Wednesday, October 15, 2014

GRAPHIC NOVELS: An Exciting New Graphic Novel --A New Original Story! by Jim Butcher, THE DRESDEN FILES: WAR CRY

Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     You're in trouble and need a private eye. Looking in the newspaper want ad section you spot an advertisement for a private eye--oddly enough, it is not in the private eye section of the paper. Instead, this private eye is listed under "Wizards." Should you call this, Harry Dresden?

    You consider for a moment whether or not you should call; you look and see that the advertisement says that the rates are reasonable and that he offers "consulting & advice." That sounds good, and you also notice that he conducts "paranormal investigations." That is definitely a plus. You make up your mind to call this Dresden fellow...then, in the middle of dialing Dresden's number you see it. Well, shoot. Maybe he'll do it anyway...the phone rings and is picked up. You introduce yourself and ask him, "Mr. Dresden, my wife and I would like to book you for my grandmother's birthday celebration--she's turning 95, you know."

     There's silence on the other end of the phone, so nervously, you continue, "We'd like you to hold a seance to contact her husband who passed away 4 years ago." You hear a long sigh on the other end of the phone...then silence...then a click. Well, heck, back to looking at the want ads. You can't give up'll be in deep trouble with your wife if you don't find someone.  

     No, Harry Dresden doesn't do "parties or other entertainment." He does, however fill the bill for action when it comes to paranormal baddies who intrude into the Chicago scene. You see, he earns a living from his paranormal private eye business, as well as occasionally consulting for the Chicago police. Eventually, Dresden becomes a "Warden" for the White Council which gives him a substantial boost in income. We will get to see Dresden as a Warden in the book we are reviewing today, a big jump in prestige as well as income and power for Harry. So, now that we know that, let's get right to the book synopsis, shall we?

     A war between the Red Court (vampires) and the White Council (of wizards) has been raging for a while. At first, a stalemate, now the wizards are losing. They've had a catastrophic loss of wardens during one horrible battle with the Red Court and its allies. Now, at wit's end, the Council is desperate to get more wardens to fill their dwindling ranks. They are so desperate that they call up Harry Dresden, wizard-for-hire, and make him a Warden; they also activate young and inexperienced wizards and send them with Dresden on an assignment, that in reality, should only have been given to experienced and practiced wizards. They are cast into the deep end of the pool.     

Bianca of the Red Court
Vampires (from The Dres-
den Files
 TV series). [4]
     A small, elite, handful of mortals have been targeted by the vampires of the Red Court. Harry is given little information about them, but he knows he must rescue them. When he arrives at the location and the mortals refuse to leave, Harry knows something is up. The young wizards and Harry fight to protect the small house in which the mortals are staying. Stretched to their limits, they keep finding ways to keep the Red Court out of the house--but for how long? Can they make it through the night and to the morning's dawning? Will they be able to battle back Red Court forces through the long hours of the dark night until sunlight banishes all the vampires? Soon enough, Dresden learns about the deep, dark secret the mortals are striving to protect. But how do the vampires even know about the secret?

     Jim Butcher's graphic novel collects the "critically acclaimed" series consisting of five issues into this one book, The Dresden Files: War Cry. So, if the book is the collected works of five previously published issues of The Dresden Files, how can it be called a graphic novel? To find out if the book actually qualifies as a graphic novel, let's take a look at the elements of a graphic novel.
     Some reviewers and experts (especially some in the comics industry) believe that there is no such thing as a graphic novel, that all such publications are merely cartoons or comics; they believe the term "graphic novel" is pretentious and inaccurate. Other experts accept as true that graphic novels exist, but disagree on what elements make up a graphic novel. I will not be exploring these aspects of the graphic novel controversy, today. These topics would require at least one whole blog post to begin to do them justice. I, therefore, will be approaching graphic novels from the viewpoint that they exist. I also will be utilizing the elements of graphic novels that the greater number of experts agree upon as being included in this (graphic novel) publication format.

