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Meadowlark: A Coming-of-Age Crime Story

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From the dream team behind #1 New York Times bestseller Indeh comes a graphic novel following a father and son as they navigate an increasingly catastrophic day. Set against the quiet and unassuming city of Huntsville, Texas, Jack "Meadowlark" Johnson, and his teenage son, Cooper embark on a journey of epic proportions. Told over the course a single day, this electrifying g From the dream team behind #1 New York Times bestseller Indeh comes a graphic novel following a father and son as they navigate an increasingly catastrophic day. Set against the quiet and unassuming city of Huntsville, Texas, Jack "Meadowlark" Johnson, and his teenage son, Cooper embark on a journey of epic proportions. Told over the course a single day, this electrifying graphic novel recounts Cooper's struggle to survive the consequences of his father's mistakes and the dangers they have brought home to his estranged family. As Cooper and his father desperately navigate cascading threats of violence, they must also grapple with their own combative, dysfunctional, but loving relationship. Drawing on inspiration from the authors' childhoods in Texas, their relationships with their own sons and from ancient myths that resonate throughout the ages, this contemporary crime noir is a propulsive coming-of-age tale of the shattering transition into manhood. While both father and son strive to understand their place in the world and each other's lives, tension and resentment threaten to boil over. As emotionally evocative as it is visually stunning, this captivating graphic novel will appeal to fans of Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men and Terrence Malick's Badlands.


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From the dream team behind #1 New York Times bestseller Indeh comes a graphic novel following a father and son as they navigate an increasingly catastrophic day. Set against the quiet and unassuming city of Huntsville, Texas, Jack "Meadowlark" Johnson, and his teenage son, Cooper embark on a journey of epic proportions. Told over the course a single day, this electrifying g From the dream team behind #1 New York Times bestseller Indeh comes a graphic novel following a father and son as they navigate an increasingly catastrophic day. Set against the quiet and unassuming city of Huntsville, Texas, Jack "Meadowlark" Johnson, and his teenage son, Cooper embark on a journey of epic proportions. Told over the course a single day, this electrifying graphic novel recounts Cooper's struggle to survive the consequences of his father's mistakes and the dangers they have brought home to his estranged family. As Cooper and his father desperately navigate cascading threats of violence, they must also grapple with their own combative, dysfunctional, but loving relationship. Drawing on inspiration from the authors' childhoods in Texas, their relationships with their own sons and from ancient myths that resonate throughout the ages, this contemporary crime noir is a propulsive coming-of-age tale of the shattering transition into manhood. While both father and son strive to understand their place in the world and each other's lives, tension and resentment threaten to boil over. As emotionally evocative as it is visually stunning, this captivating graphic novel will appeal to fans of Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men and Terrence Malick's Badlands.

