Tag Archives: Comics

Do the Dinosaurs Come Alive at Night?

Today’s post is from Deanna, a volunteer in the Music, Film and Audio Department.

Teaching at the Carnegie Museums is fun. I enjoy taking students through the museums and teaching in the classrooms hidden beneath the Museum of Natural History. Giving them a learning experience they cannot normally receive in their regular, school classroom is a rewarding adventure. When we travel through the Jurassic Period of dinosaurs in the museum, many students notice that there are glass panels with books behind them. Regular patrons of the library know that from the book side of the glass, you can look down into the museums and see the Diplodocus (right) and Apatosaurus (left). These are the two main dinosaurs that trigger the question: “Do the dinosaurs come alive at night?” I say that they will have to ask security because I am not at the museum at night.

from-Deanna1-860x480

I tell students about how special it is to have a public library as vast and impressive as the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Depending on the age of the students, I receive various responses to this. Some students want to tell me about their library at school. Others want to know how many books are in the library (Ed. note: There are more than a million items in the collection at Main!). Once in a while, however, I get a student who says something to the effect of, “So what?” One student asked, “Why have a library when I can just go to the bookstore and buy the book?”

I smile at this, knowing that I used to be like this kid. When you’re ten years old, what is the difference between a library and a bookstore? They both have books, right? One has books that you take home to read and never worry about again because you’ve already paid for it. The other has books that you take home to read but you must take care of the book and you bring it back or else you pay a fine. To a ten-year-old, this seems like a common perspective.

The parents and teachers participating in my museum learning experiences smile too, but not for the same reason. Many of these adults love to learn and they want to instill that love into their children, hence why they are in the museums in the first place. They also know what anyone who pays bills or student loans knows: These books are free! When that ten-year-old asked what is so great about a library, his parent immediately piped up, “Don’t you see? Someone else bought those books for you so that you don’t have to! Instead of worrying about a fine, you just need to remember to bring it back!” The student said, “Oh,” in the way young people do when they understand what you mean but haven’t really changed their minds.

Lately, I answer these types of questions about the library in a slightly different manner. I ask the student what their favorite books or TV show is or their favorite movie. I get a lot of the same answers: Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Hunger Games, and a range of DC and Marvel comics and their movies. Then, no matter what the student answers, I tell them that they can probably find that comic book or movie or book in the Library.

Students are smarter than me though. “What if it isn’t in there?” they ask. I respond, “They can ask another library to borrow it.” Again, students are smarter. “What if they don’t have it?” “Then,” I say, “they will buy it for you to keep in their collection, and all you need to do is show them your library card.”

By now, it starts to dawn on them: Libraries are cool. All those books for free, and when they hear that they can also check out DVDs and CDs, their eyes light up in a way that all educators live for. Sometimes, I mention dinosaur books and books on mummies. That generates excitement and a nice transition for us to return to the class topic.

After class, I stay to answer questions from the adults. They ask more challenging questions regarding the museum and the class I taught, but they also have library questions. They want to know where they can pick up a library card and often, when I’m leaving the museum or volunteering for the Carnegie Library, I see them pick up a library card and take their child to a place in the library with materials that interest them both.

Remember that ten-year-old? The one that didn’t think libraries are cool? While leaving with his new dinosaur book that he had to return in a few weeks, he muttered a thank you to his dad, who was holding Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, before saying: “Okaaayyyy, I guess libraries are cool.”

-Deanna

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

After work tomorrow I’ll be nestling into a cushioned seat for almost three hours to watch Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Like all nerds, I’ve been waiting a long time to see these two titans of comic-dom appear together on the big screen in live-action. It’s been an excruciating week, as I’ve tried to remain spoiler-free, but I only have one more day to go! If you can’t get out there to see it this weekend or if you don’t like a numb butt, the Library has plenty of Batman and Superman materials for your enjoyment.

