graphic novel

Book cover

The He-Man Effect: How American Toymakers Sold You Your Childhood

By Brian "Box" Brown
Star Rating

Rated by Chris K.
Oct 26, 2023

He-Man was my high school swim team's mascot. Not officially, and not in any way that really concerned me. I don't even know the story; I just know that some of the guys a year or two older than me had a little He-Man figure they took to all of our meets to joke around with. It was entirely ironic, meant to be silly. But He-Man was always there.

Which doesn't really have anything to do with the book, except to say the heart of this book is about the children's toys and TV of the 1980s (He-Man, G.I. Joe, and the Transformers, in particular), which is me. I graduated high school in '89, watched

Power Born of Dreams

Power Born of Dreams My Story Is Palestine

By Mohammad Sabaaneh
Star Rating

Rated by Matt I.
Oct 12, 2023

How can something so beautiful be so heart-breaking?

I ask myself that each time I pick up Power Born of Dreams. Three times now I have read this book, admiring the stark beauty emanating from the pages of this work of art that Mohammad Sabaahneh has created. I learned the art of linocut when I was in school, but Mohammad has elevated the simple act of slicing shapes out of linoleum he cut into the history of his time as a political prisoner and the stories of Palestinians, living their lives under a brutal occupation, fenced in with electronic eyes watching them every day and night. These are

Book Cover

Land of the Dead: Lessons From the Underworld on Storytelling and Living

By Brian McDonald
Star Rating

Rated by Chris K.
Mar 20, 2023

I was, I think, 18 years old when I saw the movie Flatliners; just the right age for it to make a vivid impression on me even though it has never been thought of as a particularly good film. The characters are medical students who agree to take turns temporarily dying ("flatlining") before being revived by the others. They hope to experience a moment of the afterlife to gain insight and wisdom. They wanted, in the parlance of this book, to learn from a visit to the land of the dead.

McDonald writes that we don't have to actually die to gain that wisdom, though, as stories of visits to the land

Flight Vol. 6

By Edited by Kazu Kibuishi

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jul 17, 2019

The sixth anthology of short graphic novels, Flight Vol. 6 was a beautiful read. I found out about the series from a coworker who is well-versed in the graphic novel genre. Since all the books are anthologies, I did not feel the need to read the series in order. Furthermore, the sixth book was the only one available at my location, so it made my choice easy! For someone that has trouble reading graphic novels, this collection of short stories was perfect. The art styles varied greatly between selections, which made for an engaging read. Some of the stories were wordless, focusing on detailed

A Year of Reading Harder: Chapter One

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
May 15, 2019

Every January, new reading challenges float around the bookish realm of the internet. No matter what your reading time is like or what you want to achieve in a year of reading, there's probably a reading challenge out there for you. For the past few years, I've been interested in the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, which encourages readers to "break out of your reading bubble and expand your worldview through books. With new genres, new authors, and new points of view, the challenge will (hopefully) help you discover amazing books you wouldn’t have otherwise picked up." Some of the tasks in

The Best We Could Do: an Illustrated Memoir

By Thi Bui
Star Rating

Rated by Cheryl M.
Jun 24, 2018

In her immigrant's memoir told in graphic novel form, Thi Bui explores the saga of her family's escape from Vietnam in the 1970's to the United States.

Her debut opens with the birth of her first child in 2005. Will she be a good mother? How is she different from her mother? What was her mother's experience? How was her mother shaped after losing family, her country? How did her father's childhood shape his fathering abilities? And how has her own experience as a refugee, coming to a country she had to assimilate into that she was culturally so different from, as well as being confronted with

Meet the Author: Scott Novosel

By Scott Novosel
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
Aug 2, 2016

March 5th, 1995 marks an important date for Scott Novosel. As a college senior, he achieved his life-long dream and played his first game as a walk-on for the Kansas Jayhawks. In a article, Novosel “says he has been trying to turn his life into an inspirational story for kids since that day . . .”

And once again, Novosel succeeds! His graphic novel Fieldhouse is a charmer, but I disagree that it’s just for kids. It’s great for all ages and about so much more than basketball.

Novosel turned to Kickstarter to publish his book which allowed him to produce a quality product with full

Out on the wire

By Jessica Abel
Star Rating

Rated by Chris K.
Mar 23, 2016

Writers of fiction generally look to other writers of fiction for advice and inspiration. Memoirists to other memoirists. Poets to poets. It just makes sense, that to learn your craft better you seek someone who has mastered it.

But there are times when mastery advice transfers. When it's not so much about form as the basic ability to convey ideas and relate feelings, regardless the style or medium. On a certain level, all of it is about becoming a master storyteller.

