#comicsfebruary: Strong Female Protagonist, Captain Marvel

Strong Female Protagonist – Brennan Lee Mulligan, Molly Ostertag (Illustrations)

I wish I could remember where I first heard of Strong Female Protagonist. It turns out it was originally a webcomic that became a book because of a Kickstarter project. The webcomic is still updated twice a week! But I would suggest checking the book out first as it collects the first four chapters of the webcomic.

Anyway it is, as its title suggests, about a strong female. She is Mega Girl. Or rather she used to be. She used to be one of the most powerful superheroes. She’s still got her superpowers but she’s just trying to be a regular college student now. So essentially it’s a story about superhero trying to be a regular person again. It’s harder than it looks.

Strong Female Protagonist – despite the ugh title – is a pretty good read. It’s fun, funny at times, has a great central character as well as some side characters that make you rethink the ‘villain’ in things. It definitely presented a different view of superhero life than is typical in comics, but which also does have similarities with Ms Marvel and how Kamala tries to figure out her life.

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel, Vol. 1: Rise of Alpha Flight (Captain Marvel (2016-) #1-5) – Tara Butters, Michele Fazekas, Kris Anka (Illustrator), Tara Guggenheim, Felipe Smith (Illustrator)

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Captain Marvel, Volume 1: In Pursuit of Flight (Captain Marvel, Volume VII #1)- Kelly Sue DeConnick, Dexter Soy (Illustrations), Emma Ríos (Illustrations), Richard Elson (Illustrator), Karl Kesel (Illustrator), Al Barrionuevo (Illustrator)

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Captain Marvel Vol 2: Earth’s Mightiest Hero

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So this is the order in which I read these Captain Marvel volumes, written by different authors. If you’re a fan of Marvel’s Agent Carter, you may already be familiar with the names Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas as they’re the producers of that TV show. They’re new to comics but have written for a variety of TV shows including Dollhouse, Reaper and Agent Carter (so says Variety). Their version was fun, but it didn’t have the depth of the ones written by DeConnick.

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Anyway let’s rewind! Carol Danvers (Ms Marvel/Captain Marvel) has been around since 1968. She first appeared as a member of the US Air Force, then became Ms Marvel in 1977 – she was in an accident and fused with the powers of the alien Kree who was trying to save her. Somewhere down the line she became Captain Marvel and thankfully her swimsuit costume is now one with pants. And she’s got a more regular body shape than previous Carol Danvers, who well, just see below.

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Earlier last year, I read the Ms Marvel series written by Brian Reed which wasn’t great. I just couldn’t get over the huge bulging thighs. And now I can’t really remember the storyline….

So the best version of Captain Marvel is definitely by Kelly Sue DeConnick, the rockstar of comics! She’s also written Bitch Planet, Pretty Deadly and more.

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The two volumes of her Captain Marvel that I just had has such great writing and characters. It was funny and also full of heart. Also, this was the first time I’ve read any comics with Spider-Woman (Captain Marvel’s best friend apparently) and I kinda love her now!

#comicsfebruary – Captain Marvel, Buffy and more

 

Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Rise of Alpha Flight (Captain Marvel (2016-) #1-5) – Tara Butters, Michele Fazekas, Kris Anka (Illustrator), Tara Guggenheim, Felipe Smith (Illustrator)

I like the look of this Captain Marvel – the hair!! Although I have to say I am always confused by Captain Marvel and the different versions. There’s another one by Kelly Sue DeConnick? Anyway, this one has some Guardians of the Galaxy in it, and Alpha Flight, which is apparently a team of Canadian superheroes that had its own series in the 1980s to 1990s. There’s a sasquatch! The Captain Marvel storyline was kinda fun – they’re in a space station and at first it seems like a diplomatic position (i.e. desk job).

Buffy: The High School Years – Freaks & Geeks (Buffy: The High School Years #1) –Faith Erin Hicks, Yishan Li (Artist), Joss Whedon (Executive Producer)

Buffy: The High School Years – Glutton for Punishment (Buffy: The High School Years #2) – Kel Mcdonald, Yishan Li (Artist), Joss Whedon (Executive Producer)

I was so excited to see this! It was an interesting choice of illustration style, a little bit cutesy and I guess more manga-like? At times I thought, this does look like Sarah Michelle Geller and Alyson Hannigan (although she seems more demure and less quirky in the comic).

The storyline though was a bit lacking I thought. I preferred the first one, where Buffy was worried about losing her friends. In terms of other Buffy comics I’ve only read Season 8 but I think those were a lot better in terms of storyline. Of course the high school years were far more innocent and carefree (well as carefree as a slayer can be), so I can understand the different tone they’re going for here. And I’d still read more of this series.

Book three will be out in July.

And apparently it has been 20 years since Buffy first premiered on TV!!

Blue Bloods: The Graphic Novel (Blue Bloods: The Graphic Novel #1) – Melissa de la Cruz, Robert Venditti, Alina Urusov (Illustrator)

 

Well this was definitely a very pretty comic. I didn’t realize it when I picked it up but this is the graphic novelisation of a YA series about vampires in New York. Where of course everyone is very pretty, even the boys. And all the girls have long legs. Also, everyone is very white. It’s like Gossip Girl, with fangs.

Amazingly, the actual YA series has 7 (?) books.

But I don’t think I will read the books though. And as far as I can tell, this is the first and only comic version of the series.

