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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: graphic novels, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Nimona

Archvillain Lord Ballister Blackheart and spunky sidekick Nimona battle the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics, but who are the real heroes and who are the real evildoers? This brilliantly complex graphic novel is filled with science, dragons, warmth, and humor. Books mentioned in this post Nimona Noelle Stevenson Sale Trade Paper $9.09

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2. Review of March: Book Two

lewis_march bk 2star2 March: Book Two
by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; illus. by Nate Powell
Middle School, High School   Top Shelf Productions   192 pp.
1/15   978-1-60309-400-9   $19.95   g

Lewis and Aydin begin this second volume of the graphic memoir trilogy in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2009 (President Obama’s first inauguration), then they move back in time to 1960 to pick up where March: Book One (rev. 1/14) left off. Dramatic descriptions and vivid black-and-white illustrations of SNCC’s direct action campaigns in Nashville (sit-ins at fast-food restaurants and cafeterias, “stand-ins” at a segregated movie theater) are followed by accounts of the Freedom Rides into the “heart of the beast” in the Deep South, and on through the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, where Lewis spoke alongside Dr. King. (Back matter includes the original draft of Lewis’s speech, a more fiery, radical version of the speech he delivered, a debate about which took place up to the moment he stepped onstage.) Since this is Lewis’s personal story, the account has the authority of a passionate participant, and the pacing ramps up tension and historical import. Events and personalities aren’t romanticized in the text or the illustrations, which themselves don’t flinch from violence; in addition to exploring the dream that drove the civil rights movement, the story also portrays its divisions. Flash-forwards to Barack Obama’s inauguration appear judiciously throughout, an effective reminder to readers about the effects of the movement. Among the many excellent volumes available on the subject of civil rights this is a standout, the graphic format a perfect vehicle for delivering the one-two punch of powerful words and images.

From the May/June 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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The post Review of March: Book Two appeared first on The Horn Book.

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3. Ricky Ricotta

Ricky ricotta and his robotRicky Ricotta and His Mighty Robot are back in a brand new, out-of-this-world adventure!

Ricky Ricotta loves his Mighty Robot, but sometimes it’s hard having a best friend who is so BIG! If only his Mighty Robot had someone his own size to play with, Ricky could have some fun by himself. Little does Ricky know, his wish is about to come true. Ugly Uncle Unicorn is hatching a hideous plan to take over Earth, and he’s got a super-sized surprise for Ricky and his Robot friend!

Click here to learn more, make your own robot, watch cool videos, and more!

 

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4. Dragons Beware!




Dragons Beware!
by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado
First Second, May 12, 2015
review copy purchased for my classroom library

Claudette is relentless. She has not given up on becoming a warrior. Her little brother, Gaston, is equally single-minded. He HAS given up his dream of becoming a chef until he can become as good a blacksmith as his father and/or do something that will make his father proud.

When the flying gargoyles attempt to attack their village, Claudette and Gaston's father, Augustine, and his sidekick Zubair set off to get Augustine's sword Breaker from the belly of the dragon Azra so they can defeat the evil Grombach, who is sending the gargoyle army.

Knowing that Claudette and Gaston will try to come along, Augustine leaves them locked in the tower with Marie. Guess how long that lasts?

Here's how our heroes are armed to defeat a dragon and an evil...grandfather (you'll have to read the book to get the back story on that plot twist): Claudette's stumpy little sword seems to have some magic, and she is not at all lacking in bravery. Gaston is encouraged by Hag (a character I'm pretty sure we'll meet again in book 3),
"Don't turn your back on a talent, Boy. Lots of folks spend their whole lives looking for something their good at."
as she presses a book of spells into his hands. "Casting spells is like learning a recipe. Like cooking."And Marie has been learning about diplomacy.


I loved the first book, Giant's Beware!, but I love this book even more. I can't wait to hear Rafael Rosado (artist) and John Novak (colorist) speak at Cover to Cover on Saturday, May 23 from 2-3:30. See you there!


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5. Kids Comics Q&A Blog Tour: Interview with Gene Luen Yang

Children's Book Week was just last week, and thanks to First Second we're still celebrating--throughout April and May, MacTeenBooks has organized a massive multi-blog tour featuring Five Questions with a wide range of amazing cartoonists for kids... Read the rest of this post

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6. LIMERICK REVIEW: SISTERS by Raina Telgemeier

click to embiggenA surfeit of conflicts sistericalMakes this graphic novel hysterical - And a journey by carMakes it all worse by farA truce would be some sort of miracle!Other Noteworthy Info: This incredibly fun graphic novel, published last year,... Read the rest of this post

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7. This One Summer wins Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize and some other award winners

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Graphic novels have a lot more prizes than they once did, including literary awards that help validate the medium. Awards season is well upon us, and I’ve been way behind in noting some of the most important.

§ This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki continued to barnstorm all the honors by winning the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, perhaps th emost prestigious stand-alone comics prize in the US. The jury cited the book thusly

“This One Summer,” says the jury, “is a beautifully drawn, keenly observed story. It is told with a fluid line and a sensitive eye to the emblematic moments that convey character, time, and place—the surf at night, the sound of flip-flops, a guarded sigh—all at the meandering pace of a summer’s vacation. The Tamakis astutely orchestrate the formal complexities of the graphic novel in the service of an evocative, immersive story. At first blush a coming of age story centered on two young girls, the book belongs equally to all its cast of characters, any of whom feel realized enough to have supported a narrative in their own right. Striking, relatable, and poignant, this graphic novel lingers with readers long after their eyes have left the pages.”

Richard McGuire’s Here was named an Honoree:

Of “Here” the jury says, “Making literal the idiom ‘if these walls could talk…’ McGuire’s ‘Here’ curates the long history of events transpiring in one location. Through the subtle transposition of objects and individuals in a room, the book teaches us that space is defined over time. … Evoking our longing for place, the book performs this cumulative effect for the reader, by layering people, experiences, and events in the context of a single environment.”

The Prize is presented by Penn State and is named after the author of what are now accepted to be early example of standalone graphic novels. (Ward donated his papers to the university.) This year’s jury consisted of Joel D. Priddy, Veronica Hicks, Brandon Hyde, Brent Book and Jonathan E. Abel. MOre information on the prize, the jury and past winners can be found here.

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§ The Cartoonist Studio Prize, presented by Slate Magazine and the Center for Cartoon Studies, was also presented a while back. And the graphic novel winners Here by Richard McCguire. (Do you sense a pattern here?) The webcomic prize was won by Winston Rowntree for Watching. The prize comes with a $1000 cash award for each. This year’s jury consisted of Slate Book Review editor Dan Kois; CCS fellow Sophie Yanow; and guest judge, cartoonist Paul Karasik. You can see all the runners up in the above link.

