Archive for ‘high school’

February 23, 2016

The Wake.

The Wake, by Scott Snyder, Sean Murphy. (DC Vertigo 2014)

the-wake

 

2014 Eisner award winner for best limited series, this is a story in two parts.  In the first half of the book a team of scientists assemble to a secret undersea drilling rig with the charge to analyze a startling discovery: a new species of intelligent sea-dwelling creature.  One has been recently captured, and has been sending out a signal: to whom, for what purpose?  Horror results when the call receives an overwhelming response.

In part two we see a near future dystopia akin to Water World or The Road Warrior, where the remnant populations of humanity  dredge a living from the drowned wreckage of our former cities:  now destroyed after the ice caps were melted in an act of war by a relentless opponent.

The writing is energetic and even frantic in the first half, borrowing pacing and tone from familiar sources (the Aliens franchise, for instance).  The second half has less urgency, with somewhat more exposition than action, but as a world-building exercise it’s interesting enough, with plausible new lingo and culture that evolved from the flotsam and jetsam of our drowned civilization.

The art is solid.  Matching the urgency of the first half plot, and welcoming the challenge of drawing a sinuous and malefic race of enemies in the depths away from sunlight.  Characters are easily distinguished from each other, the action is smooth and clear.  Matt Hollingsworth’s colors are surprising, giving a warmth to the story that makes the images friendly to the eye.  He works with a pastel palette reminiscent of Barry Windsor Smith, yet somehow warmer, more sunbleached than ethereal.

Brief hallucinations of nudity promote this book to our adult side.

 

 

 

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February 3, 2015

A return visit from George O’Connor and the Olympians!

Come hang out with George O’Connor and his Olympians, Thursday Feb 5th at 7:30 in the kids room at the Takoma Park Maryland Library.  He’s introducing Ares: Bringer of War, the newest in his Olympians series.

Talk process, research,  story, characters, etc. with the artist.  Plus he can sign for you, as our friends at Politics and Prose will be selling books on site.

All the gods, in one panoramic class picture.

All the gods, in one panoramic class picture.

 

George O’Connor broke into daylight with his graphic  non-fiction work Journey into Mohawk Country, (First Second Press, 2006).  Set in the 1600’s this meticulously researched book illustrated the journal entries of a 23 year old Dutchman who attempted to make contact with the Mohawk and Oneida  tribes northwest of Albany in order to establish better trading relations.

The wry humor of O’Connor’s pen animated the dry prose of this travel diary and brought to life what must have been a mind-expanding life-changing journey for the author.  In reading a fairly bland account O’Connor recognized the drama and absurdity of these three young men who sorta stumbled and blustered their way through the wilderness — despite being basically unprepared and armored chiefly with good-natured ignorance.

This love of history as a living thing serves O’Connor  well in his retellings of the tales of the Hellenic deities.  Projected to be a twelve issue series, these books depict the greater figures among the gods of ancient Greece.  Faithful to the mythology, O’Connor nevertheless finds new angles to tell these stories, often from the perspective of the gods themselves.

The art is bright, clear, pastel colors and whimsical line.  Dialogue is modern,  but only rarely with a jarring anachronistic phrase (and hey, they’re immortal gods, clearly they can transcend time and learn a phrase or two  from another era).  Kids who discover the Greek gods via Rick Riordan’s  ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ series, will get a good dose of the real thing in these slim light volumes.

O’Connor also gives a peep into his methodology in the back of each book, discussing various aspects of each myth, things he discovered in research, challenges of drawing certain characters,  illustrating some difficulties or victories in his process.  These paragraphs are as valuable as the rest of the book in teaching kids how the study of history can be approached as an opportunity for adventure and discovery.

Pretty good,  each of them, a useful add to any library collection.  Some volumes are in our All-ages collection, others promote themselves to our young adult shelves because, well you know, these Greeks did not always behave themselves all that well.

April 1, 2014

Danica Novgorodoff. The Undertaking of Lily Chen.