The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984: A Graphic Memoir (L’Arabe du futur #1) – Riad Sattouf
This book is a graphic memoir of a young boy whose mum is French and dad is Syrian. His dad is a professor and they move from France to Libya and then to Syria for his work. And life in Libya and Syria as seen through the boy’s eyes is at once exciting and sad and terrifying. The kids in Syria were relentless bullies, even though they were related.

I wanted so much for the mum to do something about it all. To put her foot down and say no, we are not moving to Syria. Or no, we have to leave – for reasons perhaps including the not very ideal living conditions in Libya (where a house with no one at home means anyone can come and claim it for their own!), the fact that their child didn’t know any Arabic. His dad is one especially strange man.

Curiously, the second book in the series focuses just on 1984-1985. I will have to borrow it from the library to find out more!

 

Weekend Cooking: Comics for food nerds

Those of you who have been reading this blog may know that two of my loves are books and food. So I’m always thrilled to find books that have to do with food, whether fictional or not. And what is even better than foodie books? Foodie comics!

Now first I have to clarify. This list does not include manga as I had previously put up a list of awesome cooking manga. Check that out for more great foodie reads.

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Relish by Lucy Knisley

I am not a big Lucy Knisley fan although I have read most of her graphic novels (ironic perhaps). I love her cute drawing style and the colours she uses but she can get a bit too anxious and fret over minor things (case in point: An Age of License where she stresses out about a trip to  Europe). But I really quite liked Relish, and even bought a copy for my sister! The best parts in Relish where the illustrated recipes. Now if only all cookbooks were that way!

 

 

 

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Seconds – Bryan Lee O’Malley

You can’t get more foodie than this graphic novel with a chef as a main character and a restaurant setting. But this is Bryan Lee O’Malley so something strange happens, with some magical mushrooms no less. O’Malley’s manga-like art is always a fun read but this story has a slight melancholic tone to it.

 

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In the Kitchen with Alain Passard – Christophe Blain, Alain Passard (Recipes) (my thoughts)

For three years, Christophe Blain followed Alain Passard (he of three-Michelin-starred L’Arpège) (some real photos of L’Aperge in this New York Times article here). A graphic novel for any aspiring chef and foodie as it provides an insight into this great chef’s thought process, also a behind-the-scenes look into his kitchen and the restaurant’s gardens. L’Arpège is known for its vegetable tasting menus.
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The Initiates: A Comic Artist and a Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs – Etienne Davodeau (my thoughts)

The title is pretty self-explanatory! Davodeau, a comic artist, and respected winemaker Richard Leroy learn from each other. Even if you’re not much of an oenophile, this bande dessinée is  a fun read as we learn about tending to vineyards, making wine, and about comics.

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Over Easy – Mimi Pond
This graphic semi-memoir is set in a diner in California in the 1970s, so you know drugs are going to be involved. But it’s also a coming-of-age story of young art student Margaret who starts work at the diner when she’s denied financial aid. Kind of charming in that clueless-girl-becomes-savvy-waitress kind of way.
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Chew –  John Layman, Rob Guillory (Illustrator)
Now this is a bit of a gross one. Tony Chu is Cibopathic, which means he gets psychic readings from what he eats. So that means if he eats bacon, he ‘sees’ the whole process from pig to slaughter. And that also means at a crime scene, he might have to take a nibble at a corpse. Disgustingly lovely. Gross and weird, but fun.
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Get Jiro – Anthony Bourdain, Joel Rose, Langdon Foss (Illustrations)
I can’t say anything about this as I’ve yet to read it. But the synopsis sounds awesome:
In a not-too-distant future L.A. where master chefs rule the town like crime lords and people literally kill for a seat at the best restaurants, a bloody culinary war is raging.On one side, the Internationalists, who blend foods from all over the world into exotic delights. On the other, the “Vertical Farm,” who prepare nothing but organic, vegetarian, macrobiotic dishes. Into this maelstrom steps Jiro, a renegade and ruthless sushi chef, known to decapitate patrons who dare request a California Roll, or who stir wasabi into their soy sauce. Both sides want Jiro to join their factions. Jiro, however has bigger ideas, and in the end, no chef may be left alive!
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 Starve by Brian Wood, Danijel Žeželj (Illustrations)
Also another I have yet to read but it has a promisingly deranged cover.
Here’s the synopsis:

Once the world’s most famous chef, Gavin Cruikshank’s been in a self-imposed exile for years. His little foodie television program has since evolved into STARVE, an arena sport that pits chef against chef for the pleasure of their super-rich patrons. It’s a stain on a once-noble profession, and Chef Gavin is ready to go to war to stop it. Two things stand in his way: his arch rival Roman Algiers, and his adult daughter Angie, who probably just wants her dad back and acting normal.

 

Have I missed out your favourite foodie comic? Let me know!

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Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

Comics for young readers

 

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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 been 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 several 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, The Gingerbread Man series by Laura Murray, illustrated by Mike Lowery.

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And Extraordinary Warren by Sarah Dillard

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The next step up from picture books are 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.

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The one that we 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 looked at the comic several times on his own, he must have liked it. There are two other books in the Zita series so far.

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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, also he and his wife are the ones responsible for the existence of Toon Books) and Renee French (Micrographica).

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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 series is perfect for his age group as well because it’s a largely wordless graphic novel.

