Graphic Novel Archives

November 25, 2013

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

September 24, 2013

Banned Book Week: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi Review and Book Discussion @ Central Library

persepolis_cover.jpg With its vivid black and white comic strip images, Persepolis is a powerful coming of age story. Marjane Satrapi, the great-granddaughter of Iran's last emperor and the daughter of ardent Marxists, describes growing up in Tehran during and after Iran's Islamic Revolution. Written through the eyes of a child trying to navigate the rapid and confusing changes in her county, it serves as a unique window into life in Tehran during this turbulent period. The autobiographical graphic novel explores themes of family, religion, and the toll violence and repression can have on both the individual and society.

Persepolis image.png In March of 2013 Persepolis was removed from Chicago Public Schools via a district directive citing its "graphic illustrations and language" and concerns about "developmental preparedness" and "student readiness." The directive was later retracted after outcry from students, teachers and the Chicago community.

Central Library will host a Persepolis book discussion on Monday, October 7, from 6-7 p.m. in the Richard E. and Lucile Krug Rare Books Room, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave. Join us as we discuss this unique autobiography!

Kristina @ Central

October 28, 2013

The Property by Rutu Modan

property.jpegRutu Modan's first full-length graphic novel, Exit Wounds, won an Eisner Award back in 2008 for its nuanced story of a Tel Aviv cab driver seeking clues into the disappearance and possible death of his father. Her second long-form graphic novel effort, The Property, is another deeply personal story, this time about an old Jewish woman returning to Poland, her granddaughter in tow, to reclaim property lost during World War II. What unfolds is a story of a woman forced to confront and remember painful parts of her past, as her granddaughter discovers that they have come for far more than just the reclamation of property.

As all great graphic novels, The Property is told not merely through the dialogue but also through the excellent illustration. Modan's style evokes comparison to Herge's Tintin, cartoon forms of lines and solid colors that portray nuanced and evocative body language in each panel. The fact that Modan hired actors to play out each panel for her as a reference model is an interesting bit of trivia, but the results are superb. This is the sort of graphic novel that is easily accessible to all, wonderfully human through and through.

Tim @ Central

September 19, 2013

Blacksad by Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido

blacksad1.jpegIt's a bit of a hard sell, a Film Noir styled graphic novel about a private detective in a world of anthropomorphic animals. Since we tend to associate such a visual style with children's entertainment, Disney cartoons and Winnie the Pooh and the like, we as an audience tend not to take it entirely seriously. Blacksad, however, takes the concept of animals-as-people and utilizes it to show much people are animals themselves. The actual stories of Blacksad, the cases that this old unlucky black cat takes on, aren't exactly groundbreaking in their plotting. A Hollywood starlet mysteriously murdered, a little girl kidnapped in a neighborhood blanketed with race crime, and a Cold War intrigue tale of former Nazi scientists and their past coming back to haunt them. None of these yarns are exactly original, but it is precisely their familiarity that allows the other elements (the gorgeous art and social commentary, among others) to come to the forefront and shine all the brighter.

The creators behind the series are two Spanish men (Juan Díaz Canales is the writer, Juanjo Guarnido is the artist), yet it is initially published in France. Dark Horse Comics decided to bring the comic over to the States and have it translated into English, thank goodness. The first volume is simply titled Blacksad, and contains the three stories mentioned above. A second volume, Blacksad A Silent Hell, is also out, containing just one story about a missing jazz musician and a dying prison warden, and is just as great as the first volume. Make no mistake; this is definitely not a graphic novel for kids. In between the covers of Blacksad are murder, intrigue, backstabbing, romance, deadly gunfights, sex, and more. Basically, it's all the glorious elements of Film Noir, now in beautiful watercolor with an extra dose of fur, scales, and other animalistic elements. Blacksad comes highly recommended for anyone who loves old private detective stories.

August 12, 2013

Whatcha Readin' @ East Library

Ever wonder what the library staff are reading? Here's a snapshot of what's currently being read by workers at the Temporary East location (2430 N. Murray Ave.):

Exterior Temp Site_crop.jpg


Margaret: Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan and Girl Genius by Phil & Kaja Foglio

Sophie: Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism by James Loewen.

