Allā€™s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson

I loved Jamiesonā€™s previous comic, Roller Girl, and was excited to read this one. Jamieson is great at portraying young girls and the Renaissance Faire setting was such fun! Imogeneā€™s entering middle school after years of homeschooling, and her adjustment, the peer pressure was very realistic. I loved her relationship with her family and it was just such a great read!

Advertisements

Comics good, comics bad

Angel Catbird

Perhaps I had too high expectations of this series. I mean, it’s written by Margaret Atwood after all. Yes that very Margaret Atwood, writer of The Handmaid’s Tale. And she has written a comic series about a man who can morph into a catbird. There are other half-human creatures around like half-rats and half-cats and half-ravens and even a bat-cat-man. That’s fine, that’s all good and fine, because hey, it’s a comic and anything can happen.

But there are so many issues with this comic I don’t know where to begin.

Perhaps with the very obvious villain (a rat-man of course) you can see coming a mile away, or rather, from that very first page that he appears.

Perhaps with the way so little seems to happen on each page.

Perhaps with all those very many cat puns.

Perhaps with the idea of this being Margaret Atwood, who as a kid probably read some comics and thought, eh I could do this. And then goes and writes this extremely simplistic and cheesy comic because, of course people who read comics can only understand black and white. I mean complex and subtle is meant only for readers of actual books, not comics. Pffft.

Perhaps with Dark Horse, who published these books and, I imagined, cowered at the thought of telling Margaret Atwood, THE Atwood, that her comics could be improved upon.

Perhaps the fact that with some hope of an improvement in Volume Two, I actually read Volume Two and groaned audibly when two female characters immediately start fighting over the man. Blech. (Making me think once again that her image of comic book readers equals young teenaged boys).

Ok I don’t want to think about this series anymore. I’m done!

 

And on to the Comics Good section of this post.


Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year One, Vol. 1 (Injustice: Gods Among Us #1)


by Tom Taylor (Goodreads Author) (Writer), Jheremy Raapack (Artist), Mike S. Miller (Artist), Tom Derenick (Artist), David Yardin (Artist)

I read a comic BASED ON A VIDEO GAME you guys!!

And it was AWESOME.

I hate the cover but I picked it up partly because I thought the husband might want to read it. He’s a fan of Batman and Superman and this promised both of them in one comic. Then I saw the ‘Based on the hit video game’ blurb at the bottom, shuddered, but still threw it in my bag to bring home.

Why I actually read it myself, I am not entirely sure. Curiosity I guess. I have read a few Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman comics. I am not a fan of DC Comics and tend towards comics like Ms Marvel, Saga, Captain Marvel and my latest love, Spider Woman, with more prominent, less stereotyped female characters.

But I found myself intrigued by this very dark Superman, a Wonder Woman who’s pretty much egging him on, and a Batman who is like the voice of reason (!).

Also it was kinda funny.

Recent comics: Beauty; Nijigahara Holograph; Black Science; Low; Nextwave


beauty


Beauty – KerascoĆ«t (Illustrations), Hubert
A different kind of fairy tale. Poor Coddie spends her time scaling fish and stinks of fish and is teased for being ugly. So when she rescues a faerie, she asks for beauty and beauty she gets. Not that her looks are changed, instead the way she is perceived has been altered. And Coddie becomes Beauty, the kind that is magnetic and attractive and enchanting, the kind that men would die for. Her beauty is a kind of destructive force. And it doesn’t help that she is self-centered and naive (she has spent most of her life working in a kitchen in a small village), and thus easily led astray by Mab, the faerie. I wish that we could have learnt more about Mab and why she behaves the way she does – there are hints here and there but I think it could have added more depth if we had more background on Mab. In terms of illustrations, I love the use of colour.


Nijigahara Holograph – Inio Asano
Creepy children. I am not good with movies and books and things to do with creepy children – and this was even before I had children. This manga is set in a small town in Japan and flits between childhood and young adulthood. All kinds of weird things happen, which the children attribute to a creature living in a dark tunnel. It is really quite confusing a story, the reader is expected to fill in a lot of blanks on their own. But it reminds me of the potential for violence in all of us, and especially in young children. It is also beautifully drawn. I like the use of black, white and grey.


