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Do your kids love graphic novels? Do you know any kid who loves the spotlight or has fun when their friends grab center stage? The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review is a new series of graphic novels that my students are giving a round of applause for the way it combines humor, theatrics, tragedy and puns. It would make a great gift either for comic-book fans or theater fans.
The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review Presents: Macbeth
by Ian Lendler
illustrated by Zack Giallongo
First Second, 2014
Your local library
|"Macbeth, the hero of our story, the greatest warrior in the land."|
When the zoo shuts for the night, the animals gather together and put on a show. The lion makes a natural mighty Macbeth, full of swagger and a taste for power. My students were easily able to imagine why such a beast would want to be king--and Lender's version shares this classic play in a form that is very kid-friendly. Here's how he adapts the witches' famous song which charms Macbeth, setting the plot in motion:
toil and trouble,
fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Eat the king,
the plot will thicken,
go on Macbeth,
he tastes like chicken."
Lendler mixes humor and puns throughout Shakespeare's bloody tragedy, giving young readers a real sense of the classic play but making it very age-appropriate. Giallongo's illustrations capture Macbeth's slide into gluttony perfectly, make light of the witches and add plenty of ketchup to keep the tragedy at bay. My students definitely give this version of Shakespeare a hearty round of applause.
We were lucky enough to have Ian Lendler visit Emerson last week to share his book with our 4th and 5th graders. He starts out his presentation with a loud bugle calling everyone's attention (see below), just as the young boys did during Shakespeare's time. He shares an overview of the story with students, emphasizing some of the lessons of the story. Our kids highly recommend his visit to other schools, especially for kids who like funny comic books and putting on their own plays.
|Ian Lendler at Emerson|
Are you looking for a holiday gift to add to the fun? I know my students would love their own stadium horn to call everyone to their performances. They also might want a mighty robe, fit for a king. Check these ideas out:
The review copies were kindly sent by the publishers, First Second. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books
Blog: Biblio File
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So I took a bit of a break from Cybils reading this week* because OMG GUESS WHAT WORDS OF LOVE SENT ME?
Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean. And oh, it is just as delicious as I hoped. It's probably my favorite of her Rules of Scoundrels series. I love love love love that Chase was Georgiana from Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord. I'm also very excited about the glimpse we got of MacLean's new heroine for her new series (the first will release sometimes in 2015)
Some other non-Cybils things I've read this month?
Buffy: Season Ten Volume 1 : New Rules Woo-Hoo! Season 10 has started. Once again, consequences and repercussions are big themes. At the end someone shows up that proves I really should have been reading the Faith and Angel spin-off, because woah, what was that?! BUT! Dracula's around and the Dracula Xander bro-mance is in full swing, which is always fun and awesome. Now, I just need to wait for-EVER for the next one.
My hold on Mortal Heart finally came in, and, oh, another most wonderful end to a favorite series. Ever since I finished it, I've been trying to figure out which one is my favorite in this trilogy, and I just can't decide. They are all so great--there's no weak link or one particular standout, just straight-up excellence across the board. I was reading this one at a training and the person (NOT a librarian) across asked what it was and as soon as I described it as "historical fiction about assassin nuns in 15th century Brittany" she was on her library's website to see if they owned it. Because, I mean, of course she was! It's HISTORICAL FICTION ABOUT ASSASSIN NUNS. Although now I really want to read more about historical Brittany. Why isn't there an awesome YA nonfiction about the the 15th century Brittany? Someone should get on that for me.
I also read Mistletoe and Mr. Right: A Christmas Romance which I reviewed over here. If you don't feel like clicking over, I liked it.
In non-book reading, did you all see Kelly's poignant and powerful post about fatness in YA? Definitely click over to that one.
*Ok, I don't actually have any Cybils reading until January 1st, because I'm a second round judge. BUT, I'm reading my way through the long list anyway, partly for fun, partly for armchair quarterbacking, and partly so that when I do look at the short list, I'm that much more familiar with the titles and can then do deeper rereading instead of reading for the first time.
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My book Here has just been released; it is a graphic novel that shows one location, a suburban living room, over the span of billions of years. The book is loosely based around my childhood home. While preparing this playlist, it occurred to me how we all get branded by the music we grew up [...]
Halfway Home: Drawing My Way Through Japan
By Christine Mari Inzer
Ages 12 and up
On shelves now
There’s been a lot of talk about the role of the reviewer when it comes to self-published books. Horn Book Magazine makes a point of not reviewing self-published fare of any sort. Kirkus, in contrast, makes quite a penny off of doing precisely that. And bloggers? Bloggers make their own rules. Some eschew anything but the professionally published while others are open to all comers. I fall somewhere in the middle. In my experience, you should always be open to self-published books because once in a while you’ll find a diamond in the rough. It might take a while to find them but they’re out there. I receive roughly 2-3 requests to review self-published fare a day, on average. I don’t review books not originally published in the current year and I don’t review books that are only available in an ebook form. That knocks out roughly 60% of the requests I receive right there. I also don’t review YA, so when I was contacted about Christine Mari Inzer’s illustrated memoir Halfway Home I sent a politely regretful email saying I’d be unable to review the title. As it happened, the book had already been sent to me in the mail so I figured I’d just hand it over to the YA specialist in my office and be done with it. Then I saw it firsthand. You know, when folks like Jeff Smith (Bone), Hope Larson (A Wrinkle in Time), and Kate Williamson (A Year in Japan) are blurbing a high school senior’s memoir of a time spent in a foreign country, you know something’s probably up. Funny and smart with a personal journey that’s infinitely relatable to young readers everywhere, Inzer’s first foray into publishing will leave readers wanting something very specific: more.
Meet Christine. In the summer of 2013 she had a chance to spend a whopping eight weeks in Japan with her maternal grandparents. Born in America with a Japanese born mom, Christine hadn’t visited Kashiwa, a small city outside of Tokyo, since she was ten. Now she’s traveling by herself and recording it all. From crepes and ramen to Kashiwa Matsuri and 6 a.m. sushi, Christine records everything with wit and a surprising amount of acumen. By the time she returns home she’s older, wiser, and more self-assured, though she misses Japan like crazy even before she’s home. But as the quote in the front of the book says, “Each day is a journey, and the journey itself home” – Matsuo Basho.
It’s hard to get perspective on your life when you’re 30, 40, even 50 years of age. Now imagine that you’re a senior in high school and you’ve managed to define for yourself what it is to straddle two very different cultures, both of which you love deeply. Near the end of the book Christine is traveling on a train back to the airport to leave Japan once more. She writes, “What was most painful was when the train doors closed, and Baba was standing outside. And also, the scenery outside the window. Old house rooftops and rice fields and everything, so vivid with color, and I was passing by all of it for the last time.” She concludes eventually that being split between the two countries, she can only be halfway home at any given time. Though the book could be read as a graphic novel, it’s the author’s written passages like this that give it heft and weight. You’re not reading fluff when you read “Halfway Home”. You can get something out of it and apply it to your own life.
