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The Armed Garden and Other Stories Hardcover – September 12, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The stories are held together by the artist’s sense of humor and tone, not to mention the striking, not-quite-black-and-white, two-toned art. …[F]antastical events [are] juxtaposed with a to the point, almost ho-hum narration, suggesting the idea that these legends are common occurrences. If only that were so. (Adam W. Kepler - The New York Times)

This slim volume is finely edited, and its narrative tone resides on the border between fairy stories and unbowdlerized folk tales.... The drawings, printed in two crisp colors,would be worth the price of the book if it were stripped of words. . . The Armed Garden will delight you. (Hillary Brown - Paste)

The Armed Garden and Other Stories is the witty, finely executed work of an artist uniquely capable of capturing both the fervid ecstasy of belief and the dull, heartsick ache left behind once it cools. (Glen Weldon - NPR.org)

Religious fundamentalism... has worn a thousand faces in a millennia-­long carnevale procession of war and weirdness, and David B. paints portraits of three of its masks with bloody brilliance. Focusing on long-­forgotten heresies and treating the most outlandishl egends about them as fact, B.’s high­-contrast linework sets them all alight with their own incandescent madness. (Sean T. Collins - Robot 6)

David B. is clearly one of the best storytellers in the medium of comics. (Joe Sacco)

David B. works a real kind of deeply human magic on the page. (Jason Lutes)

About the Author

David B. was born in 1959 in France. His Epileptic has received multiple nominations and one award at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, and is considered a masterpiece among Franco-Belgian comics. He is a founding member of L’Association, a group of French cartoonists who broke ground in their approach comics format, subject matter, and style: they were one of Persepolis's first publishers.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics; 1St Edition edition (September 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160699462X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606994627
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.7 x 10.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The book contains three long-ish stories; The Veiled Prophet, The Armed Garden, and The Drum Who Fell in Love. All three books contain David B's unique drawing style which lends itself nicely to the surreal nature of the stories.

The first story has something of the 1001 Arabian Nights about it, telling the tale of a prophet whose face is covered by a veil and the quest others took upon themselves to see beyond it. I'm not sure if this story is an original by David B or is an adaptation from the Muslim faith or another book, but it's mythical and religious overtones make it seem that way.

The Armed Garden tells of a blacksmith who becomes convinced that he is doing the work of the Lord and that Eve is telling him to seek out Paradise, which inevitably ends badly.

The Drum Who Fell in Love concerns a real historical figure, Jan Zizka, a 15th century Czech general who died in 1424. His followers have his skin taken off of him, tanned, and turned into a drum. Whenever the drum is beaten, Zizka's ghost appears and joins them in battle.

All of the stories are imaginative and well-illustrated but the way they're told is not very involving for the reader - this person did this, they were told this, they did this, that happened - it feels very much like you're reading a story so you're never lost in it, you're too aware for that to happen. Also the overly religious and mythical tones were quite off-putting as they never felt like they made the stories better, rather it made them seem more silly and story-like (if that makes sense).

I like David B's work but "The Armed Garden and Other Stories" is not his best book and, were it not for some explicit scenes, I would say it would be more suited to children who are perhaps less judgmental about the flaws in the book and more ready to accept the way the stories unfold. For anyone curious about David B I would direct them to his best book yet, "Epileptic", rather than this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Book Is A Wonderous Thing on February 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An enchanting, sensual and fearful fairytale of a book ... two of its stories based on true religious wars of the 15th Century! (Events are the "Hussite War" etc)

David B.'s artwork is lushly stylized, looking like woodcarvings and icon art, but in this book especially gripping! I agree that the story-telling is more like events recounted than emotions or characterization ... but that's a valid narrative choice in its own way too. Most readers might consider it a bit too sexual and violent for children, and it deals with religious heresies.

The book's a rare treat, imo. With "THE ARMED GARDEN" David B. gifts us with another of his fever fantasy dreamscapes!
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