Comfort Comics for When Life is Rough

Unfortunately, I was emotionally unable to write the past two weeks due to personal issues which left me quite shaken. Someone broke into our apartment, grabbed a lot of stuff, and left the back door wide open. Everyone is alright, but I just needed some time to get personal and emotional affairs in order before I could focus on writing again.

It was a bit bizarre, right before this incident, I picked up The Book of Hygge: the Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort and Connection by Louisa Thomsen Brits. Hygge has been making the rounds lately and is essentially a philosophy of presentness and contentment in the moment, taking joy in small things that create a sense of coziness and security for ourselves and the people around us. Well, I was feeling awfully insecure and uncozy after the burglary and I sought out my comfort comics. So today, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite comfort comics, the comics that when I’m feeling sad or lonely or vulnerable, I pick up and feel better. Thank you to the creators and publisher for creating stories to soothe the soul.

Cat Getting Out of A Bag and Other Observations
By Jeffrey Brown
Published by Chronicle Books

2017.22 cat getting out of a bag
http://jeffreybrowncomics.blogspot.com/

You may recognize Jeffrey Brown from his widely popular series Darth Vader and Kids and Jedi Academy Star Wars comics. Brown’s simple and charming style is accessible and comforting in times which call for a short break, a cup of something warm, and a big grin. Most pages are simple 3×3 grid vignettes about quintessentially cat things; begging for attention only to eat a plant, sitting in boxes and getting stuck, and refusal to be seen by the vet. What I love about Cat Getting Out of a Bag is how much it reminds me of my relationship with my cat, Jonesy, and I’m sure the relationship most people have with their pets. I talk to him, about him, wonder what he’s up to while I’m at work, he truly is like a child to me. And there’s something magical about cats which lend themselves so well to comics. They are mischievous and coy, self-centered yet crave attention, a whole gambit of emotions difficult to capture on the page, all which Brown captures with delight.

Love is Love
By Various Authors and Artists
Published by IDW and DC Comics

2017.22 love is love
http://www.idwpublishing.com/product/love-is-love/

This book is a collaboration of IDW and DC Comics, and also features characters from Archie, many Image titles, and original works. Love is Love is a feat of collaboration spurred from creative reactions to the Orlando Night Club shooting on June 12, 2016. It’s difficult to believe that it’s been almost a year since so many innocent people lost their lives and this book stands as a testament to their memory. Each page is filled with love and understanding, teaching us to be brave and to not accept hate. Some pages are single art pieces while others are two page stories reminding us that that the smallest gesture of kindness can make a big difference. I think this is especially important after falling victim to the harmful act of a fellow human to understand who you react to a situation speaks to your character.

 
Wonder Woman: the True Amazon
Written and Illustrated by Jill Thompson
Lettered by Jason Arthur

2017.22 wonder woman
http://www.dccomics.com/graphic-novels/wonder-woman-the-true-amazon

Wonder Woman just hit the big screen this past weekend and has been a box office success. If you enjoyed the film, I highly recommend Jill Thompson’s Wonder Woman: the True Amazon. This standalone story looks at Diana’s formative years as a child and young woman on Themyscira, beloved and spoiled by all the Amazons. But when Alethea, a stable worker, does not show Diana the undying affection she’s come to expect, she challenged Diana to be selfless and genuine, a challenge she has difficulty meeting. We all go through bouts of life where we put ourselves before all others, but this book teaches us the importance of seeing yourself as part of a greater society and understanding the sacrifices you, and others, must make for the goodness of others.

 

Bandette
Written by Paul Tobin
Illustrated by Colleen Coover

2017.22 Bandette
http://www.colleencoover.net/?page_id=4131

Oh, the irony. The comic that makes me feel most comfy and cozy is about a petty art thief, but if anyone is going to make you happy, it’s the plucky sticky fingers, Bandette. Set in Paris, a place I found homey during my visits, Bandette is an art thief who has more in her hands than just candy. She embodies a Robin Hoodesque mantra of steal from the rich and give to… well Bandette, who tends to skim a little bit off the top. Along with her urchins, Parisian ballet students, food delivery drivers, and others from her arrondissement and Detective Inspector Belgique, Bandette accomplishes her heists, while enriching her community. This book is truly about seeking out a community you can rely on in your time of need and how friendships are the most priceless jewel in life.

What are your comfort comics? Do you have a title you find yourself going back to time and time again? Let me know On Twitter @librnwithissues

Advertisements

Comic Book Award Season for Collection Development

The Eisner Award nominations were released a few weeks ago and mark the industry’s largest and most prestigious awards. Award lists are a great collection development tool for librarians; they provide well vetted titles which would make great additions to any library collection. Some awards have been given out for decades and others are new; some are fraught with controversy and others allow creators to pat each other on the back. Here are some awards lists which provide diverse collection development opportunities.

Eisner AwardLet’s face it, the Eisner Awards are the Oscars of the comic book industry and awarded every year at International ComicCon in San Diego. The Eisner has been around since 1987, and was renamed from the short lived Kirby Award. What is great about the Eisners is the diversity of the award categories. From standard awards for creators and story type to honoring webcomics, educational/academic works, and comic book news outlets, the Eisner Nominees will inform your comic know how in many areas.

Along with the Eisners,  the Harvey Award is one of the largest American comic and graphic novel awards. The Harvey Awards differ from other awards because they are nominated by comic book professionals and the final votes are cast by unpaid volunteers  and the awards are financed by sponsorships. The are the honors that creators give to their peers which provides a different type of award list.

The Angouleme International Comics Festival in Angouleme, France is the third largest comic book festival in the world and hosts an international award ceremony for creators. Unlike other awards, the Angouleme awards  have broad categories and are chosen from a large pool of titles. The Grand Prix de la ville d’Angouleme is awarded to a living creator to honor their lifetime achievement and becomes the president of the jury for the next year. Noted recluse Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes won the Grand Prix in 2014, becoming the fourth non-European to win the award in 41 years. While the Angouleme has been fraught controversy, including the lack of nominating any women for the Grand Prix, citing the unfounded notion that none possessed a lifetime of work worthy of professional greatness, it is still a good place to look for diverse, international titles worth collecting. Hopefully, in the years to come, they will be more cognizant of the continued diverse presence in the comics industry.

International Manga AwardOn another international note, there are numerous manga awards to help you develop a well rounded manga collection. The Shogakukan Manga Award, sponsored by Shogakukan Publishing, has been awarded since 1955. Currently there are four categories; general, shonen (books geared to boys), shojo (books geared to girls) and children. The Kodansha Manga Award is structured the same way with the same four categories and has been awarded since 1977. An interesting and relatively new manga award is the International Manga Award and was founded in 2007 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Manga has continued to grow in popularity worldwide and this award is given to a non-Japanese manga artist annually. The entry list can be rather long and the ministry awards gold, silver, and bronze award. Some of these titles can be difficult to find translations for, but the list illustrates the diversity in manga creation.

Two other international awards to keep an eye on are the Ledger Awards, which are Australian comic awards, and the British Comic Awards which has six categories; the Hall of Fame, Emerging Talent, Young People’s Comic Awards, Best Book, and Best Comic for British comic books.

The American Library Association’s (ALA) Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) has many book and media awards. During the annual ALA conference, the awards ceremonies are always a highly and are often live streamed for those who cannot attend. The Great Graphic Novels for Teens list compiles both fiction and non-fiction graphic novels appropriate for teens and young adults, but to be honest, are also highly enjoyable for adults as well.  Be sure to check out lists back to 2007 for older titles for a retrospective collection.

Inking is one of the more specialized aspects of comic book creations. While the artist or penciller draws the initial layout of a page, the inker defines the final shape, adds shadow and texture to drawings. The Inkwell Award has several categories for different types of inking and lifetime achievement awards.

 

Many broader genre and entertainment awards also honor exceptional comics and graphic novels during their award ceremonies. Here are a few to keep in mind when doing graphic novel collection development:

GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Awards nominated 10 books for their Outstanding Comic Book category.

The Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story honors  the “best science fiction of fantasy story Stoker Awardtold in graphic form and published in the prior calendar year” and has been awarded since 2009.

The Horror Writers Association awards Bram Stoker Awards annually and since 2011 have award graphic novels for superior achievement in horror writing.

Also, make sure to check out your state library association’s award list. As comic have become more ubiquitous, graphic novels have been appearing on general children and teens best book lists, unseparated into their own category. Many library associations accept submissions from all members, so even if you aren’t on the selection committee, you can suggest that comics and graphic novels be reviewed for awards.

 

 

Happy International Tabletop Day!

International Tabletop DayHappy 4th Annual International Tabletop Day! I like all types of board games from childhood classics like 13 Dead End Drive to Scythe and play almost every week with friends. Tabletop games are a great way to bring people together around a table and have competitive or cooperative fun. Over the last 20 years, there has been an incredible Renaissance in tabletop games starting with the popularity of Settlers of Catan in 1995. Since then, you can peruse Kickstarter anytime and find people who want to make amazing games. Many libraries now have board game collections and host board game nights for patrons to try new games. As someone with a proclivity for storytelling games, I often think of comic book characters and storylines while playing tabletop games (my first D&D character was a rogue who was essentially Bandette…without me realizing until level 4!).  To celebrate, here are some comics to check out if you like board games. Be sure to check out Twitter for more suggestions throughout the day. Game On!

2017.14 gloom final

Gloom by Atlas Game, is probably my favorite game ever. It’s a storytelling game in which each player has a gothicly horrific family they are trying to make as depressed as possible and kill, while making the other characters as happy as possible. Once a player kills off their last family member, the player with the ‘lowest’ score wins. Gloom is populated by Frankensteinian scientific families, traveling circuses, and the lords of the moors. If the alliterations in the actions cards don’t kill you, “terrified by topiary,” “distressed by ducks,” “driven to drink,” etc. then the death card “was eaten by bears” will. This is a fun game with a unique style that even the most hesitant of storytellers can get into.

The world of Gloom is a straight forward, if a bit darker, interpretation of the gothic era where as The Motherless Oven by English comic creator Rob Davis is a dystopian science fiction world that feels as foreboding as the looming death of Gloom. When the weather clock says it’s knife o’clock, you better lock dad up in the shed, tuck mother away in the cupboard under the stairs, and sit down to enjoy the Wednesday Wheel safe within your home. The Motherless Oven requires the reader to accept the fact that people have assigned death dates, parents look like 3rd grade art projects and are made by the children they care for, it periodically rains knives, and the police are geriatric officers in a slow moving jalopies. Scraper Lee, a teen slowly approaching his death day, befriends Vera Pike, a new and oddly independent student, and Castro Smith, a student with Interference Syndrome who talks with the ever present gods of egg timers, can openers, and light switches. They run away to find Scraper’s escaped father only to arrive at the end of the known world. The black and white watercolor inspired art is gorgeous and adds to the ominous nature of this book. Great for a rainy, dark night.

Hellboy Board Game Suggestions

There are some board games that require skill, concentration, and a whole lot of time. Many of these games have a Cthulhu theme like Eldritch and Arkham Horror, both Fantasy Flight games. These games require your character to maintain a balance of sanity, aggression, and strategy as you attempt to close portals and keep the old ones quiet in their slumber. You can be a magician, occultist, or driver, but if you get too close to the old ones, you’ll be out of the game. Can you and your teammates prevent the non Euclidean geometric figures from invading our reality, or will you have to convalesce in the Australian outback after seeing the great old one? These games are incredibly difficult, so don’t be discourage if it takes you several play throughs before figuring out a strategy to win.

One comic book character who is more close to the old gods than any other is Hellboy, the over 20 year old character from Mike Mignola. It is a historical fact that the Nazi regime was interested in occult and supernatural objects, which is the basis of Mignola’s story. A German operative, the Russian mystic Rasputin, is trying to summon an other worldly power at the height of World War II; however, a young demon appears and is taken in by an American occult team and taught to use his stone hand and incredible strength for good. While there will always be forces in the world trying to use Hellboy for evil and chaos, his light hearted nature, and love for pancakes, keeps him fighting for the good guys.

2017.14 fresh romance final

Not all games require apps, huge tables, and three hours. Some like Love Letter by AEG games, are the perfect game to throw in your backpack and play while waiting for food or having a casual drink with friends. As we’ve all learned from our high school English classes, it can be difficult for a young Romeo to get a letter to his fair Juliet to declare their love, and in this game, you are trying to get a love letter to the prince or princess and win a token of their affection. Each player has two cards of varying values and abilities. You play a card and resolve the ability in the hopes of knocking out the other players or ending the round with the card with the highest value. Many people will help you get your letter to royalty including the lowly Clown to the stately General. And for those comic fans, there is also a Batman version.

I like Love letter because it is has a simple and effective premise, love will conquer, which is also a central theme of the anthology Fresh Romance. With contributors like Kate Leth, Marguerite Bennett, and Sarah Winifred Searle, among others, Fresh Romance explores four drastically different love stories each unique and heartwarming with a fresh look at what love means. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast shows compassion and empathy, whereas Ruined is about a Georgian Era woman who is quickly married off to a stranger to save her, and her family’s, reputation. The distinct art styles for each story helps to transport the reader completely to the new story, making the anthology exciting yet cohesive. The book made me eager for more modern, romance comics featuring unique and diverse characters.

2017.14 manhattan project

One of the first modern, worker placement games I’ve played was Minion Game’s Manhattan Project. It’s the dawn of the nuclear age, and each player is attempting to make the ultimate bomb and earn the most victory points first. The board looks like an old factory cork board with all of the different moves your workers, scientist, and engineers can make during your turn. As you build factories, universities, and reactors, your workers can be deployed on your home board as well as the main board, but watch out! Other players can destroy your buildings with air strikes or send their workers to your land as spies and take up the limited spaces where you can place your workers. As you create plutonium and uranium, you can develop bombs, strap them to your bombers and earn victory points. This fun yet competitive game is well paced ensuring all players move at the same pace.

While it may seem a bit on the nose, the comic I’m recommending for the board game Manhattan Project is the Image comic Manhattan Projects by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra. In the game, you have to manage your money, workers, and yellow cake; but in the comic book, you have to manage a stoic Einstein staring at an obelisk, infinite Oppenheimers, President Harry S. Truman as an orgy loving Mason, and FDR is an AI stuck in a television screen. Throw in Richard Feynman and Laika the Russian K9 astronaut and you’ve got all it takes to unlock the mysteries of the universe…maybe. Hickman’s love for infographics and the stark use of colors add science fiction elements to these historically inspired characters. Warning, this book gets weird, but in the best way possible.

Board and card games are a great way to get to know new people and spend quality time with family and friends. What board games do you like to play?

Colossal Read Alikes

2017.12 Interview (1)While many people have been analyzing the new Thor: Ragnorok trailer frame by frame, I’ve been anticipating Nacho Vigalondo’s new film Colossal, starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis out in theaters next Friday. Luckily, I was able to attend an advanced screening followed by a Q&A with Vigalondo and hearing him talk about the film only made me love it more.

Colossal is about Gloria who has been kicked out of her boyfriend’s apartment because of her drinking, partying to the morning, and being unemployed. So, she moves back to her hometown where her elementary school friend Oscar has inherited his family’s bar, and offers her a part time job. After a night of heavy drinking, Gloria finds out a giant monster has attacked Seoul, and she soon discovers she might have something to do with it. Wrapped in an old style Kaiju film, Colossal deals with issues like gender politics, domestic violence, and self-agency in a way rarely seen in modern cinema. Funny, tragic, and entertaining, Colossal has it all.

In honor of Colossal, I’ve picked some of my favorite monster books for you to check out until you can see the film because, believe me, this is one you won’t want to miss.

2017.12 kaijumaxKaijumax
Written and drawn by Zander Cannon
Published by Oni Press

In a world where giant monsters are part of the norm, what do you do when you apprehend a kaiju that has destroyed a city? You send them to Kaijumax, a prison for giant monsters run by Power Ranger-esque guards who can transform into ginormous mechs. Electrogorg, one of the newest prisoners of Kaijumax, is a single father with one goal; make sure my kids are ok. But when you’ve got rival prison gangs, like the Crypts, J-Pop, Megafauna and Mechs, planning their next moves and seeking new recruits, guards smuggling in drugs, and a new big Kaiju to contend with, Electrogorg begins to lose hope of ever being reunited with his kids. While the premise may seem tame and the colorful artistic style fun, this book explores the major issues in the modern prison system in a brutally honest fashion.

2017.12 Attack on Titan Attack on Titan
Written and Illustrated by Hajime Isayama
Published by Kodansha Comics

One thing that makes giant monsters so scary is their foreignness, the grotesque nature of their physicality and their divorce from the pure human form. In Isayama’s long running manga series Attack on Titan, the monsters are unique because they are giant humanoids known as titans who mindlessly roam the world, consuming humans for no apparent reason. Humans have decided to protect themselves from the titans by living behind 100-meter-high walls, all of humanity in three concentric, circular kingdoms, each with their unique social system. Following several young recruits in the defense corps, Attack on Titan is a fun, quick dystopian read filled with intriguing characters and a unique future historical setting.

 Gronk coverGronk
Written and Illustrated by Katie Cook
Published by Action Lab

 Gronk is a bad monster, very bad! So bad that she’s left the monsterdome and has been adopted by a human named Dale, and her two pets, Kitty, a cat, and Harli, a large Newfoundland dog. Dale enjoys her secluded life in the Canadian woods of being creative, the perfect place for Gronk to hide without causing too much suspicion. Originally a webcomic, these short, four panel comics are reminiscent of the Sunday funnies, but for all ages. Gronk’s exploration of the human world and Dale’s unwavering nerdiness proves a little green monster can bring many hours of joy to readers of all ages.

Monstress cover Monstress
Written by Marjorie Liu
Illustrated by Sana Takeda
Published by Image Comics

High fantasy stories have not always been my cup of tea. Either the world is not immersive enough for me to buy into the premise or it is so removed from reality that I have no way to relate to. In Monstress, the balance is perfect as Maiko navigates the world of the Arcanic, magical creatures with animalistic elements, and the Cumea who use the Aracnic to fuel their magical powers. An Arcanic herself, Maika Halfwolf harbors an old evil within her which may be defeated if she can learn the secrets of her mother. The world building in this comic is stunning. It uses Asian centric cultures as a starting point and pulls a lot of artistic influences from that. For a more subtle, but just as scary, monster story, Monstress is an excellent choice and reminds me a lot of Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom trilogy.

Jack Kirby & Steve Ditko

Note how I’m not putting down any specific books to represent the amazing Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Kirby, one of the comic book pioneers wrote a lot of silver age comics like Tales of Suspense, Strange Tales, Tales to Astonish, which contains the origins of some superheroes and villains still around today, including Magneto and Iron Man, Fing Fang Foom and Groot and other out of this world monsters like Klagg and Gorgilla. What I like most looking at his monster comics is comparing it to his romance comics, which he also pioneered. Steve Ditko, who worked with Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, worked in the pulp comics of the 60s and 70s under Eerie and Creepy Magazine. Later, he drew comic adaptations of mega monster movie characters like Konga and Gorgo. Seriously, go do a Google Image search for Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko and monsters and you will see innovative creature design and an amazing gallery of covers. Then, you know, go check out some of their books.

2017.12 Interview (2)I really encourage you to go see Colossal. I don’t want to spoil too much before it’s released wide, but I’d love to know your thoughts on it! Also, do you have any monster comics you’d recommend to someone? Let me know by tweeting me @librnwithissues using the hashtag #ColossalComics.

If you’d like to check out one of Vigalondo’s shorts, I recommend 7:35 in the Morning a short film with a surprising twist.

Comedic Comics

Comic books and cartoons have been a mainstay of humorous entertainment for a long time. First political cartoons, then the Sunday Funnies, and the weekly comics have provided laughs for generations and have transformed a lot over the years. Plus, the people who work in comics are pretty funny too, just check out this amazingly coordinated April Fool’s jokes  and these awesome Image April Fool’s crossover covers. I’ve been reading a lot of funny comics lately, so in honor of April Fool’s Day I wanted to share with you a few that I’ve really liked.

2017.11 ChewChew is a long-running, recently ended series from John Layman and Rob Guillory published by Image comics, about Tony Chu, a cibopath who can get psychic impressions from the food he eats. His gift makes him an excellent agent for the FDA, the most powerful form of law enforcement in this alternative world where poultry is banned after an “avian flu” gets out of control. The premise itself is a bit outlandish and only gets more bizarre as the 12 volumes goes on, but where Chew really hits it’s comedic stride is in the attention to detail in Guillory’s art. One thing non-comics readers often state a why they don’t like comics is because they like to envision the world themselves instead of having an artist illustrate the world for them. However, Chew strikes a beautiful balance between witty dialog and richly designed, humorous world building. Details like posters in a doctor’s office that read, “Chill Pill—now a REAL thing!” or a folder on Chu’s desk reading, “Various Weird Food Crimes File 207” make reading this book only once not an option. Plus, the titles of the trades are too delicious to pass up!

I hate fairyland coverSkottie Young is one of my favorite author/artists right now. If you aren’t following him on Instagram, his sketch of the day is often the highlight of my Instagram browsing. His Image book, I Hate Fairyland, with Jean-Francois Beaulieu, is an interplay of parody and wordplay that makes it both humorous and intelligent. Gertrude enters Fairyland a wondrous child, but after decades stuck in the neon sky, talking landscape, cheerful anthropomorphic animal inhabited land, she has some slight deficiencies which make her an extremely humorous character. Imagine being a thirty year old in the body of an eight year old. What sort of things can you tell yourself to distract from your body dysphoria? Gert has never been exposed to many of the things which form an adult personality, most notably, swear words. The language used by Gert is the hallmark of the humor of this book. Variant covers title “F*ck Fairyland” juxtaposed with the innocent swear words like “Mother Fluffer,” “Muffin Hugger,” and “Fluff” make for a jarring experience. While the language used in I Hate Fairyland leads to many laughs, the parody of traditional fairy tale tropes, like unaware citizens, cruel dictators, and small, disaffected sidekicks make this book feel like the politically correct fairy tales on an acid trip that will make you rethink all the dangers children in fairy tales face.

Comics can be inherently funny. Men in spandex, crazy hairdos, and that terrible phase in the 90s when men had too many muscles for the human body and pouches galore, 2017.11 Howardgive creators a lot of material to poke fun at. Deadpool uses these stereotypes and flips them upside down, creating a polar opposite version of the standard superhero. He’s a merc with a mouth, and there ain’t no pretty face under that mask, but he uses the superhero genre as a platform for reflection, especially when breaking the fourth wall and providing direct commentary to the reader. Another comic which utilizes this writing technique is Howard the Duck. Howard is an anthropomorphic, hard-boiled detective duck who is hard to take seriously. Like Deadpool, he breaks the fourth wall to provide commentary to the reader, akin to old detective films where the leading man supplies narrative voice overs. But he is still a duck, the only one of his kind, and he chooses to come to Earth to be a detective. Doesn’t make much sense, but in Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones, Veronica Fish, and Joe Rivera’s run, things get more meta than usual with Howard latest case.

What are your favorite comedic comics? Here are some other favorites of mine right now.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Thankfulness Comic Book Style

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and it always gets me in a sentimental mood. Comics have played a pivotal role in my life. It brought my husband and I closer as a couple and help me to explore new attitudes and ideas. So this Thanksgiving, I am going to explore five things about comics I’m truly thankful for from this past year.

 I’m thankful for Fables

fables-coverFables was my gateway into comics. Many comic book readers can tell you that one book that got them into comics. I’ve always been interested in folklore and fairy tales and own several translations of the Grimm’s Fairy tales and many works on international folklore. When I saw the first trade of Fables at my local library, I had to check it out and am I glad that I did. After trade watching for several volumes I decided to start getting single issues and my pull list has gotten bigger ever since. It still has a special spot on my bookshelf and I am looking forward to exploring the Fables world further with Ever After and any other projects yet to come.

I’m thankful for Ryan Browne

ryan-browneEvery year we get one piece of commissioned artwork at the comic convention we go to. One year, my husband got an amazing Daredevil from Jock, but last year, it was my turn to pick the piece. I knew I wanted something a little lighter for the kitchen or dining room. Ryan Browne was the first artist to come to mind. We settled for a sketch of Wolverine in the kitchen with a witty phrase. The results speak for themselves and when I see the art everyday it makes me smile and reminds me that pants are optional…sometimes.

I’m thankful for Saga

saga-coverSaga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples was the first book my comic book club read. This space opera that focuses on love and family was a great way to foster our book club becoming sort of a family of our own. Because many of our members were novice comic book readers, it was great to have a book that was so well written, engaging, and beautiful to set us on a reading path. The group always challenged my Reader’s Advisory skills because they wanted to read non-mainstream, interesting, unheard of comics. From Uzumaki by Junji Ito to poetry from World War I, we explored some truly amazing stories together. I was sad to leave this book club but am so thankful for the memories and discussions we had.

I’m thankful for She-Hulk

she-hulkThis one, this one is a completely selfish “thankful for” choice. I have always had issues with my weight and eating habits that kept me many pounds overweight. As a fan of Red She-Hulk, when Charles Soule and Javier Pulido’s She-Hulk hit the stands, I knew I’d at least give it a try but I didn’t know that I’d quickly become infatuated with Jennifer Walters and her struggles to find work/life balance. I had just started my first professional job in a new city without many friends and was struggling with my self-esteem and weight issues. And then She-Hulk inspired me. I was going to cosplay as She-Hulk at the next convention and I was going to feel great about it. I changed my diet, started doing DDP Yoga and weightlifting 3 times a week. While I lost almost 25 lbs. on the journey, I saw an even bigger change in my attitude; I was confident and happy with myself. Unfortunately, the airbrush wasn’t working the day of the convention, so I ultimately didn’t cosplay, but I did flex my new found muscles for Charles Soule and got the first issue of She Hulk signed. I’ve kept up my good habits and will attempt another She-Hulk cosplay soon.

I’m thankful for DC Comics Bombshells

dc-comics-bombshellsI talk about DC Comics Bombshells a lot. Originally a series of special covers by Ant Lucia featuring WWII Bombshells renditions of many beloved DC Comics characters, the Bombshells have expanded into an entire brand of comic book fandom.

Upon casual glance at the Bombshells, some may call the images degrading or obscene, but the fans have taken on these characters as empowering. Attending any convention and you’re sure to see several Bombshells on the floor. The amazing writing of Marguerite Bennett creates a world full of complex characters and intricate stories where female superheroes are not necessarily dependent on their male counterparts; Batwoman exists and she saved the Waynes in the alley, but Zatana and Constantine are together.  These plot points are handled within the context and realities of World War II and the battles raging across Europe and the treatment of outsiders.

This book is in my wheelhouse. I like the 40s aesthetic with the superhero elements while addressing the history and realities of World War II. I am extremely thankful for a book with unique takes on classic characters while holding on to their essence and tackling historical and contemporary themes of social justice.

 

 

Seven Costumes of Comics: Horror Creatures

I’m a huge fan of the SyFy Channel’s reality show Face Off. As a child, I’d watch a show on weekend mornings called Movie Magic which introduced me to the world of special FX makeup and has led to a fascination with practical effects used in film. There is an amazing amount of artistry and engineering that goes into every makeup seen on Face Off. Creators must design and execute the concept while maintaining realism and believably.

Vancouver Film School Makeup Design by Katie Middleton via Flickr CC BY 2.0
Vancouver Film School Makeup Design by Katie Middleton via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Halloween gives amature creature designers a chance to express themselves and explore now artistic styles. A quick search in YouTube and you will find thousands of tutorials to turn yourself into a deer, sugar skull or creepy doll with only makeup. Others use Halloween to hone more specific skills including creating elaborate, full face prosthetics requiring life molds and hundreds of hours of prep work.

In creating many of these costumes, creators draw inspiration from all sorts of objects and source materials.

uzumakiUzumaki by Junji Ito exemplifies body horror and the creative process involved with horror character creation. In Uzumaki, a coastal Japanese town is cursed by spirals, once you see a spiral, you begin a slow descent into madness. What starts off as a simple fascination slowly expands into full blown horror, all based on the spiral shape. The curl of the eardrum, a mosquito’s retracted mouth, and a snail all serve as inspiration for horrific psychical transformations as the spiral consume you.

The art of Uzumaki is truly horrifying in the black and white manga style, and uses that style to explores a lot of themes. Comprised of many short stories following a young woman named Kirie, and how her family and friends are affected by the curse. For a wonderfully creepy way to keep the Halloween horror spirit alive after tonight, stop by your local comic book shop or library tomorrow and check out Uzumaki.