 

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The Lunch Lady series by 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 as  Finnian and I could do mini reviews of these books together for Comics February! 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

Comics February part 2

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 Bandette (volumes 1 and 2) -Paul Tobin, Colleen Coover, Brendan Wright (Editor) 

(Library book)

Presto! Zis book was so much fun! Bandette is the world’s greatest thief, but she is also a teenaged girl with a motley crew who help her in her capers and provide her with candy bars, an arch-nemesis named Absinthe and a friendly rivalry with fellow thief Monsieur, and she sometimes helps out the police. It is just adorable but shhh don’t tell Bandette I said that. Also I am extremely pleased by the way all the items stolen (art, historical documents, coins etc) are actual artifacts which are detailed at the back of the books. Bravo!

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The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage – Jen Van Metee, Robert de la Torre (via Scribd)

This was a slightly unusual comic book. First it has a female lead who is Asian (or half-Asian?) and second, it has to do with the afterlife, which isn’t something I’ve really come across in comics (or maybe you have? I’d like to know). And I’m not talking about zombies or vampires or ghosts. Well sort of about ghosts I guess. Shan Fong can talk to the dead but the only one she can’t find is her late husband. A rich guy hires her for a special job but of course there’s something dangerous and mysterious about the whole affair. And Shan has to enter the underworld to go figure things out. Apparently this is part of the reborn Valiant comics line.

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That Salty Air – Tim Sievert (via Scribd)

Well it is safe to say that Sievert can draw. The illustrations in this graphic novel are quite beautiful. I just wish I could say the same about the story and the dialogue. There was a nice sentiment behind the story of loss and forgiveness but the dialogue was just too simple and seemed written by a kid.

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Princeless – Jeremy Whitley, M. Goodwin (Illustrator), Jung-Ha Kim (Contributor), Dave Dwonch (via Scribd)

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Loved the idea behind this one. A princess sets out to save herself and the rest of her sisters (who are imprisoned in different castles) instead of remaining in the castle guarded by her dragon, waiting for a (male) knight to be her saviour. Also there is a female dwarf, a mysterious knight, an adorable dragon, and some Wolves. Quite delightful although aimed at a younger audience.

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Jem and the Holograms – Kelly Thompson, Emma Vieceli (Illustrations), Corin Howell (Illustrations), Amy Mebberson (Illustrations) – via Scribd
I never heard of Jem and the Holograms until I read the comic. But while the main story is a little silly (she requires a hologram to perform), I love the pop of colours, and the way the characters aren’t all skinny white girls. Kinda fun.

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Black Widow: The Name of the Rose – Marjorie M Liu, Daniel Acuna (via Scribd)
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Oh Black Widow. I just wish that she had a bigger role in the Avengers movies. Because I really like all the Black Widow comics I’ve read. She’s tough, kicks ass, is intelligent and has a mysterious past. Perfect for a superhero. This one gives the reader a glimpse or two into her past.

Punk Mambo – Peter Milligan (via Scribd)
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A colourful weird but sadly one-off (?) piece about an unusual punk voodoo priestess.

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Night animals – Brecht Evens (via Scribd)

Evens is a Belgian illustrator but this book needs no translation as it’s a wordless one. It’s also kind of weird. A young girl becomes a woman (i.e. gets her period) and disappears into a strange world of wild things.

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Fingerprints – Will Dinski (via Scribd)

An odd little story about plastic surgery. A plastic surgeon’s assistant invents a new technique, a plastic surgeon works to perfect a starlet’s body while his own wife languishes. A bit forgettable.

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Jennifer Blood (volumes 1 to 3) – Al Ewing, Kewber Baal (Illustrator), Eman Casallos (Illustrator) (via Scribd)

Plenty of bloodshed and some nudity. Not for the faint of heart. I think I was just mesmerised by the ridiculousness of the acts of revenge that Jennifer Blood, suburban housewife/killer, is exacting on her extended family. I didn’t like her at all, and it was all a bit cliched in the end, and so far from the ‘girl power!’ kind of comic that I was expecting somehow. Yeah, somehow I ended up reading all the volumes available on Scribd despite the whole ugh gross, ugh this woman, ugh train wreck thoughts that kept running through my head.

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Fox Bunny Funny – Andy Hartzell (via Scribd)

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A rather bizarre wordless comic about foxes and bunnies. A young fox seems to want to be a bunny, but his parents find out and send him off to this boy scout-like camp to learn how to attack bunnies. Really, I was attracted by the cover.

I’ve still got more to write about but I’ll leave it for the last installment of Comics February next week. 

 

Comics February Week One (and a half)

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Here’s what I read in the first week (and a half!) of Comics February. I really meant to post this earlier but I couldn’t stop reading.

 

  
 The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye – Sonny Liew

I may not know much about comics but I do know this, when I see Sonny Liew’s name, I know it’s going to be a great read.

Liew has chosen a  Singapore comics pioneer as his subject and there are surprisingly political comics. And this book on his life and art has also found controversy after Singapore’s National Arts Council abruptly pulled its grant over what it deemed “sensitive content”. And just one day before the launch too. (That’s Singapore for you.) But in spite of that – or because of that – the first printing sold out almost immediately and it led to additional printings in Singapore. The book will be published internationally by Pantheon Books this year.

