Providence Act 1 by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

providence

Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: A reimagining of many of HP Lovecraft’s stories through the lens of Robert Black. Black is a journalist and would-be author living in the 1919 world of Lovecraft’s fiction. Act 1 compiles 1-4 of 12 issues in the Providence series.

What made me pick it up: I just rediscovered it on my bookshelf, it was next on my TBR list at some point last fall.

My favorite things: The art is bleak and ominous. There is an unsettling recurring theme hinting at the coming rise of Nazi power in Europe. I love the inclusion of journal entries and paraphernalia from the world Robert Black is exploring.

Who it’s great for: Devotees of Lovecraft’s stories and fans of Alan Moore’s comics and graphic novels. Readers looking for a short but captivating creepy series to become immersed in.

Abby’s rating: four-shells


Pick up a copy of this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.

100 Crushes by Elisha Lim

100 crushes

Originally published in: 2014

What it’s about: A collection of excerpts from several different series of comics. Each focuses on the lives and identities of different queer and gender-nonconforming people and their relationships with the the author.

What made me pick it up: It sounded cute and I liked the cover. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My favorite things: I love the artistic style! It reminds me of those filters you can use to make a photo look like a painting. There is also a great range of topics, from crushes to fashion to pronouns, each handled with both lightness and care. This reads like a beautiful celebration of queer identities.

Who it’s great for: Anyone looking for graphic novels with diversity in gender and sexuality. Fans of Bechdel’s graphic memoirs.

Abby’s rating: four-shells


Pick up a copy of this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

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Originally published in: 2014

What it’s about: A collection of short horror stories told in a graphic novel format.

What made me pick it up: This is one of my favorite graphic novels from the past few years, so I picked up back up to help me out of a reading slump.

My favorite things: The stories are short and simple but absolutely haunting. Each time I read them I end up with goosebumps and a distinct feeling of unease. The art is beautiful and bleak, using color only sparingly and to great effect. Reading this is like experiencing some of your creepiest nightmares on the page.

Who it’s great for: Adults and teens that enjoy graphic novels and want creepy horror stories. Fans of Audrey Niffineggar’s illustrated works.

Abby’s rating: five-shells


Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.


Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story by Peter Bagge

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A graphic biography following the never dull life of Zora Neale Hurston.

What made me pick it up: I love reading graphic memoirs and biographies, so this was a must-read for me.

My favorite things: Bagge introduces the biography by explaining some of his choices and how he came to write it, which I appreciated. I also enjoyed delving into the extensive background information at the end that gives more insight into some the supporting cast of Hurston’s life. The biography itself was fast-paced and fun, hitting the highs and lows of her life with equal interest. It’s a fun way to learn about what of the great American writers of the 20th century.

Who it’s great for: Hurston fans looking to learn more about her adventurous life. Fans of graphic biographies and non-fiction.

Abby’s rating: three-and-a-half-shells


Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.


Angel Catbird Vol. 1 by Margaret Atwood

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: A new superhero is born when a genetic engineer, along with an owl and a cat, accidentally becomes his own next project.

What made me pick it up: A Margaret Atwood comic book sounded too good, and weird, to pass up.

My favorite things: Atwood has a strong interest in animal welfare, particularly that of cats and birds, and this comes out in the form of weird footnotes with stats about both. It’s odd but charming. The amusing cast of characters doesn’t fail to deliver and the overall effect is campy and fun. Like all good superheroes, Angel Catbird is plagued by a complicated inner struggle-mostly between his cat and bird instincts.

Who it’s great for: I loved this, but if you’re looking for a comic that takes itself seriously at all then Angel Catbird is not the superhero for you. Good for fans of campy older comics and cat lovers who want to read about their furry friends as heroes.

Abby’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells


Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.


Plutona by Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox

plutona

Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: What happens lives and drama of suburban teens accidentally collide with the world of superheroes and the larger battle between good and evil?

What made me pick it up: I make sure to scoop of anything I see by Jeff Lemire, and this one is new to our library.

My favorite things: Lemire has a gift for creating believable teens and he does it with such care and understanding that it’s nearly impossible to hold their faults against them. I love the peek we get into Plutona’s life- a single mom and superhero struggling to find a sustainable work-life balance.

Who it’s great for: Fans of  all things superhero. Readers who loved Paper Girls. Older teens who want both realistic fiction and superheroes in action.