Beth: Y: The Last Man, Vol. 4: Safeword by Brian K. Vaughan and The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

Rachel: Half way through today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 2013 National Geographic Magazine and the July issue of Milwaukee Magazine.


Harper: Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity by David Lynch and Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski

Danielle: Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer, Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger and Ayako by Osamu Tezuka

Watch for future lists of what the staff at the branch locations are reading!

July 29, 2013

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

relish.jpegLike a youthful, artistic Proust, Lucy Knisley's memory is strongly tied to her sense of taste. Through these memories, each with their own unique tastes and stories, Knisley crafts a wonderful illustrated memoir of a youth, growth, coming of age and beyond in Relish: My Life in the Kitchen.

From being a small child in New York City, to the shift of living in rural upstate New York, to trips into Mexico and France, each of these events is told with a charming, cartoon visual style in vibrant color. Punctuating each of these stories (which are equal parts delightful and poignant) is a recipe that closes each chapter, again illustrated with Knisley's warm cartoon style. You'd never guess that cartoon food would look so delicious, but somehow she pulls it off!

Don't let the fact we filed this book in the Young Adult section fool you, this is a great read for all ages. Just make sure not to read on an empty stomach; the book will definitely leave you craving some delicious food.

Tim @ Central

July 22, 2013

Building Stories by Chris Ware


Chris Ware's Building Stories earned four Eisner Awards at the 2013 Comic-Con International in San Diego for best writer/artist, new graphic album, publication design and lettering -- more than any other publication in its category.

Ware's 260 page story consists of 14 variously sized, formatted, and bound pieces including traditionally bound books, small and large pamphlets, some folded like an accordion, and loose pages all presented together in a large box that has additional scenes printed on it. Each colorful scene is meticulously composed and worded in a completely relatable fashion. The individual pieces in this set can be read as a complete story, or as standalone short stories, about the daily lives of a few tenants who reside in an imaginary, but eerily realistic, Chicago apartment building living their ordinary everyday life.

Building Stories is only available as a reference item and can only be viewed in person. It cannot be checked out. Currently you can enjoy this beautiful book at the Central and Zablocki libraries.

Valerie @ Central

July 14, 2013

A Duo of Unique Graphic Novels

movingpictures.jpegMoving Pictures is a story about the value we place on things, whether it is pieces of art, relationships, or even people. Set in Vichy France, it follows a Canadian woman named Ila who works in a museum in Paris 'misplacing' pieces of art to prevent the Nazis from stealing them away to Germany. Trapped in this life, she ends up in a relationship with one of the German officials in charge of the art relocation, and things unfold from there. Delicately crafted with words by Kathryn Immonen and gorgeous illustrations by Stuart Immonen, this little book began life as a webcomic by the husband-wife team while they worked on other projects. Definitely worth a look.

eventhegiants.jpegJesse Jacobs' Even the Giants is an odd (yet heartfelt and touching) little book, telling an almost wordless tale about giant arctic creatures, love, and loneliness in pictures of only white, black, and blue. Interspersed with this story are single-page interludes of 'One Million Mouths', often trippy and surrealistic vignettes with the occasional wicked punchline. This is a great little book, experimenting in the sort of stories you can tell in the medium, and is definitely something to check out.

Tim @ Central

June 24, 2013

I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly

I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly is a graphic novel with a lot of depth. The story focuses on Barbara Thorson, a fifth grade girl seemingly obsessed with giants and how to kill them. Her giant obsession leads to troubles at school, upsetting teachers and counselors and attracting the attention of school bullies. Yet there is deeper meaning behind her fantastical preoccupation, and the book intricately blends elements of Barbara's fantasy into the very real story of a young girl dealing with tragedy. Illustrated by JM Ken Niimura in stark and dynamic black and white, the art emphasizes the emotion and tone of Joe Kelly's tale to create a compelling and meaningful book.

