Recently in Graphic Novel Category

What advice were people looking for 100 years ago?


It's a very simple idea: a woman receives a notebook with newspaper clippings from the Bintel Brief, a long-running letter column in turn of the century Yiddish newspaper The Forward. When she opens this notebook, the ghost of Abraham Cahan springs to life and they read the columns as they interact in the present. This is the charming premise of Liana Finck's graphic novel A Bintel: Love and Longing in Old New York.

Finck adapts 11 letters-to-the-editor, using a different style based on the content of the letter. The illustrations vary wildly from blocky and dark to spacious and delicate. The tone of the book is lovely and heartfelt, perhaps because she is a character in the narrative. As she reads The Bintel Brief, she gets to know centuries of New York immigrant Jews and she gets to know Cahan himself. It can also be difficult to interest younger people in 100 year old advice columns when there is so much else to read, see, and do. Especially when that advice was written in a Yiddish newspaper! Finck breathes new life into these columns. Plenty of life was there before, but I'm not sure they had an audience.

Every story in the book actually appeared in The Forward. These are real problems real people wrote in about. They are all a bit sad, but not in an outright weepy way. People sought advice about missing husbands, thieving neighbors, and embarrassing spouses; but at the core they're all very respectful and earnest. Many people were haunted by the ghosts of the old world, which never seems to be far from their minds. The letters are borne from the everyday hardships of immigrant life, which is sometimes quite bleak but at the same time poignant and hopeful. These letters can tell you as much about peoples' lives at that time than any article about working conditions, poverty, or immigration ever could.

If you read this book and you want more (as I did), you can read the original columns in A Bintel Brief: Sixty Years of Letters from the Lower East Side to the Jewish Daily Forward.

Allie @ Central

Who is Pusheen?


I Am Pusheen the Cat by Claire Belton

The everyday life of Pusheen the Cat is chronicled in a series of ridiculously adorable comic drawings. Pusheen is cute, chubby, extremely lazy, and has toes that look like beans. She enjoys lying completely still, exercising her imagination, and modeling the latest human mustache fashions. This is her first journey from the animated webcomic to the printed page.

Margaret @ East

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg


The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

Two soul mates discover they cannot come within two feet of one another. Determined to find a cure for their fate, they marry anyway. But, how do you pass the years with a mate you cannot touch? With stories and legends of course! Discover a world of irreverent mythology, all lushly illustrated with Nordic inspired art.

Beth @ East

Bandette in Presto!


Bandette in Presto! by Paul Tobin, art by Colleen Coover

Bandette, a très chic French thief, steals unique objects of art and literature from the undeserving rich like a modern day Robin Hood in this graphic novel. Using social media, her cute charm, and ninja abilities, Bandette is a fabulously fun role model perfect for any girl who prefers her heroes to wear sensible flats and a functional costume. Presto!

Beth @ East

Lone Wolf and Cub by Kazuo Koike

wolfandcub.jpegWhen I sat down to start reading Lone Wolf and Cub, I wasn't entirely certain what to expect. I was vaguely aware of the movies based on it, most famously the movie Shogun Assassin (which was actually an American effort that spliced together parts of two of the original Japanese Lone Wolf and Cub movies). I knew that it was considered a 'classic', though I did not realize that it was from the 1970s.

What I was absolutely unprepared for is just how good Lone Wolf and Cub is. Written by Kazuo Koike with art by Goseki Kojima, this is a story set in the Tokugawa era of Japan. Ogami Itto, executioner for the Japanese shogun himself, faces terrible betrayal by the Ura-Yagyu clan, killing his wife and household and framing him for treason against the Shogun. Vowing vengeance, Itto takes the road of the assassin, become a killer for hire to any who would pay his fee. He brings with him his seemingly unstoppable skill with a blade, his now three-year-old son Daigoro, and a baby cart that conceals multiple tools of death and destruction.

Itto carves a path of utter destruction, as his skill is seemingly unparalleled in all of Japan. Yet alongside the bloody and violent action is a dedication to historical accuracy both in its portrayal of society and in the artistic depiction of the clothes and setting. These elements combine to create something that is not just simply an excellent story, or an excellent manga, but an excellent work of art and something that anyone with a love of graphic novels, samurai, Tokugawa Japan, or even just excellent action stories should check out. We even just received some brand new omnibus editions of the early volumes, so you can check out big chunks of the story in one convenient book!

Tim @ Central

March 1 by John Lewis


In March Book 1, Congressman John Lewis gives a first-hand account his early days as one of the key figures of the Civil Rights Movement. Congressman Lewis is the only living speaker from the March on Washington and one of the original thirteen Freedom Riders. This story chronicles his days as a sharecropper's son learning about race in the Deep South to becoming one of the leaders of the Nashville Student Movement which successfully ended the segregation of lunch counters in downtown Nashville.

Award-winning illustrator, Nate Powell's stark drawings bring to life the violence and humiliation Congressman Lewis and his fellow activists experienced during their non-violent struggle. Congressman Lewis has previously published Across That Bridge (with Brenda Jones) and Walking With the Wind (with Michael D'Orso) but the graphic novel format creates a different experience of seeing the violence Lewis endured rather than simply reading about it. This is a great book that introduces Congressman Lewis's story to a new generation.

Maria @ Central

Hawkeye by Matt Fraction

hawkeye1.jpegDid you watch the 2012 Summer Blockbuster The Avengers and wonder why exactly there was a dude whose powers were 'has bow and arrow'? Poor Clint Barton, also known as Hawkeye, isn't exactly the most super of superheroes. That's exactly the angle that Matt Fraction takes on the current series of Hawkeye. The first 11 Issues of the series are collected in two trade paperbacks available at the library: My Life as a Weapon and Little Hits. These detail the 'off hours', when Clint's not off saving the world with the Avengers, and instead is dealing with some more down-to-earth problems like his divorce, flooding, stray dogs and shady business men.

hawkeye2.jpegThe highlight of the series is the emphasis Hawkeye's vulnerability: both in terms of being a hero, and just a human being. He's the 'normal guy' of the Avengers, the one without the big fancy powers to keep him and those he cares about safe. He only has himself, his wits, and as we see throughout the series, his friends. Fraction also takes some interesting and wildly creative turns in narrative, as well. Issue 11, found in 'Little Hits', is told entirely from the perspective of a dog. Hawkeye also has won two big awards - the 2013 Eisner and Harvey awards for best cover artist. So for fans of The Avengers, or just fans of comics that go off the beaten path of generic do-gooding by super powered do-gooders, Hawkeye is a refreshing and rip-roaring read.

Tim @ Central




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