Archive for ‘panel check advisory’

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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November 26, 2014

Gossamyr and Stuff of Legend.

Th3rd World Studios has a couple sneaky-good comics out there for people looking for a new story to disappear into.   Some years past I found myself reading Stuff of Legend cover to cover while standing at their table at the New York Comic Con.   This year at Small Press Expo in Bethesda they caught me with another one:

Finding Gossamyr, Volume 1. by David A. Rodriguez and Sarah Ellerton.

Finding Gossamyr Volume 1

The story itself is familiar enough, a brother and sister are pulled into another world through a magic portal.  There they find beautiful evil sorcerers, get caught in great conflicts between powerful antagonists, struggle to survive, that sort of thing.

The unusual angle in this case is that magic in that far realm is enacted via abstruse mathematics, solving arcane equations to trigger the effects.  In our protagonist Denny we find a hero uniquely suited for that environment, even if it causes him distress.

At mathematics Denny is a natural talent, a boy genius.    His sister Jenna has been taking care of him in the absence of her parents and she needs all the help she can get;  if he can be cared for at school, then she can go to college herself.  If only Denny can keep it together during the admission process to an exclusive academy then she has a chance at a normal life…

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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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January 27, 2014

A visit with George O’Connor and various Greek Gods.

Come hang out with George O’Connor and his Olympians, Wednesday evening at 7:30 in the kids room at the Takoma Park Maryland Library.   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.

February 24, 2012

Panel Check! Racist images in comics.

Before shelving a book in our collection, no matter the review nor recommendation, here at the Takoma Park MD Library we always run a ‘panel check’ on every graphic novel we add.

This means I read a great many comics of course, the point here is to confirm where a book belongs in our collection, and in our children’s section to avoid any upsetting surprises for patrons hunting for an appropriate book for their kid.  Adult language, realistic violence, sexually charged situations, mature topics– these are all reasons why a book may step up the ladder to the next higher age category.  (See promotion criteria at the bottom of this article).

Occasionally we get ambushed by a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing and buy a book intended for a young audience, but discover a single panel of art that bumps it to a higher category.   Kid-to-grown-up ‘booby-trapped’ books are especially upsetting when an otherwise great story, appropriate for all ages, is derailed by unfortunate racial stereotypes or caricatures.

Here is a smattering of otherwise excellent books that are tainted by their own prejudices.

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