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.

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Comic Book Club – Women’s History Month

March, Women’s History Month, has brought out a lot of great information about women comics creators and women comic book characters. While we are rounding out Women’s History Month, it is still important to feature female characters and creators all year around. For this month’s Comic Book Club, I’m featuring three comic books which would be excellent book club picks for kids, teens, and adults which feature well rounded characters and intriguing, complex stories.

For Kids
DC Superhero GirlsDc Superhero Girls Cover
Written by Shea Fontana
Art by Yancey Labat
Colors by Monica Kubina
Lettered by Janice Chiang
Published by DC Comics

In the world of high school aged DC Superheroes, it is important for those with great power to learn how to use and control their powers. At Super Hero High School, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, among others, learn how to be the best they can be under the tutelage of principal Amanda Waller and vice-principal Gorilla Grodd. In Finals Crisis, readers are introduced to our superhero cast and what makes them unique among this elite group of individuals. In Hits and Myths, Wonder Woman tries to balance her demi-god, do-it-all status while planning a sleepover on Themyscira and trying to find their missing demon teacher, no he’s not evil, just a demon, and the Batplane… Balancing school and life is difficult for any teenager, but when you also feel responsible for rescuing people, it can feel even more daunting. Even though these books are about pretty rote comic book characters, the stories are incredibly relatable and are a good jumping on point for kids who may venture into the teen area for more standard superhero texts. Plus, there are several novels in the DC Superhero Girls franchise, so this might be a good way to get novel readers to read graphic novels and vice versa.

Possible Discussion Questions:
Which character do you relate to the most? Wonder Woman is pretty self-conscious about her role as a demi-god. Harley Quinn is always up for a party. Supergirl is fairly shy and homesick. Do you feel like any of these characters when you are at school?

What issues do you deal with at school and at home? How do you think the students at Super Hero High School deal with the same issues as you?

In Hits and Myths, the artist uses two different art styles, one for the main storyline and another when the students are reading The Odyssey. Do you like this storytelling technique? Have you ever read a book that seemed to be exactly like what you were going through in your life?

For Teens
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina coverChilling Adventures of Sabrina
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art by Robert Hack
Lettering by Jack Morelli
Published by Archie Comics
Please note this book does contain nudity

One staple of the teenage sleepover is popping popcorn, turning off all the lights, and watching a scary movie. Touchstones from my childhood include The Candyman, The Exorcist, and Child’s Play; The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is another spooky story to add to the staples of a good teenaged horror story. Many you people have some notion of who Sabrina the Teenaged Witch is, she’s been in a live action and animated television series along with a novel series, but her character is much older than Melissa Joan Hart. Originally appearing in 1971, Sabrina is a character in Archie Comics, living in the nearby town of Greendale with her spinster aunts, Hilda and Zelma, her cousin Amboise, and her familiar Salem, a warlock who has been permanently transformed into a cat. The daughter of a Warlock and a mortal, Sabrina is learning the magical arts from her aunts until she must commit herself to the craft at 16 by performing a ritual and signing the devil’s book. She must also keep her identity secret from her mortal boyfriend Harvey, which becomes much more difficult when a woman from her father’s past, Madam Satan, meddles in Greendale’s affairs. This incarnation takes a much darker look at the Sabrina origin story mashing together numerous tropes from 60s and 70s horror films like Rosemary’s Baby and Halloween. Sabrina’s teenaged curiosity and hesitation causes her to make half decisions which lead to huge problems.

Possible Discussion Questions:
What horror movies did you think about while reading Sabrina?

How was Sabrina’s relationship different with her aunts, her cousin, and Harvey?

Being a teenaged witch gives Sabrina a lot of power. Do you think that’s something she thinks about when deciding to become a witch or not?

This is Robert Hack’s first time drawing interiors for a comic. What do you think of his art style? The panel layout? The colors?

