Posts filed under 'Graphic Novel'
The narrator of this short graphic novel is a young boy growing up in the Mexican town of Rosario. His town is home to lovely young women (of particular interest to our narrator!), sharp-tongued grandmothers, gossipy men—and Mr. Mendoza, an old man who, with the help of a paintbrush, covers every convenient surface with his moralizing epigrams and scathing rebukes. At once point, Mendoza even paints his graffiti on the narrator’s body when he catches the boy peeping at girls bathing in the river! This continues until one day when Mr. Mendoza decides his work is done and uses his paintbrush to find a surprising exit from Rosario—and perhaps from the world. The artwork accompanying this charming, magical-realist fable borrows in style from both traditional Mexican folk art and from woodcuts, creating an appealing mix of the realist and the fantastic to complement the story’s own similar mix.
Find Mr. Mendoza’s Paintbrush in our catalog.
August 23rd, 2010
When author and artist Lucy Knisley was turning 22, she and her mother took a month-long vacation to Paris, living in a rented apartment, eating at cafes, shopping, and generally exploring the city and doing the things that Americans in Paris do. This graphic novel travelogue recounts the trip and Lucy’s feelings about her experience. A young woman at the time, she had a young woman’s concerns—college, boyfriend, future, evolving relationships with parents—but also an artist’s background, sensibilities, and eye for detail and layers of meaning. Her drawings from the trip range from simple and cartoonish to far more detailed and nuanced, and are interspersed with black and white photographs. A travel journal first and foremost, “French Milk” will surely make the reader long for croissants and café au lait in the city of lights.
Find French Milk in our catalog.
August 21st, 2010
Small, an award-winning childrens book illustrator, here puts his artistic talents to use in this graphic novel depiction of the story of his own childhood. His father was an emotionally stilted radiologist who bombarded the sickly David with “healing” x-rays in his youth. His mother was a frigid, unhappy closeted lesbian who never showed her children any love. His grandmother was cranky, judgmental, and quite possibly crazy. Growing up in this deeply dysfunctional household, art was David’s only real refuge…especially after the operation at age 14 to remove a growth from David’s neck. The operation, supposedly routine, left David with only half of his vocal cords and functionally mute for years. Later, David discovered the reason: the “growth” on his neck was actually cancer caused by his father’s supposed “treatments” of radiation, but the cancer had been kept secret from him at the time. Bitter, angry, and depressed, it took a caring psychiatrist and a surprisingly simple truth to allow David to move on. The black-and-white artwork accompanying the story is evocative, perceptive, and, at times, almost hallucinatory as they depict the imagination of a young boy attempting to make sense of situations beyond his easy comprehension. Many segments are entirely wordless, with the images alone ably carrying the weight of the plot. Compelling, powerful, and, in the end, cathartic.
Find Stitches in our catalog.
February 24th, 2010
This is such a fun little graphic novel. Lange’s book contains a 3-panel synopsis per classic book and Lange succinctly summarizes and illustrates the plot, main character, and adds some humorous remarks of his own. I had so much fun with this book that I read it all in one quick sitting and quickly passed it along to a co-worker. Some of the books illustrated are:
Brave New World
Lord of the Flies
The Name of the Rose
Recommended for those who have ever read, considered reading, or might never read the classics.
Find 90 Classic Books for People in a Hurry in our catalog.
June 3rd, 2009
Classic Batman villain the Joker has been enjoying somewhat of a renaissance lately, it seems. Given the late lamented Heath Ledger’s astonishing performance as Joker in “Batman: The Dark Knight,” it’s easy to see why. Jack Nicholson’s Joker, while certainly still darkly crazy in many ways, was still somewhat more sane than not…at least where his motives for crime were concerned. But Ledger’s performance was much more in line with the classic portrayal of the Joker as a force of pure insanity, driven to inflict his own madness upon the world. The graphic novel “Batman: The Killing Joke,” first published over twenty years ago and now republished in an anniversary edition, should be of interest to any fans of the recent movie as well as to long-time Batman readers.
