Category Archives: comics & graphic novels

Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran

book coverThis is a short graphic novel (you can read it in under 30 min) that presents a different take on the Snow White fairy tale. In this version, Snow White is a vampire and the queen is trying to rid the realm of her soul-less stepdaughter. I love different takes on fairy tales and this one was really good. The pictures are fantastic – they almost take over the story to the point where I found I almost didn’t need to read the words to learn what was happening. A short, fun read; very enjoyable if you are into different takes on standard fairy tales.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Stephanie Marsich
Rating: Recommended

They Called Us Enemy by Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, George Takei

they called us enemy

They Called Us Enemy by Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, George Takei with Harmony Becker (Illustrator) is a graphic novel using George Takei’s own words to tell the story of the years of his childhood spent in Japanese internment camps. While it’s difficult to discuss the complexity of having joyous childhood memories in a horrible period of American history, Takei and his team walk this line very well. The art style reminds me of a children’s storybook which adds to the sense of childhood innocence. I recommend this book for people who are looking to start learning the basics of the history of Japanese internment told from a very personal perspective.

Availability:  COSMOS, SMCM
Review Submitted by: Jo Hoppe
Rating:  Must Read
Challenge:  Graphic novel with diverse characters

Lumberjanes, Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis

book cover

I love the Lumberjanes comics, they are fun, exciting and great representations of different types of gender expression. This is a great read for the whole family. Gets me in the mood for summer, camping and adventure. A great read for the eve of the summer solstice!

Also definitely reminds me of the high jinx that my gang of friends and I got up to at SMCM. It did sometimes feel like we were at summer camp! In the sage words of the lumberjanes, “Friendship to the max!”

Availability:  COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by: Emily Nelson Ringholm, ’07
Rating:  Highly Recommended
Challenge: YA Graphic novel with diverse characters

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

book coverOne night, while a young witch Nova Huang is investigating a strange occurrence in the woods behind her grandmothers’ bookstore she runs into a childhood friend, Tam, a werewolf. Together they work to solve the strange events that have started in their small town while exploring their feelings for each other.

This graphic novel cute and cozy (both the writing and artwork), and features a romance between a non binary character, and an Asian character who wears hearing aids. I recommend this graphic novel for people who want a relaxing and sweet story, and especially for young adults who are looking for more diverse stories.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jo Hoppe
Rating:  Highly Recommended
Challenge: YA book or graphic novel with diverse characters

Infidel by Pornsak Pichetshote

cover artInfidel is a graphic novel by Pornsak Pichetshote (writer) and Aaron Campbell (artist). I selected it from the new releases section of the library because the cover indicates that it was “Selected for NPR’s 100 favorite horror stories of all time.” I don’t know if it is horror with social commentary elements or social commentary with horror elements.

I don’t normally read graphic novels and I found this one to be OK – I don’t know if a reader more familiar with the medium would enjoy it more. There were a few areas that spawned some thought (some of the examples of racism); a few nice, eerie images; but I just didn’t like the story enough. The illustrations seemed comparable to every other graphic novel that I have read. The material in the back was interesting and worth reading if you pick up the book: cover letter for the submission to the publisher and how the cover was developed.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Andy Ashenfelter
Rating:  Neutral
Challenge: A book with a one word title.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

cover art

 

This book was based on the blog of the same name, and includes exclusive content as well as some of what was already on the blog (which sadly hasn’t been updated in like five years). There’s not a lot to say about it. It’s really funny, and if you like lengthy, hilarious stories accompanied by badly drawn MS Paint-style portraits (no, really), this is the book for you.

Availability: SMCM, USMAI, COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Hannah Yeager
Rating: Highly Recommended
Challenge: Book written by someone under 30

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Fun Home

Fun Home is a very specific story. Alison Bechdel charts out her life in this book, from her childhood to adulthood. While in college, Alison discovers that she is a lesbian. She soon finds out that her father is gay as well. Fun Home is about Alison’s relationship with her father, and how Alison deals with her OCD. Even though Fun Home is a very unique story, many people can relate to it.

Fun Home is very interesting and engaging. It deals with the topic of homosexuality very well, and more specifically, mental heath of LGBT people.
I found this book a bit dense; Fun Home is filled with a lot of literary allusion that I didn’t understand at times. Fun Home is very different from every other graphic novel I have read, and I recommend this book to anyone interested in the LGBT genre.

Availability:  USMAI, COSMOS and SMCM
Review Submitted by:  Olivia Bailey
Rating:  Highly Recommended

Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

Watchmen coverI’ll admit that action comics aren’t exactly my cup of tea. I usually find them to be a bit shallow, especially considering characters that are not cis straight white men. But with Watchmen, there is clearly an attempt to escape the banality of the average action comic, with themes of fate, nuclear war, and the justice system. I was particularly fond of the questions it raised about whether or not humanity ought to be saved. Questions such as that are particularly important in our current political climate. In that sense, Watchmen is a profound graphic novel that remains relevant across decades.

