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Any Empire Hardcover – September 13, 2011
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"The most prodigiously talented graphic novelist of his [generation] ... Powell's exceptional visual-storytelling gift transforms a potentially obvious antiwar parable into a ravishingly beautiful, emotionally resonant, thoughtful, and provocative work of art." -- Booklist (starred review)
"[It] is everything a graphic novel should be, and few are. Spare, to the point dialog, fluid and effortless visual storytelling devoid of pretensions... I very rarely read graphic novels because I usually can't get past the first few pages. Any Empire drew me in from the start and didn't let up." -- Larry Hama, GI Joe
"At times poignant, at at others surreal, Any Empire is an engaging, never preachy work about childhood, centering on those secret currents that define our youthful rivalries and the games we play." -- MTV Geek
"We've all experienced the world's endless cycle of innocence shattered, and Powell renders it all in lovely chiaroscuro... he crafts memorable and heartfelt characters that linger in the mind and scar the heart." -- Under the Radar
About the Author
Nate Powell (b. 1978, Little Rock AR) is the New York Times best-selling graphic novelist whose work includes The Year Of The Beasts (2012, Roaring Brook), The Silence Of Our Friends (2012, First Second), Any Empire (2011, Top Shelf), Swallow Me Whole (Eisner Award winner for Best Graphic Novel, Ignatz Award winner, Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist; 2008, Top Shelf), and Sounds Of Your Name (2006, Microcosm). He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.
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Top customer reviews
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I think this is worth reading, but mostly because the art does tell quite a story. Nate certainly has a talent for executing a storyline and character's narratives through art alone. My problem is the story itself is a bit disjointed. His somber but nostalgic look at the character's childhoods sets an interesting tone, but the underlying commentary about violence and coming-of-age pitfalls associated with it are not enough to make these character's interesting, especially the antagonist I'll just refer to as The Bully. It falls a bit flat.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed it overall even though I was not wowed by it. The artwork, and storytelling through the artwork alone is worth picking up a used copy. As far as the story and the payoff, that is very subjective and your mileage might vary from mine.
The visuals clash at many points and the text follows a less is more approach, constructing sentences carefully to not rob the images emphatic nature. The switch between time periods creates a paradox that only a surrealist like Dalrymple could pull off so eloquently, while providing to the overall meaning of the story. Perhaps most important is the nature of the book itself, which follows such an odd contradiction in the nature of man...to quote a slogan from the book itself, and its many cliche' overuses - "War is Hell".
That said, the story lends itself more to a visual display rather than that of text with some hidden agenda, or soapbox preaching. It is a powerful piece of surrealism that catches its reader unaware at many points. It doesn't shock you, anger you, outrage you...it does its best to confuse you....but mostly it captures nostalgia in a way that is so entertaining and knowledgeable that you can't help but give it your undivided attention. Perhaps those of us who grew up in the South feel a slightly closer connection. Truly anyone from a small town full of Americana-ideologies can relate. To give such a great piece of work a cursory glance would be to spit in the face of its constructor's finest intentions.
This is a story whose meaning is so poignant in today's troublesome political, militaristic climate that it is certainly a must read for any graphic novel fan. An amazing follow up to Swallow Me Whole (2008). While Nate Powell's work may be overshadowed by the parallel release of Thompson's latest dazzler, Habibi (2011), I do hope this comic doesn't go unnoticed.
The hardcover and binding, as well as the cover art, make this more than worth the 20.00$ USD price tag (not to mention the Amazon discount!) and I suggest this to anyone who is a fan of Farel Dalrymple, Craig Thompson, Jeffery Brown and many other contemporary cartoonists < I do not mean that in a demeaning fashion).
Winter's approaching, order this book (Support the artist and his big time publisher, ha), grab a blanket, and turn on whatever relaxes you while you dive into this must have!
My overall impression is that Nate Powell can clearly draw when he wants to, so with a shifting timeline and other potentially confusing elements at the end, he could have made the story a lot easier to follow. It's unfortunate because his message loses impact this way.
Most recent customer reviews
The artwork is quite impressive on occasions, but not worth the boring,...Read more