(This result has been sitting in my links for a month; apologies and congratulations to the winners.)

chast.jpg

§ While This One Summer and Here have scooped up a bunch of prizes, you must be wondering about the third most honored graphic novel of 2014, Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant. Well, Chast won the Heinz Award, which is present to six “exceptional Americans, for their creativity and determination in finding solutions to critical issues.” Along with glory, the prize includes $250,000 in cash.

” ‘Floored’ does not begin to describe it,” Chast says of her reaction. “I don’t think I’ve fully absorbed it yet.”

 

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§ As you may have heard, the PEN American Center, a literary organization that promotes free speech, presented French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award, and all hell broke loose. Many prominent authors protested the award on the grounds that Charlie Hebdo is offensive. You can read many of those comments here. Other authors, including Neil Gaiman, Art Spiegelman, Alison Bechdel and Salmon Rushdie filled the tables at the awards gala vacated by the protesters, and defended Charlie Hebdo as an equal opportunity satirist. You can read all about that here.

While no one in the kerfuffle seems to think that being offensive deserves death, the dissenters felt that giving Charlie Hebdo an award intensified “the anti-Islamic,
anti-Maghreb, anti-Arab sentiments already prevalent in the Western world.”

The pro-Charlie group felt that, as Gaiman put it, “The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists are getting an award for courage. They continued putting out their magazine after the offices were firebombed [in 2011], and the survivors have continued following the murders.”

There aren’t any easy answers here. Terrorists acts are committed to create terror and confusion and turn ordinary people on both sides into radicals. In this goal, at least, the Hebdo attacks were a rousing success.

In the above photo Charlie Hebdo Editor-in-Chief Gerard Biard accepts the award as Alain Mabanckou looks on. AP photo by Beowulf Sheehan

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8. New Dan Clowes “SF love story” Patience due in 2016

patience_clowes.png

Fantagraphics has been teasing something new from Daniel Clowes for a few weeks and now and here’s the official word: Patience, a new 180-page graphic novel from Clowes is coming in March 2016. It’s described as “an indescribable psychedelic science-fiction love story.” Certainly the art seems like a technicolor throwback to some of Clowes earlier genre-influenced work, as well as The Death Ray.
patience1.jpg

The book veers” with uncanny precision from violent destruction to deeply personal tenderness in a way that is both quintessentially “Clowesian,” and utterly unique in the author’s body of work,” the blurb continues. “This 180-page, full-color story affords Clowes the opportunity to draw some of the most exuberant and breathtaking pages of his life, and to tell his most suspenseful, surprising and affecting story yet.” 

“Patience is the best book yet by probably my favorite cartoonist ever,” said Fantagraphics associate publisher Eric Reynolds, “and I can’t wait for people to have the chance to not take my word for it.”
 
The preliminary cover image, above, also recalls come earlier Clowes work, including the cover to David Boring and the splash pages to some of his Eightball work. But you’ll be able to check all that out for yourself when The Complete Eightball comes out in a few weeks. It’s good to have Daniel Clowes back.
 
PATIENCE
By Daniel Clowes
180 Pages * Full Color * 7 7/8″ x 10 1/4″
ISBN: 978-1-60699-905-9
 
patience3.png










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9. Fun Home the musical gets 12 Tony Award nominations

Fun_Home_3980_-_Beth_Malone__Emily_Skeggs_-_Photo_Credit_Jenny_Anderson.jpg

The Tony Awards nominations are out today, honoring the best on Broadway, and Fun Home tied for most nominations with 12 (An American in Paris also got 12.) The musical, based on the Alison Bechdel graphic novel, was nominated for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Director, Best Actor in a Musical (Michael Cerveris), Best Actress in a Musical (Beth Malone), three in the Best Featured Actress category ( Judy Kuhn, Sydney Lucas and Emily Skeggs,) Best Scenic Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Orchestration.

I was lucky enough to see this last week, and its deserving of every honor it gets, a truly mesmerizing and heartbreaking night of theater. If I had to pick one performance to call out it would be 12 year old Sydney Lucas, who is simply astonishing as Small Allison. Alison Bechdel’s memoir about her family life, family secrets, coming out and dealing with the past has achieved a cultural significance that no graphic novel save Maus has ever come close to.

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Bechdel drew a brief but powerful coda to the Fun Home experience as a webcomic for Vulture.

And the NY Times profiles her and the strange experience of seeing your life turned into a musical::

“She is a curious human being, and she’s curious about herself most of all,” Ms. Malone said of Ms. Bechdel. “Even her look is all about telling the truth — no ornamentation, nothing pretty. She hates lies — lies and embellishments are what got her dad killed.”

Ms. Bechdel has no formal role in creating the musical, but checks in often, answers questions by email and offers the periodic note. She asked them to change one sentence, to make clear that her father, a fastidious home restorer and antiques collector, had used real William Morris wallpaper, and not an imitation.

 

 

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10. Batman in Dior

There is more to Batman 47 than Joe ChillGirl in Dior has been getting great press worldwide for its depiction of one of the most influential premiere collections in fashion history, but there are a couple of classic superhero connections as well.

Sixty-eight year old fashion spoiler alert!

Protesting long skirts

As Girl in Dior aptly depicts, the designer’s debut collection split the fashion world. For some, the longer length of the skirts in Christian Dior’s first collection in 1947 was a step backward, but what ultimately won the day was a sense that Dior had tapped into deeper, more vital currents in the post-war West. Besides changing the course of fashion for a generation and, along the way, mentoring his successor in innovation, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior inspired a description that immediately became synonymous with his designs and, over time, any revolutionary break from existing style: the New Look.

Girl in Dior beautifully depicts the entry of this phrase into the fashion lexicon. After noting the presence of legendary Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow in the front row, author Annie Goetzinger lavishly recreates the moment when, following the show, Snow uttered the phrase that solidified Dior’s place in fashion history.

girl-in-dior-new-look

If you’re reading this site, though, chances are that you’re already thinking that the New Look sounds mighty familiar.

Check out this house ad and more on Dial B for Blog

It was, of course, the name famously — and not coincidentally — given to the modernization of Batman's appearance in 1964.

But that wasn’t the first time Dior’s New Look appeared in Batman comics – there’s also a reference contemporaneous with Dior’s early work.

Dior’s New Look garnered a lot of press in the U.S., from the revolutionary collections in the late ’40s to the Dior-mania of the subsequent decade and more. For our purposes, two articles in particular stand out: a January 1948 New York Times piece headlined “New Look to Stay, Expert Asserts” and Life Magazine‘s coverage of Dior’s latest “New Look” collection in February 1948.

FullSizeRender (1)

To see how such stories influenced comics, we can turn to the June 1948 of Batman, which re-tells Batman’s origin and includes his epic encounter with his father’s murderer, Joe Chill. However, that’s not the only story in this book, which deserves a digital restoration in full on Comixology (hint, hint).