Tim @ Central

May 27, 2013

Seven Soldiers of Victory by Grant Morrison

sevensoldiers.jpegGrant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory plays out a lot like a time-travelling , magic-drenched, comic book version of a Guy Ritchie film. Seven different stories about seven different heroes unfold in their own unique ways, yet they all end up tied together to stop the destruction of Earth by a terrible elf-like race from the future called the Sheeda. These seven heroes are an eclectic lot, with equally eclectic tales: The Shining Knight (a teenage girl disguised as a man from an ancient Celtic King Arthur's Court who ends up in modern times), The Manhattan Guardian (a former police officer hired to be a shield-wielding masked hero in the name of a tabloid newspaper), Zatanna the Magician (former member of the Justice League who happens to be stripped of her magical powers for this story), Klarion the Witch Boy (a blue-skinned young boy in a puritanical underground civilization), Mister Miracle (master escape artist), Bulleteer (a woman with indestructible metal skin thanks to her husband's experimentation), and even Frankenstein's Monster himself (who just happens to be an agent of a supernatural fighting government organization called S.H.A.D.E.).

Elements from each of these stories interweave in fun and intriguing ways; you'll find yourself flipping back and forth in the pages to make sure you don't miss any of the little details. Also, like most of Grant Morrison's work this 'maxi-series' is a bit of a doozy, filled with magic, mayhem, secret societies, underground cities, ancient prophecy and more. For people who love the oeuvres Neil Gaiman, Quentin Tarantino, and the aforementioned Guy Ritchie, this is absolutely a fun set of strange stories to check out today from your local neighborhood library branch.

Tim @ Central

April 27, 2013

Agent Gates and the Secret Adventures of Devonton Abbey by Camaren Subhiyah

agentgates.jpgHey Downton Abbey fans! Looking for something to tide you over until Season 4 starts? Check out this fun graphic novel based on the show. Agent Gates and the Secret Adventures of Devonton Abbey is a hilarious parody that reimagines some of the characters as members of the British Secret Service. Working undercover as servants in the Devonton Abbey household (the house and all character names are changed slightly for parody's sake), they maintain double lives keeping an eye on suspicious activity while going on with their normal household responsibilities. Another servant, who is engaged in the nefarious Black Hand (bet you can't guess who that might be...cough cough...), is trying to orchestrate the assassination of a foreign dignitary visiting Devonton to kick-start World War I. Will Gates and his fellow agents thwart these plans in time? Will poor Lady Ethel (Edith) ever find a suitable husband? And what does the Dowager Countess have to say about all of this? Find out in Agent Gates!

Brett @ Central

April 22, 2013

The Five Fists of Science by Matt Fraction and Steven Sanders

fivefists.jpegThe Five Fists of Science is historical science fiction at its most pulpy. Nikola Tesla, fighting crime vigilante-style with electricity guns of his own making, falls into a partnership with Mark Twain and Bertha Von Suttner to bring about world peace through an elaborate scheme. Through Twain's showmanship and theatrical flair, Tesla's engineering genius, and Suttner's conviction and funding, they make a valiant effort to trick the world into lasting peace through mutually assured destruction. Little do they know that their efforts attract the attention of JP Morgan and his compatriots Marconi, Edison, and Carnegie. Morgan and his cronies are dabbling in dark magic, and soon the two groups clash in a battle of science against the supernatural, with the fate of America in the balance!

Matt Fraction's tale is as fun as it is ridiculous, while also being about as historically accurate as Shakespeare in Love. The fun, however, is in the fiction and the adventure. Twain is brilliant and witty, Tesla an eccentric beyond compare, and Suttner is a force of nature. It takes a good hand to take these famous figures and create an exciting fictionalized version, and Fraction does so amiably. For fans of any of the people in the story, I definitely recommend giving this one volume story a try.

