self-evidently ludicrous proposition and somehow imbues it with plausibility, drawing readers into a brutal, blood-soaked tale of a transformed species and the outrage and savagery of their former owners. A peculiar but engaging work that deserves attention. (Nov.)The Adventures of Unemployed ManErich Origen, Gan Golan, Ramona Fradon, Rick Veitch and Michael NetzerLittle, Brown, .99 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-0-316-09882-3A superhero-filled parable of the current economic crisis that is in turns informative, smart, funny and preachy. Origen and Golan's story follows a superhero formerly known as the Ultimatum, who had championed a misguided campaign to educate society's poor on how to best lift themselves up by their bootstraps. After he's fired from the job, he hits rock bottom and joins with other heroes who tried to make an honest living by following what they'd thought were the right rules only to be crushed and tossed aside by an unfair economic system. Together they fight an organization led by the uncaring Invisible Hand and filled with characters meant to represent everything from key economic officials of the past decade to current and former investment banks. They realize that in order to succeed they'll need coordinated efforts from far more than a small band of heroes. Though the entire message comes off as preaching to the choir, the superhero pastiche, drawn in a Silver Age comics style with nods to Jack Kirby by three highly individualistic artists, gets the point across in an enjoyable way. (Oct.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gorgeously drawn black-and-white artwork combines with outstanding storytelling in this modern-day fable of ethnic strife, identity, friendship, and family. The titular character has been a writer all his “human” life, keeping a secret diary that his son Jake discovers and reads after Elmer’s death. Along with his newly engaged sister and gay movie-star brother, Jake returns to his childhood home for Elmer’s last days, stays on for his funeral, and helps his newly widowed, delicate mother. Oh, and Jake and family are sentient, well-spoken chickens, a result of a never-explained but carefully depicted world event in 1979. Elmer’s old human friend, Farmer Ben, offers Jake insight on Elmer’s past—both pre- and postsentience—and advice as Jake works through his family’s victimization at the hands of Ben’s kind. Bloody world wars pitted chicken against man and led to a wave of antichicken prejudice and even attempts at genocide before the UN declared chickens an equal part of humanity. Ethical and moral issues touch on wide-angle politics but also keep close to familial events in Jake’s childhood (bullying, child-parent strife) and adulthood (inter-“ethnic” marriage). The fine-lined artwork depicts the differences between sentient and presentient chickens, while some full-page panels show the lush scenery and relative calm between action sequences. Set in Alanguilan’s Philippine homeland and marked by its culture, Elmer deserves a wide international readership (for teen collections, note brief female nudity and strong violence) and shows how the sequential-art format can challenge even such canonical predecessors as Animal Farm. --Francisca Goldsmith

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Product Details

  • Series: Elmer
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: SLG Publishing (November 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159362204X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593622046
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #581,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gerry Alanguilan is a licensed architect in his home country, the Philippines. However, he prefers creating comic books. He's been working in Philippine comics since 1992, and American comics since 1994. He's worked primarily as an inker for Marvel, DC and Image on titles like Wolverine, X-Men, Superman, Batman, Avengers, Hulk and currently Superior with writer Mark Millar and penciller Leinil Francis Yu.

Gerry has been writing and drawing his own stories for other publishers and for his own company, Komikero Publishing. He's created Timawa, Johnny Balbona, Humanis Rex!, Sim, Wasted, Dead Heart Stories and ELMER. He's currently writing and drawing "The Marvelous Adventures of the Amazing Doctor Rizal" to be released by Komikero Publishing.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
I remember reading an article wherein Michael Chabon said it was possible to create a genre story that possessed the beauty of a literary piece.

When it comes to graphic novels, Elmer is one of those possibilities. It's a well-conceived piece of speculative fiction that's also a family drama, as well as social commentary. In an alternate universe, chickens develop rational thought and the ability to talk. The story begins at a time when chickens and humans have reached a state of co-existence, though not everything is settled. This premise alone presents numerous storytelling options, but Alanguilan opts for the more resonant one--a story about family and friendship. Then there are a few odd but strangely believable situations thrown in. [Humans marrying chickens? Really?]

Plus, it's actually entertaining, unlike other serious graphic novels that leave zero breathing room. Alanguilan manages to pack it all in using less than 150 pages, without being self-indulgent or preachy. The pacing is smooth and the artwork, gorgeous. Having worked in professional comics [most of the major titles of Marvel and DC] for over a decade, Alanguilan knows his stuff.

I dare say that the academe should look at this Filipino gem. Elmer deserves a place in the Graphic Novels 101 syllabus. It has already won the French Prix Asie-ACBD Award for best Asian graphic novel, and has been nominated for an Eisner Award. It's that good.

UPDATE: Another award for Elmer, the Quai des Bulles - Ouest France, was given last October 2011. It bested a field of ten finalists.

[If you're curious, you can make a Google search for the online preview.]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charles M. Smith II on February 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading this incredible graphic novel and I was blown away by it. It is a beautiful and heartbreaking work of art.

I picked it up at a used bookstore, having never heard of it, and knowing nothing about the story beyond the back of the book description. Neil Gaimen's promo didn't hurt.

I started reading it over lunch today and couldn't put it down until I finished. I was sitting in Skyline Chili with tears running down my cheeks by the end of it.

This is a very powerful allegory, right up there with Maus and Animal Farm in my opinion.

As I write this, my wife is reading it. She is not much for graphic novels, but she will read one if I highly recommend it. I can't wait to hear what she thinks of it.

The art was outstanding, but the writing was every bit as good.

Check this book out!
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Format: Paperback
Sapience can be a cruel mistress. "Elmer" is a graphic novel from Gerry Alanguilan telling the story of Elmer, one of the first chickens to under go the transformation that shifted chickens from livestock to intelligent beings with the capabilities for speech and other humanizing elements. Now considered on par with humans in the eyes of the law, he must fight for the simple rights that other minorities have faced over the years. Written with a winning combination of absurd humor and commentary on racial issues with the vehicle of poultry, "Elmer" is quite the read, and is enthusiastically recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Littrel on November 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
Sorry, I really do want to write a review to knock your socks off, but anything I can think of really won't do it justice. "Elmer" is just one of those titles you need to read to understand why everyone really enjoys it. Sure, the book is about a chicken who talks, but it is SO MUCH MORE than that. Emotional, stunning, heart wrenching, poignant, and clever are just a few words I would use to describe it. Great art coupled with a terrific story make this a must check out for fans of MAUS, Beasts of Burden, or anyone who may be fans of Vertigo, Oni, Top Shelf or other SLG books.
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This is such a smart graphic novel! It takes a very simple, very unbelievable premise - one day, mysteriously, chickens turn sentient - and develops it beautifully.

The drawings are beautiful, with detailed, slashing inks, using lots of parallel lines, that, at their best, are reminiscent of Bernie Wrightson's illustrations for Frankenstein. The drawings of humans are so-so, but it's really not the humans who matter. The chickens, and the world they live in - bookshelves, trees, fields, skies - are beautifully rendered in a way that does the important work of selling the unlikely premise as everyday reality.
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By Christopher on October 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Original and entertaining and glad I got it, but in the end, slightly disappointing. Beyond the initial cleverness of sentient chickens, there was nothing to make this particularly interesting (despite the chicken-masturbation scene... I can't believe I just typed that...). Even if it had just been done entirely as a colorful, lush, and rich graphic novel, rather than merely as an adult-themed black and white comic book with a firmer cover, it might have pushed it into the 5 star range. Coulda' been great, but as it is, 3.5 stars.
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