Archive for ‘comics for girls’

October 27, 2014

New York Comic Con. Red Moon. Rust 3. Spera 4..

The New York Comic Con has hulked out and grown into an absolute monster.  What was once a two and a half day convention for comics industry fans and professionals has swollen to a 4 day carnival of brightly colored fantasy-made-flesh  overflowing the 1,800.000 square feet of the Javits Center and meandering out into the streets of New York.

And I love it for all of its excess, perhaps because of the excess,  for those moments of sublimely surreal humor interspersed with the chance to discover brilliant new works or talk with comics publishers and professional.  I suspect it is the only place where you can have a conversation with publisher Mark Siegel of First Second press (purveyor of high quality literary comics like Gene Yang’s masterpiece Boxers and Saints) only to glance over your shoulder as a nine foot tall zombie staggers by supporting himself on the shoulders of two zombie nurses.   A totally normal occurrence at the Comic Con.

In years past the Con had a day set aside for professionals and on those days it was easy to sweep the entire show floor to make a quick first pass and then cycle back to the exhibits you needed to stop by to get business done.  With the swelling popularity of the Convention, that day is now gone.  As of last year the Thursday professional day began selling one day tickets and now every day is a Tokyo-rush-hour crush of costumed lunacy, with every aisle packed with a bazaar of the fantastic and bizarre.

So okay it makes it tougher to get serious business done, shuffling along at the pace of a medicated madhouse patient, pausing every few seconds to gawp or to make room for people to take pictures of each other in costume, but once you get into the rhythm and allow things to take their time, you will still make great discoveries and get into interesting conversations with the people who make imagination their life.  The trick then is to simply take your time, and let the con come to you.  Or go every day all day for a few days in a row as I do.  It took a determined effort but I did in fact manage to hit the whole show and to twice pass through Artists Alley (in another warehouse section separated from the show floor) and to chat with the folks who crank out the ideas and images that find expression (in costumes and movies and books and video games) throughout the rest of the building.

Which is the best part:  meeting artists whose works I admire, or better yet find new works that are begging for a wider audience.  Best of all, every year I come back loaded down with GREAT NEW BOOKS to share with you all.  Both on our shelves at the Library and in reviews in these pages.   (See after the jump), and watch this space for a preview of more new books added to the shelves of our collection.

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May 19, 2014

The Return of Zita! Ben Hatke visits this Weds 7:30PM, May 21

Author/illustrator/busker/roustabout/dad Ben Hatke will show up in our Library to hang out, talk comics, maybe draw, entertain sign books and sell copies of The Return of Zita The Spacegirl,  his new installment in the Zita the Spacegirl series, hot off the presses, just released last week.  7:30PM in the Children’s room at the Takoma Park MD Library, 101 Philadelphia Avenue in Takoma Park,  Maryland.


return of zita cover

If you don’t know Zita the Space Girl by now, well, you oughtta.  (Spoilers of the first two volumes follow below.  So get right out there and read them right now!)

Ortherwise read on.  As you all now know Zita is a spunky feisty tough and occasionally naive young hero who travels the outer reaches of otherspace righting wrongs and finding trouble.  In volume one she jumped through a portal to a world far away trying to rescue her friend Joseph.  That she managed to kinda sorta save a whole world as well was a byproduct of her determination and ability to make friends in the oddest places.

We found her in volume two stranded and left behind in these strange worlds and her fame turned on her as she was branded a criminal when a robot doppleganger assumed her identity.

In volume three of the series Zita has been captured and must survive the trials and tribulations of life on a dungeon planet.  A dungeon planet controlled by the terrible race of beings known as the screeds.  (Last seen in Zita vol one as the be-tentacled kidnappers of her pal Joseph).  Will she survive?  Oh come on– you know the answer to that one,  don’tcha?

Zippy plot, witty repartee, charming characters, nasty villains, this is a great all-ages series for kids looking for what else to read after Bone, Missile Mouse, Amulet, and other great adventure comics.  Characters are cartoony and iconic, action is well animated and richly colored, dialogue makes for a great read-aloud in our monthly ‘Comics Jam’.

Come hang out this Wednesday and we’ll all have a great time.


November 8, 2013

Memior, realistic fiction, fictionalized memoir. A selection from a talk at Emerson school.

I recently had a chance to visit Emerson high school in Washington DC to talk with students about their graphic novel memoir projects.  I brought with me a stack of great books to provide examples of what can be done with the format.  Here’s a selection of the best of them:

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November 29, 2011

How I Made it to Eighteen, by Tracy White

tracy white how I made it to eighteen

“I didn’t come here to change my style.  I came here because I want to be happy again.”