I tell stories. That's what I do for a living. I'm betting you do, too. . . . We are all storytellers.

So what do these

Avengers Arena: Kill or Die

By Dennis Hopeless

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Dec 30, 2014

Sixteen teenagers are brought to an arena to fight to the death...sound familiar?  Well, you haven't seen it like this before.  In Avengers Arena: Kill or Die, local author Dennis Hopeless puts a superhero spin on this twenty-first century trope, pitting a group of young superheroes-in-training against one another.  The puppet master in Kill or Die is a supervillain named Arcade, who apparently favors overly elaborate ways to kill his victims, but has perfected an environment designed to coerce these teens into killing one another.  Despite valiant attempts at alliance and nobility, Arcade's

Jan 2, 2013

Do you love comic books? Do your kids like to read “Graphic Novels”?  This guide will help with understanding what different kinds of comic books there are for all readers. The first chapter explains how to use the book. The chapters are divided into Grade levels; pre-k to 1, Grade 2-3, Grade 4-5 and Grade 6-8. Then each chapter explains what the comic is about and what is educational about it. There is an example of each comic and “what to read next…”

This is a book that is simple to use and gives great ideas of what to read when you thought your child had read everything.  The good news is

Sep 24, 2012

DC Comics made a controversial move last year by ending all of their comics, rebooting the popular (but increasingly crowded and convoluted) DC universe, and starting their titles over at #1. Although their sales have been good, many long-time fans—including me—complained and chastised DC for doing this. I stopped buying comics and declared I wasn't at all interested in DC's "New 52." DC has started releasing collections of its rebooted titles, and because I really can't fight my curiosity, I've begun reading the collections to see how my favorite heroes are being handled. I just can't quit

Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jul 3, 2012

Light Yagami is a bright young man, so when he finds the notebook of a death god that will kill anyone whose name is written in it, he’s understandably skeptical.  It doesn’t take much experimentation to find out that it does exactly what it claims, and it takes even less time for Light to decide that he’s going to clean up the world by killing all the criminals. 

Mass murder, even by untraceable means, will eventually result in public notice.  The eccentric L, the world’s best detective, is hired on for the case.  The elaborate games of cat and mouse between Light and L are astounding in

Indian Country (Scalped, 1) by Jason Aaron

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
May 24, 2012

Indian Country, a graphic novel, is written and drawn in the hard boiled tradition.  Everything is dark.  Relationships are difficult. Violence is an everyday occurrence. Dashiell Bad Horse has returned to the reservation after being away for years.  He is hired by the local Indian reservation police but he is actually undercover for the FBI. There are competing interests at stake, which Bad Horse must balance.  Bad Horse has history with many of the people.  No one is happy. This is a successful series and the story line moves and shifts in the Indian culture vs. a dominant culture.  I

The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
May 11, 2012

The Tale of One Bad Rat is a very special story. In this graphic novel, Bryan Talbot tackles the serious subject of child sexual abuse and its after-effects. “Once upon a time, there was a very bad rat …” thus begins the story of Helen Potter, an abused English teenager, who runs away from home with her beloved pet rat and finds herself begging on the streets of London. Helen, an artist herself, has always found solace in the books of (Helen) Beatrix Potter and found similarities between her life and the life of her favorite author. Beatrix Potter’s courage and success provide a very powerful

Black Butler by Yana Toboso

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Sep 23, 2011

Kuroshitsuji, or Black Butler, is a manga composed of one part serious historical fiction, one part supernatural horror, one part fanservice, and five parts uncut crack.

Twelve-year-old Ciel Phantomhive is the last of his line and the Earl of Phantomhive, following the death of his parents in the fire that claimed the family mansion. He lives alone but for his servants: one who doesn't do much of anything, three who fail at everything they attempt, and the titular butler, Sebastian. In his own words, Sebastian is "one devil of a butler."

Literally.  Sebastian is a demon, contracted to Ciel

May 21, 2011

Steven King and I agree that Scott Snyder has written a wonderful, fresh take on vampires.  Steve liked it so much that he asked – yes, asked! – if he could contribute.  Together, Snyder and King, along with illustrator Rafael Albuquerque, have written a vampire series that is bloody and scary and beautifully depicted.  It’s got fangs and claws and only a vary little bit of kissing.  It also has flappers and cowboys.  Awesome, huh?

The parallel story lines tell of a new breed of American Vampires, hearty and defiant.  Skinner Sweet, the first of these vampires, is a Wild West outlaw.  His

Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Mar 9, 2011

Naruto is a long-running series with all the power of hype that that entails.  It begins as the story of a clumsy, none-too-bright boy who wants to become the greatest ninja ever.  This is, as one might expect, not terribly easy.

