I have been reading lots of books lately. Some I purchased. Others have been sent to me to review. The other day I received probably the largest and most unusual book I have ever received to review. The book measures 13 1/2″ by 10 3/4″ and had a whopping 192 pages. The title: “Suns of Chaos”. The publicity calls this book “a lavishly illustrated graphic novel written by Chris Jaymes and Illustrated by Ale Aragon that relates the real-life heartrending story of the war (the Greek war of independence) that quietly shaped the Western World.”
I had previously heard of graphic novels, longer stories illustrated somewhat like comic books, but had never seen one. The size of this book alone said to me it must be some sort of award winner or soon-to-be winner.
I thumbed through the pages and was amazed at the artwork, wondering how such a book could come to be. Were the words first? Or the drawings? And how long did it take the artist to do ALL these drawings? Most of the drawings were accompanied by bubbles of dialogue and not dialogue for grade-schoolers. (Drawings including rape and violence might not be for very young folks either.) For high schoolers who just like the pictures, they would probably like the over-sized words that accompanied some of the drawings, words like “Blam!” “Thud!” “Clap!” “Yeaaarrmmbbllle!” “Thwak!” “Fwooosh!” “Aaarch!” and “Boooom! (Love those vowels.) So yes, I guess we could say the book included sound effects.
The type in the bubbles wasn’t easy for these senior eyes to see, but armed with a good light, I started in. Whoa…sometimes I was reading across, sometime up and down. I’ll tackle this later.
Later came, and I had plenty of time to devour the book. I got the gist of what was happening, a revolution in Greece in the 1800s, but I couldn’t really keep the names straight as I read the words. I’m a writer so the words were more important than the art and the book didn’t have enough words to keep me on track. Sadly I never finished the book. I can imagine some teenager looking at me with disgust because I “didn’t get it”, but I didn’t.
In fairness, one fan of the book called it (in all caps) “A MASTERPIECE! THE GREEK VERSION OF LES MISERABLES!” The comments about the book on Amazon are also raves, though those comments are almost too good to be true.
I brought “Sons of Chaos” with me to several local gatherings where I figured the people involved had never seen a book like this. Most of them were impressed. But then my friends are older folks whose childhood readings started with “Dick and Jane”, progressed to the Oz books, then “Call of the Wild” and “Catcher in the Rye”. Yes, somewhere along the line we appreciated Superman comic books, but that was just a phase, except for that man down the street who opened a comic book store. We couldn’t imagine a grown man being interested in comics. But that was then….
So, the revolution in Greece went on without me. But I’ve acquired a beautiful coffee-table book, and it will always be available for visitors to see. The hardcover cost for those who have a graphic novel fan on their Christmas list would be about “about” $35. Or, for less money, one could pay just $24.99 for Kindle & “comiXology”. Never heard of “comiXology” either. Just how out of it can I be?
P.S. Three best sellers I do recommend (I purchased these) are, “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi, the true story by a surgeon/writer whose life was too brief; “Never a Lovely So Real” by Colin Asher, the biography of Chicago writer Nelson Algren and “In Pieces“, the rather startling autobiography of actress Sally Field. In all three, lots of words…few pictures.