Abby’s rating: four-shells


Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.


Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

ghost

Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: Catrina struggles to adjust as her family moves to better accommodate her younger sister’s chronic illness. Their new community’s enthusiasm for ghosts and Día de Muertos is at once scary and a good opportunity to connect with their mother’s Mexican heritage.

What made me pick it up: I saw this on a colleague’s desk and needed to read it immediately.

My favorite things: In her latest book, Telgemeier successfully takes on a difficult topic and makes it more accessible and less scary. Her art and storytelling are as compelling as ever and make Ghosts difficult to put down even once.

Who it’s great for: Telgemeier’s devoted following will already know about this, but it’s a great choice for any tweens interested in graphic novels. This is also a great choice for those coping with chronic illness in one of their loved ones.

Abby’s rating: four-shells


Want a copy? Find one at Amazon (affiliate link) or see if it’s available at a library near you.


Snow White by Matt Phelan

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: The traditional fairy tale set in Depression-era New York City.

What made me pick it up: I was working the children’s desk in the library and it was there so I paged through it. I didn’t get to finish it so I placed a hold on it.

My favorite parts: I really liked how this was modernized. It fit so well into the time period. The illustrations are mostly black and white and quite engaging. Like the other graphic novels I enjoy most, this had few words and panels so it was easy to follow. I also enjoyed the author’s interpretation of the dwarfs.

Who it’s great for: Struggling readers who want a fairly thick book to complete. Fairy tale fans of all ages. Those interested in but intimidated by graphic novels .

Erica’s rating: four-shells

March: Book Three by Andrew Aydin and John Lewis

 

Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: This is the third and final volume in the graphic memoir series tracing Representative John Lewis’ participation in the Civil Rights Movement, culminating in the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1967-known as Bloody Sunday.

What made me pick it up: I read the first two installments so was planning on picking it up, but since it’s won roughly one billion awards* I scooted it to the top of my read-ASAP list.

My favorite things: This final volume is reliably great in a number of ways: the black and white art is strongly affecting, the storytelling is compelling, and the content is relevant and important as ever. One of my favorite things, throughout the series, are the brief scenes from the 2009 presidential inauguration. They effectively illustrate the impact of civil rights activists’ relentless efforts and remind us of how much can be accomplished within a single generation.

Who it’s great for: Teens and tweens who want to understand the Civil Rights Movement. Fans of history and memoir. Graphic novel and comic readers interested in real-life human superheroes.

*Awards: National Book Award** for Young People’s Literature; Coretta Scott King Award (Author); Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award; YALSA award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults; Michael L. Printz Award

**See Stamped from the Beginning for my review of another National Book Award Winner.

Abby’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells

Here by Richard McGuire

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Originally published in: 2014

Abby and I both read this beautiful graphic novel recently. We tried to talk about it today but mostly to share this book you need to walk up to another person and make them look at it. It is so original and the illustrations so wonderful that it draws you in. So instead of a conversation we’re going to try a joint review.

What is it about? Here tells the story, almost entirely in pictures, of one house and all the stories that occur inside that house and on the site of that house past and future.

What made you pick it up/want to read it?
Abby – It was recommended to me because I was talking about how much I loved The Encyclopedia of Early Earth and I was told that if I don’t feel a strong need for narrative in graphic novels I’d probably love this.
Erica – I saw Abby with it and asked about it and she showed it to me. When I had a bit of a lull I spent 30 minutes paging through it and sharing all my favorite parts with her.

Our favorite parts:
Abby – I like the future. I like the way it contrasts with the scenes from prehistory. I like that there are parallels in every era. I also like the message that we are all temporary. My favorite part, though, is the imagination of the author.
Erica – Aside from the lovely illustration I also enjoyed the imagination. I like the span of time the author thought about and incorporated, especially, like Abby, the future. Abby has remarked repeatedly on the dust-to-dust concept of the book – a plot of land that becomes a house and then becomes a place where a house once stood. It really resonates. There is also a subplot of two American Indians trying to sneak some afternoon delight that is humorous.

Who is it good for?
Abby – People who don’t feel a strong need for narrative in graphic novels. Anyone who wants to be validated in their reluctance to read graphic novels because they’re too confusing.
Erica – But also, anyone who shies away from graphic novels because they are too intimidating and confusing.

Erica & Abby’s jointly agreed upon rating: four-shells