I was more than a little leery of venturing into such a well-publicized manga.  I've been burned before by popular works that have all the texture and depth of fast food, but I figured I'd give it a try.  Fortunately, it is a long running series, so the initial toilet humor was easy to breeze past until the plot and characterization started kicking in.  Even then, I

Special Exits: A Graphic Memoir by Joyce Farmer

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Mar 4, 2011

Cartoonist Joyce Farmer has created a graphic masterpiece entitled Special Exits: A Graphic Memoir which chronicles the decline and death of her elderly parents. Living in southern Los Angeles, Lars and Rachel have enjoyed a long, happy life together but old age is starting to affect their ability to cope with everyday occurrences. Their daughter Laura (presumably Joyce) starts helping them with grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry, hygiene and doctor visits but as their health deteriorates, she finds it difficult to manage her own life plus care for them. Rachel eventually goes blind

MadMan by Michael Allred

Rated by Brian O.
Sep 23, 2010

Frank Einstein is the costumed character, Madman. He was brought back to life by mad-scientists and now has trouble remembering who he is and struggles deciphering fantasy from reality. By the first few panels we’re introduced to his existential crisis quickly followed by an attempt on his life by some thugs. Over the course of the book Madman will encounter love, more thugs, mad scientists, a beheading, a psychedelic alien and the circus.

Pulling inspiration from Pop Art, pulp fiction and Surrealism husband-and-wife team writer/designer/artist Mike and colorist Laura Allred create the world

Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Aug 16, 2010

 The first volume of the series serves as an introduction to the character, world, difficulties, and companions of Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist. Orphaned at a young age, the eleven-year-old prodigy and his younger brother, Alphonse, attempt forbidden human transmutation in an effort to resurrect their mother. They learn the hard way why it's forbidden, when Al's body vanishes along with Ed's left leg, shortly followed by his right arm—the price to keep his brother's soul and bind it to a suit of armor. The series opens four or so years later, after Ed's debased himself by joining the

Hellsing by Kohta Hirano

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jul 16, 2010

 I read the first eight volumes of this some time back—between one and four years ago—and the other day I noticed that volumes nine and ten were available, picked them up, and concluded the series.

I suppose I have a love-hate relationship with Hellsing, and for two very obvious reasons.

On the side of love are Sir Integra Wingate Hellsing, the titular heroine of the series, a no-nonsense, hard-as-nails woman whom singlehandedly runs an organization devoted to keeping England free of freaks and monsters, and her primary servant, Alucard. That's "Dracula" backward for a reason. Alucard is a

Jun 25, 2010

The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and other storiesIgnatz Award winning The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and other stories is a collection of webcomics and newspaper comic strips from the inventive creator, Nicholas Gurewitch.

Unlike most comic strips there is no recurring cast of characters, no consistent art style, subject or theme. From generic cartoony figures to detailed Edward Gorey-esque drawings the artist varies styles to fit the subject or purposefully mislead the reader by contrasting art style and joke. The Trial of Colonel Sweeto covers a variety of subjects and isn't afraid to be risque. A lot of the punch of the strips come from the

The Nobody by Jeff Lemire

Rated by Brian O.
May 23, 2010

The Nobody by Jeff Lemire In artist/writer Jeff Lemire's The Nobody the iconic Invisible Man, John Griffen escapes his lab and the city to hunker down and find his cure in a small town. Befriended by a teenager, Vickie, she tells the story of Griffen, while the rest of the towns folk become suspicious of the bandaged stranger.

As Griffen works on his cure, his past comes for a visit and the town will never be the same.

May 21, 2010

essential-dykes-to-watch-out-for.jpgI think of myself as a counterculture aficionado. But somehow I was oblivious to the existence of the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For until I read the masterful graphic memoir Fun Home and became interested in Bechdel’s other work. The strip originated in 1983, published in alternative newspapers across the country, but the characters didn’t start recurring until 1987. From then it evolved into “half op-ed column and half endless, serialized Victorian novel” as Bechdel describes it.

Unfortunately it is not actually endless. When I found out the strip went on hiatus in 2008 so Bechdel

Apr 20, 2010

A Family Tragicomic by Alison BechdelIt’s my turn to come out of the closet: I am a literature snob. I generally hide my inclination since I work at a public library where great works of literature often acquire dust while hundreds of people wait for trendier, lighter works. It’s a self-directed snobbishness—I appreciate that reading taste is subjective so I don’t judge others for what they like.

Part of my job is to become familiar with various genres I don’t normally read. Four years ago I set a goal to read a comic book, or what us snooty types call “graphic literature”. I just met my goal this month. Art history was one of