To be honest, when I saw the blurbs the book had received I found them interesting but it was Inzer’s artistic style that actually put my mind to rest best. The book is drawn like an artist’s sketchbook, only it has a coherent narrative present throughout. Inzer alternates between pages where the text and images cohabit together to panels to simple images of architecture or food. Photos are also meshed into the final product and help it enormously. The end result is a book that will inspire as many teen readers as it will amuse.
To my mind, all the great cartoonists have one thing in common: if they are writing a memoir then they consistently make themselves less attractive in their comics than they are in real life. This makes perfect sense. If you’re being honest about your life and how you live then often you’ll draw yourself as the “you” that you feel matches the “you” inside your skin. So while the pronounced eyebrows do their best to render Christine heavy browed, you get the distinct sense that she’s just drawing the “Christine” that best represents her inner self. It’s a sophisticated choice on her part. One you’d expect from a cartoonist far older than her scant 17 years.
And it’s funny! Honestly really very funny. Yet not primarily in an “isn’t it funny how they do things in Japan” way. Plenty of books go that route and it’s honestly the easiest way to write a travel manual. I-went-here-and-saw-this-crazy-thing will only get you so far when you’re trying to write a serious book. Fortunately, Christine mixes things up. Because the book has a sketchbook style to it, you really do feel like you’re with Christine every step of the way. And while she’ll milk humor from enormous corner condom stores, toilets, and bathtime, she also knows how to work in situational humor (her Baba’s conversation with a monk is classic), flights of fantasy (imagining Tyra Banks hosting “Japan’s Next Top Maiko”), and everyday moments (flight woes, being eaten alive by deer, etc.). She even uses tropes that I enjoyed greatly, like having her 10-year-old self interact with her present day self (very Hark, a Vagrant).
I once worked the children’s reference desk just a floor below a very active teen library. Since my floor had the nearest bathrooms, we were constantly fielding an array of rather adorkable YA readers. Those that always fascinated me the most were the ones obsessed with Japan. They’d been introduced to it via manga and that obsession had turned into a full on love affair. They learned the language. They read everything they could about it. For them, Halfway Home would read like a How To manual of everything they’ve ever wanted in life. But its appeal stretches far beyond those kids already fixated on the topic. Humor and heart are difficult things to invest in any YA title. You usually either get one or the other. Inzer gets both in a book that feels professional and reads beautifully. Recommended heartily and with a MOS Burger lifted in thanks.
On shelves now.
Like This? Then Try:
Source: Final copy sent by author for review.
Professional Reviews: Kirkus
Only two comics made the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2014 list, the ubiquitous Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast and Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel by Anya Ulinich. However, the piece did include cute comics style illos by sometime cartoonist Jon McNaught (above). And also, books without pictures can make for good reading. Check out the whole list—you may find something that catches your fancy.
Actually the Ulinich book is an interesting choice—it’s a novel about a woman who ends a 15-year marriage and has to learn about dating again while raising two kids. In other words…it’s literary fiction in comics form. (Ulinich’s previous book was the prose only Petropolis.) These sorts of books when put out by mainstream publishers haven’t found a lot of purchase—but that frontier too is inching forward.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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As a kid, Dover Books was just about my favorite publisher, bringing out fine reprints of sheet music, fairy tales, art and all sorts of other goodies (yeah that’s the kind of kid I was.) And they’re still around and now bringing back long OOP graphic novels in a new line. Publishers Weekly had all the details a few weeks ago but th eline will basically bring back some books that have fallen through th ecracks in the last 20-30 years, many with new foreward and new materials. Dover editor Drew Ford is the mastermind behind the plan, and the line is now available for preorder on Amazon, with the first six books due in April and another six in the fall. Here’s the line-up and some commentary:
A SAILOR’S STORY by Sam Glanzman (April)
Semi-autobiographical adventures of life aboard a WWII destroyer — includes new Foreword by Max Brooks, author of World War Z, new Introduction by Larry Hama, and new Afterword by Chuck Dixon.
Believe it or not this was originally published by Marvel in 1987 as part of their then revolutionary OGN line. It’s a fine war story and Glanzman is still alive and drawing at age 90.
Civil War Adventure: Book One (May 2015)
Written by Chuck Dixon, illustrated Gary Kwapisz
Graphic drama of the War Between the States by writer of Batman and Green Arrow and the illustrator of The Savage Sword of Conan the Barbarian.
This is a more recent book from a historical publisher.
Mercy (June 2015)
Written by J. M. DeMatteis, illustrated by Paul Johnson
Mind-bending masterpiece by Eisner Award–winning writer known for his work on The Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America, andJustice League of America — includes new Introduction by the writer and bonus “How It Was Made” material
Originally published by Vertigo, I believe this started out as part of the creator Own Disney Comics graphic novel line. (!)
Blackjack: Second Bite of the Cobra (July 2015)
Written by Alex Simmons, illustrated by Joe Bennett
Hard-hitting tale of vengeance by illustrator of Batman: Orpheus Rising — first time collected in a single volume. Includes new Foreword by Joe Illidge, new Afterword by David Colley, and new cover by Scott Hanna
Always good to see more books by Simmons in print!
The BOZZ Chronicles (August 2015)
Written by David Michelinie, illustrated by Bret Blevins
Cult classic by the writer of Iron Man & penciler of The New Mutants with new Foreword and pin-up by Brandon Graham and new Introduction by the creators — includes entire six-issue run
Another one from the vaults of Epic Comics…and there are some pretty good things in those vaults.
The Puma Blues(September 2015)
Written by Stephen Murphy, illustrated by Michael Zulli
Features new Foreword by Dave Sim, new Afterword by Stephen R. Bissette, and new Introduction by the authors: “Intelligent and urgent mythology.” — Neil Gaiman
Talk about a lost classic. This books was originally part of Aardvark Vanaheim’s short lived creator owned line, and features incredible art by Zulli and a strange, powerful post apocalyptic story by Murphy.
by William Seabrook, with cover and intro by award-winning graphic novelist Joe Ollmann, is also available for pre-order:
This dramatic memoir recaptures the author’s experiences during an eight-month stay at a Westchester mental hospital in the early 1930s. Written by a renowned journalist who was voluntarily committed for acute alcoholism, it offers an honest, self-critical look at addiction and treatment in the days before Alcoholics Anonymous and other modern programs.
I never even heard of this book, but I’m in.
This is a very cool diverse line, and I’ve corresponded with Ford a bit and let’s just say there are some real surprises on the way.
Ford passed along word of some other Dover reprint books that might be of interest:
NIGHT OF THE LONG KNIVES by Fritz Leiber
THE NIGHT LAND by William Hope Hodgson (This one is a creepy old fantasy masterpiece!)