Check out the rest of Zack Snyder’s filmography:
Whether you think he’s a visionary or a slightly-less awful version of Michael Bay, we’ve got all of Zack Snyder’s past films, most of them on glorious Blu-ray. While some of his films have been hit or miss for me (I agree with pretty much everything YouTube user Bored Girlfriend said in her review of 300), there’s no denying that Snyder has an eye for great visuals. Even his first film, Dawn of the Dead, had the bones of his signature stylish flair, and although I’m not as big a fan or Superman as I am of Batman, I didn’t hate Man of Steel as vehemently as some—the Smallville fight is great. After Batman v Superman, Snyder has the two-part Justice League lined up and maybe a remake of The Fountainhead. Seriously.

Check out the other films of the actors portraying these characters:
For a man who waxes philosophically about animal crackers and is the brother of SNL’s Stefon, I can understand why the Internet lost its collective mind when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman. But watching Gone Girl soon after the announcement I realized that, besides having incredible biceps, maybe Affleck was a good actor. As far as Superman, Henry Cavil has only been in about a third as many films as Batfleck, but the Library has most of them. He’s especially charming in last year’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  Also appearing in Batman v Superman is Wonder Woman, making her big screen debut. Warner Bros. cast the relative unknown Gal Gadot, most known for the increasingly confusingly titled Fast & Furious franchise

Check out the past iterations of Batman and Superman on film:
With Man of Steel and this film, WB is launching the DC Extended Universe, not unlike the gargantuan Marvel Cinematic Universe. While Richard Donner’s Superman films or Christopher Nolan’s Batman films have no ties to the new DCEU, it’s still interesting to go back and look at the cinematic history of these two iconic characters, like when they appeared together in animation in The Batman Superman Movie: World’s Finest. Many of the comic stories have been adapted into standalone animated movies, too. And speaking of comics …

Check out the comics and graphic novels:
BatmanTDKR-frank-miller
Remember comics, the source material for all these superhero movies? We’ve got them in print as well as on Hoopla. While Batman and Superman first met on a cruise ship in 1952 (for real), pay special attention to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns as Snyder has said he’s drawing inspiration from it for his version of Batman. I realize I’m in the minority, but I never really cared for TDKR. I know, heresy! I have, however, always liked the idea of a grizzled, veteran Batman, so I’m looking forward to seeing that interpreted on screen. Regardless of how you feel about Miller’s involvement with the Caped Crusader—from his Batman: Year One to the meme-birthing All-Star Batman and Robin—there’s no denying the impact TDKR had on modern Batman. It’s not out of the question to speculate that without Frank Miller paving the way for a darker Batman in the ’80s, we’d have never gotten Burton’s Batman.

Check out some supplemental materials:
Did you know a huge inspiration of Superman was the John Carter of Mars stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs? Did you know that Batman was inspired by the 1920 film The Mark of Zorro and characters like Sherlock Holmes and Dick Tracy? The Library has materials on all those subjects and more. Want to find out the secret history of Wonder Woman or what Batman’s and Superman’s views on philosophy are? Have you ever wanted to visit Metropolis (Illinois) and check out the Supermuseum? We’ve got you covered.

You could also keep watching the second trailer for Suicide Squad, the next entry in the DCEU, based on the series of the same name. It premiers August 5.

Did I leave anything out? Are you excited about the film? Let me know in the comments below!

–Ross

1 Comment

Filed under Movie, Uncategorized

Must See TV in October

Image by GDJ at Open Clip Art. Click through for source.

Image by GDJ at Open Clip Art. Click through for source.

Fall means football, changing leaves changing and the return of TV shows!  While some of my favorite TV shows (Empire, How To Get Away With Murder, & Scandal) have already returned, there are some more shows that premiere very soon that I’m excited about:

1. The Flash (Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW)

The last season of The Flash left viewers with a lot of questions. How did Barry’s battle with the Reverse Flash end? What will happen with S.T.A.R. Labs? What will happen between Barry & Iris? Most of these questions will likely not be answered within the first episode. If you wanna catch up on the first season of The Flash it’s available in our catalog.