The landmark Batman #47 actually opens with a Catwoman story called “Fashions in Crime.” The tale begins with Catwoman breaking out of jail, only to hear herself mocked by other women as she walks down the street while wearing her civilian clothes:

“Hmmph! She’s wearing a short skirt! She doesn’t have the NEW LOOK!”

As the women go on to ridicule her for not reading the latest fashion magazines, Catwoman makes the painful realization that “since [she’s] been in prison, the style has changed.” But this also gives her an entrepreneurial idea: she creates her own fashion magazine, Damsel, along with a Damsel fashion TV program.

Months later Damsel is the hottest media empire in the fashion world, and the scene shifts to an older socialite, who, wearing an elaborate hat, notes that Catwoman-turned-Damsel-publisher-Madame-Moderne’s latest designer favorite is “a gown by Millie Karnalee.” Karnalee’s name seems odd, but at the time it would have made sense as a pun on the popular American designer Hattie Carnegie, the subject of the January 1948 New York Times piece. Carnegie, besides, ahem, adapting (i.e. copying) Dior’s “New Look” at a lower price for the U.S. market, also made a point of condemning the predilection of younger women not to wear hats.

And despite a nifty later scene wear Batman cracks the case thanks to his encyclopedic knowledge of fashion illustration technique, that’s where the story begins to diverge from the world of Girl in Dior.

Apparently the writers weren’t aware of the free samples and ample cashflow that would have been accrued to the publisher of the world’s hottest fashion magazine, because Catwoman proceeds to use her newfound high-society access to steal clothes and rob women at an exclusive fashion show. Not surprisingly, the scene at Catwoman’s show is rather different from the more modest Parisian runways of the time — in true 1940s Batman fashion, it features “giant needles … scissors … thimbles … and a huge sewing machine!”

Girl in Dior might not end with a fight on oversized designer props, but it is nonetheless a most enlightening read. I could go on, but I’ll leave that to an actual reviewer – ceci n’est pas une critique de Jeune fille en Dior.

Girl in Dior

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11. A day of remembrance with Operation Nemesis, Dan Panosian and Harry Bogosian

DanPanosianOperationNemesis

Some anniversaries are painful to remember, and so is today’s: the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. A while ago we told you about a graphic novel about this event,  OPERATION NEMESIS: A Story of Genocide & Revenge. The book is out now and in memoriam of those who lost their lives, here’s two illustrations from the book, one by Dan Panosian above and one by Harry Bogosian, below, a student of Paul Pope.

Bogosian’s father, director/monologuist Eric, has also written a book about the Genocide, also out now.

HarryBogosianArmenia

Harry Bogosian released a statement about his piece:
“Both sides of my father’s [actor, playwright, novelist, Eric Bogosian) family are Armenian. My grandfather’s side came over before the Genocide occurred, because even before, tensions and violence against Armenians was escalating. My grandmother’s side fled to America during the Genocide, and sadly my great grandfather who went back to get more family members was killed by the Turks…. For them, it was best to leave that painful history in the past. As I got older, my father educated me on what happened and showed me our history –in fact, the piece I drew for this graphic novel is modeled after a poster that hung for years on his office wall– but still for me it was all something ancient, with no contemporary ties….”
Harry Bogosian, cartoonist / illustrator NY, NY
 Art from the graphic novel is currently being used in the intro animated video to System Of A Down’s “Wake Up The Souls” tour—and the band is playing a historic concert in Armenia today as part of the day of memorial.
SOADopnem

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12. Stuck Rubber Baby at 20


Before 1995, Howard Cruse was best known as an underground comix artist, first coming to prominence with Barefootz in the 1970s, with his editorship of Gay Comix in the early 1980s, and then hitting a real stride with the Wendel comics in The Advocate throughout the '80s. Wendel ended in 1989, though, and Cruse began a major new project, his first graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, released by the DC Comics imprint Paradox Press. It gained notice and won awards, but never had the breakout success of something like Maus, Persepolis, or Fun Home, though I would argue that it is at least close to equal in merit.

Stuck Rubber Baby is a true graphic novel — unlike many other books that get that label, it was not conceived in pieces or published serially; it was always intended to be a long, unified narrative. It tells the story of a man named Toland Polk, mostly through his memories of growing up in Alabama during the early 1960s as a white guy who doesn't really know what he wants from the world or his life, coming to grips both with the civil rights movement and his own homosexuality. Partly in an attempt to try to cure his gay desires, he ends up in a relationship with a fiery college student, activist, and singer named Ginger, and she becomes pregnant. Meanwhile, protests against segregation and racism are growing more and more ferocious, and the white establishment fights back, with tragic, horrifying results. Throughout it all, Toland meets queer characters of various races and ages, and finally decides both that political action is necessary and that he can't pretend to be heterosexual any longer. This primary story is framed as the memories of Toland thirty years later, apparently in a stable relationship with a man, living a solidly bourgeois urban gay life, but still haunted by the past. Other characters' stories and fates are woven through Toland's memories, creating a complex view of this past and his remembering of it.

I've had a weird relationship with Stuck Rubber Baby over the course of its lifetime: I looked through it when it was first published and decided it wasn't for me; I read the whole book sometimes in the early 2000's and liked it but didn't really engage with it; I recently read it very carefully and closely, which led to something like awe. (The last time I had as powerful a reading experience was when I read J.M. Ledgard's Submergence over a year ago.)




Many people I know — otherwise intelligent people of impeccably refined taste — don't like Stuck Rubber Baby. Some claim to appreciate it, but to be put off by its artwork, which they invariably describe as ugly or "just plain bad." The art is one thing that caused me to bounce off the book when I first tried to read it sometime in 1996 or 1997, when I saw it at the old Shakespeare & Co. bookstore on lower Broadway in Manhattan and spent some time reading through it. (I used to go there when I was bored, or wanted to get away from people, or just felt like hanging out in a bookstore. They were open till midnight and didn't seem to mind if I sat there and read without buying anything.) The images seemed to me then unappealing, cramped, dark. I was also put off by the story's historical setting — I didn't want to read about Alabama in the 1960s, I wanted to read about contemporary New York queers.

I returned to the book in the early 2000's when I found a used copy somewhere and was thinking about doing an essay on various literary representations of AIDS activism. Though not at all directly about AIDS activism, I suspected (rightly) that it was relevant to that topic. I never got far with what I was writing, though, as life and other projects intervened.

