Book Review: Earthling by Aisha Franz

Reading with a warm cup of coffee, a good book, and a delicious breakfast is my favorite way to wake up.  In fact, that’s exactly what I did this morning:

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This morning’s book of choice was actually a graphic novel.  A graphic novel entitled, Earthling.  This wonderful piece of work was written by Aisha Franz, originally in German but then translated to English, and published by Drawn & Quarterly, a publishing house located in Montreal, Quebec.

Cover of Earthling. Image from Drawn & Quarterly’s website.

“Aisha Franz was born in Fürth, Germany and was named after an elephant from TV. She studied illustration at the School of Art and Design in Kassel and has worked as a freelance illustrator and cartoonist since graduating. Franz has published two graphic novels; her books have been translated into Italian, Spanish, and French. Her work has been exhibited in Germany, Belgium, and Italy, and she currently lives in Berlin, where she’s part of the comics collective The Treasure Fleet” (source).

The narrative within this story follows the lives of three women.  The reader sees the way that each woman copes (or doesn’t cope) with the anxiety and grief of an upcoming trip with their estranged father/husband.  Franz blends elements of science fiction within this family melodrama-based plot; whether it’s an alien hanging out with the youngest of the women, the battle of young love with the next oldest woman, or the magical blending of an alternate persona of the mother coming out of the TV, Franz uses her talents to make this world seem interesting.

Image from Drawn & Quarterly’s website.

The drawing style in this graphic novel is simple: pencil.  Just plain ol’ pencil–no color.  Usually, I prefer graphic novels to be in color, but the absence of color in this particular story really enhances the reader’s feeling of alienation, similar to that of the characters.  This lack of vibrancy also resonates with the second-oldest character and her ups and down within her love life.  Combining the narrative with this drawing style really helps the reader to connect more to the plot and characters.

Aisha Franz knows how to use both her art style and writing to successfully create a magnificent graphic novel that comments on the stereotypes surrounding sex, dating, and teenage boys who happen to be assholes.  If you have thirty to forty-five minutes in your day to just sit and indulge in a good story, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of this from your local library or independent bookstore.  After you’ve read it, or if you already have, feel free to leave your opinion in the comments below.

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