2. iZombie (Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW)

Olivia “Liv” Moore is a medical examiner who also happens to be a zombie. She applied for the job as a medical examiner so she could have access to brains. Little did she know that when she ate the brains of murder victims, she would get visions that led to discovering how they died. So, with this new found gift she works with the Seattle Police Department Detective Clive Babineaux to help solve cases. Initially I wasn’t going to watch this show because from the trailer I thought that it looked stupid, but it’s actually a good show. Unfortunately, season one isn’t in our system, but the graphic novels that the TV show are based on are available.

3. Arrow (Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW)

Oliver Queen is no longer the Arrow! Well at least that’s what the show’s writers and Queen himself want us to think. I doubt that the fairy tale world of Oliver and Felicity Smoak will last (sigh) We’ll just have to see what happens when the show comes back. Season 3 is available in our catalog along with tons of graphic novels featuring Green Arrow.

4. American Horror Story: Hotel (Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX)

Ryan Murphy’s creepy anthology show is back for a fifth season. This time it takes place in a hotel. Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates and Matt Bomer are back for another season. There’s a new face along for the ride this time: Lady Gaga. I’m really interested to see how she’ll do on the show. Previous seasons of American Horror Story are available in our catalog.

What new shows are you watching this season? Which ones are you waiting on to return? Let us know in the comments below!

~Kayla

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Digital Comics Now on Hoopla

Sandman Preludes and NocturnesI have been waiting for libraries to carry digital comics for years.

And now, thanks to Hoopla and a few major comics publishers, they do. (Read this for information on why the Library may not have the eBook or digital comic you’re looking for.)

Hoopla now carries comics published by DC, IDW, and more. Image (my current favorite publisher) will hopefully be added to that mix in the near future.

There are a few quirks to watch out for as you browse. Some comics are collected into digital “trade paperbacks” (most of DC’s are like this) and some are available as single issues.

For some comics the series is broken up and you have to look in two different places to find it. (Example: Princeless issue one is here, and the other three are over here.) For others (like Adventure Time), only select issues are available (30 to 36 as of this writing.)

To celebrate this momentous occasion for comic nerds everywhere, I made a list of my top six digital comic picks.

  1. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman: If you haven’t read this classic wherein Death, Dream, Destruction, Destiny, etc. are godlike entities who get wrapped up in the mundane world in various ways, you absolutely should. This is the series that made Gaiman’s name, and for good reason. It’s fantastic.
  2. Fables: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham: This is another of my all-time favorites. (I talk about one volume a little in this post over here.) Fairy tale characters are living in modern Manhattan after the Adversary takes over their homelands. There are murder mysteries, epic battles, magic, sarcasm, and plenty of tender moments.
  3. John Constantine, Hellblazer by Jamie Delano: I have had a major crush on John Constantine since I first read Hellblazer back in high school. He fights demons, chain smokes, and generally embodies the spirit of punk in a totally kick butt way. (There’s also a movie, which I recommend only if you are fond of Keanu Reeves, and one season of a television series–now cancelled–that began airing last fall.)
  4. Lumberjanes Issue 1Lumberjanes by Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson: This band of girlfriends is the kind of group you’ve always wanted to belong to. Maybe you do. If so, all of you should read this together.
  5. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller: My first introduction to this classic Batman tale was the cartoon adaptation of the early 1990s (which is fantastic, too, by the way). This is a “what if” scenario: What if Batman weren’t there to save Gotham? Now you can find out, 24/7, without leaving your couch/bed/gaming chair.
  6. Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn: What if all men died? Not just humans, but all male animals, too? Except for one. Follow him and the awesome ladies he encounters as he searches for his fiancee, who might be somewhere in Australia.

You’re smart, so you probably noticed most of these are DC Vertigo titles. It’s true. I love DC Vertigo. There are so many more comics on Hoopla though, like biographies of Barack Obama and Kate Middleton for young adults, and classics adapted into comic form.

But the best thing about Hoopla? There are no wait lists. Every title is available to everyone all the time. So go on, read some comics!