My most recent experience of reading Stuck Rubber Baby was for a course on graphic narratives that I'm taking for my Ph.D. (this is my final term of coursework). It may have been that context that helped open up the book for me, since it required me to read it carefully and deliberately, but I think the more significant factor is simply age. Much of what concerned Cruse when he wrote Stuck Rubber Baby is now of more concern to me than it was when I encountered the book earlier: questions of memory and experience, of looking back on youthful political awakening, of trying to save something of a younger self for the present age, of making sense of an upbringing in a place very different from New York City, of queer identity.

Queer, indeed. Something that struck me especially forcefully as I read the book this time is how well it captures the feeling of queerness in every sense of the word, even among friends and supportive family members, a feeling that is not only a matter of desire, but is also inflected by the pitfalls and obstacles of making sense of an individual identity within a group — knowing always that there will be something strange about you to anyone, no matter how similar they may seem in experiences or yearnings.

Perhaps that's why the art didn't bother me this time; indeed, for once the art seemed absolutely right for the material. The human figures look like mannequins or weird, plump wax sculptures. The pages are mostly cramped, the panels claustrophobic. (That effect is enhanced by the decision to print the book in a small format so that it would be displayed on bookstores' fiction shelves rather than in the humor section. I think the art suffers for this, and it would be nice to have a larger format edition, but the cramped feeling is certainly heightened.) The shading often makes it difficult to distinguish skin tones, a powerful effect in a book about the civil rights era, where race seems so obvious and incontrovertible to the characters. Cruse draws an off-kilter world, a sometimes disturbing world, a world where cartoonish figures must find some way to reconcile themselves to very uncartoonish violence and horror.

It's an extremely talky book. The few panels without text stand out, and their presence inevitably feels either like a relief or a shock. The characters are constantly trying to talk their way through things, to find the right words, and more often than not they fail. At the same time, other characters wield words as weapons, with deadly consequences. Again and again, the book returns to ideas of representation and performance, of how identity, performance, and memory can merge or split. Sometimes words help, but often they do not — they accumulate, obfuscate, crowd out action and sight. It's significant that the book becomes more quiet at the end, as Toland finds ways to reconcile himself to the past, to move forward while preserving memory, to admit his own failures and horrors and not simply reduce them to stories he tells over and over again. Music weaves through his memories, and it is music that accompanies him in the end — "There's something I wanna show ya," he says, and the panels open up, the music weaves through the images, and we are left with the silent peace of a city snow storm.

I was struck during this reading at how easily Stuck Rubber Baby moves through its characters' timelines, how well, for the most part, it prevents us from getting confused as stories are told within stories, memories within memories. The structure overall is basically linear for the major events, but within sequences (and sometimes even individual pages) the movement is more fluid and associational. We're set up for this structure right from the first page, which introduces many of the visual motifs that will reappear throughout the book: the Kennedys, protests, dead bodies... In the first three pages, we move from Toland as an adult in the mid-1990s to Toland as a child and young teenager to Toland and his sister shortly after their parents died in a car accident. The fourth and fifth pages then circle back to develop some of what was glimpsed earlier, then use this new information to bring in Ginger standing with Toland at the March on Washington, where she asks him, "Who're you lookin' at?" to which Toland replies, "Just someone I used to know." (Despite all their talking, what matters most often is what and how these characters look at the world. Also, what is shown and not shown: Cruse is very careful to depict some events and not depict others.) It's an exquisite moment, encapsulating so much of what the book wrestles with, giving poignance to a scene early in the story, and also beginning to develop the characters who will be central to the primary story.

One of the things that makes the Wendel comics so delightful is Cruse's almost infallible sense of short story form. He produced those comics very quickly, often right up against deadline, and yet more often than not they have a balance of elements that produces far more resonance than many longer works. Reading Stuck Rubber Baby, you would hardly know that Cruse had never before written any comic much longer than 10 pages, and he melds his short story skills to the longer form by allowing the flow of memory to guide the overall narrative, and so the various short sequences can all work separately on their own toward the larger goal, allowing the book as a whole to leave and return to sequences much as the Wendel comic did, though now when he wrote it, Cruse could edit both backwards and forwards in a way he could not do when publishing a new installment every couple weeks. Thus, Stuck Rubber Baby has a far more intentional, unified form than the Wendel collections. (That said, the Wendel collections are more fun — their improvisatory energy is, for me at least, pure delight.)

Cruse began the Wendel comics just as people began to recognize the full horror of the AIDS crisis, and reading Wendel in chronological order is a particularly powerful experience because what begins as a light, slice-of-life comedy can't help but reckon with life in an ever more terrifying world, a world of yuppies and Reagan and plague. There's a remarkable Wendel comic from the fall of 1987 in which Wendel and friends go to a big AIDS demonstration in Washington. The majority of the story is given over to a song by a character named Glenn, who has taken on the responsibility of entertaining everybody on the bus from NYC to DC, and who is, he says, wearing the same gown he wore during the night of the Stonewall riots. The comic ends thus:


Cruse doesn't typically use photographic images in his comics, but here reality invades in the form of the Reagan administration and its cronies. The place and date are specific, and the sense of historical continuity is strong — by having Glenn wear the clothes he wore during the Stonewall riots, Cruse insists on the importance of the current moment for gay history and gay liberation.

AIDS is not explicitly mentioned in Stuck Rubber Baby, but it's an integral context for the story. The book was published before the advent of the drug "cocktail" that helped make HIV, for some people, a chronic, manageable disease rather than a death sentence. Gay people of all backgrounds and beliefs had to come together for political action because their lives were on the line. Silence equals death. Cynicism equals death. Complaisance equals death. In Stuck Rubber Baby, Toland learns a similar lesson. The connection between Toland's world in the 1960s and his world 30 years later did not need to be spelled out to readers in 1995, and the only reference making the connection is a single, tiny, unobtrusive image in a small panel on page 207:


Behind the picture of Ginger holding the baby before it is given up for adoption hangs the iconic "Silence = Death" ACT UP poster.

Stuck Rubber Baby is, then, a story of political awakening, but it was written as a call to consciousness, not a comforting nostalgia trip. In the mid-'90s, it was hard to maintain hope. Bill Clinton did not seem to be a significant improvement over George Bush on AIDS policy or gay rights, the Catholic Church was still vehemently anti-gay and anti-safe-sex (I participated with ACT UP in a small protest against the Pope's visit to New York in, I think, 1996), and progress still seemed far off.