For Adults
Barbarella CoverBarbarella and the Wrath of the Minute-Eater
Written and Illustrated by Jean-Claude Forest
Adapted by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Published by Humanoids

I lived in France for a semester and read a lot of French comics. Their style and storytelling techniques vary greatly from the American superhero staples. I have been a fan of the film Barbarella since I first saw it in my teenage years and had always been interested in reading it and I think a lot of women are interested in reading it because it’s a sexual revolution classic. Barbarella is a 41st century astronaut who travels the galaxy looking for adventure. She does what she wants, when she wants, and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. This book contains the story which the 1968 Jane Fonda film is based on in which Barbarella finds herself stuck on the planet Lythion in a prison labyrinth with strange creatures and a cruel ruler. The Wrath of the Minute-Eaters follow’s the Circus Delirium, Barbarella’s traveling circus, as they enter into a battle for the planet Spectra at the manipulation of the new circus act, an aquaman named Narval.

Possible Discussion Questions:
Think about this book in the context of the 1960s and 70s. Do you find the situations Barbarella gets herself into to be liberating or demeaning? Do you have a favorite pun or witty remark?

Barbarella is an incredibly independent woman. She travels were she wants to, saves those she wants to, sleeps with whomever she wants to. How do you think Barbarella got to be this way?Barbarella is often compared to Red Sonja, Vampirella, and Jodelle, cornerstones of sexual revolution portrayed in comics. Can you think of any other comics, contemporary or historical, which represent the sexual revolution like Barbarella?

How do you think first wave (gain women’s right in the political realm through suffrage and property rights), second wave (workplace, sexuality, family and reproductive rights), third wave (further diminish the separation of men and women and deconstruct stereotypes and language used to describe women) would react to Barbarella?

What would you do to update Barbarella for a modern audience?

Trade Watching – Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys #1

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys #1
Author Anthony Del Col
Artist Werther Dell’Edera
Colorist Stefano Simeone
Letters Simon Bowland
Published by Dynamite

Famous literary characters and works have been adapted into graphic novels and single issue comic books for quite some time and have covered a wide span of classic and contemporary literature. Marvel Illustrated, an imprint of Marvel Comics, started in 2007 and adapted Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Eric Shanower & Skottie Young’s Wizard of Oz series. As licensed properties have increased in popularity, there has also been a rise in old characters making new appearances.

Last week, comics saw the resurrection of childhood literary classic characters Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. At over 85 years old, there are reasons why the teenaged detectives still resonate with contemporary readers. Their original, post-depression era perspectives on the prosperity of the United States was far from the plucky, wholesome teens of the 1960s and show how their characters morph to the current socioeconomic and political climate. While they have made appearances in graphic novel form from the children’s graphic novel publisher Papercuts, this new rendition of the classic detectives is not for the young of heart.

The first page of this issues hits full force with nostalgia featuring the sleepy New England town of Bayport, which may be a friendly place to live if you are not Frank and Joe Hardy. Their father, a corrupt cop taking bribes, had disgraced his family and their town and pitted Frank and Joe against each other in regards to their father’s innocence. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Comic Cover #1As the Hardy Boys soon learn, the sins of the father are to be laid upon the children because they are quickly taken into custody in their father’s perhaps not-so apparent suicide. The story quickly moves from a nostalgic driven narrative to a hard-boiled police procedural with a good cop/bad cop dichotomy when a mysterious birdie emerges from a clock, and an old friend  returns with a plan to find who really killed their father.

This book is a collaboration of Anthony Del Col, co-author of Kill Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes vs Harry Houdini, and Assassin’s Creed and artist Werther Dell’Edera of G.I. Joe and Detective Comics. Del Col’s experience morphing established characters into new forms lends itself well to the Hardy Boys. These brothers, who obviously love each other, are being torn apart over the controversy surrounding their father, a story told in many classic tales. Use of heavy narration by the Hardy Boys is overwrought and doesn’t lend itself well to the comic book medium because the art at times became ignorable because it is not integral to the storytelling. Also, the title is Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, though we aren’t introduce to Nancy properly in this issue.

Colors also play an important part in this issue. As the timeline shifts from the interrogation room to the past and present timelines, shadows are used for their intensity and chaotic nature in the integration room while brighter, matte colors are used for present day scenes of teenage life. The overall tone of the book is darker that many readers would expect from a nostalgic title.

For readers who enjoy a good femme fatale, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys may fit the bill in a lighter tone than Ed Brubaker’s Fatale and Fade Out. These teen detectives deal with hardcore issues in a serious manner. I’m excited to see where this book goes over the next few issues and think it will be a hit for adult fans who grew up with these teen detectives.