Story Arc:    Generally, the consensus is that the most important feature of graphic novels is that, like novels, graphic novels utilize a story arc in their composition. They have a beginning, a middle, and an end. In other words, a story opens with an inciting incident and tension builds (a crisis or multiple crises happen), leading to the climax, followed by the denouement (falling action) and end of the story.

Note: Topics in graphic novels may include non-fiction, biography, anthologies, collections, politics, drama, romance and, of course fiction. So, the topic of the graphic novel may be almost anything, as long as the sequential art creates a story, today, combined with words.

Episodic v. Single Publication:
  To help determine whether or not the publication contains a complete story arc with a beginning, middle and end, look to see if the publication is a "single work" or whether it is "episodic" in nature. Multiple issues with a series of different stories, contain volume and issue numbers, such as comic books do (see image on left).[6]

Character Growth:     Comic books may contain two, three, or even four stories in one issue, while graphic novels contain only one story. These graphic novel stories have the same characters throughout the story where comics might or might not have the same characters. In the graphic novel the protagonist grows and changes whereas in comics the characters tend to be more static.

Paper:     Episodic publications (comic books) tend to be published on inexpensive bulk (or pulp) paper while graphic novels tend to be published on more expensive paper, sometimes, even heavy, glossy paper. Some graphic novels I've seen are truly beautiful. Again, this may not be dispositive, as I've seen a few comic book collections published on nice paper, as well.
These are my Dresden Files Graphic Novels including: Storm
(Vol. 1 & 2); Fool Moon (Vol. 1 & 2); Welcome to the
; and Ghoul Goblin (a new original story) by Jim
Butcher, from Dynamite Entertainment. Wonderful,
wonderful publishers and top notch books!
Publication Covers: 
      Comic books tend to have paper covers while graphic novels can be either a type of cardstock or hardbound. This is not dispositive, however, because modernly, we can see collected comic book issues placed in hard bound book covers. Of course, e-books have digital covers and pages, so the sections on physical books do not apply to the e-books.

How is the Publication Bound?
This graphic novel fell apart in my hands as I read it the very
first time. It was merely glued together and the glue didn't
hold the pages at all. See my review of  Steve Moore's,
 Hercules: The Thracian Wars.
     As you may already know, comic books are bound together with staples. Graphic novels, being somewhat larger are usually bound the way books are bound. I've seen some stitched and then glued to card stock, and I've also seen some inexpensively bound graphic novels merely glued--often with disastrous results. I have a couple graphic novels that have literally fallen apart in my hands because of poor construction methods and/or cheap materials.

What is the Size of the Publication?   

Here is one of the bound collections of comic books that I re-
ferred to in the text, above. This is the X-Men Comics
collection including Days of Future Past. This
bound collection is NOT a graphic novel. [8]
     In the United States, comic books are generally 6 5/8" x 10 1/4" (Trade paperbacks: 5.32" x 8.51", and Digests: from 5 3/8" to 5 1/2" x 7 1/2' to 8 3/8"). Keep in mind, however, with international trade you may see publications from other countries. European publishers have different standards and practices and traditions than U.S. publish- ers. For example, there the graphic novel is called, "an album." I will not be covering, here, the European practices and editions. Another tangential aspect I will not be covering is the "Manga" publications--which, in and of themselves can be quite wonderful. [6]

How Many Pages Does the Publication Have? and, 
Does the Publication Contain Advertising?
Top quality construction methods result in a sturdy, well-crafted
graphic novel. This is a close up of Ghoul Goblin cover. Dyna-
mite Entertainment
is my favorite graphic novel publisher.
      Early comic books (1940s) had approximately 64-96 pages. Modern comics total about 32 pages: 22 pages for comics and another 10 pages for ads. Graphic novels are approximately three times the size of a comic book or about 100 pages. Many graphic novels I've seen have been 150-165 pages, and of course, no advertising. Comic books contain a lot of advertising, graphic novels, none. [6]

What is the Price?     Comics started out costing $.10 and modernly might cost $4.00 more or less. Graphic novels, on the other hand can start at about $9.99 and run to $25.00 (or more if they are large or deluxe gift editions). So, the disparity in the price of comics and graphic novels are great.[6]
Here is a picture of my Ghoul Goblin
graphic novel with the hardcover on
 the right and the dust jacket on the left.

