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Elmer Paperback – November 23, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
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.]
The story follows Elmer and his family through the changes in society as mankind struggles to adapt. A bird they once ate can now speak and reason as people do. It's shocking in some parts, sentimental in others. The story develops in a realistic manner over several years. It may seem like science fiction or something that belongs in The Twilight Zone but it's interesting.
Despite being in comic book form, it's not meant for young children. Older children or teenagers might like it. Adults might like it too if they can accept the basic premise.
Unlike comic books, Elmer is published in black and white. There is no color version of this story. I enjoyed this very unusual story.
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.
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!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is so cool, you have to get this for yourself to see first-hand just how wicked cool this comic is. A perfect graphic novel in every way.Published 1 month ago by Marc E. DiPaolo
Beautiful quality. Shipping speed was reasonable. This book is amazing, such a sweet story, would recommend it to anybody. Illustrations are fantastic.Published on August 31, 2013 by Shiphrah Rosenberg
The book is interesting, I like it a lot, mad respect to the writers and to the young filipino and Filipino American explorerPublished on March 22, 2013 by ms wolf
Chickens suddenly becoming aware, becoming "conscious," if you may, and learning to speak is a brilliant and brave idea for a plot. And Mr. Alanguilan took it to a home run. Read morePublished on July 21, 2011 by Judge J Drhedd
I thought this book would be more of an allegory of real life racial conflicts. It is to some extent. Read morePublished on April 4, 2011 by Nancy L Lewis