“The Killing Joke” contains a Joker origin story…one of many, as the Joker himself has been known to state that he does not remember his own past clearly. In this particular origin story, however, the man that Joker used to be had one very bad day…everything in his life went wrong all at once, ending with a dunk in a chemical bath that produced the Joker’s characteristic crazed red grin, green hair, and dead white skin. It was this one very bad day that pushed him over the line into insanity, and now, in present day, he decides to prove that even the sanest of men is only one very bad day away from becoming just as mad as he himself became. To that end, he kidnaps Commissioner Gordon— after shooting his daughter Barbara (also known as Batgirl) in the spine and paralyzing her from the waist down—and drags the Commissioner to a twisted carnival funhouse of the Joker’s own design and shows him just how bad life can get in the course of just one day. Of course, Batman intervenes, and in the end…well, the Joker’s own day gets a heck of a lot worse.
Find Batman: The Killing Joke in our catalog.
May 6th, 2009
Up to this point, most of the graphic novels I’ve read have been either fictional stories or graphic memoirs such as “Maus” or “Persepolis.” So when I saw “The Beats: A Graphic History” on our new book cart, I decided to give it a try.
Having been a big fan of Beat Generation literature in my teens, the lives of the literary movement’s main players…Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs…was a subject with which I was already quite familiar. Perhaps due to this, I found the coverage of their lives in this title to be somewhat shallow, hitting only the main points. The accompanying art did little to further the story line as it would in a memoir more along the lines of “Maus;” instead, it served mainly as a point-by-point illustration of the text. Of more interest was the fact that this volume went beyond the “Big Three” and discussed, though briefly, the lives of other, more minor, players in the literary movement, including the little-known women Beats.
This is definitely not a book aimed at people already familiar with Beat Generation literature and writers, but it would certainly serve as a good overview or introduction for those less informed and looking for a place to start.
Find The Beats: A Graphic History in our catalog.
April 30th, 2009
Moore’s graphic novel, “The Watchmen,” was revolutionary in the mid-80s when it was originally published in serial form. The complex and nuanced portrait of the psychology of superheroes, the portrayal of such “super” humans as being just as flawed and confused as any other humans, and the dark and pessimistic tone were unique and ground-breaking in the comics world at the time. Many comic fans have an almost rabid adoration for the series and have been waiting nearly twenty years for a movie to be made. They must wait no longer; the movie version of this innovative work will be released in theatres on March 6 of this year, and speculation is already flying as to whether or not the film can live up to the original.
With all the buzz, I decided it was finally time to pick up “Watchmen” myself and give it a read. I found it to be very interesting, if not quite as mind-blowing as the hype would have me expect. But then, that’s often the case when reading “ground breaking” works long after they broke that ground; in the intervening years, one has seen variations on the theme done so often that it no longer feels quite fresh by the time one sees the original. “Watchmen” is set during an alternate-history version of the Cold War, in which Russia is held off not by threats of atomic bombs, but by an atomic-powered superman known as Dr. Manhattan…a not-so-subtle reference to the Manhattan Project, one presumes. The pervading pessimism and greyness of Cold War literature is not missing here, despite all of the other alterations Dr. Manhattan’s presence has wrought upon society. Touches of Moore’s typical misogyny permeate the book, from the paucity of female characters to the portrayal of those female superheroes who do exist as either immoral or attention-seekers, or both. But despite all of this, “Watchmen” remains a fascinating book that, while commenting strongly on its own time, still contains messages that are relevant to ours.
Find The Watchmen in our catalog.
March 17th, 2009
This may not be the best illustrated graphic novel that you will ever read, but it may be the most inspirational. The author wrote this graphic novel memoir to inspire other young women to follow their dreams. Arnoldi writes about how she was raped and left with a baby at age 17. To support her child, she obtains work at a factory. She leaves the factory, which exploits its workers and exposes them to toxins, only to end up with an abusive boyfriend. She has the courage to leave him too and realizes that she needs to take care of herself and her child by following her dream to go to college—no matter what it takes. The drawings are simplistic, but they effectively reflect adolescent pain, passion, and joy.