Tim @ Central

March 25, 2013

Dylan Dog: Case Files by Tiziano Sclavi

dylandogcover.jpegIt's not hard to see why the Dylan Dog series is so popular in its native land of Italy. A comic series that has lasted since 1986 (and has been one of the bestselling comic series in Italy ever since), it features stories about a handsome London-based private investigator whose cases often involve beautiful women, gruesome monsters, and ghastly crimes. Though mostly unavailable in America, Dark Horse Publishing has thankfully put out Dylan Dog: Case Files, an English language compilation of seven stories by Dylan Dog's original creator Tiziano Sclavi. Each of these stories is gorgeously illustrated in black and white, packing great emotion and life into its contrasting lines and shadows. The seven stories are each very unique and interesting, with their own individual themes and plot hooks.

The stories translate well to American audiences, and the compilation offers a variety of chills, thrills, and more. While slightly altered from the original (Dylan's sidekick is a Groucho Marx impersonator in the original, and finds himself stripped of name and mustache for the American release), these stories retain their charm and character with the translation. If you're desperate for more adventures of Dylan Dog after finishing the book, you'll find yourself having to learn Italian. There's only the one volume here in America, while the series has continued for years over in Italy.

Tim @ Central

February 25, 2013

The Unwritten by Mike Carey

unwrittencover.jpgTom Taylor has forever lived in the shadow of his father's work. His father, Wilson Taylor, is the author of one of the most successful series of children's books in history: the stories of Tommy Taylor, intrepid boy wizard. Unable to shake the specter of his fictional namesake, Tom struggles to make a living through personal appearances at conventions. Yet the lines between fact and fiction begin to blur when Tom is kidnapped by a mad fan convinced he's the villain of the Tommy Taylor books, and Tom discovers he has more in common with Tommy than he ever knew.

That's the start of Mike Carey's The Unwritten, an intelligent and intricately crafted comic book series that caters to the 'well read' crowd. Though hard to describe without spoiling some of the excellent plot twists, the series is a well plotted page turner that simultaneously entertains and evokes serious thoughts about the power of fiction. Definitely worth giving a look, there's a lot of depth and intrigue to be found in the pages of Carey's work.

Tim @ Central

November 24, 2012

Top 10 by Alan Moore

toptenjacket.jpgAlan Moore's Top Ten, a short-lived comic series now collected into two wonderful bound volumes, sits off to the side when most people talk about his greatest works as Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell hog the spotlight. Yet for the casual reader, Top Ten probably holds the most appeal. Without the daunting reputation of being a juggernaut of the genre like Watchmen and V for Vendetta, Top Ten establishes itself quickly as an accessible, interesting, and entertaining read. A police procedural comic set in a city where everyone and everything (including household pests!) has some sort of super power; it's a Hill Street Blues for the cape-and-cowl crowd.

Top Ten has many highlights, from the well-developed and diverse cast of characters, to the art filled with sly comic book jokes and references amongst the background characters, to the smart, sly subversion of both police procedural and superhero tropes. Those wary of Moore's tendency to constantly destroy, maim, and murder characters in his work take note: as this was originally planned as an ongoing series, the characters have a surprising survival rate. Overall, for anyone who likes new twists on familiar concepts, both volumes of Top 10 are definitely worth checking out. While not as lauded as some of Moore's work, Top 10 is one of his more 'fun' works, and the artwork by Gene Ha and Zander Cannon is superb. Don't mistake 'fun' for light, however, as the crimes these super-powered police officers have to deal with can get both intense and disturbing.

Tim @ Central

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October 23, 2012

Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me by Harvey Pekar


Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me, the final work by the late Harvey Pekar (American Splendor) is on the thorny subject of Israel. Pekar's ardent Zionist parents raised him to believe in the great promise of Israel as a refuge for the Jewish people. But as he grew older and learned more about the country, he became harshly critical of its policies and held its leaders responsible for much of the turmoil in the Middle East.

The narrative unfolds through a dialogue with the comic's illustrator, J T Waldman, as they drive around Pekar's hometown of Cleveland, a city practically synonymous with him. Anyone interested in world politics will find much to chew on in this graphic novel, and fans will enjoy this one last conversation with Harvey.

Brett @ Central

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October 5, 2012

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier by Alan Moore


Reprinted by permission of the American Library Association

This review is presented in honor of Banned Book Week.


Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier has not appeared on ALA's most frequently banned or challenged lists, but it did create a stir in 2009 when library staff members in Kentucky were fired for tampering with a patron's records in order to 'protect' them from being able to check out the book. You can read more about that over at The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund website.

Alan Moore's graphic novels have always been some of the most philosophical, experimental and intelligent comics out there, and Black Dossier is no exception. The third volume of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series (once loosely adapted into a major motion picture that led to Moore washing his hands of Hollywood all together), it continues the style established in his previous efforts: a distinctly multimedia story told in an unconventional manner, treating classics of literature and other media with a critical and grim manner as he crafts a story that encompasses multiple points of fiction that we are already familiar with into something altogether new. While previous volumes were set in the Victorian era, this volume is set in the late 1950s, allowing Moore to insert his own takes on such figures as James Bond, Emma Peel (though under her maiden name of Emma Night), Bulldog Drummond and more.

The narrative is rather straightforward; Mina Murray and Allan Quatermain from the first two volumes (now both immortal through various means) have stolen the titular Black Dossier from the government, as it contains material on the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in its various incarnations, including material on our heroes themselves. They are pursued by agents from the government, the aforementioned Bond, Drummond, and Emma Night. On occasions where Mina and Allan take the time to read the dossier, the book actually turns into the excerpts themselves, in the form of stories and articles, lost Shakespeare folios, and more. Even the paper may change in the book; the dossier's sequel to infamous John Cleland novel Fanny Hill is on a heavier, texture stock, which definitely makes for a new and interesting reading experience.

In terms of a stand-alone reading experience, Black Dossier does not hold up well, though this is by design. Black Dossier was intended as a sourcebook, a fleshing out of the world that Moore has cobbled together from every bit of fiction and fact he thought worth including. It is also important to note that this work is for mature audiences. Moore has never shied away from matters of the human body, sex, and violence in his work, and Black Dossier is no different. If the concept still intrigues you, it is recommended you start at the beginning of the series. The series is entertaining and meaningful, and Kevin O'Neill's art is masterful and a perfect complement to Moore's writing.

Tim @ Central

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September 17, 2012

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf


What would you think if you discovered that one of your high school classmates had murdered and dismembered seventeen men and boys? In this graphic novel, award winning cartoonist Derf recounts his high school years when he not only knew Jeffrey Dahmer but, at times, considered him a friend. In the seemingly harmless high school nerd that Dahmer appeared to be, were there hints of the monster that would emerge? How well do we truly know the people around us? A must read for true crime fans, the book gives insight into the troubled teenage years of one the most heinous killers in history. This is a chilling book about the beginnings of evil.

Fran @ Zablocki

For those interested in a little complementary audiovisual experience with their graphic novel, the documentary The Jeffrey Dahmer Files will be playing at the 2012 Milwaukee Film Festival.
"Jeffrey Dahmer's grisly murders of 17 people shook Milwaukee to its core, even more so because the man seemed so ordinary in person. In this critically acclaimed documentary that debuted at SXSW, filmmaker Chris Thompson gives a voice to a detective, a medical examiner, and a neighbor who came face-to-face with Dahmer and deftly intermingles their stories with archival footage and everyday scenes from Dahmer's life."

It will screen:

Tuesday, Oct 2; 7 pm Oriental Theatre
Sunday, Oct 7; 3 pm Oriental Theatre
Monday, Oct 8; 9 pm Fox-Bay Cinema
Wednesday, Oct 10; 6 pm Fox-Bay Cinema

For more information, see the documentary's website.

* * * * *

The author of My Friend Dahmer, a chilling graphic novel, recollects a teenage Jeffrey Dahmer in a series of vignettes pulled from memories and extensive research. Derf and his friends made up the "Dahmer Fan Club," treating the future serial killer as an oddball mascot. The author paints a somewhat sympathetic portrait of his former friend, but makes it clear that his sympathy ends with Dahmer's first murder.