DARKNESS & DAWN by George Allan England
AFTER LONDON by Richard Jefferies
TEN NIGHTS DREAMING, the book by acclaimed author Natsume Soseki that is said to have been the starting point for fantasy in Modern Japanese literature, is now available again with a new English translation.
Finally here’s a peek at the all-now story by Glanzman for A Sailor’s Tale:
Salon’s Laura Miller has offered a 10 best Graphic Novels list for 2014, a nice eclectic mix with publisher like SelfMadeHero and Nobrow represented. The list is arranged in a slideshow format that requires you to click many times, but I’ve cheated and made a text list.
Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
Climate Changed by Phillipe Squarezoni
Here by Richard McGuire
Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
Nobrow 9: It’s Oh So Quiet by Various
Over Easy by Mimi Pond
The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
Shoplifter by Michael Cho
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
This is a story about child soldiers in Uganda, in Africa, and about Kony Joseph. It's fictional, but based on a true account. Despite the boatload of honors and awards (Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults 2014, YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens... Read the rest of this post
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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The US branch of the international literary organization PEN America is holding an auction of “Firest EDitions/Second Thoughts” tpo help support its mission of freedom of expression. The auction, to be held at Christies, includes first editions of various famed books annotated and signed by the origianl authors. Among the works p for bid on December 2nd, City of Glass: The Graphic Novel, in a special copy signed by original author Paul Auster and adapters Paul Karasik, David Mazzucchelli and Art Spiegelman.
The book is often considered a landmark of showing how the comics medium can transform even a celebrated literary work into a new and powerful mode of storytelling. A special panel spotlight on the book was held at CAB 2013.
And there’s video….
LISTS! Michael Cavna—who will be full time at Comics Riffs next year, hoorah—has his top ten, most of which I expect to see over and over as the best lists roll out:
By Gilbert Hernandez (Drawn & Quarterly)
CAN’T WE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING MORE PLEASANT?
By Roz Chast (Bloomsbury)
THE GRAVEYARD BOOK GRAPHIC NOVEL: VOLS. 1 AND 2
By Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell (Harper Collins)
THE HARLEM HELLFIGHTERS
By Max Brooks and illustrator Caanan White (Broadway Books)
HIP HOP FAMILY TREE: BOOK 2 (1981-1983)
By Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics)
HOW TO BE HAPPY
By Eleanor Davis (Fantagraphics)
SAGA: DELUXE EDITION, VOL. 1
By Brian K. Vaughan and illustrator Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
THE SHADOW HERO
By Gene Luen Yang and illustrator Sonny Liew (First Second)
By Raina Telgemeier (Graphix)
THIS ONE SUMMER
By Mariko and Jillian Tamaki (First Second)
The post-Guardians partnership between Marvel and Jim Starlin continues with the second original graphic novel in a proposed trilogy about Thanos the purple skinned Mad Titan created by Starlin. THANOS: THE INFINITY RELATIVITY OGN comes out in June. While standalone graphic novels were once rare at Marvel they’ve gotten into the pool with the Starlin books, and some introductory books aimed at beginning (as in not experts in Marvel continuity) readers. The first book in the trilogy, Thanos: The Infinity Revelation, made the NY Times bestseller list, so it probably did all right.
Starlin created Thanos, who is expected to be the big villain in a number of Avengers movies, and his daughter Gamora, and has had a major hand in developing the mythology of the Infinity Gems which have been a running theme throughout the Marvel MCU for a while. And as the blurb shows, the book includes more of the whole Thanos/Guardians/Warlock mythology that Starlin developed:
Annihilus, lord of the Negative Zone has re-ascended to power, more dangerous and more deadly than ever before. When he and his Negative Zone armies make another, renewed assault on our universe in search of a source of infinite power, a fragile alliance of the universe’s most unlikely protectors will form to stop him.
Now the Guardians of the Galaxy, Gladiator the Majestor of the Shi’ar Empire, and Adam Warlock and more must unite like never before! Only Adam Warlock’s complex cycle of death and rebirth has left him more confused than ever before. What is his purpose in the universe? Why is he here? With his Infinity Watch reunited alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy, between them they may hold the key to ending the threat of Annihilus once and for all – but to do so they’ll need to enlist the help of another.
Could it be that the fate of everything lies in the hands…of Thanos?
As with most Marvel books, this will include a bonus code for a digital edition with added augmented reality content.
One of the panels from Marek Bennet’s “Multiple Intelligences” sequence. http://marekbennett.com/2011/02/28/multiple-intelligences-comics-education/
Last month, I was fortunate to be able to attend several sessions at the Comics and the Classroom symposium offered as part of the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE) on October 5th. The symposium, which was the first of what they hope will become an annual event as part of MICE, brought together a number of comics artists and educators to discuss how comics can be incorporated into the classroom at various levels.
The day started off with a session by Marek Bennett, the creator of Slovakia: Fall in the Heart of Europe, an educator who offers comics workshops for students of all ages, and is one of the Applied Cartooning Program Advisors at the Center for Cartoon Studies. The program teaches students to use cartoons and visual communications techniques in realms outside of comic books or graphic novels. He talked about the way that the styles and techniques of comics can be brought to education in all fields to make subjects more memorable, engaging, and understandable. While the program Bennett works with is aimed at graduate students pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree, he explained how the techniques can be brought to any age group by adapting assignments to incorporate visual elements where there previously may have been only text and walked us through the Applied Cartooning Manifesto. He also displayed this approach in the form of his own visual article on Multiple Intelligences and placed the approach in a historical context that includes Trajan’s Column and the Bayeux Tapestry. A discussion afterwards with the attendees brought up several ways teachers could use these ideas to help students express emotions and advocate for social change.
The second session of the symposium was presented by Michael Gianfrancesco and covered how he teaches close reading techniques using graphic novels. He talked about how, inspired by the work of Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher, he created a curriculum that uses graphic novels, and particularly wordless graphic novels, such as segments of Will Eisner’s New York: Life in the City, to teach students to identify what is obvious, implied and assumed in their reading of a work. Taking text out of the process helps to simplify it by paring it down to its basics but also engages students, many of whom already enjoy comics and manga. After students have worked out what is obvious, implied, and assumed in each comic, they are also prompted to think more about their assumptions, sometimes even writing stories based on what they assumed when first reading the comic. Since he teaches in Rhode Island, a state that has adopted the Common Core, Gianfrancesco has tied his curriculum in to specific sections of the Common Core and uses it with students in multiple tracks at his school. He recommended New York: Life in the City, Bottomless Belly Button by Dash Shaw, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld, and Stitches by David Small as works that could be used to teach close reading in high school classes.