-Kelly

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

We Can Be Heroes

This week the Eleventh Stack blog is celebrating Pittsburgh’s Pride Week with a series of posts about the Library’s LGBTQ/QUILTBAG resources. Although any time of year is a good time to read LGBTQ literature and history, this week is very special to many of our readers and patrons. We hope you enjoy our efforts.

PrideWeekFacebook

The Advocate published a great piece around the time Man of Steel was released on how that film works as a gay allegory. It hits on a lot of the reasons why I wanted to focus on superheroes for this post – primarily the struggles dealing with secret identities and being seen as “other” (#mutantandproud, yinz.) Luckily, we’ve been given some actual LGBTQ characters over the past few years to push it even further.

Northstar hangs with the X-Men. He’s French-Canadian. He has superhuman speed and durability. And he was one of the first openly gay superheroes in American comic books. Yep, he came out way back in 1992. However, it wasn’t until he joined the X-Men as a regular member in 2002 that his love life became a part of stories. He married his boyfriend, Kyle Jinadu, in 2012. That looks like my kind of wedding.

I love the Runaways series. They have a dinosaur named Old Lace, for Pete’s sake.  Basically, a group of teens learns their parents are not at all who they thought they were and they themselves have powers. Karolina Dean finds out that she is an alien – part of  the Majesdanian race (aren’t alien names great?). After harboring a crush on her fellow Runaway, Nico, she married Xavin – a shape-shifting alien, who naturally takes female human form.

Renee Montoya was a long -time detective with the Gotham Police. But after being outed by Two-Face and framed for murder, she had enough of that biz. She spent some time with the Birds of Prey, but she has since taken over the mantle of The Question. I’ve only known Renee as Jim Gordon’s second-in-command, so I was excited to find out about this new direction for her. (The original Question was the inspiration for The Watchmens Rorschach, so he has to be good!)

Batwoman is probably the most high-profile lesbian comic book characters out there. She’s dated Renee Montoya, but has been in a relationship with Maggie Sawyer, another Gotham detective, since 2011.  She’s super smart and even led the Detective Comics series for a bit, following the Battle for the Cowl run.

For even more from DC:

A few bonus reads: Rat Queens came recommended by a few co-workers and is described as “Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack.” I definitely want to go to there. And while not a comic book, Perry Moore’s Hero follows Thom Creed, a young superhero in training who has to decide whether or not to join the organization that once spurned his father, at the same time as coming to terms with the fact that he’s gay. It’s one of my all-time favorites.

– Jess, who thinks a cape is the perfect accessory

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe

© Marvel Disney

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that Marvel Studios and Disney will continue to print their own money with the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron today. In preparation for the movie, which has already made over $200 million overseas, I’ve been rewatching the previous entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I put more planning into this months-long marathon than I do into what I eat. I usually hope patrons will bring us cookies or something equally tasty.

Anyway, top ten lists are always fun (and it’s been a while since I did a top ten list) so, without further delay, I present my ranking of the films of the MCU.

Warning: These are only the films since, apparently, the television shows, tie-in comics and one-shots only complicate the movies.
Warning: This is only my preference. Save your nerd-rage for something else.
Warning: This list contains spoilers.

10. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

I’m probably one of the only people who enjoyed Ang Lee’s 2003 iteration of the big green monster. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen it, but I remember that it at least it tried to be cerebral. Louis Leterrier’s version, on the other hand, is bland; I feel like he only makes horribly average movies for people who hate movies (see Clash of the Titans, The Transporter and Now You See Me). He’s like a French Michael Bay. This film is clearly the black sheep of the MCU as it’s hardly ever referenced, save for the one-shot The Consultant and a line in an episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I promised to keep this cinematic. I think it would be incredible (see what I did there?) if the Hulk just stayed in Avengers films or other team-up films in the future.