Shenzhen: A travelogue from China – Guy Delisle
I had to give up on this one. I didn’t really like how Delisle strung random Chinese characters together and pretended it was actual Chinese spoken. I kept wondering, if he was indeed in China and knew people who understoodĀ Chinese couldn’t he have gotten someone to write up some actual Chinese dialogue that made sense (or even better, had an inside joke for those who could read Chinese?). Or did he just assume that his book about China would not be read by Chinese people? As I said on Instagram, this is as insulting as if he had written ‘ching chong ling long’.

blackscience

 

low1

 

 


Black Science Vol 1: how to fall forever – Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera (Artist), Dean White (Colorist)
Low Vol 1: The Delirium of Hope Ā – Rick Remender, Greg Tocchini (Illustrator)

I’m lumping these two together as there are similarities, besides the fact that both are by Remender. Both are SF-ish. Black Science has device that lets a group travel across dimensions. However, someone has sabotaged itĀ and they can’t control where they are going. Oh andĀ the guy who invents it has two kids and they get pulled into the different dimensions too.

LowĀ (pictured above) is set underwater, deep underwater as the sun’s expansion has made the earth uninhabitable. But guess what, people are running out of air down there. Main character is this woman who searches for life-supporting planets using robotic probes.Her children have been taken from her, her husband dead. She’s struggling to keep going. While I like that there is a strong female lead, why must she always be scantily clad (and at some points, naked)?

I am curious to see how both series continue but the library only has the first volumes of both at the moment, so will have to wait and see how that pans out!

 

nextwave

 

Nextwave, Agents of H.A.T.E., Vol. 1: This is What They Want (Nextwave, Agents of H.A.T.E. #1) –Ā Warren Ellis, Stuart Immonen
And now for something completely random, just because it was available on Scribd for free (i.e it doesn’t cost a credit).

Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

The Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort, or HATE put Nextwave together to fight Bizarre Weapons of Mass Destruction. When Nextwave discovers that HATE and Beyond are terrorist cells themselves, and that the BWMDs were intended to kill them, they are less than pleased.

Now I don’t typically read Marvel comics (unless it’s stuff like Ms Marvel or Captain Marvel), so some of these characters were a bit lost on me. Apparently they are lesser known characters of the Marvel comics universe likeĀ Photon, Boom Boom, Machine Man. But this volume was a ball of fun. It was the kind of comic that you can imagine its creators had so much fun writing. I mean, just read these panels:

nextwavecap

 

So. Much. Fun.

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

Readathon – books read

april2016readathon

As usual I was over-ambitious when it came to making my TBR stack for the Readathon. After all, that’s what readathons are about right? Making TBR lists? šŸ˜›

That’s only part of it! If you’ve never readathon-ed before, you’re missing out! There’s great company – book bloggers, bookstagrammers, twitter-ers – wherever you turn. And it’s nice to know that somewhere out there, somewhere across the country, across the world, someone is reading at the same time as you! This April readathon though, I didn’t manage to do as much as I was hoping. My kids’ birthday party was on the same day, so with a party there’s prep before, cleanup after, and so much noise and things during. It was a wonderful party! So that meant I tried to do as much reading as I could before (I woke up at 430 for a 5am start time), and some after. But after the party was cleanup and opening presents and trying to get my younger boy to nap.

I didn’t get to do much online as I wanted to. Last year I cheered officially on Instagram, and it was fun getting to know lots of new-to-me Instagrammers (my social media of choice these days). I didn’t get to do much of that this year, but did manage to say hi to those I already know. I was a very casual readathoner this time, but that still worked out fine for me. I had fun! It was a long and tiring day for this introvert but hey, it was a good day!

So here’s what I did read!

I started off with an unplanned read, Andre the Giant by Box Brown, which I read on Scribd.

andrethegiant

Now, Scribd and I have had an up and down relationship of late. Last month (?) their new plan went into effect – no more unlimited reads, but just 3 books and 1 audiobook credit a month. And I went into retreat mode and didn’t use Scribd much, trying to figure out what is worth a credit! That’s silly though. It accumulates but only up to 9 a month or so? I can never figure it out, but I have been trying to use it more often now. At least until August when my yearly subscription expires.

But back to Andre the Giant. All I knew about him was his appearance on Princess Bride, the movie, as Fezzik. Please tell me that you’ve seen The Princess Bride movie! Otherwise, stop reading this and go watch it already!!!!

AndreĢ-the-giant-princess-bride.jpg

And that was pretty much all I knew about Andre the Giant. I hadn’t a clue that he had been a professional wrestler before that, and this was in the days before WWF or WWE or whatever they are calling that nowadays (you can tell that I am not a fan). So for this not-fan of wrestling, it was a surprisingly good read! Brown made wrestling and its gimmicks (or not) easy for non-fans to understand, and revealed quite a few things I would never have known about wrestling and wrestlers. And of course about Andre the Giant. Who was French! And who suffered so much, both emotionally and physically, from his condition. Alcohol helped a lot, as did his generous and relatively good nature. So whether you’re a fan of wrestling or not, whether you’ve seen the Princess Bride (and why haven’t you??), this comic makes for a great read. It’s got a lot of heart.