I also attended a panel discussion between three artists who create educational comics. Two of the artists, Jason Rodriguez and Joel Gill, have written graphic novels on historical topics that aim to educate readers and have been incorporated into classrooms. The final panelist, Cathy Leamy, works on comics that foster health literacy. Leamy discussed the field of graphic medicine which includes both comics aimed at improving health literacy by explaining complicated medical topics through visuals and comics by healthcare professionals and patients as a way of expressing their emotions. One of the highlights of this last panel was a debate between the panelists (and some members of the audience) about how to balance facts and storytelling in their works. This discussion highlighted both the difficulties that authors face in ensuring that their works are accurate, engaging, and clear and the importance that educators place on using materials in the classroom that portray facts correctly.
I found each of the sessions very interesting and useful. If you have an opportunity to attend MICE or the Comics and the Classroom symposium next year, I would highly recommend it.
The post Using comics in your classroom appeared first on The Horn Book.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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A graphic novel has become Exhibit A in the latest Obamacare controversy.
Clear, simple, understandable, useful – those are just a few of the words that recurred in reviews of Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How It Works, a 2012 graphic novel by Xeric-winner Nathan Schreiber and MIT’s Jonathan Gruber.
The irony of these descriptions is no doubt evident to anyone who has been following political news over the past weeks — years after Gruber won praise for his adeptness in making the proposed health law easy to grasp, Gruber has become the center of a political storm due to his recent off-the-cuff claim that the language of Affordable Care Act was deliberately misleading and designed to take advantage of Americans’ “stupidity.”
The dust-up has given new life to the Gruber and Schreiber graphic novel, which thanks to the vagaries of Amazon pricing algorithms appears to become an expensive collectible in hardcover. Conservative sites are finding the book funny in unintended ways, although no one has yet to explain the replacement of its originally announced artist, Dean Motter. It’s natural to assume that there may have been issues of scheduling or style, but perhaps there just wasn’t a place for health care in Terminal City.
By Harper Harris
John Patrick Green is a Long Island-based comics creator, best known for his collaboration with Dave Roman, Teen Boat. In an announcement made yesterday by First Second, Green is striking out on his own with the younger audience based Hippopotamister: the story of a Hippopotamus and his friend, Red Panda, who leave their home at a run-down zoo and strike out into the real world to get jobs. One by one, thanks to Red Panda, they get fired from each new vocation. Our hero then decides to return to the zoo, and use his new-found skills to return the zoo to its former glory, but can he do it without his longtime companion?
Beyond being an exceptional draftsman, Green is also an all-around renaissance man in the comics industry, having served in editorial positions and as a publisher. In honor of the big announcement, we discussed his career in-depth and the origins of Hippopotamister and what readers can expect from this 2016 release.
Why comics? Have you been a fan your whole life? What kinds of comics did you read when you first started–superheroes, all-ages, etc.?
I have been a comics fan my whole life. I was always an artist, constantly drawing as a kid. I was a very sick child and spent a lot of time indoors. Drawing was an activity I could do that wouldn’t cause an asthma attack or expose me to allergens. My gateway into comics were the funny pages, specifically Garfield. This was shortly before Calvin and Hobbes debuted, and that strip didn’t appear in my local paper for at least a couple years after it started. But the Garfield strips and TV specials were what got me into drawing comics, and using that 3-4 panel format to tells gags and stories. My brother, who is two years older than me, brought the first actual comic books into the house (my dad’s comic books having long been thrown out by his mom). I forget what comics he’d bring home, but I remember not being totally into them until I tagged along to the neighborhood Te-Amo store, which had a spinner rack. It wasn’t the first comic book I read, but I vividly remember the first one I bought with my own money being Marvel’s The Gargoyle #2 (in a Four-Issue Limited Series.) The cover and interior art by Bill Sienkiewicz was like no other comic I’d seen before. Soon my brother and I found an actual comic shop in our area, called The Incredible Pulp (now long-closed), and it was there that I’d get hooked on superhero comics (almost exclusively Marvel, aside from some more prominent DC fare like Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen) like X-Men and Daredevil and indie books like Nexus, Badge, Usagi Yojimbo, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And while I never really read Spider-Man much, one of my all-time favorites was the parody version, Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham.
When did your career in comics start? At what point did you decide that’s what you wanted to do?
My career as an artist began in, I think, 3rd or 4th grade. I had a knack for drawing on model, so I’d draw posters of cartoon characters and sell them to other students for 25 cents. My own mother accused me of tracing an image of Yogi Bear, but she apologized after holding my drawing over the reference up to the light and seeing that the sizes were different. But it was also then that she decided to tell me about copyright law and suggested I create my own comics — which I did. So by the time I was in junior high, I’d already had self-published 9 issues (plus 2 giant-sized annuals) of my own comic book called The Footsies (mostly a parody comic of other cartoons and properties, only starring these three kids who had big feet), which I’d photocopy on my grandparents’ photocopier and sell to other students. The Incredible Pulp also sold copies on commission. Even before I started selling my art, I just knew I wanted to be an artist. My grandfather first said I could work for Disney when I was probably 5. Though I did actually want to be an astronaut most of all, but my health put the kibosh on that.
How did your career begin? What path did you take? What was your number one goal when entering the comics field?
If we ignore the self-publishing as a kid, I’d say my career began in college. In high school I’d kind of given up on comics. They got too expensive (the cover price went over a dollar!) and artistically, I was focused on things like watercolor and oil paints. I went to School of Visual Arts, but I didn’t go for comics or illustration. The school’s biggest focus when I enrolled was design, and the department had a 99% hiring rate upon graduation. I felt like the real reason to go to college was to get an actual job out of it, so I majored in graphic design. But I still *liked* comics, so I’d go to the occasional local comic convention. It was at one on Long Island where I met eventual long-time collaborator Dave Roman. He and his friends were super into comics, and this was early in the days of Image. I actually had a friend who worked at Extreme Studios, so he and I hit it off and they got me back into wanting to make comics. Starting with my sophomore year I took all the comics courses I could as electives. I was a big fan of Klaus Janson’s work, so I took his class, and during the second semester the students have to illustrate a full 24-page comic. We had the choice to draw a Daredevil or Batman script, or write one ourselves. So I teamed up with Dave, and we created the series Quicken Forbidden, which I drew as my project. When it was done we published it ourselves and distributed it through Diamond. So, just like when I was little, my path into comics was to Just Make Comics. Other than Just Making Comics, the goal was to get paid to do it. When graduation was approaching, Dave and I had already published two issues of Quicken Forbidden, so they were in my portfolio. SVA had a job fair for the design department, and as it turned out Penthouse Magazine had a rep there who said their comics-spin off was looking for an assistant art director. So I interviewed and before even graduating I had an actual paying job in comics, even if it was really just lettering porn.
Who are your biggest influences as an artist?
