Stargazing by Jen Wang

Wang wrote the fantastic The Prince and the Dressmaker, a comic with a wonderful message about acceptance and love, and so I was looking forward to this one, which seemed less fairytale-like with its cover of two young girls sitting together.

But similar to The Prince and the Dressmaker, this is a story about an unlikely friendship.

Moon Lim and her mother move into the granny flat behind Christine’s house, after Christine’s parents offer it to the struggling widow and her child. Christine isn’t sure about Moon at first, she’s rumoured to be free with her fists, she’s impulsive and rambunctious, while Christine is reserved and obedient, trying hard to please her parents. But they soon share a love for dancing to K-pop music and plan to join the school’s talent show.

Moon has a secret though, she sometimes sees celestial beings who want them to join her, so she says. Christine eventually learns what the reason behind that is. And that kind of surprised me, but later, when I read the author’s note about her own background, it made a lot of sense.

I really liked how Wang showed the diversity among the Chinese-American community. Christine’s family is what you would consider more typically Asian – hardworking, studious, plays the violin, attends Chinese school, strict parents, that kind of thing. Moon is more of a free spirit, she doesn’t know much (if any) Chinese, she’s vegetarian, and more drawn to the arts.

Stargazing is a great comic for kids but I think adults will like this one too. I definitely did.

Comics: The Girl from the Other Side; Nancy

THE GIRL FROM THE OTHER SIDE: SIÚIL, A RÚN vol 2

First read of the year is a strange one. Also it’s the second volume in the series as I started and finished the first one on the last day of 2019. A series I hadn’t heard of until browsing the library’s ebook catalogue and the cover just stood out for me.

Who is this strange creature and why is this little girl with it? I also loved the stark colors. And the inside, like pretty much all manga I’ve read, is only in black and white. 

There is a fairy tale-likeness to this series. A young innocent girl separated from her family and into the house of this beast with horns. But he is no vile monster. He looks after her, feeds her, and cares for her. She calls him Teacher. But she can not touch him for those who touch these beasts are cursed. 

The curse itself isn’t really explained much in the first two volumes but it is horrible enough that people have died, villages emptied, and armed soldiers sent to look for this possibly cursed young child in the woods.

A fascinating series with beautiful artwork

NANCY BY OLIVIA JAIMES

Book 2 of 2020 is another comic. This one also one I hadn’t heard of before. Apparently it started in 1938 and was at its height in the 70s (in over 700 newspapers). Growing up in Singapore, our one newspaper was (and pretty much still is) The Straits Times and they didn’t carry Nancy. Or at least I don’t remember that they did. I remember they had Sherman’s Lagoon and Baby Blues. Probably Peanuts.

So it was another case of browse the ebook catalogue and oh this looks fun and hit download.

And what a delight this was. Seeing the cover I expected an older comic so I was thrilled to see how phone addicted Nancy was – and also soon realized this was the new Nancy. One that was published from 2018 with its first-ever female author who goes by the pen name Olivia Jaimes.

And Nancy is such a hoot. She’s grouchy and she’s sassy. And it was such an absolute delight to read. I just loved every page of it, especially those meta ones!

My Brother’s Husband Vol 2 by Gengoroh Tagame

This is volume two of this two-part series so if you haven’t read it yet, please understand that there may be spoilers!

So go go go! Go read the first part!

Ok!

So since you’re still reading, I’m guessing you know that this is a continuation of the stories of Mike, Yaichi and Kana. Mike is still staying with Yaichi and Kana.

Yaichi continues to understand more about his feelings towards Mike’s relationship with his brother. He’s starting to realize that they make a family too, even though they may not look like your typical Japanese family.

The three of them, as well as Kana’s mother, take a trip to an onsen and you’re going to want to start booking a trip to Japan because oh, I definitely did after reading those pages!

But wanderlust aside, I loved how Yaichi continues to grow in this volume. His talk with Kana’s teacher is a lesson in calm and sensibility. His realization about his treatment of his brother is devastating and yet also redeeming.

And I shed many a tear as the book drew to an end.

What an absolute pleasure this series was to read.

(I just found out that there is a TV series based on the book – three episodes were aired in Japan in 2018 – hopefully it’ll be something that will be available in the US??)

 

 

I read this for Asian Lit Bingo – Graphic novel with Asian MC.

Quincredible Vol 1

A fun read. After a strange meteor shower, Quinn is invulnerable and can’t be hurt. He thinks it’s a lousy superpower at first. Then he meets Glow, who also has a meteor-given superpower and she encourages him to do something to help his community.

I like Quin and how relatable he is, and I like how his parents are a part of the story too. The rest of the diverse cast of superheroes is great too – like Quin, many of them are just trying to figure things out as they go. The villain in this case was a bit forgettable but hopefully in future volumes that can be improved on.

I appreciate how the comic was optimistic and hopeful, and has a great young superhero for our times.

*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a free ARC of this book*.

Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu makes me want to know more about hockey

 

I know pretty much nothing about ice hockey! I grew up in a land where hockey = the kind with rounded sticks and a round ball and is played in a field. Very different kind of hockey.
And to be honest, this book was requested from the library because I saw “Check, Please!” on the Reading The End blog and thought, oh, a comic set in a restaurant? Yes, please!Turned out to be a different kind of check all together. But this comic has now turned me into a…. well, not a complete turnaround into a hockey fan but at least someone who’s curious now about hockey and wouldn’t say no to watching a game!

I love that the main character is a newbie, a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team. Bittle (or Bitty as he’s known) is a former figure skater, a baking aficionado (he makes pies!) and is gay but still hasn’t come out yet. And the teammates he has! There’s Shitty who’s funny and smart and deep. Holster and Ransom are in an amazing bromance. Then there’s Jack, the handsome captain with a sad past and who Bitty has the biggest ever crush on.

Check Please! by Ngozi Ukazu

It reminds me of manga, mostly because of the way Bitty has such big eyes. And there’s a cuteness to it that I would never associate with ice hockey.

So even if you don’t care an inkling about ice hockey like I do, Check, Please! is a fun comic series to try out! Also it will make you hungry for pie.

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill #bookreview

Happy sigh. I adore the work of Katie O’Neill – she of the lovely Tea Dragon Society!

In this book, a young girl and her dad visit her aunt who lives on a small island that’s been hit by a storm. Lana discovers a baby aquicorn, a kind of seahorse-like creature and she nurses it back to health. It is a tale of loss and grief – Lana is learning to cope with the death of her mother. And also one of the environment – the underwater creatures’ homes are being destroyed by overfishing and pollution. And all accompanied by O’Neill’s gorgeous vibrant illustrations

#AsiannLitBingo – Such a Lovely Little War by Marcelino Truong

A beautifully illustrated graphic memoir of a young French-Vietnamese boy living in Vietnam with his family during the 1960s.

Marcelino Truong’s father worked as a translator for Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem in the 1960s. The family moves from the US, where they had been living for the past three years, to Vietnam. I’m not sure how old the three kids are but they look between the ages of 6 to 12. Their mother is French and their father Vietnamese.

It’s fascinating seeing the Vietnam war through the eyes of this young boy, upper-class, who lives in a nice apartment with servants to help his mother do housework and drive them around.

And more unusual for that time, whether in Vietnam or the US, a biracial family,

I may be from Southeast Asia (Singapore), but we never learnt anything much about the Vietnam War in school. I’ve since then read some books about it but I’ve learnt from this graphic memoir too, especially about Madame Nhu, the de facto First Lady at the time (the Prime Minister was a lifelong bachelor and she was his sister-in-law). She pushed for “morality laws” like banning divorce, abortions, dance halls, boxing matches.

Truong has a beautiful illustration style. The images look a little like woodcuts.

He occasionally includes drawings from his childhood, letters from his mother to his grandparents in France.

I read this for Asian Lit Bingo – multiracial/multiethnic Asian MC. Find out more details about the challenge here.

All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson

I loved Jamieson’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! Imogene’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!

Last week’s #comics

Buffy Omnibus Vol 1 and Vol 2

I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to read the Buffy Omnibuses. I’ve read Season 8 (loved it) as well as the High School Years (not so much). It was so much fun being back amongst the Scooby gang and also Drusilla and Spike (I love how I can imagine Drusilla’s accent as I read her speech bubbles, which are very true to her character – poetic and also a bit insane).

Pop Vol 1 by Curt Pires

A fun enough but violent comic set in a world in which celebrities are grown and bred and one manages to escape. The storyline wasn’t the best but I really loved the pop art style of illustrations.

Ghost Vol 1 and 2 – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Alex Ross, Phil Noto (Artist), Jenny Frison (Artist), Patrick Thorpe (Editor)

In this case, I’m not a fan of the illustrations. To be honest, I couldn’t really tell the male characters apart (and there are quite a lot of them). I do like Elisa, the mysterious Ghost, who has a strange power and an unknown past. The storyline gets a bit better in Volume 2 as we find out more about what’s happening in the city. Not exactly DeConnick’s best but it’s still interesting enough so far (especially since I am just now only finding out about Elisa’s past life) that I may continue. However, it looks like Vol 3 wasn’t by DeConnick so we’ll see how that goes!

#AsianLitBingo- Ms Marvel: Civil War II

 

I adore Ms Marvel and only wish I could have read these comics when I was a teenager!

This isn’t the place to begin with Ms Marvel of course, as this is volune 6 in the series but it is the latest volume I needed to catch up on, and what can I say, I just think that the Ms Marvel series continues to improve and grow and become this amazing and important superhero comic series.

If you’re new to comics, especially to superhero comics, Ms Marvel is a great place to begin. Partly because it’s quite clear cut which stories go where, and there aren’t a million and one different issues and volumes to confuse you.

So who is Ms Marvel?

Well, her name is Kamala Khan and she is a teenager from Jersey City. She also happens to be the daughter of Pakistani immigrants and a Muslim. And as a teen, a daughter, a student, she’s got plenty of other things to take care of, like schoolwork, her friends, the curfews. She’s just a regular girl, who so happens to have superpowers – she is a shapeshifter. And also, she’s not Carol Danvers, she’s not six feet tall and full of muscles. She’s kinda skinny and a bit geeky. And so of course she’s a superhero.

I love that Ms Marvel is part of the Civil War II storyline. This involves lots of different characters, with Captain Marvel on one side and Ironman on the other. It all begins with someone name Ulysses who can predict crimes in the future. In this issue, Captain Marvel ropes Ms Marvel in to help her with some future crimes in her neighbourhood – and she has to decide between her hero and her friends.

 

 

 

I read this book for Asian Lit Bingo – Asian Superhero MC. 

While writer G Willow Wilson isn’t Asian, co-creator (and Marvel editor) Sana Amanat is Pakistani-American, and illustrator Adrian Alphona is Filipino.