Coming of age queer for my generation meant assuming that you had a high risk of dying young. I think one of the reasons I found Stuck Rubber Baby so powerful when I read it this time was that Toland's struggle against his homosexual desires, his fear that they were not just aberrant but deadly, and his experience of people being killed because of those desires, connected with my own memories of coming to awareness of desires that in all likelihood would lead to a terminal disease. Because of the AIDS crisis and because of how that crisis was represented in the news media and spoken of by the people I knew, queer identity felt to me like a doomed fate. Though I still carry traces of that feeling, and will probably never shed it, given that that was how I first learned to see myself, it doesn't stand in the foreground the way it used to, it doesn't create as much of a sense of being inevitably besieged, of needing to live fatalistically, of forgetting about any future. There is a chasm between that mid-'90s world and now, even though so much of the mid-'90s feels to me like it was just a couple years ago. Toland seems to feel that way about the '60s: he carries its traces and hauntings inside himself, and it isn't until the end that he learns what to do with it all. I'm still learning, myself, what to do with a sense of lived history, when what feels like yesterday also feels like multiple lifetimes ago, and when the terrors of youth still sometimes scream out in the quiet night of adulthood.

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13. WonderCon ’15: Exhibition Hall Highlights

By Nick Eskey

The guys of CME in front of "Deadeye

The guys of CME in front of “Deadeye”

Known for being the fan favorite of major conventions, with its relaxed nature and lines, WonderCon has been gaining in popularity over the last few years.

For this last WonderCon, I was a little underwhelmed with the pick of panel selections, so I decided to spend more time on the sales floor than I usually do. The diversity of vendors, artists, and publishers gathered here are always wonderful to see and explore. During my long exploration, I came across a few booths that I felt deserved a shout out.

C.M.E. (Creative Mind Energy LLC): I’ve seen these guys for a few years now, at both WonderCon and Comic-Con. Every time I do, it’s a great pleasure. CME is a

Design Studio Press

Design Studio Press

family business that come up with original creative content for various avenues, such as print, television, movies, and video games. The artwork of their comic books are so unique, featuring beautifully, hand drawn scenes. The work stands out and makes a name for itself. One of their latest works, Deadeye, will be coming out this June. Find a copy for yourself. [http://creativemindenergy.com/]

Design Studio Press: This publisher has been around for 15 years. The level of workmanship in each book shows why they’ve been around this long. Design
Studio Press’s content is mostly beautiful reference materials for making art and designing. A couple books of theirs that really impressed me were “How to draw” and “How to render.” Each one’s a thick piece of work; highly detailed, lots of pictures, and very simple to follow. But what really was impressive is that if you download the company’s app on your phone, and train the camera on certain pages, an AR tutorial will appear on the paper, including more than what is there. This is truly the next step in books and technology. [http://designstudiopress.com/]

Abraham Lopez himself

Abraham Lopez himself

Abraham Lopez: A picture is worth a thousand words, so goes the saying. This artist’s work is indeed worth that many words, creating a hilarious work of fiction. Using a combination of comic and Disney characters, his drawings place them in farfetched, but yes very amusing scenes and situations. During the entire convention, his booth was consistently surrounded. I myself had to buy a few of his prints. They are just that good. But beyond their subject matter, his art is well done and polished. [http://artistabe.deviantart.com/]

Even though WonderCon is over, still check these guys out. They all deserve some patronage in my book. I’d love to see them again at this year’s SDCC.

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14. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

After several months of waiting, my turn for Roz Chast’s graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? finally came round. It was worth the wait.

You may already know what it is about. Chast’s parents were aging and she tried several times to talk to them about what they would want to do if something happened. Of course no one likes to think or talk about these sorts of things and trying to talk to your parents about it, especially when they don’t want to talk about it, is no easy thing. So Chast’s attempts went nowhere. And her parents continued to age and everything was fine until it wasn’t.

In their early 90s and becoming more frail, unable to keep the apartment clean and relying on a friendly neighbor to pick up things from the grocery store for them, it was only a matter of time before something happened. The call came at midnight. Chast’s mom had fallen while trying to stand on a ladder to change a light bulb. The fall had actually happened a few days before and she refused to go to the doctor. Nothing a little bed rest couldn’t fix. Until she couldn’t get out of bed. While Chast’s mom spent a few days at the hospital she had her father stay with her and her family. It was then she noticed her dad’s mental acuity was nowhere near what she thought it was. Her mom had been taking care of him and covering up just how bad he had gotten.

Thankfully, her mom was not seriously injured. But it was the beginning of the long decline. After more incidents Chast managed to convince her parents that they needed to move into assisted living. It was a nice facility where they had their own apartment and Chast, her husband and kids were nearby and could visit them frequently. Still, the parents did not go willingly.

The memoir is well told with humor and compassion. The art is cartoon-y but expressive. Chast’s story is the story of so many others that it is no surprise really why the book is so popular. I have family members who have had to take care of their aging parents. I have friends who are in the midst of taking care of theirs. It is not easy and our society doesn’t help make it any easier. Care facilities cost astronomical sums of money. Chast’s parents had scrimped and saved their entire lives and it only took a couple of years before they had nearly run through all their savings. Is that what we work all our lives to save for? Not retirement, but to pay for decent end-of-life care? And what happens when the money runs out? What happens if you have no one like Chast to look out for your best interests when you are not able to? It’s a scary prospect.

Growing old sucks. But the thing is, I don’t believe it has to. I don’t know how to change society and culture so that the golden years truly are golden right up to the last breath. But it is definitely something that needs to change.


Filed under: Books, Graphic Novels, Memoir/Biography, Reviews Tagged: Roz Chast

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15. Fantagraphics teases a new Danel Clowes graphic novel

It’s been way too long since we’ve heard from Dan Clowes, Shia LaBeouf aside, but the pile of what appears to be artwork in the above tweet suggests he hasn’t been idle.

Clowes’ last work was Wilson, which came out in 2010. (collected versions of Mr. Wonderful, his NY Times comic, and The Death-Ray came out in 2011. In the intervening years he’s been busy with some Hollywood stuff, a major art retrospective and, of course, the Complete Eightball, which is finally coming out in June, squeeee. In 2011, he alluded to a new longer book:

I’m kind of working on a bigger, longer book that I don’t want to talk about or it’ll jinx me. The minute I say, “Oh, I’m doing this,” then the next day I’ll realize I don’t want to do it and I’ll look like an idiot. I’ve done that so many times where somebody will call me up and I’ll mention it one time because I’m excited about it and of course it falls apart and I’m stuck explaining myself for the rest of my life.


In other interviews, Clowes alludes to beginning and abandoning a graphic novel about Hollywood, so this maybe isn’t that but…hey whatever it is, it’s exciting! And only a year to go!

On another note, this marks Clowes’ return to Fantagraphics after some adventures afield with D&Q and Random House. There’s probably a lot more analysis to be made about all that, but we’ll save it for when more than a teaser image is revealed.

clowes-patience.jpeg

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16. Let’s talk about Caldecott: This One Summer

TOSLet’s talk about This One Summer. I know many of you have already talked about it, and I’m sure some of those conversations have been very interesting. As a member of the 2015 Caldecott Committee that chose This One Summer by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki as an honor book, I’ll try to clear up some points that have lead to questions.  According to the Caldecott definitions, “’A picture book for children’ is one for which children are the intended potential audience. “Children are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen and picture books for this entire age range are considered.” (Caldecott Manual, page 10) The Expanded Definitions also says, on page 69, “In some instances, award-winning books have been criticized for exceeding the upper age limit of fourteen. If a book is challenging, and suitable for 13-14 year-olds, but not for younger readers, is it eligible? Yes…” Yes, this book is for older readers. Here’s an interesting look at that question in Travis Jonker’s interview with the Tamakis.