This is probably the hardest question for me to answer. It’s one that evolves over time. Things that influenced me when I was younger can have had a long-lasting effect, even if I don’t currently consider them to be an influence. So, to bring it back to Garfield, Jim Davis was a huge influence on me. When I was little I sent him some strips I drew and he wrote back personally, encouraging me to do more. And while I can list off all the comic artists, as well as fine artists and illustrators like Van Gogh, Renee Magritte, Norman Rockwell, who I admire, it’s really the fact that I grew up with very supportive and understanding parents and teachers who accepted that I knew, at a young age, that THIS was what I wanted to do, and they let me do it.
At what point did licensed comics become a reality for you, with Phineas and Ferb? How did that experience affect how you worked? Did it change your working style, or were there increased challenges working on a property that wasn’t your own?
Drawing Phineas and Ferb came about mostly because I’d had a long relationship with Disney. After Penthouse Comix, I became the comics assistant at Disney Adventures Magazine. Like Penthouse, it initially mostly involved lettering. The position evolved over time and eventually I was writing and coloring Disney and Pixar comics, but the only comic I drew was a gag strip called “The Last Laugh.” Fast-forward 9 years and Disney Adventures was cancelled. But Disney was still doing magazines and comics, and my former boss contacted me about drawing Phineas and Ferb. Apparently finding someone to draw in the style of the show was difficult. There are a lot of traditional animation techniques (eg, squash and stretch) that the show doesn’t really do, and translating the feel of the show into comics was proving difficult for the studio Disney normally had handle licensed comics. But it was right up my alley, and I was only doing behind the scenes freelance work for publishers here and there, so it was great to work on something that got a little bit more of the spotlight.
How did you go about developing such a variety of skills, having done font and book design? Did you aim to do those things, or did you find yourself in a surprising place with them?
I think they all sort of came about out of necessity. As a graphic design major, I’d do book designs as assignments, but that’s mostly covers and doesn’t really help when trying to lay out a comic that you have to send off to a printer. When I was at SVA everything was still done by hand, all paste-ups and mechanicals. It was at Penthouse that I learned how to color in Photoshop, letter in Illustrator, and lay out comics in Quark. During the year I was there, Dave and I continued to do Quicken Forbidden, but now instead of printing out lettering, gluing it to my art, and mailing that to Quebecor, I transitioned to all-digital. We were just using a free comic-style font for the first few issues, which was turning up in EVERY small-press/indie/self-published comic, so I just said “I’m going to figure out how to make a font based off my own lettering.” Word just got around that I knew how to lay out comic books, design fonts, and get them distributed, and I found myself helping other people who wanted to get into it. Then when larger book publishers, who were mostly unfamiliar with comics, wanted to start their own line, I guess they heard about me.
When did editing become the direction your career took? Did Disney lead to Penthouse, or did Penthouse lead to Disney? How did those two gigs happen, and were they back to back?
Penthouse lead to Disney, and they were indeed back to back. I had known Heidi MacDonald (full disclosure, she runs The Beat) through Friends of Lulu, an organization that was devoted to encouraging more women in comics, both as readers and creators. Yeah, it was a little weird working at Penthouse Comix and being a member of this group, but you can make the biggest changes from the inside, right? Not that it mattered, because after a year there, Penthouse Comix was getting cancelled. At the same time Heidi, who was the comics editor at Disney Adventures, was looking for a new assistant. I think maybe a month passed between when my Penthouse job ended and I started at Disney.
Did your experience working on Phineas and Ferb make the editing job on Disney Adventures Magazine easier?
While Phineas and Ferb debuted during the last year Disney Adventures was active, there actually was no overlap. But I was familiar with the property, and had worked with Steve Behling who was editing the Phineas and Ferb comics (and taken over for Heidi after she left Disney), so the whole process was easy to slip into.
How do all your past jobs (artist, font designer, etc.) inform your work as a publisher?
I do have an extremely critical eye, especially when it comes to production, lettering, and design issues. Probably to the point that it’s detrimental.
Do you find that readers often have a misunderstanding about the work that goes into the editorial role?
It’s certainly easier to point at a page and say “this person drew that” or “that person wrote this,” than it is to point out how an editor has affected the final comic you hold in your hands. But the process of making a comic is a mystery to a lot of people. I think most readers don’t understand just how collaborative creating a comic actually can be. An editor plays an important role in any book, but comics is a unique way of telling stories. So even if a person understands what an editor traditionally does, there’s an extra layer to understanding their contribution to a comic.
As a publisher, how do you go about looking for new and interesting talents for Cryptic Press? What are the works that you’ve published that you’re most proud of?
It’s been a while since Dave and I have published other creators’ works. We had grand plans of being this indy press startup, putting out this cool underground comics, like Slave Labor and other small publishers we admired. I miss those days a bit, it was a lot of fun being a ‘businessman’ in comics, not just a writer or artist. Aside from our own book, Quicken Forbidden, the most notable books we published were the first issue of Farel Dalrymple’s Pop Gun War and an issue of Aim by Miss Lasko Gross.
What are the origins of Hippopotamister? What made you want to jump into your first solo graphic novel?
I have a thing for puns and wordplay, and while I’m sure it’s an easy name to come up with, when “Hippopotamister” popped into my head I just knew there was a story there. I really enjoy collaborating on comics with another creator, but every so often I’ve got an idea in my head that takes shape on its own. Bringing someone else in to work on it with me would just be a step backward. So like many other ideas, this one got filed under “do it myself.” Why this idea became my first solo graphic novel was really just a matter of opportunity.
What is the premise of Hippopotamister? Why a hippopotamus?
I had the title before I had the book concept, but not by much. It started with a kid at a zoo calling a hippopotamus “hippopotamister,” like the kid is mispronouncing the word. The hippo hears this, and thinks “hippopotamister” means that he’s a person, not a hippo, so he puts on a hat and leaves the zoo. And for some reason, whatever hat the hippo wears, like a fireman’s helmet, people think that’s his job. The story evolved, and it’s now very different from that original concept, but the hippo still leaves the zoo and wears lots of different job-related hats.
As a publisher yourself, what made you want to go to First Second with Hippopotamister?
I’ve known everyone at First Second since I think before there even was a First Second. My editor Calista Brill may even remember catching me using the office photocopier to make copies of Teen Boat minicomics when we were both at Disney. I’ve been a fan of their work since the beginning, and I’ve done behind the scenes work for them for years (book layout, ad designs), and I knew they were looking to do more graphic novels for younger readers. I like their approach to comics, and have wanted to do an actual book with them. So when they responded well to my 10-second pitch for Hippopotamister, I knew it would be a good fit.
Is the intended audience for the book all-ages, younger readers, or do you hope it will entertain readers of all ages?
Hippopotamister is definitely for younger readers, but as a creator I generally want as many people as possible to find something enjoyable out of my work.
A sizable portion of your comics work has been in collaboration with fellow Comics Bakery creators like Dave Roman…was it at all scary to break out on your own, or were you more excited about the opportunity?