 Rat Queens Vol 2 : The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth 


Don’t you love it when a series just gets better? The second volume is better than the first! It really is! Maybe it’s because the writers bring in a lot more backstory. Like Violet’s story with her family. More about Dee. And even a bit about Hannah. But can I say, I really wanted more about Betty too!

img_3670

Resistance #1 – Carla Jablonski, Leland Purvis

I feel too old for this book.

And as a parent of two young boys, I wondered, would this be something I would want them to read when they’re older? It may be a good introduction to WWII and the French resistance but I felt that the story was a bit too simplistic and a bit predictable.

img_3704

The Cosmopolites: the coming of the global citizen – Atossa Araxia Abrahamian

A fascinating and quite short (128 pages) work of non-fiction. Largely about the sales of citizenship of impoverished nations like the Comoro Islands (huh, where? Exactly). It makes you think about the concept of ‘citizenship’ or nations and countries. And the bizarre notion that there are millions of people in the world (the UNHCR estimates it at 10 million) who are stateless. This could be because of shifting borders, unfair citizenship laws (in some states, women cannot transfer nationality to their children), war, discrimination and so on. A fascinating read.

 

 

More #weirdathon comics like Faith and Starve!

 

image

 

Friends with boys – Faith Erin Hicks (via Scribd)

A sweet story about a girl who’s starting high school after years of homeschooling. She is terrified and lonely, and she doesn’t really have any friends other than her three older brothers. It’s a charming story about growing up, figuring out who you are. But weird also because there is a ghost following her around, something to do with an artefact at a local museum.

Faith Vol 1 (via Netgalley)

image

*I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

She’s a superhero! She flies! She was one of the original members of the Harbinger team. She’s also sweet and funny and loves comic books! Faith (her superhero name is Zephyr) is now on her own, living in LA and working a regular office job as a content writer for a Buzzfeed-like site. The best thing about this plus-sized superheroine is that it’s not about her being big-sized, she doesn’t agonize about the way she looks. She’s just Faith. And that is awesome.

Fiction Squad –Ā Paul Jenkins and Ramon Bachs

image

I guess it’s kind of like Jasper Fforde’s Nursery Crimes series but in comic book form. This one draws from so many childhood stories – from Alice in Wonderland, Snow White, Humpty Dumpty, Oz and more. The detective isĀ Frankie Mack, apparently from an unfinished novella. Fun to see all these storybook characters collide.

Renee – LudovicĀ Debeurme (via Netgalley)
image

*I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Renee is the sequel to Lucille, a painful coming of age graphic novel about a girl with anorexia. This one is now more of Renee’s story and it is more uncomfortable and surreal than the first. Lucille has now moved back home with her mother and her boyfriend Arthur is in prison. Renee is a student who has an affair with a married jazz musician. It isn’t clear until much later how their worlds collide but it is a twisted merging of their stories. There is a bit of a nightmarish quality to this tale, one told in simple line drawings, panel-less, border-less.

 

Starve Vol 1 –Ā Ā Brian Wood,Ā Danijel ŽeželjĀ (Illustrations) (via Netgalley)

image

*I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

So Gavin Cruikshank used to be a world famous chef but he went into self-imposed exile in Asia and in those years he was away, his cooking show exploded into Starve, a cooking competition, arena and all. But Chef Gavin is back in the game and back on the show.

I wasn’t a big fan of the illustration style, as the whole look was a bit too jaundiced for me. But the story turned out to be a bit more interesting than I expected, with not just the cooking show at stake, but also his relationship with his family, that is, his daughter and his pained ex-wife. But sigh it is an evil bitch of an angry ex-wife kind of story. That part was a bit much.

lanterncity

Lantern City –Ā Ā Paul Jenkins,Ā Matthew Daley,Ā Carlos MagnoĀ (Illustrator) (via Scribd)

image

image

I love the look of this comic. An underground world where the lower class live, the elite live in soaring skyscrapers above. Sander Jorve’s brother-in-law Kendal, an activist, persuades Sander to infiltrate the Guard, who always wear these funky masks, and he is whisked into a different world, hoping to make a difference for his family. The steampunk world, especially its buildings, is fantastic. The story was ok enough. I wanted to know more about the wife of the guard captain whose identity he assumes, but they don’t really say too much about her.

gwaii

The Gwaii –Ā Sean Patrick Oā€™Reilly, Grant Chastain (Editor), Pedro Delgado (Illustrator)