The mostly true visual diary of the author (under the pseudonym ‘Stacy Black’) who finds herself in a psychiatric hospital following a self-destructive incident.  At seventeen, living with her boyfriend, separated from her family, graduated from high school, she loses touch with herself.  After punching out panes of glass, she asks her mother to commit her to a psychiatric hospital.

Once there she tries to maintain her sense of self while coming to grips with a numbing depression, her unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend, her difficult family dynamics.  

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November 18, 2011

More action packed YA books for Girls (Celadore, Gunnerkrigg Court)

Many of the best comics produced today begin as webcomics.   The reason is simple, it costs little to nothing to post your content online seeking an audience, where back-in-the-day creators would self-publish only after maxing out credit cards for the initial print run, or going the ‘zine route and taking a job at a copy shop for the free print-outs.

Now the world is wide open, we’re in a renaissance for comics art as the technology provides both new tools for production and an instant outlet for an audience to find the work.

Granted the traditional publishing houses often overlook these series as they don’t fit the industry standards, however since the entire web-scape can track them down and lay eyeballs on the content, occasionally these books attract enough readers to encourage a real-world publisher to risk a print run.

(Better still, librarians who are searching for new books but want to get a preview may take a peek to see if the book fits their own standards).

Here are two in that category that I’d recommend you enjoy.

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September 28, 2011

Reader questions and follow-up to the MCPS media specialists in-service learning day: Some YA books, challenges and ‘What’s the difference between Shonen or Shojo manga?’

Clearing old business off my desk.

Thanks to all who attended our discussion on Comics in Libraries at the Montgomery County Public Schools  in-service learning day this summer.    As usual it feels like we never have enough time to talk through all possible topics, so I’ll try to circle back to touch on issues that were raised in each session, or questions that came to us from participants afterwards.

What are some Age-appropriate books for middle schoolers and young adults, not too ‘childish’?

There are many.  The great thing about middle schoolers is that they are willing to read a wide swath of books, all-ages to teen issues.   All ages books check out well to– well — all ages.  With middle school kids you can also risk ventures into some manga, and put some books in front of them with deeper themes or content.  I will begin to preview some of these books of the next couple months.  But I’ll detail a few general interest books for YA’s after the jump.

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May 6, 2011

Zita the Space Girl, by Ben Hatke

Illustration by Ben Hatke, with permission.

Zita receives dubious consolation

Honorable, fiercely determined and a good friend, the titular protagonist of  Zita the Space Girl has many admirable qualities as a hero for youngsters.  She’s also the sort of person who pushes a big red button just to see what happens.  

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April 19, 2011

Amulet, by Kazu Kibuishi

After reading Bone by Jeff Smith I am often asked ‘what’s next?’     These next few posts are reviews of a few All-ages comics that join the canon of  stellar works I’d recommend to anybody.  Some are not new, but maybe new to you:

Amulet, by Kazu Kibuishi

In his ‘Hero with a Thousand Faces’ Joseph Campbell postulated that the Hero of  classical mythology must lose his parents early in life.  Perhaps the reason tall heroes have dead parents is that it opens up the boundaries of possibilities and exposes the youth to danger.  Perhaps the hero myth is simply the coming of age we all undergo.

In any case Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet hits every note of the classic hero’s journey.  Within the first ten pages he has offed one primary caregiver, as the father drives off a cliff in a car accident.  Attempting to leave their old life behind, Mom moves the two kids to an eerie home in the woods, left to her by dead grandpa Silas.   Daughter Emily finds a luminous necklace (the eponymous Amulet) in the library then shortly thereafter the two kids lose their second parent as Mom is snatched by a fleshy squid-spider.

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March 15, 2011

City of Spies

By Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan; art by Pascal Dizin

Think:  ‘Nancy Drew times  Tintin’ to get a sense of this book.   Set in World War Two-era New York City, spunky and imaginative tweenager Evelyn is sent by her father to spend the summer with an artistic and distractable maiden aunt in her Upper East Side apartment.   The father has a new fiancee to squire around the country club set, and Evelyn just may be in the way.

As Aunt Lia has little experience or expertise in parenting,  Evelyn has a great deal of free time to become bored, to mope, then to explore and get herself into trouble.  Some trouble manifests in a new friendship with the working class son of the building superintendent.

As kids do, they fall into a natural conspiracy– or,  it being World War Two:  counter-conspiracy.    Aunt Evelyn’s apartment building stands in the heart of the Germantown neighborhood of 1940’s Manhattan, thus to a ten year old girl  it’s entirely plausible there are Nazi collaborators wherever they look.   Perhaps this is a ‘girl who cried wolf’ situation, but perhaps not…

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