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What I’ve Been Reading: Graphic Novels

Hey! I’m home sick today

for something between horrible body aches, stomachache, and the need for an emotional pressure-free day after giving a whole lot of support to my partner, who is in the thick of grieving after a recent death. A lot has been going on.

I went to my first convention this weekend, CONvergence, and I had a really good time overall. I will be going again next year for sure and am considering which characters to cosplay. I suggested to some of my librarian friends at the Con that we should do a librarian group-costume and we’re contemplating options.

I just woke up from a long nap and – timing is everything – someone appears to be using a very loud machine to do something to the brick wall which is one of the outer walls of my apartment: the one at the head of my bed. I’m having trouble sleeping, and keep getting interrupted when reading, so I thought I’d take a moment to write about

GRAPHIC NOVELS I’VE READ RECENTLY!

Digger, Volume One. By Ursula Vernon. Sofawolf Press, 2005.

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I just bought Digger: The Complete Omnibus Edition because of having read this first volume and it’s what I’m trying to work on getting through today, actually. Fool I am, sometimes when friends give me books, it takes me very long to get to them instead of rightfully putting them at the top of the list. This was given to my by my friend (also friend’s dad) Bob, who knew I was reading Bone at the time (ie years ago) and likes this even more.

Digger is a female wombat who hit a pocket of bad air and made a tunnel to who-knows-where, finding a statue of a god who speaks to her, a nameless shadow-child who might be a demon, and no easy way home. The world-building is sound and the adventure is mysterious and compelling, particularly (trust book recommendations!) for someone who adores Bone – humorous adventure-style story, nice notes on the history and culture of wombats (something I loved to learn about rabbits in Watership Down). I’m digging it. <— Yes, I did.

Race to Incarcerate. By Sabrina Jones and Marc Mauer. The New Press, 2013.

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Based on the text-only book of the same title originally published in 1999, Race to Incarcerate is a great visual introduction to the political history of the prison system in the United States. It’s grim and definitely has a lot of opinions alongside statistics which translate into pictures very well. A moving text which suffers from the lack of any references, unfortunately. The desired audience for this book as indicated in Mauer’s forward are teens and new adults, and that’s awesome, but for me means it is all the more important to cite sources. It makes this moving text seem a lot less viable, so I’d try to pair it alongside the original for balance.

The Adventures of Superhero Girl. By Faith Erin Hicks, Colors by Cris Peter. Dark Horse Books 2013.

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Another book a friend gave me which has taken me a while to get to (but only since this past Christmas this time!), Superhero Girl is a delightful set of mostly non-linear (or not necessarily linear, more like) comics about a girl with powers similar to Superman’s (except she can’t fly) in everyday life. Here’s a link to the original webcomic (the book is colored).

Cape shrunk at the laundromat? Keep forgetting to take off your mask when reading at the library? Overshadowed by your older brother who is more well-known for his superheroics? The Adventures of Superhero Girl is good for kids to adults, girls to anyone (quit pushing gender, everyone!), and mostly just fun.

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil. By Stephen Collins. Picador, 2013.

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I definitely ILLed this book because of its title. The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil is about a very NEAT world (“Here”) in which all things are tidy and predictable, and everyone lives in fear of “There” or the unknown mess beyond. It has the feel of existential texts I loved as a teen, a bit obvious in its message, and has really beautiful (and tidy) illustrations. If I were a high-school teacher I might consider having a class read this book and analyze it for a day, but otherwise it was a fun read I’m not going to do too much with in the future.

Do you like satire? If so, read.

Through the Woods. By Emily Carroll. Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2014.

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My first graphic novel horror read! A group of short stories by the author which are very obviously influenced by folk and fairy tales (I have read a lot of these), this book definitely freaked me out (in a good way). The illustrations in particular, their colors, what they do and do not show, tell these stories and up the suspense. When I was in late grade-school and middle school (into high school), I was really into horror and suspense, but none of it was artistically rendered, so I don’t have a good idea of how age-appropriate this would have been for a younger me, but an early high school me could handle it and would probably be very cool for showing it to friends.

Exquisite Corpse. By Pénélope Bagieu. First Second, 2015.

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French! I read this in a tent and would not go to sleep until I was done. Then I gave synopsis to everyone else in the tent with me because I could not help myself.

Zoe is in her early twenties, pretty, and bored. She works as a display model for trade shows, comes home to have sex with an ungrateful boyfriend, and repeats. Until she sees an older man in the window as she eats her lunch outdoors. She pursues him and they begin a relationship.

He is the Thomas Rocher, a famous author…who Zoe has never heard of before (she’s not a big reader), and he is finally writing again now that Zoe is in his life. But why won’t he ever leave the apartment? And what’s up with the woman she finds visiting him in the middle of the night? She starts to understand once she walks into a bookstore and asks to see his work…

A tale with a twist-ending which makes me really quite happy, Exquisite Corpse has nudity and swearing but is honestly pretty harmless at its core, just a fun mystery. I really liked it.

Miss Don’t Touch Me: The Complete Story. By Hubert, Art by Kerascoet. Dargaud / NBM, 2014.

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French! Who would have guessed this about a story primarily set in a brothel?

Set in the 1930s, Miss Don’t Touch Me is a collection of four previously published volumes. It’s a mystery and definitely don’t read it if you’re only in for happy endings.

After witnessing a murder, Blanche decides to go under-cover to find out who did it (and take revenge, of course). A virgin who refuses to do regular work at the famous brothel connected with those she suspects started the crime, she becomes Miss Don’t Touch Me, the virgin dominatrix and a huge draw for business. What secrets will she uncover in this house of many rooms, of many visitors, and of herself?

Not very bloody but a whole lot of nudity. There may be a heart-wrenching lobotomy thrown in as well.

Supermutant Magic Academy. By Jillian Tamaki. Drawn & Quarterly, 2015.

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Following a group of teenagers, including (but definitely not limited to)…

  • Marsha, a Harry-Potter look alike who is in love with her best friend
  • Wendy, who is very generous, kind, and shapeshifts into a fox,
  • Everlasting Boy, who is … everlasting …,
  • Frances, who looks like Lucy from Peanuts all grown up, jaded, and into performance art, and
  • Trevor, who has lightning powers but no clear vision for the future,

Supermutant Magic Academy reads like the webcomic it is in its page-by-page comic format.

The comics have continuity, but not in a completely essential way. I liked this, as I got to understand the characters more and more as though watching them in their natural habitat rather than though any one particular story, but I can see this being difficult for some. For teens to adults, some of these comics had an amazing wiseness to them, and I will probably have to buy my own copy just so I can take the zillion page points I have in the library copy and transfer them over.

Lots of teen angst. Go teen angst!

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