I can’t say it’s scary. It really doesn’t feel like I’m breaking out on my own. For all the books I’ve done with Dave, be it Quicken Forbidden or Teen Boat (or ones most people have never seen, like Melon Head or I Just Had My Lab Test), it was just him and me. We didn’t really have editors or publishers, at least not until they came along to publish collected versions. With Hippopotamister, while Dave’s not involved, I *am* working directly with an editor and publisher. Plus, there’s Gina Gagliano, who does First Second’s marketing and PR, something Dave and I didn’t really have resources for as Cryptic Press. And I’m working with an amazing colorist, Cat Caro, on Hippopotamister. So while it’s technically a solo book, I’m certainly not alone in making the book happen, and it’s probably less scary than other projects. It is still very exciting to have the chance to make this book, though, that’s for sure.
How long was the production process on this graphic novel?
You ask that as if I’m not still in the middle of it! Hippopotamister should be in stores in 2016.
Were there any surprises or roadblocks along the way?
Not yet, knock on wood.
What’s the underlying message of Hippopotamister that you would like your readers to take away?
Don’t be afraid to try something new. You don’t have to be good at something to be able to enjoy it. And if you don’t like what you’re doing, try something else. You might even uncover some hidden talents along the way.
Is there another graphic novel in your future that fans can look forward to after reading Hippopotamister?
There is ALWAYS another graphic novel in my future! The question is just which one do I do next.
You can find Hippopotamister at local retailers in the Spring of 2016 from First Second
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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And as the end of year lists circulate, Spring catalogs are also making 2015 all the closer. SelfMadeHero has announced their Spring 2015 line, some of which has been listed here before. In recent years, SelfMadeHero has distinguished itself for a line of graphic novels both visually stunning and emotionally compelling. This list sounds equally strong.
This will be published in January by First Second in the US. IT’s the long–awaited return to fiction by McCloud (understand Comics) with the story of a dying young artist who discovers that getting the power to create anything he wishes isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Behind The Curtain
Andrzej Klimowski and Danusia Schejbal (The Master and Margarita, Robot).
An autobiographical tale of life in communist Poland, as artistic expression flourished amid an impoverished society.
Aama Volume 3: The Desert of Mirrors
The third volume of Peeter’s stunningly visual, complex SF tale.
Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie
This biography of Picasso won the Grand Prix at France’s RTL Graphic Novel Awards. Haven’t seen the insides but it’s supposed to be gorgeous.
The Yellow King
Robert W Chambers and I.N.J. Culbard
As previously mentioned, fans of True Detective and horror should enjoy Lovecraft exert Colberd’s adaptation of this highly influential series of short stories.
Fans of I. N. J. Culbard‘s work will be thrilled to hear about his adaptation of Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, which we publish in May. The stories that make up this classic
End of a Century: Nineties Album Reviews in Pictures
A collection of Wrake’s illustrations of musicians from NME. Essential 90s nostalgia—just fire up a little Suede while you page through this.
After reading and enjoying Seconds, I decided to embark on the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series. What a zippy little book is Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life. The book is in black and white and is the closest thing to a comic that I have read since I was a kid. Total fluffy, no brain required fun, which was perfect after House of Leaves.
Scott is 23 and pretty much mooching off his roommate, Wallace. Scott has loser written all over him. He is in a terrible band called Sex Bob-Omb. He is dating a seventeen-year-old high school girl named Knives Chau. And then he meets Ramona Flowers. She is so out of his league but for some reason she likes him back. But in order for Scott to truly win Ramona, he has to fight all of her seven evil ex-boyfriends. This first volume has him taking on ex-boyfriend number one.
Like I said, fluffy, comic-y fun. That’s pretty much all there is to say. Except, even though I have the drawings in front of me as I read, I can’t help but picture Michael Cera in my head, the actor who played Scott Pilgrim in the movie. I wonder if his face will still be there by the time I make it to the end of the series? I have nothing against Michael Cera, but I hope his face eventually dissolves.
It is election day here so now I am off to cast my vote.
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Slip into a black and white world where order reigns supreme and all untidiness must be eradicated. Dave lives a nondescript life in Here until the day an untamable beard sprouts from his chin. Could the beard be a maleficent portal to There? Collins gently addresses the tangles of human existence in this playful graphic [...]
By Kyle Pinion
IN REAL LIFE, a graphic novel collaboration between journalist/author Cory Doctorow and comics creator Jen Wang, centers on a young gamer named Anda who becomes enraptured by an massively multiplayer online game (MMO) called “Coarsegold Online”. While logged-in, she makes new friends, including a gregarious fellow gamer named “Sarge” and a “gold-farmer” from China named Raymond. It’s the latter whose activities, which center on illegally collecting valuable objects in the game and selling them to other players from developed countries, begin to open up Anda’s perspectives on the concepts of right and wrong, and the power of action towards civil rights.
The book was a true eye-opener for me, as I’m not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination beyond the occasional dalliance on my console system at home. I was delighted when I received an opportunity to chat with Jen Wang about the origins of this project, its underlying themes, and how much of her own gaming experience played into the development of the narrative.
How did IN REAL LIFE (IRL) find its genesis? Did you know Cory Doctorow prior to working on this project?
Prior to IN REAL LIFE I was familiar with Cory Doctorow as a blogger and activist but I hadn’t read his fiction. ANDA’s GAME, the short story IRL is based on was actually the first piece I read. My publisher First Second sent me a link to the short and asked if I’d be interested. After reading that, it was hard to say no!
What is it about the subject matter that drew you in initially?
I like that it takes gaming, which many people see as frivolous entertainment, and gives it a real life context. The internet is inherently a social platform and it makes sense that it reflects our darker tendencies, such as exploiting people. I also like that it touches on the tension between China and the West. There’s just so much interesting material to explore and at the end of the day it’s still a simple story about two teenage gamers from different countries who become friends.
Your previous work, KOKO BE GOOD, also published through First Second, was solely written and illustrated by yourself. Do you find that there are inherent advantages in the collaborative process, and is there a method you prefer over the other?
It’s definitely a lot easier to illustrate your own work, that’s for sure. The collaborative process is more challenging, but you also get a second point a view and a direction to work towards. Sometimes in your personal work it takes a lot of soul searching to figure out what you’re trying to say but a collaborate project allows you to bounce off other people’s ideas and that’s really refreshing.
On the day to day work on the graphic novel, what was the working relationship between Cory and yourself? Were you in constant contact?
During the scripting phase of the book we were sending a lot of emails. I would write a draft, send it to Cory, and he would send some notes and bounce some ideas back. We went through maybe 8 or so drafts so it took a little while to nail down the final. I was pretty much left alone at the drawing stage, however.
How much of a specific vision did Cory have in the initial “Anda’s Game” script, and how much input did you have on character design before the development of IRL? Do you feel like Anda specifically has your “stamp” on her?
I had pretty much free reign as far as design went, so that part was fairly easy. When First Second approached me to do the project they wanted me to feel comfortable writing my own take, so mostly it was me pitching ideas to Cory and him giving me notes. I do feel like I have my stamp on Anda but then again I don’t know how it wouldn’t have happened naturally. She’s a nerdy teenage shut in and having been one myself I can relate to that a lot.
The gaming details throughout are very specific, do you have a significant gaming/MMO background as a user? If not, is that an area where Cory contributed significantly?
I don’t really have a background in MMOs but I played World of Warcraft for a couple weeks prior to starting the project. That plus a combination of sandbox games I’ve played were the inspiration for Coarsegold online. I mostly tried to create a game that felt familiar and yet tailored it to things I like in games. I’m very much into customization and resource management so it was fun to add things like to the book.
How do you sense that communication has changed for Generation Y and The Millennials? Do you find that you side more with Anda or her mother in what technology brings to social interaction?
I’m definitely on the Millennials side. I can’t imagine what my life would be like now if I didn’t have access to the internet as a teenager. I met so many other young artists online and they really motivated me to create and challenge myself. Without it, I would’ve had to seek these people out in college in person and I would’ve been a lot more lonely and isolated. There are risks to putting yourself online but there are risks to be alive in the real world as well. The best you can do is exercise caution and be smart about your privacy in the same way you would anywhere.
Is there anything from your own experience pulled into Anda’s story, at least from a characterization standpoint?
Do you see Anda as a role model? Was that the intention all along?
I was a lot like Anda in high school. I was a teenage hermit who spent a lot of time connecting to peers online within my community of choice. Like Anda, I found my identity online because I was able to meet other people like myself. I see Anda less as a traditional role model and more as someone readers could relate to. Like Anda, most young people now are discovering the world through the internet and it can be a difficult place to navigate.
What drove the design of the world of Coarsegold? Any specific influences?
World of Warcraft is the main one, but I also looked at the Final Fantasy games, Skyrim, and more open world games like Animal Crossing, The Sims and Second Life.
What was the thought process on the color-design that differentiates Coarsegold from “the real world”?
I definitely wanted Coarsegold to be more bright and colorful by contrast as a reflection of Anda’s feelings toward both realities. I used different filters and colored textures so that real life was a little more tan and monochromatic while Coarsegold looked lively and exciting.
When Anda somewhat bridges the gap between the two by changing her hair color to match her avatar, what kind of sea-change does that indicate for her personally?
At that point in the story Anda has finally found purpose and confidence in her role as a Fahrenheit. Not only has she befriended Raymond and discovered this world of goldfarming, but she’s taken on the task of helping him. It’s a decision she’s been able to make for herself separate from what her peers have led her to believe, and changing her hair color is a symbol of this newfound confidence.
IN REAL LIFE defies expectations a bit in that it shifts a bit touching briefly on females in gaming (with the very succinct hand-raising scene in the classroom and some of the concerns of “Sarge”) and then moves into an area centering on economics and specifically civil rights. Do you sense a strong correlation between the two themes?
Oh, for sure. As in real life, the conflict within Coarsegold comes from who is considered an “other.” As a young girl in gaming, Anda is a minority, yet she’s in a position of power compared to Raymond who is not only a foreigner who doesn’t speak English, but also a goldfarmer. They’re able to connect as outsiders of this gaming establishment and both are fighting for the right to be themselves and be seen as equals.
I have to admit that the term “gold farming” is fairly new to me (as a non-gamer), and IRL paints a very morally grey picture around that activity, what do you feel as though readers should take from the book’s portrayal of that subject?
Gold farming was new to me too until I started researching for this book. There is a lot of grey area and it’s still evolving. What I do hope the readers takes away from IRL is the ability to keep an open mind about the people on the other side of the tracks and be empathetic to their struggles. On the surface the gold farming community appears to be taking advantage of game-makers and the “purity” of the game. On the other hand the gold farmers themselves are actually big fans who can only participate by being taken advantage of.
What inspired the creation of Raymond? Both in the look of his avatar and the character’s plight in China?
I wanted the goldfarmers to look small and vulnerable compared to everyone else. They haven’t been able to level up their characters and they’re not customized so Raymond doesn’t look any different from his peers. I also wanted them to not look human so as to “otherize” the goldfarmers in the eyes of Anda and Lucy at the beginning of the story. For Raymond’s human backstory I took a lot of inspiration from a book I read called FACTORY GIRLS: FROM VILLAGE TO CITY IN A CHANGING CHINA by Leslie T. Chang. It paints these very compassionate portraits of young female migrant workers and the everyday victories and struggles they face. Raymond comes from a very disadvantaged background but he’s also clever and ambitious enough to get what he wants (to play Coarsegold) with the means that he has.
Do you feel a sense of responsibility to educate as a creator publishing a book within the Young Adult literary genre? Does that affect the kinds of stories you hope to tell?
I don’t make it a point to be an educator, but I hope my stories reflect the world I’d like to see and the problems I’d like us to overcome.
If there was one-key take away or message from IN REAL LIFE that should highlighted, what would that be?
Be compassionate to others and be aware of how your role in the community may be inadvertently hurting others less privileged than you.
What’s next on the horizon for you post the release of IRL next month? Any new projects that you can share?
I have a couple new projects I can’t really talk about yet, but I’m excited to share I’m co-organizing a new comics festival in Los Angeles called Comics Arts LA. It’s a one day event that will take place on December 6th. We’ve got really great exhibitors lined up so it’s going to be fun. If any readers out there are in Southern California that weekend, I encourage you to come check it out! http://comicartsla.com
IN REAL LIFE will be available in a bookstore near you on October 14th through First Second
Summary: There aren't many books, graphic novel or not, that can combine sweetness and seriousness in the way In Real Life does. Written by Cory Doctorow with art by Jen Wang, it's a deceptively simple story at first: the protagonist, Anda, is the... Read the rest of this post
I must admit my interest was immediately piqued when I heard about this Young Adult graphic novel that appealed to both my gamer soul and my feminist sensibilities. I was not let down! I enjoyed this graphic novel so much I thought the only flaw was its brevity. Perhaps too short to really go as in depth in characterization, or with the issues as I’d’ve liked, but still an all around solid story. I found In Real Life to be a very heartfelt and eye opening story about the intersection of gaming, feminism, economics, and labor rights. And as such, we are so pleased to be a part of the 30 Questions with Cory Doctorow tour! Below I am privileged to present the questions and answers on our leg of the tour. Anda gains a lot of confidence through her success with the all-girl gaming guild. What message... Read more »
The post In Real Life: Tour Stop appeared first on The Midnight Garden.
When Raina was little, she begged her parents for a sister. She thought a sister would be the best thing the world.
And then she got one.
Fast forward a decade, when Raina, her siblings, and her mother take a road trip from San Francisco to Colorado for a family reunion. Headphones help Raina tune out her family's bickering and blathering. But when she blocks out the world, Raina runs the risk of missing important things happening around her. Road trips can bring out both the best and worst in people. Things along the way remind Raina of previous events, and the flashbacks add to the story, rather than distract from it, as they are woven in at just the right time for just the right duration, true flashes. Were this a TV movie or an episode of a family dramedy series, one would compliment the tight script, the comedic timing, and the heartwarming moments and memories shared. The fact that this book was inspired by Raina's real life makes it even sweeter and more poignant.
Sisters is a follow-up to Raina's fantastic graphic novel Smile, which chronicled her sixth-grade dental drama. The two books can be read independently, if you'd like - and if you like one, you'll certainly like the other. Such is the case with all of Raina's graphic novels, which showcase her knack for telling stories readers can truly relate to as well as her signature style. Fans of For Better or Worse will definitely like her character's expressive faces and her realistic storylines.
Sisters is written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier, with lettering by John Green and color by Braden Lamb.
Related posts at Bildungsroman
Interview: Raina Telgemeier
Review: The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels
Review: Drama by Raina Telgemeier
What Makes You Smile?
I don’t remember where I heard about Bryan O’Malley’s newest graphic novel Seconds, but I immediately put myself on the library hold queue for it. You may recognize O’Malley as the creator of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series or maybe you might just know that the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based on one of those novels (I learned from the movie that I should have vegan superpowers but I must be doing something wrong because I’m still waiting for them). I’ve not read the graphic novel series, have you? And if so, should I?
But back to Seconds. It is about Katie, a successful chef who runs a hip restaurant called Seconds. She is in the midst of trying to strike out on her own with a brand new restaurant but the building is in such bad shape renovations are taking forever and costing a lot of money. Katie lives in a tiny room above Seconds in order to save money. One evening, there is an accident in the kitchen and a young waitress whom Katie has been trying to make friends with is badly burned. In her room, Katie is presented with a chance to change things. A notebook appears in which she it to write what she wants to change and then eat the little mushroom that was left beside it.
Now I know what you are probably thinking about that mushroom! I thought it too. But it isn’t that sort of mushroom. What it does is erase the accident. It never happened. Katie is happy and relieved and wishes she had more mushrooms because there is so much she would change if she could. And then she discovers the mushrooms are growing beneath the floorboard of a not frequently used storage closet behind the kitchen. She helps herself to quite a few of them, a dozen. And every time something happens that she doesn’t like, she can change it. Her new restaurant, her old boyfriend, friends, she changes them all sometimes more than once. She begins to get confused about what has and hasn’t happened.
She learns from Hazel, the waitress and now her friend who burned her arms that began this whole thing, that Seconds has a house spirit. The house spirit’s name is Lis and she makes an appearance in Katie’s room demanding she give back all those mushrooms, Lis’s mushrooms. But Katie refuses. Things get bad. Really bad.
The story is good, well told. The art is good too. They combine to make an enjoyable reading experience. I liked that Katie is a successful woman and this is her story. She is not drawn as tall and gorgeous, impossibly skinny and extremely well endowed. Nope, Katie is normal. Kind of short even with sort of crazy hair. I also enjoyed mulling over all the ways “seconds” can be applied in the story. From food so good you want seconds to second chances to how a life can change in seconds.
I don’t read graphic novels very often, not because I don’t enjoy them. I think I am just very picky about them. They have to meet some kind of worthiness test that I can’t even begin to articulate. But Seconds passed the test. I’m glad it did because it’s a good read.
Filed under: Books
, Graphic Novels
Tagged: Bryan O'Malley
We’ve noticed a welcome trend lately: excellent graphic novel memoirs (or fiction that feels an awful lot like) written by women about their adolescence. Here are a few to enjoy. (Thanks, Marjane Satrapi, for breaking ground with Persepolis, and to the Tamaki cousins for Skim and This One Summer! Also Katie’s girl-crush Lucy Knisley, who has a new book out — An Age of License — described by the publisher as “an Eat, Pray, Love for the alternative comics fan.”
The November/December 2014 Horn Book Magazine
includes three graphic novel memoirs by women. At the age of four, in 1975, author Cece Bell contracted meningitis, leaving her severely to profoundly deaf. The wonderful El Deafo
is a characterful, vivid, often amusing graphic novel memoir that recaptures the experiences of her childhood — adapting to deafness, to others’ attitudes toward it, and to the technology of the Phonic Ear, a cumbersome assistive device. At the heart of her story is an experience relevant to most children: the finding of the “True Friend,” a falling out, and a reunion. Bell combines great humor and charm (her characters are all anthropomorphic bunnies) with emotional complexity and seriousness.
Fans of Raina Telgemeier’s 2010 Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Book Smile will be smiling all the way through this companion book — Sisters — an often bittersweet but amusingly told story about Raina’s relationship with her younger sister, Amara. The summer before Raina starts high school, she and Amara, their younger brother, and their mom take a road trip from California to Colorado for a family reunion. As in Smile, sepia-toned pages mark the frequent flashbacks, which fill readers in on the evolution of this battle of the sisters. The story ends with a solidly believable truce between the warring siblings, who, one suspects, will continue to both annoy and support each other.
I Remember Beirut by Zeina Abirached (companion to her 2012 book A Game for Swallows, is the author’s memories of the Lebanese civil war, in a loosely connected series of sobering vignettes and impressions, each beginning with the phrase “I remember.” Black-and-white geometric illustrations capture both the enormous scale of the war (with motifs of falling bombs, helicopters, and stranded cars) and its personal repercussions.
Two new ones that recently came into the office:
Tomboy by Liz Prince: “A memoir about friendship, gender, bullies, growth, punk rock, and the power of the perfect outfit” [from flap copy].
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (roller derby name “Winnie the Pow”), a graphic novel (fiction) about a teen derby grrl.
Have you noticed a trend? Do you have other books to recommend?
The post Mini-trend: Grrrl power grrraphic novels appeared first on The Horn Book.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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English artist INJ Culbard has become the resident HP Lovecraft expert at SelfMadeHero with several of his adaptations of Lovecraft (The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, The Shadow Out of Time and The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath) turning into bestsellers for the Brit Literary Comics house. Well, it seems his next book is one that greatly influenced Lovecraft—and Stephen King, and Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Raymond Chandler and True Detective—namely The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers. The 1895 short story collection centers around a sinister play called “The King in Yellow” and this title character, as well as Carcosa were used in Season 1 of True Detective, and gave the cult book a new life.
Now Culbard, an expert in the unsettling, will adapt the original into a 144-page GN, also called The King in Yellow and also to be published by SelfMadeHero.
Culbard revealed the book and cover in a tweet
Via Robot 6