Danica Novgorodoff visits our Library Monday April 7th at 7:30 PM in support of her new graphic novel The Undertaking of Lily Chen (First Second Press, 2014).  She’ll present recent work, maybe do some live drawing, talk about her process, hang out, have a good time.

novgorodoff chen lily mule

In The Undertaking of Lily Chen a young Chinese man is confronted with a daunting task.  After accidentally causing his brother’s death, Deshi’s parents demand that he find a corpse bride to join his brother in his journey to the afterlife.  Deshi is haunted like Hamlet, agonized with guilt and familial responsibility, driven to find a suitable bride for his brother,  but what bride could satisfy his parent’s memory of their beloved first born son?  The world is short of eligible and lovely young corpses, perhaps it would be best if he made one of his own…

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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 4, 2013

Gareth Hinds at the Takoma Park Maryland Library, Thurs 11/7. 7:30 PM

Local comics artist Gareth Hinds sits to discuss various projects, his process, etc.  Signing his latest: Romeo & Juliet. Thurs 11/7,  7:30PM in the Childrens’ room.  101 Philadelphia Ave. Takoma Park MD 20912

garethromeocover
Librarians discovered Gareth Hinds in the guise of his shuffling slouching inky and murderous monster Grendel.  Hinds’ 2007 interpretation of the Beowulf saga won fans and strong reviews with his lush and muscular reworking of the hero’s tale.  His Grendel steals the show from the title character though, leaving his greasy imprint and bloody footsteps through out the first half of the story.

garethhinds1
Beautifully painted, rich in color and mood, Beowulf became a must-have for public libraries, with a story strong enough to capture the interest of reluctant readers, (with plenty of gore and conflict) yet adding the gravitas of classic literature to the collection.  It is the broccoli of the library shelves: it’s good for you!  And if mom makes you eat it, hey, it can be pretty good!  If you add some of this to your plate mom might let you also have some (modern era) superheroes as well.

Subsequently Mr Hinds has adapted The Odyssey, King Lear, The Merchant of Venice, and now Shakespeare’s iconic tragic love story.  He’s now working on Shakespeare’s ‘Scottish Play’.  Come talk with him about process, materials, inspirations etc. — in our Children’s room at 7:30, Thursday 11/7.  Our friends at Politics and Prose will be selling books if you want a signed copy.

 

 

October 4, 2013

Paul Pope visits Thurs Oct 10 7:30. Also review of Battling Boy!

Comix maestro Paul Pope (Batman: Year 100) debuts the  long-awaited ‘Battling Boy’:   Teen gods and science heroes vs the monsters,  Thursday OCT 10 at 7:30 in the kids room.

Artists, critics, and comics aficionados will tell you there’s no one quite like Paul Pope working in American comics today.    With his hyperkinetic line contrasting with strong lush inkwork his panels alternately brood and slouch or animate themselves on the page, fizzing and hissing with energy.  He has produced well received independent and adult titles (see Heavy Liquid, 741.5973 POPE in our catalog) or worked new creative angles on big name projects (critically acclaimed Batman: Year 100 — 741.5973 BATMAN).

BATTLING BOY

BattlingBoy-optimized 100-96

In Battling Boy Pope he gets to play with a lighter touch, creating a coming-of-age heroes tale starring teen gods, action-science soldiers, and a world overrun with huge monsters and nasty boogeymen.  He allows himself to play in a realm that harkens back to the pulp science fantasy stories of a more innocent era (Flash Gordon, or works by Jack Kirby) while keeping a contemporary feel.

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July 29, 2013

Historical Fiction and Non-Fiction. Crogan’s Loyalty; Big Bad Ironclad

crogans loyalty sniper

Brother is set against brother in the excellent Crogan’s Loyalty, historical fiction set in the Revolutionary War.

This year during school visits we discussed historical fiction and I figured I’d take this space to highlight a few standout titles in our Graphic Novel collection.

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales:  Big Bad Ironclad.

This book works hard to do a great deal all at once in a very small space.  Pages are always cramped in a digest sized book, and while this works fine for manga where often one entire page is filled with a single panel,  here Hale manages to cram action, information and dialogue into dozen or more panels per page.

Within those size constraints Hale does fairly well.  Young comics readers won’t have to guess to untangle the flow of action sequences. and his flash-forward narrators (soon-to-be-hanged spy Nathan Hale and the Greek chorus of participants at his hanging) only occasionally obtrude on the flow of the story.   Now and again the nincompoopery of the hangman character fails to hit the funny bone, but otherwise the story serves its purpose:  teaching younger grade-level readers about a significant period of history in a breezy easy way.

The book is not trying for resonance or humanity or perspective. It seeks to make history kid-friendly. For graphics non-fiction it works pretty well, even if here at the library it doesn’t create its own audience or compel readers in to eagerly yank it from the shelf. To me well-done period fiction or non-fiction works best when it ignites further interest in the topic or era.  I ask myself not whether I learned something but: do I care to know more?

Crogan’s Loyalty by Chris Schweizer

Contrast with Chris Schweizer’s excellent The Crogan Adventures series.  These well-researched historical fiction action graphic novels follow the adventures of various ancestors of the Crogan family.  Tales of morality and moral ambiguity are told father to son to illustrate ethical lessons and a bit of history.

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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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