Teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Hi guys. I am proud to announce I am a contributor to Teaching BJJ. It is a resource for anyone looking to learn how to teach #BJJ. Use the link, and they send me some money 🥺. https://www.teachingbjj.com?a=11 #brazilianjiujitsu #martialarts

Quarantine Comix by Rachael Smith

Quarantine Comix by Rachael Smith

A brave and wonderfully funny anthology of strips that accurately capture what a weird and painful experience that lockdown was. There are guffaw producing gags about cats and hygiene as well as more melancholy pieces about missing loved ones and being unable to get out of bed.

Racheal’s art is superb. It reminded me of Kate Beaton’s work in the way she has mastered comedic timing and knowing when how to use facial expressions to make her emotional points pack the most punch.

Rachel isn’t shy about sharing her mental health struggles which form a base for many of the comics. These struggles are used for both comedic and melancholic effect.

As a chronicle of Covid-19, this Quarantine Comix reveals much of what most of us were going through. How absurd and stressful the whole blasted thing was. Uplifting without being sugary sweet. Thank you, Racheal.

ARC courtesy of Netgally. Please consider using this link to buy the book.

Wahcommo by Luis NCT

Wahcommo by Luis NCT

Wahcommo is a staggeringly imaginative work of world-building that is utterly fearless, taking inspiration from Nordic, Native American, Japanese and Western cultures to create something on par with Tchaikovsky’s Echoes of the Fall or Avatar: Legend of Aang.

Kaya and Fox are flawed characters, young and brimming with confidence and self-importance. Despite the seriousness of the task given to them, the pair constantly bicker and undermine each other. Much of the book explores the burdens of tradition, why they are important to maintain and why it is essential for them to be challenged.

Wahcommo is an absorbing adventure story with plenty of thrillingly action sequences full of blood and magic. The slower contemplative moments where the sweeping vistas of the fantasy world where the story takes place allow you to catch your breath before our heroes go into the breach once more.

NCT’s art is stunning. Blending different fantasy elements influenced by different cultures is incredibly difficult to do smoothly. Here it just works. There are no awkward juxtapositions. The character designs are superb. You can tell a tremendous amount of research and work was taken in creating the look of everything in the world of Wahcommo. There is a tired and lived-in quality to everything on the page; nothing is shiny and new. It is a hard world full of hard people. The linework is rough, giving it a sketch-like quality where the colours adding a great deal of depth and richness to the illustrations.

The chase and battles scenes are up there with the very best. One chase sequence where our heroes are trying to escape capture by town guards that hard turning the pages faster than I could reasonably read and comprehend what was happening.

It is not without flaws. I have seen other reviews complaining that these sequences were difficult to follow, but I didn’t find that to be the case save for some pages towards the end of the book. The ending also felt somewhat rushed, which I think is a fair comment. The plot itself is also fairly basic, but who cares when it is propped up by art as gorgeous as this.

Wahcommo is a treatise on why civilisations rise and crumble disguised as a coming of age story. It is an exhilarating fantasy romp, and I really hope the NCT returns to the world they have created here with more adventures.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Please consider using this affliate link to buy the book.

Primo Levi by Matteo Mastragostino & Alessandro Ranghiasci, Translated by Alberto Toscano

Primo Levi by Matteo Mastragostino & Alessandro Ranghiasci, Translated by Alberto Toscano

I hadn’t heard of Primo Levi before reading this graphic novel. Levi was an Italian Jewish chemist, partisan, Holocaust survivor and writer. The narrative device used to frame Levi’s life story is Levi visiting a class of school children to speak to them about the Holocaust and his time in a concentration camp.

Arranging the story this way cleverly negates the clumsy exposition often found in a history book. It is natural for Levi to explain what happened to him and his family and why. Levi is portrayed as a charming and determined man who is steadfast in his mission that the past not repeat itself. Mastragostino decision to have the children ask questions of Levi as to why he did or did not do certain things is impactful, as are their reactions when Levi recounts the hardships he underwent.

Ranghiasci art is purposeful and fluid, capturing moments of grief and solace with equal adeptness. They have a knack for drawing highly expressive faces. Despite the grimness of the subject matter, it is a smooth graphic novel to read. The text never overshadows the monochrome illustrations. There are sections of the book that feature drawings of dead Holocaust victims that are difficult to look at.

Overall, Primo Levi is a striking written and enthrallingly illustrated biography of a remarkable man that went through so much. It is the sort of book that acts as a perfect jumping-off point for someone looking to learn more about the Jewish experience in Italy during WW2. Levi’s attempt to resist fascist forces by joining the partisans is something that I’ll definitely be doing further reading on.

The Crossroads at Midnight by Abby Howard

The Crossroads at Midnight by Abby Howard

What a delight this horror anthology is. All the stories are just about perfectly paced, each panel intensifying the tension, deftly guiding the reader along a creepy passage. Horror comics are exceedingly difficult to do well. It, therefore, is a real treat to read something that is as refined as this. What Howard does with Crossroads at Midnight is put sympathetic well-written characters at the centre of each of the stories. Horror has a terrible reputation for being exploitative yet this is anything but that. The tales range from the body horror of someone having their skin stolen to a chiller about feuding siblings.

The linework is fluid and some of the creature designs evoke Junji Ito and some David Clowes creepier stuff. You can almost see the scratch mark of the pencils, cleverly using crosshatching and shadows to give us enough light to the characters and creatures in the comic. The Boy at the beach is one of the most disturbing antagonists I have seen on a page in some time. While the monsters are sinister and weird I think most of the praise should be aimed at how Howard depicts the emotions that the more human characters are feeling. Howard is able to frame the realisations of characters understanding how much trouble they have got themselves and more action-heavy sequences with equal aplomb.

For those looking for their next horror fix, this is superior stuff. Exactly the sort of thing that needs to be read late at night under the bedsheets with a torch. Howard is a graphic novelist to keep an eye out for.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Please consider using this link to but the book.

Parenthesis by Élodie Durand

Parenthesis by Élodie Durand

A curious and deeply personal look at the effects of epilepsy on a young woman’s life. Using art as a way of coping with her condition and the subsequent treatments that she undergoes Elodie explores the fragility of memories, the difficulty of living with a condition that changes the way you think and process information, and how trauma can both devastate and bring families together.

The artwork is profound and emotive, veering from disturbingly abstract representations of illnesses to cartoony line drawings of Elodie’s interactions with the people in her life.

I’m not sure if enjoyable is the right word but I found it to be a well-constructed novel that I think rewards the reader with an ultimately uplifting experience.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Please consider using this link to but the book.

Bright Burning Things by Lisa Harding

Bright Burning Things by Lisa Harding

There are going to be many comparisons made between Bright Burning Things and Shuggie Bains. Both novels feature mother struggling with addiction and poverty. While Shuggie Bains is more of an ensemble piece Bright Burning Things has a laser-like focus on Sonya.

Because of this, it feels like a far more claustrophobic story. Harding has a mastery of tempo in her writing. Writing from the first person the novel sometimes wanders into reading like a stream of consciousness exploring the vast inner world of Sonya’s mind before suddenly switching gears into intense almost oppressive sections where Sonya is faced with dilemmas where she struggles to control herself and make the right decision.

It is a novel full of moments that evoked intense emotional responses from me. The sections where Sonya is deciding whether or not to leave her boyfriend filled me with genuine dread. You can tell a story that has got you when you find yourself whispering to yourself, urging a character not to make another bad decision.

I really enjoyed the novel. It is wonderfully written. Highly recommended.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. Please consider using this link to buy the book.

3: S3E3 -Talking about Sales with Michael Chan and Saif Khan

3: S3E3 -Talking about Sales with Michael Chan and Saif Khan

Episode Notes

My guests today are Saif Khan, Associate Sales Director at Cognism, and Michael Chan, Regional Sales Manager at Universal Lubricants Ltd, about having a career in sales. We discuss how they started their careers, the skills a good salesperson needs and what is the best approach to take when talking to a prospect.

It is a fascinating chat that highlights the importance of empathy and respect. These qualities they both agree are essential for success in sales roles. I’ve put links to their respective LinkedIn profiles and companies below.

Saif from his LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/in/saif-khan-cism/
https://www.cognism.com/

Michael Chan
https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-chan-8b41ba63/
http://www.universallubricant.co.uk/

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2: S3E2 -Weird Questions with Sam Whyte

2: S3E2 -Weird Questions with Sam Whyte

Episode Notes

Here it is the season 3 premiere proper. I once again am putting weird questions to funny people. I chat with comedian Sam Whyte about killing mice, weight loss advice, mental health, and being called Hot Dog Face.

You can find Sam on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/SamWhyte and her blog here: https://samanthawhyte.wordpress.com/

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Find out more at https://inconstant.pinecast.co

This podcast is powered by Pinecast. Try Pinecast for free, forever, no credit card required. If you decide to upgrade, use coupon code r-8a93af for 40% off for 4 months, and support Inconstant.

What Unites Us: The Graphic Novel by Dan Rather, Elliot Kirschner, Tim Foley

What Unites Us: The Graphic Novel by Dan Rather, Elliot Kirschner, Tim Foley

What Unites Us is a timely polemic from the veteran journalist. Dan Rather is as always highly eloquent and these graphic essays do a superb job of articulating his arguments about the values that he believes binds the citizens of the United States together. Often using moments from his life and career to demonstrate the point that he is making the essays touch on democracy, equality, and the environment. Rather is blunt about the challenges facing America and is clear about the fact that he does not have all the answers.

The novel often harkens back to a past imperfect with both a sweet sentimentality and a willingness to reassess often scathingly at the way things were.

Foley’s palette uses a mixture of blues and reds. He mixes these hues innovatively to punctuate a particular image or to evoke iconic moments like Obama’s hope posters. Which I think is apt as hope for a better future is something that permeates through much of Rather’s writing. He is keen on demonstrating how much progress has been made and that we should see this as an example of the progress we can make in the future. Foley does some clever stuff here, there is a lot of text in the book but it never overshadows the gorgeous illustrations.

The images that really remained with me were the sections about Martin Luther King and his criticism and praise of journalism’s role in the Iraq war.

Having not read the prose it’s difficult for me to gauge how faithful this adaptation is. However, on its own merits, this is a graphic novel well worth reading regardless of where you stand politically. Folley breathes new life into Ratner’s words which is a splendid achievement.

Thanks the Netgalley for the ARC.