     Does the author and/or publishers intend the work to be a comic or a graphic novel? Is the publication advertised as a graphic novel? Although the answers to these questions are not 100% dispositive as to whether or not the publication is a novel, they can go a long way in helping to determine it.
AFTER YOU DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT THE PUBLICATION IS A GRAPHIC NOVEL ASK: Is the publication a good graphic novel? What is the quality of the publication? Is the book well constructed? Is the art well done? How good is the story line? Is the cover art pleasing? What is the overall appearance of the graphic novel? Are the dialog bubbles, captions, panes, colors, artwork and other content appropriate to the story (well adapted), and professional? Basically, what is the quality of the graphic novel?

The quintessential
Harry Dresden. [9]
     Does War Cry have a complete story arc, a beginning, a middle, and an end? Since we've already looked at the synopsis at the top of the blog post, we already know that an inciting incident occurred to propel Harry Dresden, Warden, into the war with the Red Court vampires. He is sent to protect some ordinary humans. Complications occur and the group of wizards battle all night to keep their charges alive. A climax occurs, the deep dark secret is revealed, and eventually, we come to the end of the story (without revealing to you just what that is). So this element is a definite, yes.

     Is War Cry episodic in nature, or one complete story? While the author and publishers have originally published the series in five parts, we might be tempted to say the story is episodic. But the intent of the author seems to be to create one complete story with a beginning, middle and end, even if it is broken up into five parts. It is not episodic in nature with five different stories. Moreover, the five published issues do not have volume and issue numbers as do comic books. So, the collected five issues are indeed one story broken up into what could be called five chapters of one story.

  This publication has one story with one set of characters, not different ones as do comic books. Although, in the story, the time frame is approximately one day (or night), the characters do come away having learned things from their time together and their encounters with each other and the Red Court vampires.

   Since the publication I viewed was an e-book from NetGalley, no paper was involved, no cover (hardcover or cardstock), so I can- not comment on what the physical edition of War Cry will be like. That having been said, since I own other Dresden Files hardcover graphic novels, and since I know the high quality of Dynamite Entertainment's books, I had no hesitation in ordering a special Signed Limited Edition of this graphic novel.

 Harry Dresden's beloved
Blue Beetle...unfortunate-
ly, it was crushed and
    Although I have not examined the physical edition of War Cry, information provided by the publisher indicates the size is as 10.2" x 6.8" x 0.5"; and the shipping weight is reported as 1.7 pounds; I've already told you that the Publisher is Dynamite Entertainment, the release date is 11-11-14, and the language is English.

     War Cry contains only one ad for Ghoul Goblin at the end of the book; no other advertising is in the book. And since the hardcover edition has 144 pages the page requirement is met for a graphic novel, as well. Moreover, the book is advertised as a graphic novel, indicating that the intent is to market the book as a graphic novel. Prices may vary, but currently, Amazon lists the price as $20.48 (Since I ordered a signed limited edition, my book was purchased for $28.06.).

CONCLUSION: With all of the expected elements of the graphic novel having been met, the conclusion is that the book is definitely, a graphic novel. The final question to ask is whether or not the graphic novel is a good graphic novel.

     I like the cover design. To start with, on the cover, we get to see the major players in the story, the characters who are seen consistently throughout the story. The use of color is vibrant and the artwork is amazing. Just take a look at the graphic image to the left, here. It is just beautiful. My digital image as viewed on my computer showed the colors to be vibrant and the artwork detailed and precise. I also liked, very much, the captions and dialog--they were easy to read, the lettering neat, succinct, and accurately conveyed dialog and information.

Back Up features Harry and his
brother Thomas Raith. [13]
     The story, as we've already discussed, has a beginning, middle, and end. But that just doesn't tell you how good the story is--does it? Well, I have to say that I was so excited to know that the story was an original story to the Dresden series. I loved to read about the conflicts between Harry, his newbie wizards and the Red Court Vampires, the twists and turns and exciting climax. I also LOVE that Jim Butcher saw fit to bring back one of my favorite characters: Harry's bro, Thomas Raith of the White Court. I love that Thomas is back and hope Jim Butcher continues to keep him in his novels. Thank you, Mr. Butcher.