30 review for Meadowlark: A Coming-of-Age Crime Story

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt Graupman

    The first collaboration between actor/producer/writer Ethan Hawke and cartoonist Greg Ruth, the Apache historical drama “Indeh,” had Hawke listed first. I don’t know if they’re taking turns or if the change reflects a different division of labor but, in their sophomore effort, the gritty Western neo-noir graphic novel “Meadowlark,” Ruth is credited ahead of Hawke. Either way, they need to continue doing what they’re doing because “Meadowlark” is a definite improvement. Part coming-of-age tale, pa The first collaboration between actor/producer/writer Ethan Hawke and cartoonist Greg Ruth, the Apache historical drama “Indeh,” had Hawke listed first. I don’t know if they’re taking turns or if the change reflects a different division of labor but, in their sophomore effort, the gritty Western neo-noir graphic novel “Meadowlark,” Ruth is credited ahead of Hawke. Either way, they need to continue doing what they’re doing because “Meadowlark” is a definite improvement. Part coming-of-age tale, part “Hell Or High Water”-style crime saga, “Meadowlark” is steeped in a very specific kind of Texas grit. Ruth’s vistas are wide open, full of threatening Nate Powell-esque thunderheads, every character has a chip on their shoulder, and even the colors in the comic favor dusty browns, like it was drawn in the dirt. The writing is equally raw and straightforward even if Ruth and Hawke sometimes fall into the typical comics trap of pausing the action for the characters to talk solemnly about honor and manhood (*ahem*… looking at you, “Preacher” and “The Walking Dead”). It’s thrilling, thoughtful, and just a touch bloody. I really, really enjoyed it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Not bad, but a little too busy. There’s father drama, step father drama, failed adult trajectories, drug lords, prison breaks, and juvenile delinquency. It’s a little too much, but it did keep my interest and I finished it in one sitting. Even with all of the craziness, the ending was unbelievable and a cop out. I could believe the former boxer father pummeling a few people, and even surviving getting stabbed and putting a lucky bullet in a couple of guys. What I couldn’t believe I the skinny te Not bad, but a little too busy. There’s father drama, step father drama, failed adult trajectories, drug lords, prison breaks, and juvenile delinquency. It’s a little too much, but it did keep my interest and I finished it in one sitting. Even with all of the craziness, the ending was unbelievable and a cop out. I could believe the former boxer father pummeling a few people, and even surviving getting stabbed and putting a lucky bullet in a couple of guys. What I couldn’t believe I the skinny teenager strangling a monstrous psychopath with the chains from a swing set. It just doesn’t work. Strangulation is difficult and takes time. Swingset chains are also pretty thick. I think I could get my fingers under them and resist and a giant killer could definitely hold out long enough to toss off a 150lb (maybe) teen. The art was good and the dialogue was well done, but the ending ruined it for me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Hudgins

    tw: violence, murder, violence involving teeth Billed as a "coming of age crime drama," it's easy to see the bones of that in this graphic novel. In execution though it's not terribly good? Part of this, I think, is likely the art. While Greg Ruth does some phenomenally photo real illustrations, the layout for this entire thing feels very flat. It's almost cinematic - but in a way that doesn't quite deliver. This doesn't utilize the comics medium in the way that you'd want something like this to tw: violence, murder, violence involving teeth Billed as a "coming of age crime drama," it's easy to see the bones of that in this graphic novel. In execution though it's not terribly good? Part of this, I think, is likely the art. While Greg Ruth does some phenomenally photo real illustrations, the layout for this entire thing feels very flat. It's almost cinematic - but in a way that doesn't quite deliver. This doesn't utilize the comics medium in the way that you'd want something like this to do. If this were a short film, I think I'd be more impressed by it, but as a comic work, I just didn't find it compelling and dropped it for a month or so before picking it back up again because it just couldn't hold my interest. This book was provided as an ARC through NetGalley.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hobart