Although much has been written about Dahmer, the graphic novel format makes this particular book unique. Derf's minimalistic drawings create a nightmarish atmosphere, and enhance the subject matter rather than trivializing it. Be sure not to skip the 22 pages of plain text the author includes towards the end of the volume. It summarizes the author's research and provides further insight and details to the stories presented earlier in the book. My Friend Dahmer is a quick and fascinating read for fans of true crime stories, and/or graphic novel enthusiasts.

Submitted by Jennifer P. @ Washington Park (5/27/2012)

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August 16, 2012

Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O'Malley


Bryan Lee O'Malley's six-volume Scott Pilgrim series follows a familiar trope of modern fiction, that of the man-child growing up, maturing, and taking the first steps of adulthood. Scott Pilgrim is 23 years old, lives in Toronto, and he's actually quite unlikable. Perpetually between jobs, living off the generosity of his much more responsible and cooler roommate Wallace, Scott Pilgrim's life mainly consists of playing bass for scrappy rock band Sex Bob-Omb and hanging out with his 17 year old girlfriend, Knives Chau. This precious little life of his is thrown into chaos however when he literally encounters the woman of his dreams, an American package delivery girl with Technicolor hair named Ramona Flowers. In order to date Ramona, Scott must first defeat an entire league of Ramona's seven evil exes. These battles not only force Scott to fight to survive, but they force him to confront himself and his own behavior in unexpected and meaningful ways.

The key to the charm of O'Malley's series comes from the particular blend of pop culture he employs to create his world. Not content with merely referencing the video games that the author grew up on, he instead incorporates the plot devices and rules of videogames into this world; People burst into coins upon defeat, the hero can earn 'extra lives', and superhuman powers exist (especially if you're Vegan). These elements combine with an indie rock sensibility, manga infused art style, and a liberal dose of irreverence to create a potent and page-turning series. Keen readers might also recognize the series from the 2010 motion picture adaptation.

Tim @ Central

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June 29, 2012

Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis


Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis is a ten-volume graphic novel exploration on truth, the corruption of politics, and journalistic expression set against the backdrop of a cyberpunk future filled with giant cities, ubiquitous advertisements, and consumerism gone mad.

The first volume introduces us to Ellis' finest creation: Spider Jerusalem, a former journalist and truth seeker turned country hermit. Our foul-mouthed protagonist finds himself dragged from his mountain hideaway, kicking and screaming, back into the sprawling urban mega-metropolis of the future known as The City. Quickly he discovers little has changed since he left; the police are still corrupt, the politicians more so, and everyone is exploiting the poor and the innocent. And so he takes it upon himself to make sure everyone knows the truth, one editorial column at a time.

Written originally from 1997 to 2002, Ellis' biting and crass commentary on society and beyond still resonates today. With bombastic style and deftly detailed art by Darick Robertson, the series will thrill you, make you laugh, and even make you think about the concepts and privileges of life we often take for granted. Filled with explicit language and violence, this graphic novel is intended for mature audiences.

Tim @ Central

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May 17, 2012

My Friend Dahmer by Derf


The author of My Friend Dahmer, a chilling graphic novel, recollects a teenage Jeffrey Dahmer in a series of vignettes pulled from memories and extensive research. Derf and his friends made up the "Dahmer Fan Club," treating the future serial killer as an oddball mascot. The author paints a somewhat sympathetic portrait of his former friend, but makes it clear that his sympathy ends with Dahmer's first murder.

Although much has been written about Dahmer, the graphic novel format makes this particular book unique. Derf's minimalistic drawings create a nightmarish atmosphere, and enhance the subject matter rather than trivializing it. Be sure not to skip the 22 pages of plain text the author includes towards the end of the volume. It summarizes the author's research and provides further insight and details to the stories presented earlier in the book. My Friend Dahmer is a quick and fascinating read for fans of true crime stories, and/or graphic novel enthusiasts.