     With the new graphic novel, Jim Butcher also includes a "bonus section with the original story outline, sketchbook artwork from Carlos Gomez, cover gallery with roughs from Stjepan Sejic, and...Commentary from Jim Butcher." [10]


     Well, obviously, with the themes of vampires, fighting, and killing supernatural creatures, this book is not for the very young or sensitive person. The book is, undoubtedly, going to be loved by those in the target audience, and is appropriate reading for anyone who loves Jim Butcher's work, fantasy, or graphic novels, in general.

     For all the reasons I've given above about the high quality of Dynamite Entertainment's books, Jim Butcher's excellent writing, and the pure enjoyment and entertainment value of the book, I rate this beautiful book 5.0 stars out of 5.0.

     I highly recommend this book. I would buy this book as a gift to family or friends. I have already preordered a hardcover copy for myself.
     Thank you for joining me, today, as we covered an awful lot of material! Whew! I know this was a big post, but I think it is important for all of you to know what goes into making a truly good graphic novel. And then, of course, I wanted to show you all a great example of a graphic novel--Jim Butcher's, The Dresden Files: War Cry. Please join me, again, next week as we will jump genres and be looking at an upcoming new sci-fi publication. Please read a little bit every day, and be kind to others in your life. 

     If you are interested in seeing other graphic novels I've reviewed, here are the links to those pages:

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning;
Hercules: The Thracian Wars by Steve Moore (book-to-movie);
Edge of Tomorrow (book) and graphic novel, All You Need Is Kill from book, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka; 
X-Men: Days of Future Past [1 graphic novel & 2 books reviewed];
Captain America: Winter Soldier [A Graphic Novel] by Marvel Comics;
Vampire Academy, Book 1, and Vampire Academy the Graphic Novel by Richelle Mead;
 Thor: The Dark World Prelude [A Graphic Novel] by Marvel Comics; Illustrator: Lan Medina.

Until next time...many happy pages of reading!
Please keep this beautiful, precious, new soul and her beautiful
mother in your prayers. Happy Birthday, my Darling Girl!
I send my love and joy to you all, Sharon.
All my love,


I dedicate this blog post to my new, beautiful, granddaught- er, Sharon Ele'a V. Powers (my namesake) and her beautiful, intelligent, loving mother (my daughter), Mary- am Powers. Baby Sharon was born on October 7, 2014 at 8:16 a.m. was 8 lbs., 13 oz., and 20" long. 
[1] "Title Details (Page): Dresden Files: War Cry." [by Jim Butcher and Carlos Gomez] Retrieved 10-12-14.
[2] "Harry Dresden." [newspaper ad] Retrieved 10-13-14.
[3] "Synopsis." Retrieved 10-14-14.
[4] "DVD Review - THE DRESDEN FILES - The First Season." [Bianca] Retrieved 10-14-14.
[5] "Some More Writing Advice--Beginning, Middle, End." Retrieved 10-14-14.
[6] "How to Distinguish Between a Comic Book and a Graphic Novel." Retrieved 10-14-14.
[7] "Homenaje. Wolverine 1 de Frank Miller y Chris Claremont (ensenando las garras)." Retrieved 10-14-14.
[8] "Analyzing Character Growth Throughout a Text." Retrieved 10-14-14. 
[9] "Dovahkiin (Dragonborn) vs Harry Dresden." Retrieved 10-14-14.
[10] "Dresden Files: War Cry." Retrieved 10-15-14.
[11] "What's Your Dream Car?" Retrieved 10-15-14.
[12] "Dresden Files: War Cry." Retrieved 10-15-14.
[13] "Backup." [by Jim Butcher] Retrieved 10-15-14.
[14] "Tower of Hanoi." Retrieved 10-15-14.
[*] "NetGalley Disclaimer - Home." Retrieved 09-30-14.