    This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader. --- WHAT'S MEADOWLARK ABOUT? Things aren't going well for Cooper—a little prank leads his father to stop by his mother's house on his way to work. When his father learns that Cooper's been expelled from school, he drags him along with him to work. Cooper's dad, Jack "Meadowlark" Jackson used to be a boxer of some local renown, but that was then. He's now a prison guard—one respected by his peers and even most prisoners. But Cooper still thinks o This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader. --- WHAT'S MEADOWLARK ABOUT? Things aren't going well for Cooper—a little prank leads his father to stop by his mother's house on his way to work. When his father learns that Cooper's been expelled from school, he drags him along with him to work. Cooper's dad, Jack "Meadowlark" Jackson used to be a boxer of some local renown, but that was then. He's now a prison guard—one respected by his peers and even most prisoners. But Cooper still thinks of him largely as a hero figure. the boxer whose poster hangs on his bedroom wall. While Jack gets to work in a prison tower, Cooper hangs out with the Warden—clearly a grandmotherly figure in his life. It seems like a pretty okay kind of day, actually. And then an alarm sounds. Several fights have broken out in various parts of the prison—the guards spread out to imposing order, and in the midst of chaos, three prisoners go missing. It's after this that things really start to go south. The book then focuses on Cooper and Jack trying to make their way through the ensuing bedlam while they deal with their relationship. Being the father of a teen boy brings a certain level of difficulty, especially if there's trouble between the custodial mother and the father. The violence—horrible violence—of the day creates a heightened atmosphere for their necessary (and rather touching) conversations. WHAT ABOUT THE ART? You can't talk about a graphic novel without focusing on the graphic part of it, right? Which is really a shame because I'm not equipped for it. Ruth's art is exactly what this story needs—as usual, I don't know how to describe the art, but the pencil work—sort of rough and heavy—fits both the action and the characters. The sort of sepia-coloring says Texas to me—and makes the setting ring true. I did appreciate the not-at-all-subtle use of Ethan Hawke as Jack, it added a little extra flavor. SO, WHAT DID I THINK ABOUT MEADOWLARK? This seems like the kind of story that S. A. Cosby or Jordan Harper would write—a mix of family drama and crime. The emotions and family dynamic felt real, relatable—and was even touching. The violence and criminal behavior were just as visceral—and disturbing. You put them together with some compelling artwork and you've got yourself a winner. I'd have liked a touch more depth—but given the medium, I'm not sure you could get too much deeper (without needing another hundred pages or so)—so I'm not holding that against it too much. There's a lot to commend in this graphic novel, and very little to complain about. I see that Hawke and Ruth have collaborated on an earlier graphic novel and I need to track that down.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    3 stars on my rating system (well done, but not one I'll read again or hope to remember). I'm omitting a started review because this is new and doesn't need a 3 star rating, when so many people are turned off by "average", and I recognize this is outside my comfort zone. Powerful graphics (more of a thematic thriller kind of way than overly bloody and graphic). A somewhat estranged father, a son coming to terms with a parent's humanity, a revised outlook on family, and heading out on a journey to 3 stars on my rating system (well done, but not one I'll read again or hope to remember). I'm omitting a started review because this is new and doesn't need a 3 star rating, when so many people are turned off by "average", and I recognize this is outside my comfort zone. Powerful graphics (more of a thematic thriller kind of way than overly bloody and graphic). A somewhat estranged father, a son coming to terms with a parent's humanity, a revised outlook on family, and heading out on a journey to something in the future. Also, corrupt prison guards, a riot, several gruesome deaths of both decent and terrible people, and a painful fight scene.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Meadowlark by Ethan Hawke is an inspiring coming of age story combining violence, family angst, and the perils of growing up in a less than ideal environment. Meadowlark Johnson is traveling a hard road with his son Cooper. The story sublimely unfolds as son Cooper pays the price for his father's mistakes and the hazards that follow. Family tension runs deep along with a slow-burning miasma of violence and distrust. Though Meadowlark revisits the well-plowed dysfunctional family story, the autho Meadowlark by Ethan Hawke is an inspiring coming of age story combining violence, family angst, and the perils of growing up in a less than ideal environment. Meadowlark Johnson is traveling a hard road with his son Cooper. The story sublimely unfolds as son Cooper pays the price for his father's mistakes and the hazards that follow. Family tension runs deep along with a slow-burning miasma of violence and distrust. Though Meadowlark revisits the well-plowed dysfunctional family story, the author's background adds validity and starkness that produces a bright-line coming-of-age tale that will resonate with readers of all ages.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Dzik

    This is one of my favorite graphic novels I’ve ever read and it’s ones like these that prove it is just as effective as any form of storytelling. With the violence of No Country for Old Men and the coming of age story, this is one I won’t soon forget. I can’t wait to read this again.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chad Jordahl

    I tend to prefer grounded, realistic art and writing like in this book. And so early in the book I thought I was in for a 4- or 5-star experience. But then problems with the plot, dialog, and art got in the way.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    This is a graphic novel I can easily recommend to male teenagers struggling to define their father-son relationship and through this relationship their own identity.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    A surprisingly well done crime noir & coming of age story.

  11. 4 out of 5

    emily

    art? great. story? boring. but also too fast. get you a graphic novel that can’t do both.

  12. 4 out of 5

    C.W. Reads

    Wow. This book is not what I thought it was going to be. Great read. The art is amazing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Liam Strong

    big ol meh

  14. 5 out of 5

    John H

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brian Cronin

  16. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

  17. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Zook

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  19. 4 out of 5

    Worm

  20. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jake Magnuson

  22. 4 out of 5

    Remy's Dad

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lucie Donnio

  24. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paige Welch

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  28. 5 out of 5

    ∞Bertha _

  29. 4 out of 5

    Helen

  30. 4 out of 5

    Deb

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