The DNA of four-panel funnies, well-respected graphic novels, and highfalutin literary novels might not be so different as they seem. Obviously, a strip like Family Circus isn’t even remotely in the same realm as, say, Toni Morrison, to be clear, but each tradition shares some surprising hallmarks when it comes to form and philosophy. Read More..
Image Comics, a popular indie comic publisher, is known for its creative license. Their vast range includes wonderfully different, wildly successful stories such as The Walking Dead and Saga. When you walk up into Astrokitty Comics @ Game Nut on Mass Street, you’ll find that the back side of their display shelves is a giant homage to Image’s dedication to diversity of content, rather than attempting to keep all storylines within the same relative universe, i.e. like Marvel and DC Comics. Read More..
As a reader, I usually don’t know where my next read is going to come from. It could be found in a magazine article, by listening to NPR, or from a person convincing me that I need to drop everything and read this book that will apparently change my life. This is the tale of my journey with author and artist Lucy Knisley (pronounced Nicely), who I discovered while researching food memoirs via the NoveList feature on the library website. Read More..
If you’ve ever taken a creative writing class, you’ve no doubt heard the writing workshop mantra: “Show, don’t tell.” Combine that with the old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and you’ve got the sweet spot that graphic novels inhabit–a medium that can pair compelling narrative with evocative illustrations can convey nuances of emotion and experience unavailable to words alone. Read More..
I have a confession to make: I used to be one of those people who looked down their nose at graphic novels and comics and openly judged others for reading them. In frustration, I even said once, “It’s not really reading! It’s just a bunch of pictures!” (Yeah, I know. #cringeworthy).
Sorry, everyone, for my past-self being such a huge jerk. You will be happy to know that I have since cooled my jets when it comes to judging how, or what, others read. Reading is such a personal experience, and I am now a firm believer that any amount of reading is important, and it counts, even if it’s just the back of your cereal box in the morning. Read More..
We’ve all heard the cautionary advice “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” And sure, there’s a lot of truth to that. On the other hand—being judged is totally what book covers are for. My resistance to this old adage has been validated time and again by impulse check-outs that turn out to be awesome, the most recent example being Malachi Ward’s graphic novel From Now On.
When I dove in, I had no idea what to expect; I just knew things were going to get weird. From Now On does not disappoint, with stories dealing with bizarre alien worlds and the peculiarities of time travel. The thirteen vignettes stand alone as brief glimpses into future worlds, replete with imaginative technology and creatures like lime green aliens that appear to be half-mole, half-elephant
Despite the strangeness, though, Ward manages to evoke a deeply-human and reflective mood. Flipping through the stories of lonely, hopeful space colonists made me feel like I was reading the sparse, blue-collar oriented short stories of Raymond Carver, or the succinct and wistful comics of Adrian Tomine. The science fiction elements are posed skillfully against the emotions of the characters—Ward offers only minimal world-building to let the heart of each story shine.
“Top Five” follows the daily work of a lone explorer. While carrying out his labor—menial tasks that are never explained to the reader—he thinks about the five best Star Trek episodes that feature time travel. That’s it. Though it may seem insignificant or uneventful, “Top Five” is actually a well-crafted portrait of regret, desire, and small victories—in other words, life itself. The unearthly backdrop makes it all the more compelling, too, adding a layer of the weird that demonstrates how universal these feelings can be. It’s subtly funny, too.
Ward’s art style is similarly restrained. Simple illustration shows the wonder of alien landscapes, being suggestive rather than comprehensive. The result is a collection that showcases incredibly efficient and meaty story telling. Just because you don’t have time to read a doorstopper like Dune doesn’t mean you can’t go on an adventure to the stars. As much as I love the cover of From Now On, I have to admit the immersive and poignant stories within are even better.
-Eli Hoelscher is a Reader’s Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library
Image scan of “Top Five” via studygroupcomics.com, author Malachi Ward.
Whether you love graphic novels or are new to the format, we’re hear to help. This guide covers three different genres within graphic novels: superheroes, fantasy/sci-fi, and horror. If you’re looking to check out more 2014 releases in graphic novels, check out this list of Fisher’s favorites in the catalog. Read More..
I bought my first comic seven years ago.
Feeling unsure and out of place, I ventured up the steps to Lawrence’s local comic shop, Astro Kitty, to buy Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8. As a longtime devotee of Joss Whedon’s TV show, I was thrilled when I learned it was going to continue in comic form, even if I didn’t have any experience with the format and had grown up thinking that it was just superhero stories that were really meant for boys who didn’t like to read (oh, how naive my younger self was). Read More..
Happy Birthday Shakespeare! I wonder if the bard ever conceived of something like today’s graphic novel? Hopefully he would approve of the following renditions of his work! If you don’t want a graphic novel, scroll down to the bottom for links to his other works.
I never would have picked this up if it hadn’t gotten a lot of buzz for being on three YALSA award lists: Alex Award, Quick Picks for Young Adults, and Great Graphic Novels. I’m very glad I did.