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Highly Recommended.

I wish I could give Big Questions by Anders Nilsen so many more stars than five or ten or one million. It is an incredible read.

The main characters are mostly birds who talking to one another, goof off, and figure stuff out. It’s equal parts surreal/philosophical and birds-being-weird funny stuff. They all have names, so it’s not as hard as I thought it would be to tell the different finches apart.

Since the book is a compilation of the whole Big Questions series, it’s episodic but it has a cohesiveness that I feel many serialized comics lack. It’s funny though because each episode is made up of a bunch of weird vignettes, making the individual episodes perhaps a little scattered but keeps the entire work together.

The art is truly incredible. Nilsen goes from really simple to staggeringly detailed throughout. The line quality is so sensitive which results in incredibly nuanced drawings regardless of simplicity or complexity. Compositionally, he explores the comic form more often and more interestingly than most other graphic novels and graphic non-fiction I’ve read. There are boxed panels and unboxed panels, small framed close-ups inside larger scenes, characters progressing through a single wide view, etc.. In the afterward, he mentions how he was figuring it out as he went along — very much to the benefit of the reader.

There is so much ambiguity, but it’s really beautiful, productive, satisfying ambiguity.

I read another of his works, Monologues for the Coming Plague, and it definitely wasn’t as interesting or engaging as Big Questions. BUT Nilsen also has a blog, the Monologuist, where he posts a lot of images from his sketchbooks and that is top shelf. He also has an official website too.

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Allie has
read 97 books toward her goal of 150 books.
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