A charming story with sasquatches! Tanu, the young sasquatch in orange, is lost in the Canadian wilderness but with the help of his best friend (some kind of cat), he searches for his mother who has been taken by horrible humans. Meant for a younger audience, but may be a bit scary for younger kids (like my under-5s), as there are guns and talk about killing the mother.

musicalmonsters

Jim Henson’s The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow – Jim Henson, Jerry Juhl, Roger Langridge (via Scribd)

Apparently this was drawn from a forgotten script that Henson had written a long time ago, and he had even made puppets for it! It was so cute but a little bit forgettable. And sadly, music doesn’t translate well into pictures. IĀ kinda felt this need for an actual soundtrack.

memetic

Memetic – James Tynion IV and Eryk Donovan (via Scribd)

Perhaps my favourite of the recent Scribd reads. Also here I should mention that Scribd’s new policy has taken effect and subscribers are restricted to just 3 ebook ‘credits’ a month. Some comics and books are still ‘free’ to read though, so I am still on the fence with this new Scribd. So much for being the Netflix of books! If Netflix said I could only watch 3 shows a month, I would so cancel it!

Anyway, back to Memetic. It is a social media comic! Sort of! That adorable sloth picture on the cover? It is spreading across the planet, via Facebook, Twitter, whatever you use. But there’s something rather weird about this memeĀ – something evil, something destructive. It seriously was such a fun and a bit terrifying a read! Terrifying because, could this really happen one day??

MONTH-LONGREADATHON copy

(See more #weirdathon stuff at Outlandish Lit)

#weirdathon #comics – The Last Broadcast

lastbroadcast

 

I think it’s interesting how some comics get talked about (at least by those I follow on social media) and some others, equally deserving, don’t. Like this one by writer Andre Sirangelo and artist Gabriel Iumazark, who are from Brazil. I had never heard of this one before, and only found it while I was browsing through Scribd’s comics collection.

And was immediately drawn in by its moody illustrations.

lastbroadcast1

It is set in San Francisco, and is a bit dark and magical. As in, it has to do with a magician, a 1930s stage magician who was apparently killed on stage during his Russian Roulette gun trick.And there are some people looking for his secrets, convinced that he didn’t die on stage, that there is something in the strange underground bunkers.

It’s all rather curious and well, I hate to use the word but it does describe this book best, ‘edgy’. The switching back and forth timeline confuses me at times but in the end it was a fun read, full of codes, even one hidden within the comic itself, by its creators.

 

fishtown

Fishtown – Kevin Colden
Ugh did not like this one. Apparently inspired (?) by a true tale of teenagers killing another teen to get money to buy drugs and random things. I didn’t really see the point in it. It was really just off-putting – maybe it was that none of these kids were likable, that I didn’t feel anything for them, maybe more of a back story was needed? I’m not sure. How is this weird? Well, teens murdering another teen for kicks, for one thing, but also weird because I didn’t really see the point in this story. Also, it was a really ugly yellow throughout. It was a let down.

hacktivist

Hacktivist – Alyssa Milano, Jackson Lanzing, Colin Kelly
Yeah that Alyssa Milano, who according to her statement at the back, was inspired by Jack Dorsey of Twitter, imagining him going home and fighting for what’s right (eh, really?). Anyway just to clarify, she came up with the idea (she’s credited as a ‘creator’) and there are actual writers writing this thing, so I do wonder what exactly she ‘created’. It’s an interesting idea, these Silicon Valley bigwigs who founded a Facebook-like empire, who also are hacktivists, using their knowledge and techie stuff to help spark revolutions in Tunisia. The only thing is that I wasn’t sure if that was something billionaire CEOs and CIOs would want to do. And also why were they so good-looking? Maybe Alyssa said so.

 

 

butterflyButterfly – Arash Amel, Marguerite Bennett, Antonio Fuso

What do you know? Someone else involved in Hollywood. It doesn’t say anything about him in the Goodreads page but Arash Amel is a screenwriter, responsible for Grace of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman. I hadn’t a clue who he was, nor have I seen the movie, but I was attracted to that cover art. A butterfly made up of a lot of guns. It made me think of that Smashing Pumpkins song Bullet with Butterfly Wings. Anyway, the comic turned out quite ok, one of those deep undercover agents who gets set up for a murder and somehow lands up finding her father, who disappeared years ago. But it didn’t have anything in particular that stood out, other than that image of a young girl being trained to shoot and that cover art.

thomasalsop
Thomas Alsop Vol 1 – Chris Miskiewicz, Palle Schmidt

Yet another comic I had heard nothing of before spotting it on Scribd. But it was a haunting (but not in the creepy look-over-your-shoulders, don’t-read-it-at-night way, see Wytches for more on that) read, one that has its heart, New York. For the story is about “the Hand of the Island”, a role of sorts, passed down through the Alsop family through generations, the task is to protect Manhattan from evil. Somehow he senses these things and there is a bit of magic involved. But he’s not your typical do-good-er, when he first meet him he’s naked save for a guitar and his tattoos. He does quite look like the slacker. 