Cataloging (Or Not So Much) Manga

Manga Kanji
Manga Kanji

Have you ever asked a manga reader what other types of graphic novels they like to read? Sometimes, the answer you will get is, “Well, I don’t read graphic novels, I read manga.”

Which is a completely valid point.

There is little doubt that modern manga was heavily influenced by the influx of western comics making their way to Japan during World War II; however, there is centuries long traditions of illustrated texts in Japanese culture. Manga is an amazing meld of differing artistic and literary art styles geared towards readers of all ages.

Some key aspects when looking at manga are also how it is distinguished from western comics. Manga reads from right to left, even when the text has been translated, vexing many librarians as to whether or not you should put the barcode on the front cover (traditionally back cover) or the back cover (traditionally the front cover). It is also incredibly rare to have full color manga, many books only have a few pages or a short story presented in full color, otherwise, they are strictly black and white. Length can vary greatly depending on the type of story, but are generally around 200 pages and the books are 5 x 7.5 inches. Manga is also aimed at specific audiences and you can find more information about different types of manga from this Kotaku article.

Really, comics, graphic novels, and manga are incredibly similar, but when it boils down to serving patron’s needs, it can be incredibly important to be able to quickly identify manga vs comics. With current cataloging practices, there is no way to look at a cataloging record and definitely say, “Yes that is manga”. But there are some fields in the MARC record which are good indicators that what you are looking at is manga.

Fixed Field Cont

The Cont field is used to identify significant parts of a material. This is the field that indicates if an item is a dictionary or encyclopedia, contains filmographies or discographies, and if something is a comic or graphic novel you up “6” in the Cont field. This replaced the code “c” in LitF and covers, “Instances of “sequential art” in which a story (whether fact or fiction) is told primarily through a set of images (often in the form of multiple “panels” per page) presented concurrently but meant to be “read” sequentially by the viewer. The accompanying narrative and/or dialog text, when it occurs, works integrally with the images to tell the story” (from OCLC’s Website).

While many OPACs do not exploit the fixed fields, it is important to ensure that your MARC record is as complete as possible for future projects and system upgrades.

Translations Indicators

I generally use a trio of fields to communicate an instance of Japanese manga. They include a 041 Language Code to indicate the item has been translated.

041 1# eng $h jpn

Alice in Murderland volume 1 coverA 240 Uniform Title field with the original title as found normally on the copyright page.

240 10 $a Kakei no Alice. $l English

245 10 $a Alice in Murderland. $n 5 /$c Kaori Yuki ; translation: William Flanagan ; lettering: Lys Blakeslee.

A 650 Topical Subject Heading can also be used to indicate a work of translated manga using the following subject string:

650 #0 Graphic novels $z Japan $v Translations into English.

Genre/Form Fields

I have had several discussion with fellow librarians lately about the genres and as they become more nuanced, how useful, or not, they become. For manga you really have three genre/forms you can use from the Library of Congress Genre/Form Thesaurus:

655 #7 Graphic novels. $2 lcgft

655 #7 Comics (Graphic works) $2 lcgft

655 #7 [Whichever specific genre heading fits your needs from the LOC genre form thesaurus found here]. $2 lcgft

These are just recommendations for identifying a manga from a cataloging record. However, there are some situations where these guidelines will not be useful.  Since 2007, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has awarded the International Manga Award to non-Japanese manga artists and the market for international manga is on the rise. That makes the translations fields a bit less clear when determining if an item is manga or not. For example, Australian manga creator Madeleine Rosca’s Hollow Fields is not translated and not from Japan, so the above suggestions would not apply.

There are a few things you can do locally to make your records more patron friendly. While it would be nice, and make sense, if the LCGFT, which is intended to describe what the work is versus what the work is about, would have a specific heading for manga, it doesn’t. Until manga does get their own entry in the LCGFT, many libraries are creating their own local genre headings. You can also create a separate item categories and call numbers for manga to further distinguish them in your collection.

LEGO Batman Read Alikes for Kids!

2017-07-lego-batmanThe LEGO Batman Movie came out almost two weeks ago and has already grossed over $110 million. The LEGO franchise has grown not only in films, but also in library book collections. The LEGO Batman, LEGO Ninjago, and LEGO City lines of kid’s books fly off the shelves at most libraries. Kids can’t get enough of them, and if there’s one thing that warms my librarian heart the most, it’s seeing kids excited about reading.