Submitted by Jennifer P. @ Washington Park

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April 5, 2012

Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba


Daytripper, by brothers Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, is a graphic novel about understanding death and letting go of life. The story centers on Brás de Olivia Domingos, a struggling obituary writer who happens to be the son of a famous author. Each chapter of the book focuses on Brás at a different age in his life in which missed opportunities, second chances and coincidences give him clarity as to what life is about. In each chapter, these revelations come only shortly before his death. As sad as the book may sound, it is a beautifully told story that will make you aware of your own life decisions and how they affect those around you. Although the subject matter may seem too serious for the graphic novel format, the illustrations do a great job of telling the story. This book would be an excellent introduction to anyone who wanted to start reading graphic novels.

Submitted by Maria @ Central

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March 22, 2012

Aya by Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie


Many stories of Africa deal with AIDS, war, poverty and famine. In the graphic novel genre, very few stories feature African protagonists. Marguerite Abouet, the writer of the graphic novel Aya, sets out to change this. Aya is the light-hearted tale of three friends living in the Ivory Coast in 1978. Aya strives to be a doctor while her friends, Bintou and Adjoua, want to chase boys and dance all night. While Aya is not the central character, the story is told through her eyes and presents a unique view of post-independence Ivory Coast. The issues presented in the book; meddling parents and young love, are universal enough so that anyone can relate to them. The writing is accompanied with lush illustrations by Clement Oubrerie and a glossary of African slang terms and recipes mentioned in the book. Aya's story is continued in Aya of Yop City, and Aya: The Secrets Come Out. Don't miss the film adaption coming out this summer!

Submitted by Maria @ Central

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March 14, 2012

Sita's Ramayana by Samhita Arni and Moyna Chitrakar

sita's ramayana.jpgThe Ramayana is one of the greatest ancient Indian epics and a sacred story cherished by millions throughout the world. It is the story of Prince Ram's quest to save his beautiful wife Princess Sita. The epic has been told and retold for thousands of years, the story changing as it is translated into one of the many languages of South Asia. In one of the most popular versions, Princess Sita, representing the pinnacle of womanly virtue, is abducted by Prince Ram's rival, the demon-king Ravana. Princess Sita is held captive in Ravana's kingdom Lanka, but refuses to give into Ravana's advances. Meanwhile Prince Ram makes a harrowing journey to save his wife. After gathering a force great enough to defeat Ravana's demons, he rescues his wife and they return to their kingdom.

Sita_Ramayana_Spread.jpgAll is not well however, as Sita's virtue is questioned and disparaged. After a series of tests to prove her innocence, Sita is still thrown out of the kingdom. Pregnant at the time, she raises her twin sons in the great forest and ever the devoted wife, laments her separation Prince Ram. The story continues but Sita's virtue is still doubted. Enter Samhita Arni's graphic novel adaptation of the story: Sita's Ramayana. This is a Ramayana told through Sita's eyes, where understanding the pain of her journey and the full extent of her courage is primary. Told in the vibrant and dynamic art of traditional Patua scroll paintings, Sita's Ramayana is a radical new telling of an ancient tale.

Interested in more female retellings of The Ramayana? Then check out Sita Sings the Blues, an animated version of The Ramayana written, animated, produced and directed by artist Nina Paley and featuring tracks by Annette Hanshaw.

Submitted by Kristina @ MPL Central

January 21, 2012

The Arctic Marauder by Jacques Tardi


The Arctic Marauder is a must-read graphic novel for any fan of the steampunk aesthetic; some critics have called it "icepunk." Only recently translated into English, The Arctic Marauder was originally published in French in 1974, and features beautiful woodcut-style monochrome art which sometimes eclipses the story being told.

The story takes Jerome Plumier from an ill-fated Arctic exploration back to France and out into the ice again in search of the marauder. It offers a satirical take on classic radio serials, including a narrator's voice commenting on the action. The dramatic conclusion definitely won't be what you're expecting!

Submitted by Mary Lou @ Washington Park

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January 19, 2012

Fairy Tales for Angry Little Girls by Lela Lee


Kim aka the Angry Little Asian Girl was Lela Lee's first Angry Little Girl, whose idea was conceived while Lee was in college. The character starred in a video short which was developed into a DVD with five Angry Episodes. The video was met with such acclaim, Lee was asked to put Kim on t-shirts, which quickly sold. When marketing the Angry Little Asian Girl, Lee needing to branch out to include more diverse characters in order to be profitable. Hence, Angry Little Girls were created and many of these characters can be found in her book, Fairy Tales for Angry Little Girls. Besides Kim, we are introduced to Deborah the disenchanted princess, Xyla the gloomy girl and Wanda who is super positive.