9. Thor (2011)

I think this is the only film in the MCU that I didn’t see in the theaters. I’ll openly admit that I don’t particularly care for fantasy/mythology stuff. I realize that may seem a bit hypocritical when I’m listing off comic book movies, but let’s move past that. When Kenneth Branagh was announced as the director, I thought it was a match made in heaven. For a time it seemed like Branagh was set on adapting all of Shakespeare’s plays and I’ve always felt the story of Thor is inherently Shakespearean. While the finished product never reaches the Shakespearean epic I had in mind, there are snippets of it bubbling below the surface, specifically when you watch Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston act off each other. You really feel for them as brothers and I’m not just saying that because my brother is blonde and muscular whereas I am dark haired and, well, not (see my earlier comment about eating).

8. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Again, knowing that Alan Taylor (someone who’s directed six episodes of HBO’s Game of Thrones) was directing this sequel got me excited. I’ve never seen the show–I’m not that kind of nerd–but people really seem to enjoy it and it seems pretty similar in tone to Thor’s mythology. Again, I was disappointed. It’s super-close, but I’m ranking this sequel above Thor because of the Guardians of the Galaxy midcredits tag, the expansion of Thor and Loki’s relationship and because this scene had me cracking up in the theater. I could watch Tom Hiddleston all day.

7. Iron Man 2 (2010)

I know, I know, after I spoke so highly of Robert Downey Jr in my last post, how could I possibly list one of his films so low? Of the three Iron Man films, this is the one I feel like watching the least. It seems there’s a need in sequels to escalate everything so I will give credit to Jon Favreau and company for making the action of the climax less end-of-the-world-threatening than other sequels (see: Thor: The Dark World). Still, the ending was essentially the same as the first Iron Man–people in metal suits fight each other and blow stuff up. Also, Sam Rockwell was wasted in this movie, but  it was a delight to see him pop up in the All Hail the King one-shot (Sorry! I’ll stop venturing from the cinematic part of the MCU).

6. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Let me say this right off the bat: I’ve never really been a fan of Captain America. I like my heroes flawed and Cap’s always seemed too good. An argument could be made that he’s essentially a junkie because he gets his powers from a series of injections, but that is a blog post for another day. Also, I agree with Tocqueville about patriotism; overly showy displays annoy me. That said, I actually do enjoy this film. The World War II setting is great because it forced the writers to deal (to an extent) with technological hindrances of the day. It’s also not a time period we normally see in these types of films and in a market that is quickly becoming saturated with comic book movies, being different is important.

But more on that later …

Which films made the top five? Click through to find out!

10 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Action, Adventure, Monsters! or Some Comics I Want to Read

Since mid-December, I’ve been neck-deep in the process of buying a house and then renovating it. This has severely cut into my comic book reading time.

To keep me from going insane with all the (hopefully) good books I’m missing, I’ve compiled a want-to-read list.

Fables Volume 20: Camelot by Bill Willingham and various wonderful artists
fablesFables starts out with showing how fairy tale characters have adapted to life in present-day New York City, but has morphed into something much deeper and more epic over the ten-plus years of its run. The past few volumes have been beautifully devastating, so I’m both excited and scared to find out what happens next.

Fatale Volume 5 by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
fatale5I’ll read anything by Ed Brubaker. He does crime noir so well, it’s like he invented it. This particular series mixes the femme fatale and horror genres to create a dark, twisted mystery.

 
 
 

Ms. Marvel Volume 1 by G. Willow Wilson

msmarvel1When Marvel announced the new Ms. Marvel would be a shape-shifting Iranian immigrant Muslim lady, and that it would be written by a real live Muslim woman, I was psyched. Sales for this have been going steady, so I’m thinking it’s going to be even more awesome than the concept alone implies. I suggest following author G. Willow Wilson on Twitter–she posts interesting tweets about religion, social justice, and of course, comics.

Rat Queens Volume 1 by Kurtis J. Wiebe and various artists
ratqueensLike a Dungeons and Dragons quest, only with ladies kicking butt. Need I say more?

 
 
 

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

-Kelly

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized