Tag Archives: Graphic Novels

Read Harder: Vol. 4

This year, I plan on chronicling my adventures with Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge.

Time for a graphic novel, friends. The charge is to find a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years and here are a few that fit the bill just fine…

 

In Lady Killerwritten by Jamie S. Rich and illustrated by Joelle Jones, Josie is the picture perfect ’60s housewife. Or is she? The strain of caring for her husband and daughters while balancing her career as a trained assassin is starting to take a toll on her life. Can this lady really have it all?

Sydney Padua’s The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is a fun bit of speculative fiction – Charles Babbage, inventor and machinist, was essentially the inventor of the computer; Ada, Countess of Lovelace, was a proto-programmer, who translated and added on to Babbage’s notes. Neither completed their work, but Padua wonders what if they had…

Jane, the Fox & Me was written by Fanny Britt, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, and translated from French by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou. Hélène is a lonely outcast at her school, with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre as her only consolation. After a brief encounter with a fox on a school camping trip, she begins to come out of her shell to embrace life.

Written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by her cousin Jillian Tamaki, This One Summer is a coming of age story about Rose and Windy, neighbors at a summer rental community. Rose is trying to navigate her mother’s depression and her interest in the boys who hang out at the small store where they rent horror movies. Windy, a few years younger, is still a bit silly but understands more about adults than she lets on.

Any other suggestions?

— Jess

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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

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Princeless

Print

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Eleventh Stack are celebrating Black History Month by highlighting books, music and movies by African American Artists or about the African American experience. We also have a ton of great events and programs for children, teens and adults. You can view all of our Black History Month posts here.

As a Youth Services Specialist, one of my favorite areas to highlight to resistant readers is the Carnegie Library’s Children and Teen Graphic Novel collections. It has long been acknowledged that graphic novels are a great way to ignite a life-long love of reading in kids, teens and even adults who have either fallen behind their peers in literacy skills, or who just haven’t found anything to interest them.

In the last 20 years the graphic novel genre has grown and morphed, radically changing its reach and public perception. Graphic novels can be fiction or non-fiction, they can cover topics that can interest anyone and everyone, regardless of race, age or gender.

AsOne of my favorite graphic novels to hand to kids is Princeless, written by Jeremy Whitley and illustrated by M. Goodwin. Princeless is an amazing story and a strong representation of a woman of color who isn’t just a side character or, even worse, a damsel in distress.

Princeless follows Princess Adrienne, who has been locked in a tower by her parents. They are looking for a husband for her and have set up a test for potential suitors that requires them to slay a dragon. Adrienne is not cool with this and after freeing herself, recruiting the dragon to her side, and joining forces with a blacksmith named Bedelia, she sets off to find and free her sisters, who have been locked in their own towers.

The last “tween” I handed this book to came bounding back to the library the next day asking for more Princeless stories. It’s a strong story from a female point of view that kids can relate to. It shows kids that there is more to people, if you are willing to look.

-Natalie

 

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After Jessica Jones

Congratulations: you made it through all thirteen white-knuckled, soul-crushing episodes of Marvel’s Jessica Jones on Netflix. Now you need either bibliotherapy or the hair of the dog that bit you, depending on how much you enjoy psychological torture. Here are some Library experiences you can have to either calm yourself down or extend your terror buzz.

If You Just Can’t Even: The Gentle List

Right now you need sunshine, laughter, and reassurance that people are still essentially good. Snuggle up with one of the following suggestions:

Step Aside Pops / Kate Beaton –  Laughter is good for the soul, and this collection of literature and history-inspired comics will make you laugh until you can’t breathe.

Doctor Who: The Complete Second Series – You need to wash Kilgrave out of your head, and fast. Watch David Tennant at his best and most lovable.

This Christmas / Aretha Franklin – What could be better than the Queen of Soul singing seasonal songs of peace and joy? Crank this up and hit repeat.

Modern Romance / Aziz Ansari – Healthy, true love is a real thing! And getting there is more hilarious than heartbreaking. Let Ansari walk you through it.

Bridget Jones’s Diary / Helen Fielding – Because somebody named Jones should get a happy ending, right?

 

"Ida B. Wells," from Step Aside Pops, pg. 118. (c)2015 Kate Beaton. Click through to read more amusing comics.

“Ida B. Wells,” from Step Aside Pops, pg. 118. (c)2015 Kate Beaton. Click through to read more amusing comics.

 

If You’re All Fired Up: The Grrrl Power List

Pumped up and ready to fight the good fight?  Keep your adrenaline levels high and take these to the checkout desk:

Alias / Brian Michael Bendis – If you’re not familiar with the source material, catch up with all things Jessica.

Bitch Planet / Kelly Sue DeConnick – It’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you. And boy, are they out to get you.

Mad Max: Fury Road – Feminism, rage, explosions, catharsis.

The First Two Records / Bikini Kill – Loud, stomp-around-and-break-stuff therapy. Play it until your neighbors hate you.

Reign of Terror / Sleigh Bells – contains the song “Demons,” a/k/a That One Awesome Song in That One Scene.

Shadowshaper/ Daniel Jose Older – Urban fantasy about a gutsy teen discovering her own special powers.

Your turn:  did you, or will you, watch Jessica Jones? Have you got additional suggestions for post-viewing stress relief (or villain stomping)? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section, but please keep it spoiler-free!

–Leigh Anne

 

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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

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How I Spent My Summer Reading

Who remembers those first back-to-school homework assignments, asking about summer vacation? One of those terrible things about being in a household composed entirely of working adults is looking back over a summer and realizing that you didn’t really have a break, especially not a gloriously excessive one like you idealize from your childhood.

It wasn’t all business-as-usual at the Library, though. Just a few days ago we finished our summer reading program. And while the children’s department was focusing on superheroes, here in “adult” land we talked about goals. It was a time to deliberately break out of our usual reading patterns (or genres). We all wanted to try something new, even if that something was as simple as setting aside a few minutes a day to be able to read.

That last one is not my particular problem. I read almost compulsively. I read while I eat and while I cook. For years, my exercise regimen has been based around what I can do while reading. I buy purses based on their ability to hold books. I have read during class, work and religious services. I have read throughout parties, sporting events and dental procedures. Books are my security blankets.

Between the shelves at home and the shelves at work, I am constantly surrounded by books I could be reading. Because I have ready access to recommendations, my “to read” list numbers in the thousands. I read more than forty books this summer, including books for this blog, continuations of four different series, half a dozen graphic novels and one personal development project, besides a pile that just seemed interesting.

Despite all this, I didn’t actually meet my declared “summer reading goal.” The challenge I had set for myself was to only read books I had never read before. I made an exception for reference books, including cookbooks, because I rarely devour those in a single pass. But even with the mountains of new things calling my name, I re-read books one and two of a trilogy to prepare for book three, and half-accidentally repeated a John Grisham (by chapter three I was sure it was familiar, but I had already been sucked in too well to put it down).

I did meet some of my less explicit reading goals this summer. More than half of my books had female authors, and the list represented diversity of age, race, religion, national origin and sexual orientation. Most were from my “to read” list, rather than the metaphorical flings that caught my eye across a crowded shelving truck. Many were interesting, a few even useful.

Given all that, does meeting the goal even matter? I mean, if I had declared from the beginning that I didn’t care if I met my goal, I wouldn’t have tried. And I did push myself to avoid some of my “comfort” books because I had set this goal, and discovered a few new lovely things. Perhaps, then, the deeper purpose of the goal—pushing me to actually work through new things, even when it took more effort—was met. That’s something to consider when I set my next goal.

-Bonnie T.

P.S. If you are in need of suggestions, here are a few of my favorites from this summer:

The World Forgot (book three in a ridiculous sci-fi trilogy about teen pregnancy, space travel and alien prejudice)

Superman: Secret Identity (a stand-alone comic book about a man named Clark Kent in a world that already has a Superman)

Men Explain Things to Me (essays about experiencing a gendered world that sometimes doesn’t work)

March: Book Two (part two of a three-volume graphic memoir by Congressman John Lewis about his experiences in the Civil Rights movement)

Roller Girl (a graphic novel aimed at middle schoolers about growing up, changing friendships and roller derby)

Breasts: A natural and unnatural history (this one is kinda self-explanatory)

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Graphic Novels from a Woman’s POV 3

I used to be able to say that graphic novels were outside my comfort zone and a new reading endeavor for me. Now that I’m on my third post about graphic novels written by women (here are one and two) and the umpteenth one that mentions the genre, I don’t think I’m able to truthfully make that statement any longer.

My graphic novel journey began six years ago, when I was new to the First Floor and felt I needed to be more familiar with the format, in order to be able to talk to library customers about them. Fast forward and I now find myself reading more graphic novels than almost any other genre. They fit my lifestyle and, for the most part, make me laugh. I enjoy seeing myself in their stories and pictures. Plus, I am still the type of person that likes pictures in books. Bonus is that I can now comfortably discuss and recommend graphic novels to anyone. There’s such a wide variety of topics available in this format, that there is literally something that could appeal to anyone and everyone.

So here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

The Voyeurs by Gabrielle Bell – Based on the title, I thought this book might be more titillating that it turned out to be. (I’ve read some that are for sure!) Turns out we are the voyeurs observing the author’s life. But also, she’s the voyeur observing, and possibly over-analyzing, her own life. This book made me glad that I’m not an artist or author. It seems that the self-doubt and paranoia can be soul-crushing. Kudos to all of those who are able to overcome these feeling and produce the works we all enjoy. Bonus feature: There was a brief appearance by my second favorite graphic novelist!

Journal: February 2011-October 2012 by Julie Delporte – This peek into the daily life of an artist in post-break-up status is raw, but visually beautiful. She purposefully shies away from using black in her doodling and journaling pallet because it’s safe, and the last things she feels, or wants to feel currently, is safe. Her little drawings on each page are miniature works of art. The daily entries are akin to stream of consciousness writing at times. Watching her journey to discovering herself as an artist is intellectually satisfying.

Girl in Dior by Annie Goetzinger – This book is visually stunning from cover to cover. It is a pictorial synopsis of designer Christian Dior’s career, from his first collection as a solo designer to his untimely death, through the eyes of one of his “young ladies”, which is what his runway models were called. Although the protagonist in the story is fictional, the other people, and most importantly, the designs pictured are factual. This book was originally published in French and is basically a love letter to Dior and everything he represented. A timeline of his life, short biographies’ of his well-known associates and supporters, list of all his fashion collections and glossary of fashion terms are included at the end. I leave you with these parting words from Christian Dior’s Little Dictionary of Fashion (1954), “Uncomfortable shoes will alter your gait and harm your elegance.” Truer words were never spoken.

But I Really Wanted to Be an Anthropologist by Margaux Motin – True to life comics of the days, and nights, of a fashion-obsessed, French wife and mother of a young girl. Watch her try to “hint” to her husband what she wants for her birthday, navigate life with a preschooler who parrots the words of her mother at the most inopportune times and deal with her post-pregnancy body. This book talks to you like you’re one of her girlfriends. And since she lives in Paris, that’s what I want to be!

On Loving Women by Diane Obomsawin – In this collection of stories, French Canadian lesbians tell their tales about realizing their sexual orientation, first loves, and first “times.” They are all variations on a theme, but each individual follows a slightly different route. If you can get over the people in each story being replaced by anthropomorphized animal-like creatures, you’ll discover very human tales of coming-out and becoming comfortable with yourself.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston – Opening this book is like discovering your great-grandmother’s scrapbook in the attic. You can’t help yourself. You sit right down in place and begin flipping through the pages — marveling at the assortment of old photographs and clippings from magazines and newspapers. What’s even better is that there’s a story here for you to read. You don’t have to try and figure out the meaning of the ticket stub, the pressed flower or that scrap of fabric. Before you know it, you’ve spent the better part of the afternoon absorbed in another time period. And you realize you’ve been rooting for the scrapbook keeper to find fame, fortune and love.

Will You Still Love Me if I Wet the Bed by Liz Prince – Liz is one of my top four favorite graphic artists/novelists right now. (The others being Lucy Knisley, who is number one; Jeffrey Brown, as you already have learned above, is number two; and the team of Hubert and Kerascoët are number four, just FYI.) This book is super short, a small, graphic novel that is full of laughs. It took me less than an hour to read, but I kept stopping to show comics to my boyfriend, accompanied by comments like, “This is TOTALLY us!” and “You’ve/I’ve done this on more than one occasion.” This is a hilarious and sweet look at relationships and it doesn’t hurt that my second favorite graphic artist drew the preface!

-Melissa M.

P.S. Turns out that I unknowingly had a theme this time. Four of the seven books above were originally published in another language and subsequently translated into English. We have graphic novels from all countries. Fun fact!

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