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Kazu Kibuishi – Flight, Vol. 3 & 4

February 22, 2011

27 & 21. Flight, Volume 3 and Flight, Volume 4 ed. by Kazu Kibuishi (2006, 2007)

Length: 352 (#3) and 346 pages (#4)

Genre: Short Stories, Fantasy, Graphic Novel

Started / Finished: 07 February 2011 (#4), 17 February 2011 (#3)

Where did they come from? The library.
Why do I have them? Yeah, that’d be Memory’s fault.

Summary: The Flight books are the comics version of a short-story anthology, with each story being written and illustrated by a different artist. The stories tend mostly to the fantastical, although not exclusively so, and almost all rely very heavy on the visual medium to carry the thread of the plot – in fact, many stories have few or no words at all.

Reviews: There’s not really any order to the series, so Vol. 4 was as good a place to start as any. Like any anthology, there were a few stories that I just could not get into – not my favorite style of artwork, and a story that didn’t grab me – but they were thankfully few and far between. Among the better stories were some that charmed my socks off – Michel Gagné’s “The Saga of Rex: Castaway” and Israel Sanchez’s “Cyclops!” – and a few that were absolutely heartwrenching, like Kazu Kibuishi’s “The Window Makers” and particularly Sarah Mensinga’s “The Forever Box”. I was also happy to see a story by Raina Telgemeier, whose graphic novel Smile I really enjoyed. I also was constantly impressed with the artwork throughout this book, and it was fascinating to see the huge variety of styles, and how each different type of art lent a unique air to the story it was trying to tell. Very enjoyable.

One of the things that I particularly noticed about Volume 3, more so than Vol. 4, was how well it was organized. The diversity of the stories (both in terms of tone and in terms of plot) was just as great as in Vol. 4, but they were arranged in such a way that one story naturally flowed into the next, with elements from one story both highlighting and contrasting what had come before. The most charming, cute, and funny stories – including an earlier adventure in Michel Gagné’s “The Saga of Rex”, which is the only part of this anthology series that has an order to it – are pretty heavily front-loaded in this volume, and I enjoyed them all. “Old Oak Trees” by Tony Cliff was a perfect fairy tale adventure, and the punchline of Johane Matte’s “Hunter” literally made me laugh out loud. The volume then takes a dip into more serious stories: Azad Inezikian’s tragic “Polaris” and Kazu Kibuishi’s “Iron Gate” both unexpectedly broke my heart, and Rodolphe Guenoden’s “Message in a Bottle” actually made me a little sniffly, although not quite in a sad sort of way. Throughout the book, I was always amazed by how much story and how much emotion and how much creativity these artists could pack into so few panels and pages… which I suppose is a good summation of the Flight series as a whole. 4 out of 5 stars.

Vol. 3: This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon
Vol. 4: This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links:An interview with 11 of the artists from Flight Vol. 3, which also has some full-page images giving a good idea of the diversity of the artwork.

Other Reviews: Have you reviewed either of these books? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2011 11:12 am

    I’ve heard such wonderful things about this series, thanks for writing about them! I’m happy to hear it’s more a loose series (if at all?) rather than something you must start with volume 1. If i know I can pick up any volume and be OK, I’m more likely to jump in. oooh, and stories with no words? sign me up for some of that too!! :)

    • February 22, 2011 11:21 am

      Redhead – I’ve only read these two volumes so far, but the “Saga of Rex” is the only story that had any series-ness to it, and even that was okay to read out of order. Some of the other stories may stretch across the volumes that I haven’t read, but I didn’t see any indication that that was the case, so I think the various volumes are by-and-large independent.

      So, whichever one your library has on the shelves, I think is fine to start with! (That’s what I did.) :)

  2. February 22, 2011 3:20 pm

    love this series. Kibuishi also edited a series of anthologies for the younger set, Flight Explorer which is better read in order–if I remember that one has a few serial comics in it.

    Not only are they enjoyable on their own, as you’ve observed, but I have found them to be wonderful introductions to new-to-me comic storytellers (writers/artists)… Flight Explorer is where we discovered Kean Soo’s Jellaby.

    like your review.

    • February 23, 2011 9:54 am

      L – Vol. 3 had a Jellaby story too – very cute! I’d definitely like to check out Kibuishi’s Amulet series one of these days… I really like his artwork, and his storytelling, plus my library already has them on the shelves!

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