This One Summer is a coming-of-age story about a girl entering adolescence and both appeals to and is appropriate for young readers age 12-14. Twelve, thirteen and fourteen year-olds fall well within the scope of audience for the Caldecott Medal and Honor books. Although this book is challenging in many ways, the committee found it to be “so distinguished, in so many ways, that it deserves recognition” as well as “exceptionally fine, for the narrow part of the range to which it appeals, even though it may be eligible for other awards outside this range.” (page 69 – Caldecott Manual). There are many people who do not realize that the Caldecott terms include books for older readers. I see this as an opportunity for us, as ALSC members and librarians, to deepen understanding of the award.

Committee member Tali Balas add sticker to the book. Photo by Angela Reynolds

Committee member Tali Balas add sticker to the book. Photo by Angela Reynolds

According to The Caldecott Manual, a “picture book for children” as distinguished from other books with illustrations, is one that essentially provides the child with a visual experience. A picture book has a “collective unity of storyline, theme, or concept, developed through the series of pictures of which this book is comprised.” (page 10) The committee followed this definition closely, and This One Summer shows, through pictures, a collective unity of all three, with particular strength in storyline and theme. Graphic novels certainly provide us with a visual experience. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has a great article on using This One Summer in a classroom, which you can read here, and a “make your case” article for adding it to your collection here. And for those of you who are graphic novel fans, don’t miss this podcast with Mariko Tamaki. I love how she talks about the images being like paragraphs.

The Caldecott Committee, as directed by the manual, considered each eligible book as a picture book and made our decisions based primarily on illustration. The committee gave This One Summer an honor because of its excellence of pictorial presentation for children, as defined in the manual. If you haven’t seen it, take a look at the amazing use of just one color. Jillian Tamaki creates mood so vividly with her washes of indigo, deepening the shade when the plot gets darker. The story has much to do with water; the monochromatic blues remind us just how changeable a lake (and an adolescent girl) can be. The images in the book intertwine and play with the words, creating an authentic summer experience. I just love the image on pages 70-71 where Windy is dancing around the kitchen. It shows her personality, and Rose’s, perfectly:  setting up the tension of youthful energy and quiet contemplation. There are many images throughout the book that give us this deeper insight. Go looking for them. They will astound you.
*Special thanks to fellow committee member Sharon McKeller for help with this article.

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17. Last of the Sandwalkers blog tour with special appearance from Professor Bombardier & author/artist/scientist Jay Hosler (ages 10-14)

Jay Hosler's new graphic novel The Last of the Sandwalkers is not going to grab everyone, but for the right audience it is absolutely terrific. You're going to love it if you like comics, science, adventure and humor.
The Last of the Sandwalkers
by Jay Hosler
First Second Books, 2015
Your local library
Amazon
ages 10-14
*best new book*
Hosler drops readers into the middle of the age of New Coleopolis, the world of beetles where nothing exists beyond their protected oasis. You see, Old Coleopolis was destroyed over 1,000 years ago when the god Scarabus obliterated it with a barrage of coconuts. And yet Lucy, an intrepid young researcher (the sandwalker beetle from the title), is sure that life exists beyond the oasis.

Lucy sets out on an epic quest to prove that life exists in the great world beyond. She is accompanied by Raef, a pun-loving firefly, Professor Bombardier, the wise level-headed elder of the group, and Mossy, a giant Hercules beetle. One disaster strikes after another, as Lucy and her friends confirm their hypothesis and then try to make their way home.
Ajani, an Emerson 5th grader who's avidly read science nonfiction as well as all types of comic books for years, started off our conversation about this saying, "I wish they'd make another one." Ajani's favorite character is the firefly Raef. 
"Half the reason is he's a frickin' robot, shooting laser beams at 'Dyna-soars.'" -- 5th grader Ajani describing why he loves Raef
Hosler's humor is sophisticated, layered and yet totally accessible. Ajani loved that the Dyna-soars were birds (they'd look like giants if you were a beetle!), and he definitely got the reference to birds being descendants of dinosaurs. But he also picked up on Raef's character traits, protecting himself and his friends out of steadfast loyalty.
Lucy & friends try to escape from the "Dyna-soars"
Hosler, a biology professor at Juniata College, weaves scientific information throughout the story, but this just adds to the wonder and fun of the adventure. As he states on his website, his goal "is to use the compelling visual power of comics to illustrate the alien worlds that often go unnoticed and unappreciated."  My favorite character is Professor Bombardier, so I was thrilled to have Hosler visit for this blog tour and tell us a little more about the Bombardier beetle.
Character Name: Professor Bombardier
Species: Pheropsophus verticalis
Length: 10-13 mm
Color: Mostly dark brown elytra with orange/broan markings.
Habitat: woodlands or grasslands
Superpower: Flaming-hot chemical spray
Professor Bombardier
Many beetles are capable of storing nasty chemicals in their body and secreting them as a means of deterring the unwelcome attention of predators. The pioneering chemical ecologist Thomas Eisner talks about many of them in his book Secret Weapons. The bombardier beetle, however, is probably the most impressive. It has two reservoirs in its abdomen that contain reactive chemicals. When it is disturbed, it releases the chemicals into another chamber that is lined with enzymes. These enzymes initiate a series of chemical reactions. The result is the build up of a blazing hot, extremely irritating concoction that the bombardier beetle can spray at any nuisance that gets on its nerves.
Bombardier beetle (courtesy of ABC News)
Whipping up such a nasty elixir qualifies the bombardier beetle as a world-class beetle chemist, but it’s also quite a marksman. There is a tiny turret at the tip of a bombardier beetle’s abdomen that it can aim in 360 degrees. When sufficiently annoyed, these beetles will spray their calamitous cocktail in a series of short pulses. A steady stream of chemicals could be hazardous to the beetle’s health. The turret actually cools slightly between pulses and this prevents the beetles from cooking their own abdomen. Sounds far-fetched, I know, but don’t take my word for it. Sir David Attenborough will show you the whole amazing display in this video.

The bombardier beetle has also rubbed elbows with some of the great scientists of our time. Charles Darwin even mentions one in his autobiography. Apparently, he was out collecting beetles when he came across a particularly fascinating specimen. Unfortunately, he already had a beetle in each hand. Undaunted, he popped one of those beetles in his mouth for safe keeping so that he could pick up this third specimen. Much to his dismay, he quickly learned that the beetle in his mouth was a bombardier and the repellent experience distracted him so much that he lost all three beetles.

Professor Bombardier
In Last of the Sandwalkers, Professor Bombardier plays an important role as the guiding hand of our team of intrepid explorers. But don’t be fooled by her patient, genteel demeanor. Threaten her friends and you just might be on the receiving end of a scalding chemical scolding.

Find out more information about the Bombardier beetle here:
Many thanks to Jay Hosler for sharing such a terrific story and great background information. I know this is a graphic novel that my science-loving, comics-fans will read again and again and again.

Make sure to stop by each of the post for The Last of the Sandwalkers blog tour. Hosler will share information about different characters at each. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, 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.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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18. Cybils Finalist Review: THROUGH THE WOODS by Emily Carroll

Summary: Horror fans take note: if you're a fan of, say, Holly Black, Neil Gaiman, Edgar Allan Poe--you will not want to miss this graphic novel compilation of spooky tales by webcomic artist Emily Carroll. It's beautiful, and frightening, and... Read the rest of this post

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19. Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula: blog tour

If you’re a reader of this blog or follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’re probably aware that I am pretty serious about my food. If I’m not chattering on about books, I’m bombarding you with cake photos, right? So I was delighted to be asked to participate in the blog tour for Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula, a new graphic novel about a princess of the underworld who gets more than she bargained for when she hires a new cook–who happens to be a vampire–for her father’s castle. I quite enjoyed the humorous tone of the story, which is aptly described as “gothy-cute sensibility” and a “very sweet and mildly spooky tale.” It’s a fun one to read with kids, who will enjoy the Princess’ dilemmas and the appealing artwork. This blog tour is especially fun because the author is sharing unique illustrations and recipes with each stop! Ours... Read more »

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20. Cybils Finalist Review: THE HARLEM HELLFIGHTERS by Max Brooks and Caanan White

Summary: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II are, by now, well-known to American and African American history. But the regiment known as the Harlem Hellfighters--the Army's 369th infantry unit--were the first American unit to reach the Rhine in the... Read the rest of this post

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21. Review of BirdCatDog

BirdCatDogBirdCatDog [Three-Story Books]
by Lee Nordling; illus. by Meritxell Bosch
Primary    Graphic Universe/Lerner    32 pp.
11/14    Library ed.  978-1-4677-4522-2    $25.26
Paper ed.  978-1-4677-4523-9    $6.95
e-book ed.  978-1-4677-4524-6    $25.32

In this innovative wordless picture book told entirely through cartoon panels, three pets escape the ennui of domestication for brief, interconnected adventures in the wild. An introduction explains that readers may read across the six-by-three distribution of rectangular panels for the protagonists’ parallel plot lines — the Tweety-like yellow bird in the blue-saturated top row of panels; the orange tabby in the green-toned middle row; and the bluish-gray guard dog in the yellow-hued bottom row—or read from top to bottom to “get the whole story.” Expressive, accessible art wordlessly follows the pets’ adventures, during which each animal not only interacts (badly) with the other two pets but also comes snout-to-snout (or beak-to-beak) with a wild version of itself: a hawk, a lynx, a wolf. While the consistent panel grid sacrifices the more dynamic layout and pacing afforded by a variety of panel sizes and shapes, this structure (with its protagonist-color-complementing rows) unobtrusively guides readers along. And it’s that much more effective when that structure breaks into a dizzying and hilarious double-page spread of all six creatures in a high-speed chase through the pets’ backyard, a bemused squirrel looking on. Once they have chased off the interlopers, the triumphant pets settle down for well-deserved naps on their well-defended home turf.

From the January/February 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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22. Los Angeles Times Book Prize graphic novel nominees announced

chast.jpg

Awards season is barreling along now. And here are the nominees for the LA Times Book Prizes, which added a graphic novel category several years back. It’s a prestigious literary prize, and the winners over the years—Duncan the Wonder Dog, Finder, Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life among them—have definitely lived up to the billing. This year’s five books chosen include what I would almost call the usual suspects for 2014:

 

The Chast and Tamaki books were THE graphic novels of 2014, and The Love Bunglers is a masterpiece. Arsene Schrauwen was much admired and deserves all the attention it gets. The Neyestani book doesn’t quite have the same profile, but it’s gotten a lot of recent ink and it’s also a pretty damn fine book.

In other words, good picks.

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23. Review of the Day: Lost in NYC by Nadja Spiegelman

Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure
By Nadja Spiegelman
Illustrated by Sergio García Sánchez
TOON Graphics (and imprint of RAW, Jr.)
$16.95
ISBN: 978-1935179818
Ages 8-12
On shelves April 14, 2015

While I’m aware that public transport was invented to meet the very real needs of urban commuters, when you’re the parent of a city child you can be forgiven for taking an entirely different view of things. Simply put: subways were created for the sole purpose of amusing children. How else to explain the fun maps, bright colors, and awe-inspiring bits of machinery? We already knew that kids loved trains. Now put those trains underground. That’s just awesomeness redoubled. Here in New York City a certain level of excitement about subway trains is almost required of our kids. Yet when it comes to books about the subway system, it’s often disappointing. Either it’s too young, too old, or like Count on the Subway by Paul DuBois Jacobs it gives the subway lines the wrong colors. Sure Subway by Christoph Niemann is the gold standard, but what can you offer older metro fans? Lost in NYC by Nadja Spiegelman hits that sweet spot for the 6-10 year old crowd. Visually stunning (to say nothing of its accuracy) with abundant factual information wriggled into every available crevice, you don’t have to be a New Yorker to enjoy this book (though, boy, does it sure help).

When you have a father that moves your family all over the country, it can be easy to disconnect from the places you briefly live. So when Pablo enters Mr. Bartle’s class on the first day of his new school, he rebuffs cheery Alicia’s attempts at friendship. On this particular day the class is taking a field trip to the Empire State Building. Pablo learns about the subway system that will take the class there alongside everyone else, but when he and Alicia are inspecting a map on the subway he’s briefly confused and takes her with him onto the express 2 train and not the local 1. Now separated from their class, the two kids start to fight and next thing you know they have to find their way back to their classmates entirely on their own. Backmatter and a Bibliography of other subway resources appear at the end.

I’m an adult so after reading this story several times you know whom I feel most sorry for? The teacher, Mr. Bartle. Here the man is, taking his class on a routine subway trip, and along the way he loses two of them at the very first stop. A common New Yorker nightmare is the idea that you might lose your child on the subway. Yet in Spiegelman and Sánchez’s hands it’s a nightmare turned into an adventure. It’s the same reason From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler continues to be read. For children, the thought of being independent in a city as vast as NYC is as enticing as it is horrific. Spiegelman does give Pablo a native guide for the first part of his journey, but pretty soon they two are separated and he has to make his way on his own to his group. This is by no means an interactive book, but I had to withhold a scream when Pablo jumped the 7 train at 42nd Street. He’s lucky he asked for traveling advice as early as he did, else he would have ended up in far distant Queens relatively quickly.