The book is presented in comic book form with primary colors and minimalistic detail to the drawings. The narrative is not extensive but the words are powerful and of course angry. The fairy tale retellings include "Snow Yellow and the Seven Short Men", "RapPunsWell" and "He's No Beauty in the Least." The heroine of each tale is not at all similar to her original counterpart. She questions, she doesn't sweetly comply and you wonder if they really do end up happily ever after.

Although it looks like a children's book on the outside, the inside is not meant for the young or easily offended. If you enjoy sarcasm, have a warped sense of humor or just want to read something concise but unconventional, check out Lena Lee's book Fairy Tales for Angry Little Girls. You can read more about the Angry Little Girls and browse through their comic strips on the website Angry Little Girls.

Submitted by Lori@Central

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December 29, 2011

Breathe Deeply by Doton Yamaaki

Watching someone you love struggle with a debilitating condition is a tragic and life changing experience. For young Sei and Oishi, losing their friend Yuko to heart failure alters the course of their lives. Years after Yuko's death both Sei and Oishi are scientists in search of a medical breakthrough. Now professional enemies instead of friends each pursue a cure to Yuko's condition from their own strongly held ethical beliefs. Should stem cells be used to create human organs that can be harvested? Should hearts be kept pumping with artificial polymers? Sei and Oishi may have the same goal but their approaches keep them at odds. When they discover Yuko's death may not be as it appeared their worlds are thrown into havoc once again.

Breathe Deeply is by the highly regarded manga husband-wife team Doton Yamaaki. This is their first work to be translated into English.

Submitted by Nobuta @ Milwaukee Public Library

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November 9, 2011

Habibi by Craig Thompson


Craig Thompson's graphic novel Habibi is a bittersweet, epic love story centering on Dodola, a child sold into marriage and then into slavery, and Zam an orphaned toddler. Their lives are forever entwined after Dodola escapes from the auction block and takes Zam with her. They end up on a deserted ship in the desert where they survive for nine years on food Dodola mysteriously scavenges from passing caravans. While procuring food one day, Dodola is captured and forced into a Sultan's harem. The story skips forward and backward in time and six years pass before the two are reunited each having had a myriad of life changing experiences along the way. Their story is infused with parallel stories from the Qur'an and the Bible rendered beautifully with lush illustrations and Arabic calligraphy. The 672 pages will fly by and the graphics will take your breath away.

Be sure to catch author and illustrator Craig Thompson at Boswell Books on Wednesday, November 16th at 7:00 p.m.

Submitted by Maria @ Central

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October 22, 2011

Wandering Son by Shimura Takako


Nitori and Takatsuki are fifth grade classmates who share a secret. Nitori is a boy who wants to be a girl and Takatsuki is a girl who wants to be a boy. Shy and reserved Nitori hides his desire to wear his sister's dresses from his friends and family while outgoing Takatsuki catches a train to a far away town wearing her brother's old school uniform. As the school year progresses Nitori and Takatsuki discover each other's secret and support one another as they try to express their true selves. In this first volume of Wandering Son we see Nitori and Takatsuki at the start of their journey; their friends and family, while loving and kind, are largely unaware of what they are going through. Slowly, Nitori and Takatsuki take small yet momentous steps; Takatsuki cuts her hair in a boy's style and Nitori portrays a girl in a school production. There's no doubt Nitori and Takatsuki's journey to express their true identities will only become more difficult, but in these moments of late childhood we see the two secure in the knowledge that at least they are not alone as they move forward.

Submitted by Nobuta @ Milwaukee Public Library

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About Graphic Novel

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to READ @ MPL in the Graphic Novel category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Fiction is the previous category.

Non-Fiction is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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