However, Moore’s characters tend to ramble over these questions. One of the main rules of writing dialogue is to keep it sharp and to avoid letting your characters talk for paragraphs on end. It can be boring, and I often find myself skimming over dialogue-heavy moments in both novels and especially in graphic novels. Seriously, show, don’t tell. In the moments where Alan Moore chills out with his dialogue, Dave Gibbons’s art shines in its storytelling. But, one thing that I couldn’t quite get over in this graphic novel was the blatant sexism towards the female characters. Silk Spectre and most other female characters in Watchmen are not allowed to have agency outside of the men they exist around. Perhaps this is because it is often assumed that women are not the main audience of action comics, but I don’t think that’s a good excuse. Proceed with caution.

Availability:  USMAI, COSMOS, SMCM
Review Submitted by: Kimberly Boenig
Rating: Recommended with Reservations
Challenge: Book with a one world title

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

The Animators coverThe Animators, by Kyla Rae Whitaker, which is part of the 2018 Tournament of Books, is a compelling tale about two female animators who become close friends in college. The book is very relatable to college students, since Whitaker describes both the work and play that occurs on a college campus. The book makes references to many obscure (and well known) cartoons, ranging from 1980s independent animations to modern day Disney cartoons. If you are an animation fan and like stories about female relationships, then The Animators is the book for you. Highly recommended for individuality and uniqueness of the plot.

Availability:  SMCM, COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Kara Thompson
Rating:  Highly Recommended
Challenge:TOB 2018

Kindred by Damien Duffy & John Jennings; Octavia Butler

Kindred graphic novel cover

Adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s novel Kindred.

I’ll admit that I have not read the original novel of Kindred by Octavia E. Butler so I cannot say how successful this adaptation is. That said, on its own, I enjoyed this graphic novel. The main concept is that the main character, Dana, is a young black author in 1970s California, who finds herself transporting to the past against her will every time her ancestor in the early 19th century is risking his own life. The twist? Her ancestor is a white landowner in Maryland, and she has to make sure he survives to reproduce with Alice, a free black woman who later becomes his slave.

The pain of Dana is really palpable every time she feels herself about to transport back to the past, especially when her white husband finds out and ends up in the past with her. While the main ethical issue of basically ensuring that you survive later on by letting a man repeatedly rape a woman is not as thoroughly explored by the main character as I would have liked, it is an interesting issue. For a good portion of the black American population, it is an inescapable truth that some of their ancestors were the product of rape during their enslavement. This is interesting given the white time travel narrative, like Back to the Future where the morality of hooking up one’s parents is not as much of an issue since questionable power dynamics are not present. I would like to see if this is explored to a greater extent in the original novel, but at least this adaptation got me thinking about that aspect of ancestry.

Availability:  USMAI, COSMOS, SMCM
Review Submitted by: Kimberly Boenig
Rating: Recommended
Challenge: Book with a one world title

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Fun Home
Fun Home is an autobiographical graphic novel about gender and sexuality, and follows Alison Bechdel, a young lesbian who has OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and her family. The series starts out when she is a child and goes until she is an adult in college. Bechdel captures what it is like to be part of the LGBTQ+ community and have OCD. Additionally, Bechdel’s father is an interesting character because of his complexities—he tries to act like himself but can also be severe, and he suppresses who really is.

The illustrations in the book are a mix of cartoonish and realistic, taking inspiration from The Addams Family and independent comixes that discuss the stories of marginalized people. Bechdel is a relatable protagonist because of how she expresses her anxieties and fears about growing up and being herself. Additionally, the musical number “Changing My Major” from the musical based on Bechdel’s book (Fun Home) is a relatable look in what it is like to be part of the LGBTQ+ community and have OCD. Fun Home the graphic novel is a great read for people who enjoy reading stories about LGBTQ+ people and about mental health.

Availability:  USMAI, COSMOS and SMCM
Review Submitted by:  Kara Thompson
Rating:  Highly Recommended

Ms. Marvel Omnibus by G. Willow Woodson

Ms Marvel coverMs. Marvel Omnibus Vol. 1 (6-11) by G. Willow Woodson, illustrated by Mark Wyatt and Takeshi Miyazawa.

An action packed story about a Pakistani-American, female superhero. The story provides social commentary on imperialism and race relations, especially with Ms. Marvel’s peers. Ms. Marvel also features detailed, realistic art as well in the tradition of Marvel comics. Ms. Marvel is a superhero to root for, since she’s a relatable teen protagonist. A great read for anyone who loves Marvel superheroes and modern stories set in the United States.

Availability: SMCM, USMAI COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Kara Thompson
Rating:  Must Read
Challenge: Illustrator under 30.