Spiegelman’s writing holds up for the most part. It’s a slim story, clocking in at a mere 52 pages which is only slightly more than your average picture book. Some of that is rounded out with the backmatter too. Filled with history and brimming with photographs, engravings, and other stunning images, Spiegelman outdoes herself with the information found there. For certain subway buffs, the info included (with sections like “Why Are There No H, I, K, O, P, T, U, V, W, X, or Y Trains?”) will be particularly pleasing. However, when we look at the story in this book by itself, it does come to a rather abrupt halt. Pablo spends the greater part of the story declaring that he doesn’t need friends. He parts from Alicia on angry terms, yet when the two are reunited they act like the best buddies in the world. I wasn’t quite sure where the switchover on this relationship occurred. Otherwise, everything seems pretty certain and consistent.

Not all subway books are created equal. I remember years ago encountering a NY subway picture book where a normally elevated stop was pictured in the book as underground. Certainly the cover of this book gave me hope. It seemed to be acknowledging from the get-go that the 1 and 2 trains both stop at 96th, 72nd, and 42nd Street (we will ignore the peculiar inclusion of a “33” since we can assume artist Sergio Garcia Sánchez meant 34th Street). As it happens, Mr. Sánchez is a resident not of one of the five boroughs but of Spain. You wouldn’t know it. The New York found within these pages feels so real and so contemporary that I have difficulty understanding that I’m not going to run into the man on the street when I leave for work tomorrow morning. Artists could learn a thing or two from his attention to detail. From the color of the painted columns to the diversity of the city streets, this is indeed the New York I know and love.

The design of Lost in NYC is also a delight to the eyes. Good graphic novels for children are rare beasties. Half the time you’re left wondering if the editors or artists ever took the time to look outside the standard panel format. If Mr. Sánchez feels inclined to use panels in this book, you can bet it’s a strategic decision. The very first page is almost entirely open, only settling into panels when the kids are approaching the rigid format of a school setting. As the teacher, Mr. Bartle, begins to introduce subway history, we see the characters on a massive topographic map. It’s a visual approximation of the cut-and-cover technique used to create subways in a city chock full of hardened bedrock. Once the kids go underground the panels shift to full two-page spreads, and lots of individual vertical panels like the cars on a subway train. When called upon to render the city blocks in such a way where you can see the characters all converge on the Empire State Building from different directions, the artist either shrinks the buildings and blows up the characters, or he overlaps a subway map onto a street map and you can see the kids meet up that way. Then there are the perspective shifts. The view up into the Empire State Building, a wall or two cut away so that you can get a visual sense of some of the seventy-three elevators in the building, is dizzying. I can say with certainty that even if a child were incapable of reading English (or Spanish, since this book is being simultaneously translated) they would still be able to be moved and stirred by this story.

He’s also filled the book with inside jokes. I was so pleased that I took time to read the “Behind the Scenes: Sergio and the Cop” section at the back of the book. In it, Sergio describes a time he visited NYC and was photographing all the details at the 96th Street subway stop when a cop started paying a little too much attention to him. As a result, if you look in the book you can find Sergio and the cop on “virtually every spread.” Once you see it, it cannot be unseen. It also creates a kind of touching secondary story as the two go from antagonists to, finally, taking a selfie together.

Accuracy in illustration, even (or should I say especially?) in fictional stories, is imperative. You have to make the reader inhabit the setting presented, and the best way to accomplish this is through rigorous research and skill. Mr. Sánchez has both and by pairing with Nadja Spiegelman he may well earn himself an Honorary New Yorker decree. Though filled to its gills with accurate Manhattan details, you don’t have to live anywhere in the five boroughs to recognize the fear that comes with having to navigate an unfamiliar public transit system. Particularly if you’re just a kid. An adventure tale wrapped around a nonfiction core of subways subways subways. What’s not to love?

On shelves April 14th.

Source: Final copy sent from publisher for review.

Like This? Then Try:

Professional Reviews: Kirkus

Interview: Comic Book Resources spoke with Nadja Spiegelman and she reveals a lot of behind-the-scenes information about the book.

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24. Les Miserables (2015)

Les Miserables The Epic Masterpiece by Victor Hugo, Retold and Illustrated by Marcia Williams. 2015. Candlewick. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]
POLICE NOTICE
It has come to my attention that you citizens known as "Les Miserables" believe that your wretched state of poverty and hunger is an excuse to flout the laws of France. You are mistaken. Every citizen must obey the law, and those who fail to do so will be punished.
Not a loaf of bread nor an apple from a tree will go missing without my learning of it. I will hunt down every criminal--rich or poor. The law shows no discrimination and no compassion.
I also warn all members of the revolutionary republican group "Les Amis de l'ABC" that your days are numbered. Should you seek to lead the miserable underdogs of our society to repeat the Revolution of 1789, you will fail!
The true citizens of France will not support you, and France will never again be a republic. King Louis XVIII is our monarch. He and the laws of France must be obeyed.
Inspector Javert
Les Miserables is one of my favorite classics. I love, love, love it. So I was quite excited to receive a review copy of this adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic. What did I think of it? Well, I liked it very much. At the very least, it does as good a job as any movie adaptation I've seen in capturing the story and the characters. So if you're looking to enjoy the story in its most basic form, this picture book adaptation wouldn't be a bad choice. Or, if you're looking to share this one with young readers, perhaps before seeing one of the movies, this one would be a fine choice.

I love the story. I love the characters. And Marcia Williams does a good job at remaining faithful to the story and the characters, of capturing why the story matters. The story is told through narration and dialogue (speech bubbles).

That being said, while it is a much shorter read--I read it in one sitting--it is not as wonderful as the original. One could argue it is more straightforward and focused and that it doesn't ramble. It doesn't have thousands of asides that take readers away from "main" story. But there is something beautiful in the original, even in the rambling. One of the things that I love most about original novel is the richness of it--the beauty of the language, the richness of the writing, the great attention to humanity. That is lost in this adaptation for the most part.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. Cybils Finalist Review: HIDDEN: A CHILD'S STORY OF THE HOLOCAUST

Summary: Told through the eyes of a grandmother recalling her childhood during the Nazi occupation of Paris, this story takes the wrenching events of the Holocaust and shows how important it is to remember our history and set it free so that the... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on Cybils Finalist Review: HIDDEN: A CHILD'S STORY OF THE HOLOCAUST as of 3/9/2015 1:02:00 PM
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