Find Amazing True Story of a Teenage Single Mom in our catalog.
March 8th, 2009
Mixed-race teen Kimberly Keiko Cameron—known as “Skim” because she’s not—is a girl who doesn’t quite fit in. She’s almost Goth, but not really. She’s almost a Wiccan, but not really. She is the only student of Asian descent in her all-girls school, and her only friend isn’t really much of a friend at all.
Struggling for some sense of identity and connection, Skim becomes enamored of her free-spirit drama teacher, Ms. Archer. Ms. Archer encourages Skim’s affections until it starts to go too far, then leaves without explanation or closure. Meanwhile, Skim’s best friend Lisa, upset that Skim has been ignoring her, begins a friendship with a more popular girl at school.
Throughout Skim and Lisa’s adolescent traumas, the school community is struggling with its own problems. The boyfriend of a popular girl has committed suicide because he was homosexual; the grieving girlfriend, Katie, has fallen from a roof in what is supposed to be a suicide attempt of her own and has broken both arms. The school is in an upset, with the popular clique using Katie’s disasters more as a vehicle to promote themselves as caring and giving individuals than as a way to help Katie heal. Skim, at first dismissive of the whole thing, slowly discovers that Katie is funny, genuine, and genuinely traumatized, unlike the rest of the popular girls.
The artwork accompanying the story is fluid and compelling, borrowing in style from traditional Japanese brushwork paintings. Overall, “Skim” is an absorbing look at the common traumas of teenagers coming of age. Readers who have enjoyed such coming-of-age graphic novels as “Blankets,” “Fun Home,” and “Ghost World” will find much to like here.
Find Skim in our catalog.
January 7th, 2009
In 2001, Alissa Torres was pregnant with her first child. On September 10, her husband Eddie started work at Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center. On September 11, Alissa became a pregnant widow when Eddie, trapped on the 85th floor, leaped to his death before the tower fell.
In this poignant and affecting graphic novel memoir, Alissa chronicles her first year as one of the 9/11 widows, including the birth of their child two months after his death. She discusses her desperate search to find Eddie after the attacks; the crushing grief of realizing that he was dead after all; the often horrifying and confusing encounters with inept aid workers, well-meaning friends, and angry strangers; and her on-going fight to actually receive her share of the Victim Compensation fund, a lengthy and harrowing process that forced her to relive her grief over and over again while gaining no ground.
Sungyoon Choi’s illustrations are simple and straightforward, using only black, white, and blue to convey Alissa’s journey while taking nothing away from the rawness of Alissa’s emotions and sense of loss. The books opens and closes with a featureless blue field, bringing Alissa’s story full-circle from the cloudless blue sky of the morning she lost everything to the vivid blue ocean in which she floats one year later, remembering.
“American Widow” is touching and affecting, almost unbearably painful at times. It succeeds in bringing a national tragedy back down to the level of the personal and allowing those who didn’t lose anyone to understand the pain of those who did.
Find American Widow in our catalog.
December 28th, 2008
This is a heartwarming graphic novel memoir about a 49-year-old woman adopting a boy from Russia. There are obstacles and tragedies along the way, but in the end everything turns out just right. Written with humor and heart.
December 2nd, 2008
I was initially reluctant to read this graphic novel memoir because I thought that it would be depressing. It is the story of a man who falls in love with a woman who is HIV-positive. Her young son is also HIV-positive. But, as the title suggests, it is a positive (not just HIV-positive) love story. This story felt true, sweet, and honest throughout and never become melodramatic or sentimental. Bill Pills is a small treasure of a book with wonderful drawings that will leave you with a great appreciation for life and love. I could not put it down.
November 28th, 2008