  
It is a bit of a love song to New York I reckon. 

wytches1
Wytches Vol 1 – Scott Snyder ; art, Jock ; colors, Matt Hollingsworth ; letters, Clem Robins ; editor, David Brothers

GAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

I really didn’t want to have to write about this one, because it was SCARY!!!! Man, this book needs to come with a READ THIS IN DAYLIGHT sticker. At first I thought, oh a comic about witches, should be interesting. But man I did not realize how creepy this book would be. There are curses and pledges, and things that grow out of trees and underground, and a family caught up in all of this sh*t. It is a prime example of things weird and grotesque and freakish. If there is going to be a movie made out of this (and you know there will be), I am going to stay the hell away from it.

 

MONTH-LONGREADATHON copy

Comics for young readers

 

comicsfeb

My four-year-old and I read our first real comic together the other day in celebration of Comics February!. He can’t quite read on his own yet but we have beenĀ working hard on sight words and I’ve noticed that every day since our first comic he has been going back to the book, picking it up and looking at the book on his own. I of course was just thrilled.


But wait, you might thought-bubble, aren’t picture books already like comics? Yes a little, but comics for young kids often have severalĀ panels on one page that depict the action of the story, whereas most picture books often have just one big picture per page. There are some picture book exceptions, which are styled more like comics. For instance, TheĀ Gingerbread ManĀ seriesĀ byĀ Laura Murray, illustrated byĀ Mike Lowery.

gingerbread

And Extraordinary WarrenĀ by Sarah Dillard

warren

 

The next step up from picture books areĀ beginning and emerging reader books, which have simple text and pictures but somehow these books aren’t as exciting and innovative as some picture books can be (and picture books these days are so wonderfully imaginative!). We are not venturing into chapter books yet, although I sometimes read aloud from kid classics like Roald Dahl’s works.

My aim in all this is to continue to nurture my two boys’ love for reading. They may only be two and four at the moment but there’s always a nagging feeling at the back of my mind, that one day they may only care for iPad games, sports and TV, and never open a book other than those for school.

All kinds of studies tell us what we already know.

  • Boys are slower to learn to read than girls.
  • Boys are less likely to read for pleasure than girls.
  • Girls do better than boys in reading tests*

So in the hope that they will continue to love reading, whether it’s picture books, chapter books or comic books, I’ve been looking up some comics suitable for younger readers.

zita

The one that weĀ read together was Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke. It may be aimed at those aged 7 and up, but my four-year-old (five next month!) enjoyed it. He did say that some parts were a bit scary, but seeing how he lookedĀ at the comic several times on his own, he must have liked it. There are two other books in the Zita series so far.

benjaminbear

littlemouse

Toon Books has a great-looking collection of easy comics for young readers. The comics are marked from Level 1 (Grades K-1), Level 2 (Grades 1-2), Level 3 (Grades 2-3), then Toon Graphics (Grades 3+). And some big names have written these books, like Jeff Smith (Bone), Art Spiegelman (Maus,Ā also he and his wife areĀ the ones responsible for the existence of Toon Books) and Renee French (Micrographica).

owly

 

 

The Owly books by Andy Runton would make my two-year-old’s eyes grow as big as, well, an owl. He LOVES owls, and there are so many owl picture books that he adores. This seriesĀ is perfect for his age group as well because it’s a largely wordless graphic novel.

 

1lunchlady

lunchlady

The Lunch LadyĀ series byĀ Jarrett J. Krosoczka looks like a delightful comic book series for elementary kids. I may pick one up to give it a try but I don’t think he’s quite ready for that yet.

I wish I had thought about looking up comics for preschoolers (or kindergarteners) sooner asĀ  Finnian and I could do mini reviews of these books together for Comics February!Ā But maybe we will still do that when we get our hands on these books. Now off to the library to put some holds on comics for kids!

Do you know of any great comics for emerging readers and kindergarteners?

 

*Sources include:

Why Women Read More than Men: NPR
Boys’ Reading Commission – National Literacy Trust; UK
Boys and reading – Services to Schools; New Zealand
Some fantastic ideas and more comic books, especially for those seven and up, can be found at The Graphic Classroom