This is one amazing book. As a Singaporean, it made me rethink what I was taught in school about Singapore’s history, and how we had this watered down, one-sided view of things. I hope more young Singaporeans read this book. I even had the thought, what if this were taught in schools? Of course that wouldn’t happen, because it’s Singapore.

As a (sometimes) comics reader, I loved the different layers, Chan’s comics, Liew’s occasional commentary and appearance in the book, interspersed with Chan’s struggles in his career and his life (real or made up – it doesn’t really matter). I loved the idea of an alternative universe in which Barisan Sosialis won the political battle (in reality, the People’s Action Party took the vote and the Barison Sosialis leaders were accused of being communists and detained without trial). The mock posters of Singapore’s many campaigns were a hoot.

Perhaps you might be wondering whether a person who hasn’t the faintest clue about Singapore’s past can read this book, and yes, no worries. I think Liew explains things and issues pretty well, and I’m guessing that the Pantheon version may have a bit more explanation for international readers. But isn’t that what reading is about – to explore, to learn, to dive into the unknown. And in Sonny Liew’s capable hands, you’ll do fine.

 

 

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(This one also counts toward #readmyowndamnbooks and the Diversity on the Shelf challenges)

 

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A Wrinkle in Time graphic novel – adapted by and illustrated by Hope Larson

I am never quite sure why adaptations of books, especially classics like this one, are made. To attract a new audience? To have those who once loved the book as a child buy another copy?

Well, I never read this as a child, but I really did love it when I finally read it as an adult, a few years ago. And as with movie versions, I was hesitant to read this graphic novel version. In the end, I was just glad I did. Hope Larson has done a really fabulous job with this adaptation. It felt just right – not too modern and weird, not too truncated or too long.

In an interview with Publishers Weekly, Larson said:

My concern was never making more work for myself, but doing the story justice. It is like a house of cards–so delicate, most of it resting on L’Engle’s dialogue. I didn’t want to end up with an adaptation that felt truncated, or relied heavily on caption boxes to get you from point A to point B in the most economical way. There’s no way to tesser through A Wrinkle in Time. If you take shortcuts in a book like this, you damage it.

Indeed!

 An Age of License – Lucy Knisley

While I like Lucy Knisley’s very cute drawing style, sometimes her constant worrying and anxiety gets to me. Here she is about to embark on a vacation to Europe and she really gets so stressed out about it, that it is a bit painful to read. I kept thinking, it’s a holiday! You’re not moving there! So good thing she finally gets on the plane and those worries fly away and she instead lets us armchair travel with her as she ventures around Sweden, Norway, France. I think I was expecting more from a title like “An Age of License”, like there was something more… substantial. In the end it was a decent read, not very memorable.

Bad Houses -Carla Speed McNeil,  Sara Ryan

I was surprised by this one. First of all, estate sales seemed like a rather niche business to be making a graphic novel out of. One of the main characters works with the family’s estate sale company. They manage estate sales, you know, when people die, they organize belongings and sell those the family doesn’t want. The other, the girl with the camera, Anne, just likes to visit estate sales, listening to stories and taking photos. Sometimes taking things as well. It’s not really a meet-cute but a meet-weird I guess. The guy and the girl meet at an estate sale, get together, figure out their relationship, figure out their own families and their own selves. It’s a coming-of-age story in a small (failing) town and with estate sales. It’s a bit eclectic, at times a bit depressing (one mom works in a nursing home), but in the end, a different, absorbing read.
  
Apocalyptigirl : an aria for the end firms – Andrew MacLean

I really wanted this to work. I mean, a main character who’s a tough female, the end of the world, a cat named Jelly Beans nSounds fun. But in the end it wasn’t anything to shout about. Nothing very memorable. She’s searching for something but to be honest I wasn’t entirely sure what it was. 

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Harbinger (Volumes 1 to 6) – Joshua Dysart

So the only reason I finally read this is because of the new Faith series out from Valiant. And Faith was originally from the Harbinger series by Joshua Dysart.

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I had added Harbinger to my Scribd library a few months ago but whenever I glanced at that cover, with that angsty kid on it, I just never felt interested enough to try it out. Then I read about Faith somewhere and thought that maybe Harbinger was worth a try. And you know what, I read the whole series in two nights. Thankfully it was all available on Scribd. Confusingly, this is a reboot of the series which was first published in 1992. I haven’t decided whether I want to read the original one yet (also on Scribd).

The only problem is how to describe this series. They have superpowers. Faith can fly, Peter, well, he is just powerful all around. Others have superhuman strength, or can harness fire, a variety of things. They are pretty much misfits who have come together and are fighting against some sinister powers. It’s always a good versus evil thing, but I like how things are slightly different here. And that things aren’t always what they seem. I’m looking forward to reading Faith!


Ah comics, taking me to estate sales, traipsing across Europe, going back in time to Singapore’s tumultuous years, and changing the world, one plus-sized superhero at a time. 

Library Looting comics because #comicsfebruary

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.


I put in holds for some comics last week and they’re here! I also had time to browse the comics shelves and grabbed a few more. I am however extremely disappointed to note that most the comics and graphic novels here in this post are by white authors. I do have some comics by POC authors up for Comics February (including the excellent Sonny Liew) but obviously not in this library loot. I’ll have to do better next time!

 

Above the dreamless dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics – edited by Chris Duffy

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As the Great War dragged on and its catastrophic death toll mounted, a new artistic movement found its feet in the United Kingdom. The Trench Poets, as they came to be called, were soldier-poets dispatching their verse from the front lines. Known for its rejection of war as a romantic or noble enterprise, and its plainspoken condemnation of the senseless bloodshed of war, Trench Poetry soon became one of the most significant literary moments of its decade.

The marriage of poetry and comics is a deeply fruitful combination, as evidenced by this collection. In stark black and white, the words of the Trench Poets find dramatic expression and reinterpretation through the minds and pens of some of the greatest cartoonists working today.

With New York Times bestselling editor Chris Duffy (Nursery Rhyme ComicsFairy Tale Comics) at the helm, Above the Dreamless Dead is a moving and illuminating tribute to those who fought and died in World War I. Twenty poems are interpreted in comics form by twenty of today’s leading cartoonists, including Eddie Campbell, Kevin Huizenga, George Pratt, and many others.

Bad Houses – Sara Ryan ; illustrated by Carla Speed McNeil

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Lives intersect in the most unexpected ways when teenagers Anne and Lewis cross paths at an estate sale in sleepy Failin, Oregon. Failin was once a thriving logging community. Now the town’s businesses are crumbling, its citizens bitter and disaffected. Anne and Lewis refuse to succumb to the fate of the older generation as they discover – together – the secrets of their hometown and their own families. Bad Houses is a coming-of-age tale about love, trust, hoarding, and dead people’s stuff from award-winning creators Sara Ryan (Empress of the World) and Carla Speed McNeil (Finder).

Bandette Vol 1, In Presto! – Paul Tobin; Colleen Coover

Suckered by the font.

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She is ALLURING

She is MYSTERIOUS

She is BANDETTE!

The world’s greatest thief is a costumed teen burglar by the nome d’arte of Bandette! Gleefully plying her skills on either side of the law alongside her network of street urchins, Bandette is a thorn in the side of both Police Inspector Belgique and the criminal underworld. But it’s not all breaking hearts and purloining masterpieces when a rival thief makes a startling discovery. Can even Bandette laugh off a plot against her life?

Bandette Vol 2, In stealers, keepers! Paul Tobin; Colleen Coover

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THEFT done well is not CRIME it is ART!

Bandette returns to steal readers’ hearts once again! The teenaged master burglar has thrown down the gauntlet with the Great Thieving Race, and friendly rival Monsieur has stepped in to take the challenge. This second charming collection of the Eisner Award-winning series sees the two competing to steal the most priceless artifacts from the criminal organization FINIS and turning over whatever they learn about its plans to the long-suffering Inspector B. D. Belgique. But FINIS’s response could make this Bandette’s final crime spree!

Marble Season – Gilbert Hernandez

Have had my eye on this for a while.

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Marble Season is the semiautobiographical novel by the acclaimed cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez, author of the epic masterpiece Palomar and cocreator, with his brothers, Jaime and Mario, of the groundbreaking Love and Rockets comic book series. Marble Season is his first book with Drawn & Quarterly, and one of the most anticipated books of 2013. It tells the untold stories from the early years of these American comics legends, but also portrays the reality of life in a large family in suburban 1960s California. Pop-culture references—TV shows, comic books, and music—saturate this evocative story of a young family navigating cultural and neighborhood norms set against the golden age of the American dream and the silver age of comics.
Middle child Huey stages Captain America plays and treasures his older brother’s comic book collection almost as much as his approval. Marble Season subtly and deftly details how the innocent, joyfully creative play that children engage in (shooting marbles, backyard performances, and organizing treasure hunts) changes as they grow older and encounter name-calling naysayers, abusive bullies, and the value judgments of other kids. An all-ages story, Marble Season masterfully explores the redemptive and timeless power of storytelling and role play in childhood, making it a coming-of-age story that is as resonant with the children of today as with the children of the sixties.

Ruins – Peter Kuper; edited by Dan Lockwood

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Found this while browsing the comics shelves. Looked interesting.

Samantha and George are a couple heading towards a sabbatical year in the quaint Mexican town of Oaxaca. For Samantha, it is the opportunity to revisit her past. For George, it is an unsettling step into the unknown. For both of them, it will be a collision course with political and personal events that will alter their paths and the town of Oaxaca forever.

In tandem, the remarkable and arduous journey that a Monarch butterfly endures on its annual migration from Canada to Mexico is woven into Ruins. This creates a parallel picture of the challenges of survival in our ever-changing world.

Ruins explores the shadows and light of Mexico through its past and present as encountered by an array of characters. The real and surreal intermingle to paint an unforgettable portrait of life south of the Rio Grande.

 

ApocalyptiGirl – Andrew MacLean

Sorry, no idea who Andrew “underground sensation” MacLean is. But I just like the idea of cat named Jelly Beans.

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The premiere graphic novel from underground sensation Andrew MacLean (Head Lopper), ApocalyptiGirl is an action-packed sci-fi epic!
Alone at the end of the world, Aria is woman with a mission! Traipsing through an overgrown city with her only companion, a cat named Jelly Beans, Aria’s search for an ancient relic with immeasurable power has been fruitless so far. But when a run in with a creepy savage sets her on a path to complete her quest, she’ll face death head on in the hopes of claiming her prize and, if all goes according to plan, finally returning home.

 

An Age of License – Lucy Knisley

Yeah, so it’s another Lucy Knisley!

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Midnight picnics at the Eiffel Tower; wine tastings paired with blowgun lessons; and romance in cafés, cemeteries, and at the Brandenberg Gate–these are just some of New York Times best-selling cartoonist Lucy Knisley’s experiences on her 2011 European book tour. An Age of License is both a graphic travelogue and a journal of her trip abroad. Fans of Knisley’s food-focused autobiography (French MilkRelish) savor her mouth-watering drawings and descriptions of culinary delights, seasons with cute cat cameos. But An Age of License is not all kittens and raclette crepes: Knisley’s account of her adventures is colored by anxieties about her life and career, depicted with fearlessness, relatability, and honesty, making An Age of Licensean Eat, Pray, Love for the Girls generation.

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer – Sydney Padua

I kept seeing this around the book blogosphere. Can’t remember exactly who read this one, so hands up if it was you!

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THE THRILLING ADVENTURES OF LOVELACE AND BABBAGE . . . in which Sydney Padua transforms one of the most compelling scientific collaborations into a hilarious series of adventures.

Meet Victorian London’s most dynamic duo: Charles Babbage, the unrealized inventor of the computer, and his accomplice, Ada, Countess of Lovelace, the peculiar protoprogrammer and daughter of Lord Byron. When Lovelace translated a description of Babbage’s plans for an enormous mechanical calculating machine in 1842, she added annotations three times longer than the original work. Her footnotes contained the first appearance of the general computing theory, a hundred years before an actual computer was built. Sadly, Lovelace died of cancer a decade after publishing the paper, and Babbage never built any of his machines.

But do not despair! The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage presents a rollicking alternate reality in which Lovelace and Babbage do build the Difference Engine and then use it to build runaway economic models, battle the scourge of spelling errors, explore the wilder realms of mathematics, and, of course, fight crime—for the sake of both London and science. Complete with extensive footnotes that rival those penned by Lovelace herself, historical curiosities, and never-before-seen diagrams of Babbage’s mechanical, steam-powered computer, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is wonderfully whimsical, utterly unusual, and, above all, entirely irresistible.

What I hate from A to Z – Roz Chast

I enjoyed, well enjoyed isn’t quite the word for it, perhaps I should say I was moved, by Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? a graphic memoir about her elderly parents. So am curious about this one.

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The pages of the New Yorker are hallowed ground for cartoonists, and for the last thirty years, Roz Chast has helped set the magazine’s cartooning standard, while creating work that is unmistakably her own- characterized by her shaggy lines, an ecstatic way with words, and her characters’ histrionic masks of urban and suburban anxiety, bedragglement, and elation.
What I Hate is an A to Z of epic horrors and daily unpleasantries, including but by no means limited to rabies, abduction, tunnels, and the triple-layered terror of Jell-O 1-2-3. With never-before-published, full-page cartoons for every letter, and supplemental text to make sure the proper fear is instilled in every heart, Chast’s alphabetical compendium will resonate with anyone well-versed in the art of avoidance- and make an instructive gift for anyone who might be approaching life with unhealthy unconcern.

 

Gold Fame Citrus – Claire Vaye Watkins

Hey look! Not a comic!

I’ve been in the hold queue for this one for a bit so am glad to finally get it. May be hitting a bit too close to home what with the drought and all. But I’m typing this on a cloudy slightly drizzly day so there’s still hope.

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In a parched southern California of the near future, Luz, once the poster child for the country’s conservation movement, and Ray, an army deserter turned surfer, are squatting in a starlet’s abandoned mansion. Most “Mojavs,” prevented by armed vigilantes from freely crossing borders to lusher regions, have allowed themselves to be evacuated to encampments in the east. Holdouts like Ray and Luz subsist on rationed cola and water, and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise.

For the moment, the couple’s fragile love, which somehow blooms in this arid place, seems enough. But when they cross paths with a mysterious child, the thirst for a better future begins.

Immensely moving, profoundly disquieting, and mind-blowingly original, Watkins’s novel explores the myths we believe about others and tell about ourselves, the double-edged power of our most cherished relationships, and the shape of hope in a precarious future that may be our own.

The kids’ loot:

Read more comics!

Comics February – the end!

I still have so many comics to read! Why does February have to be so short? Well I’ll just have to read it in Comics March then. (Not actually an event, I just made it up).

 

Showa: A History of Japan, 1926-1939 (Showa: A History of Japan #1) 

Showa 1939-1944: A History of Japan (Showa: A History of Japan #2)

By Shigeru Mizuki

 

Shigeru Mizuki is a very well-known comic book writer or mangaka in Japan. He’s known for his yokai stories, supernatural monsters in Japanese folklore. Well I didn’t know any of that. I just knew that I had to get my hands on it, thanks to this post!!

And I was only slightly intimidated by the size of these two books. Yup, they are big and fat and discuss history, but they were a quick read.

What was amazing though was that I think I learnt more about the Pacific War (as in the theatre of WWII that was fought in Asia and the Pacific) than I learnt in school in Singapore (which in case you didn’t know, was one of the countries that the Japanese occupied). The second book focuses on the war – Mizuki was drafted into the army and sent to Papua New Guinea. At first I worried that it would have a skewed version of Japan’s role in the war but I was surprised, it was honest, it is well-researched, and it is also very personal.

It is truly amazing that he survived the war. He was very naive and rather oblivious to the fact that he was in a war!

I kind of wish I had read this book while learning about WWII in Asia, it would have made it a far less dry lesson!

Showa is at times humorous, at times sobering and sad. It showcases the best of comics.

 

 

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Nimona- Noelle Stevenson

This is the first time I’ve ever read a webcomic from start to finish in a day. That makes me sound like I know a lot about webcomics. I really don’t. I’ve browsed through some but have never really read any fully. Here’s the link to Nimona or you can wait for it to come out in book form later this year. In May I believe.

Nimona was SO FUN! And I don’t really like to use CAPS so please believe me already.

Awesome characters. Hair swoops. Shapeshifting. Medieval Skype.

 

Ethel & Ernest: A True Story – Raymond Briggs
If his name sounds familiar it might be because you’ve read that classic picture book The Snowman.

This was one of the sweetest and saddest comics I read this month. Or ever really. It tells the story of Briggs’ parents’ relationship. Him a milkman, she a lady’s maid. And they get married and start their own family. And the years pass – and we catch glimpses of the world around them as they live in their house in London, through the war, through the advent of TV, raising their son, as the decades pass.

And also hilarious. Especially their discussions about politics and the rest of the world.

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A Chinese Life – Li Kunwu and P Otie

 

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60 years in 700 pages. I would count that as epic, but I just read Showa books one and two (see above) which explore 7 years in 560 pages in one and 5 years in 536 pages in another. These are very different books, very different lives. I think I am more fond of Mizuki’s illustrative style and narration.

It’s always difficult reading a memoir of life in China under Mao. The things people did, even as young children (see above). Li details the changing times, the hardships they go through. It has its bittersweet moments, and some rather sweet ones too.

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Lost at Sea – Bryan Lee O’Malley

Ah where was this comic when I was a teen?

Raleigh is on a road trip with some kids from school, kids she doesn’t really know and they’re very different from her, so how did they end up in the same car?

I wasn’t sure that I would like her at the beginning. Kinda weird (she thinks a cat stole her soul), aloof, a bit melodramatic. But then deep down inside I knew I was a little like her as a teen (and probably still am) – terrified of talking to other people, running a dialogue in her own head, always worried about others’ impressions of her.

Here are my previous Comics February posts!

Week 3

Week 2 

Week 1

 

Library Loot (27 February 2015)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

Comics February is coming to a close! But the comics just keep coming in from the library. I couldn’t resist putting these on hold earlier this month and look! They’re here!

And of course there are still more to come….

 

PLUTO: Naoki Urasawa x Ozamu Tezuka, Band 001 (Pluto #1) – Naoki Urasawa

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In a distant future where sentient humanoid robots pass for human, someone or some thing is out to destroy the seven great robots of the world. Europol’s top detective Gesicht is assigned to investigate these mysterious robot serial murders; the only catch is that he himself is one of the seven targets.

Lost at Sea – Bryan Lee O’Malley

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Raleigh doesn’t have a soul. A cat stole it – or at least that’s what she tells people – or at least that’s what she would tell people if she told people anything. But that would mean talking to people, and the mere thought of social interaction is terrifying. How did such a shy teenage girl end up in a car with three of her hooligan classmates on a cross-country road trip? Being forced to interact with kids her own age is a new and alarming proposition for Raleigh, but maybe it’s just what she needs – or maybe it can help her find what she needs – or maybe it can help her to realize that what she needs has been with her all along.

Deadly Class Vol 1: Reagan Youth – Rick Rememder, Wesley Craig (Illustrator), Lee Loughridge (Illustrator)

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It’s 1987. Marcus Lopez hates school. His grades suck. He has no money. The jocks are hassling his friends. He can’t focus in class, thanks to his mind constantly drifting to the stunning girl in the front row and the Dag Nasty show he has tickets to. But the jocks are the children of Joseph Stalin’s top assassin, the teachers are members of an ancient league of assassins, the class he’s failing is “Dismemberment 101,” and his crush, a member of the most notorious crime syndicate in Japan, has a double-digit body count.

Welcome to the most brutal high school on Earth, where the world’s top crime families send the next generation of assassins to be trained. Murder is an art. Killing is a craft. At King’s Dominion High School for the Deadly Arts, the dagger in your back isn’t always metaphorical, nor is your fellow classmates’ poison.

Tina’s Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary – Keshni Kashyap, Mari Araki (Illustrator)

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In the tradition of Persepolis and American Born Chinese, a wise and funny high school heroine comes of age.

Tina M., sophomore, is a wry observer of the cliques and mores of Yarborough Academy, and of the foibles of her Southern California intellectual Indian family. She’s on a first-name basis with Jean-Paul Sartre, the result of an English honors class assignment to keep an “existential diary.”

Keshni Kashyap’s compulsively readable graphic novel packs in existential high school drama—from Tina getting dumped by her smart-girl ally to a kiss on the mouth (Tina’s mouth, but not technically her first kiss) from a cute skateboarder, Neil Strumminger. And it memorably answers the pressing question: Can an English honors assignment be one fifteen-year-old girl’s path to enlightenment?

E-books:

As Chimney Sweepers come to dust – Alan Bradley

Ok so I was kinda saying (mostly to myself and the voice in my head) about reading less-blogged-about books, but I just had to borrow this!

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Hard on the heels of the return of her mother’s body from the frozen reaches of the Himalayas, Flavia, for her indiscretions, is banished from her home at Buckshaw and shipped across the ocean to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Toronto, her mother’s alma mater, there to be inducted into a mysterious organization known as the Nide.

No sooner does she arrive, however, than a body comes crashing down out of the chimney and into her room, setting off a series of investigations into mysterious disappearances of girls from the school.

Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein

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Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

Kids’ loot:

Comics February Week 3

 

 

This week started out a bit slowly but I finally got back into the swing of comic things and ended up finishing plenty more comics!

I travelled to outer space, Japan, France (in the far off future), Vietnam (past and present) and Lebanon this past week. Just one week left! Gaah!

Saga 3 – Brian K. Vaughan, writer ; Fiona Staples, artist

 

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How does one begin to describe Saga? It’s a love story, a story about family and relationships and overcoming adversity, a story about struggle, about intergalactic love. It also has a lie-detector cat, assassins, a tree-spaceship, a little girl ghost, magic, android elites, and all kinds of bizarro goodness. It is weird and it is wonderful. This is the third volume so well, you know, don’t start with this one, begin at the beginning!

 

 

Glacial Period – Nicolas De Crécy

While I am into weird and wonderful (see above), this weird book may have gone over my head a little. Either that or it just doesn’t translate very well. Originally written in French, Glacial Period has such a promising premise – it is many years later and explorers somehow stumble upon the Louvre, buried under years of snow, hence Glacial Period. They wander among the artworks, speculating about the lives and culture of the people before them – were they non-literate? What’s with the angels? That kind of thing. Interesting idea that is not entirely carried out as well as one would hope.

And they are accompanied by talking dogs (ok so at first I thought they were pigs) who have wonderful powers of smell. It just gets weirder when artifacts come to life. The best part of the book are those lovely talking dogs, especially Hulk.

It also has this rather muted fuzzy style of drawing. To emphasize the cold, perhaps? I’m not entirely fond of it though.

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Vietnamerica – GB Tran

Tran, born in South Carolina in 1976, not long after his family fled Vietnam just three days before the fall of Saigon, explores his family’s past after a visit to Vietnam for his grandmother’s memorial. It is the first time he has met many of his relatives and he begins to piece together the story of his family’s past – emotional, moving, painful. And their struggle to survive, by whatever means necessary.

Tran’s art is vibrant, bold, colourful, with different font styles used to differentiate the dialogue. The tiny cursive (see the bottom of the second picture) often trips me up though and requires rereading to figure it out.

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A + E forever – I. Merey
I am so not the target audience for this comic which is definitely meant for the teenaged reader. The drawing style was more sketchbook-like, it has a hand-made kind of feel to it, the words not exactly flowing and orderly. I suppose that’s how it must be like to have grown up in the Internet age. And I suppose my calling that the Internet age tells you that I am way past that. I remember dial-up! I once carried a pager! We had a dot-matrix printer!
But back to the comic. It’s a relationship, friendship, love story between two schoolmates, one a girl, the other less certain of gender. Parents don’t really feature in this comic as they work the nightshift. So it’s pretty much a stay out late, hit the clubs, hookup with someone kind of story. But there is A and there is E and they are best friends, although one wants more than the other. It’s sweet sometimes, disturbing (at least for this parent) at others.

 

 

Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery – Kurtis J. Wiebe (Writer), Roc Upchurch (Illustrator)

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This comic makes me want to throw something. Not the book or anything – especially since I was reading an e-comic on my tablet! But more of a hoo-ah! let’s throw some knives at this tree or shoot some arrows and kick some a**! It’s a fun action-packed comic starring four, er, women. I say “er” because one is a dwarf and another is a Smidgen? and well they are female but not necessarily human.

But it is a bout of rambunctious fun.

The Big Skinny: How I Changed my Fattitude: a Memoir – Carol Lay

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Wow Lay sure is disciplined when it comes to eating. She’s one of this calorie counters, making notes about what she eats and all that. It made me want to eat more vegetables and that’s always a good thing. I’m not sure why I picked this up though. Curious I suppose.

Will and Whit – Laura Lee Gulledge 

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All the kids are so crafty! One makes lamps (which teenager makes lamps?? Or is that what teenagers do these days?), another does puppetry, yet another is into cooking and baking (ok at least that one I can understand). The “Whit” referred to here is a big storm named Whitney. Will is Wilhelmina, who’s coming to terms with her parents’ death a year ago. It’s a sweet story with lovely drawings.

Apollo’s Song – Osamu Tezuka

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So I thought that the first Tezuka I read was odd, this one is even odder and has less certain a plot, to be honest. It’s an exploration of relationships between men and women, by a young man whose life has been a troubled one, emotionally and mentally strained, and so he’s in a mental hospital, with a doctor hypnotizing him and some thing about androids and marathon running and being marooned on an island where animals co-exist peacefully. I am still trying to wrap my head around it. I am still rather intrigued by Tezuka’s work!

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I Remember Beirut – Zeina Abirached
I really enjoy Abirached’s bold black and white style. This book focuses on various memories, good and bad, of her childhood in Lebanon. But I think I prefer her first book, A Game for Swallows 

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And that’s what I managed last week! We’re heading into the final week of February! That’s quick! Now I’m off to devour more comics before the month is up!