Do you have a little one in your life who saw the LEGO Batman Movie and you want some all-ages superhero comics for them to read? Here are five suggestions for all-ages, fun comics with a hero twist.

2017-07-dc-superhero-girlsDC Superhero Girls
Written by Shea Fontana
Art by Vancey Labat
Colors by Monica Kubina
Lettered by Janice Chiang

There has been a recent uptick in the number of traditional female superheroes available to an all-ages audience. DC Superhero Girls follows the female pillars of the DC Universe; Batgirl, Bumblebee, Harley Quinn, Katana, Poison Ivy, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman, as they navigate their high school for the strong and powerful. This series does a great job of bringing real world situations into the teenaged superhero realm. How does one balance being them self, handle forces outside their control, and maintain good grades? Many young readers have dealt with, or have friends, who come from split families, so Wonder Woman spending the summer break with her dad, who happens to be Zeus, is a very relatable storyline. This series is also great for the novice comics reader who also wants regular novels as many of the DC Superhero Girls have their own novel lines as well.

2017-07-mouse-guardMouse Guard Series
by David Petersen

Not all heroes wear capes, but in this case, they do wear cloaks. Though not strictly a “hero” book, Petersen’s Eisner Award winning series Mouse Guard is sure to entertain readers who enjoy fantasy heroes like Frodo or Link from the Zelda video games. If you suspect a young reader will eventually read Brian Jacques’ classic fantasy series Redwall, you can put them on the right path with Mouse Guard. The anthropomorphic mice of these stories live in a medieval world of blacksmiths, scribes, and shield-bearers. Since the mighty battle between the mice and weasel overlord has ended, the soldiers of the Mouse Guard now channel their energy to protect the mice people from other dangerous predators who lurk outside, and inside, the mouse villages. I really love Petersen’s art, which has a very Jim Henson vibe, the characters maintain their animal state while emitting intense human emotions.

2017-07-aw-yeahAw Yeah Comics!
by Art Baltazar and Franco

Art Baltazar and Franco are the royalty of all-ages comics. With titles like Tiny Titans, Superman Family Adventures, and Itty Bitty Hellboy, they have the ability to distill the nature of these heroes to child friendly storylines. But, it’s their Aw Yeah Comics! in which their originality shines. Inspired by their comic book stores in three states, Aw Yeah Comics! follows Cornelius and Alowicious, two comic book store employees who transform into Action Cat and Adventure Bug when the need strikes. With the help of Adorable Cat and Shelly Bug, no foe is too great for our heroes. This book is just fun and entertaining for children and adults alike. Be sure to check out all of Baltazar and Franco’s work.

2017-07-bravest-warriorsBravest Warrior
Various authors and artists

I used to run after school programming at an elementary school before becoming a librarian and quickly discovered that elementary school is when you learn to control your emotions and be empathetic, which is just as important as learning to spell words and memorize facts. Bravest Warriors follows four teenagers from the distant future who travel as heroes-for-hire, using their emotions as their superpowers. In volume one, the Bravest Heroes must rescue a clown world from their nemesis, Sadness, while one of their own must face his coulrophobia. The use of witty and conscious dialogue can be a little over the top, but creates a light, fun-filled, and socially conscious comic. Originally a web series on YouTube from the creator of Adventure Time, this comic is sure to please adventurers of all ages.

2017-07-power-upPower Up
Written by Kate Leth
Illustrated by Matt Cummings

Powerhouse duo Kate Leth and Matt Cumming’s comic Power Up will feel pretty nostalgic for many Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans. No, there are no vampires or demons, but there is the common thread of “the chosen one”. But what happens when those chosen ones, long foretold and prophesied, superheroic powers aren’t given to the strong, mighty, hyper intelligent hero-ing types?  When art student Amie, single mom Sandy, aging athlete Kevin, and goldfish Silas, are imbued with ancient magical powers, they aren’t quite sure how to react, but discover themselves and their powers, throughout their adventures. Touching on topics of bullying, gender identity, and love, Power Up will spark critical conversations with your young reader.

What are your favorite hero comics for kids? Be sure to share them with me on twitter @librnwithissues or in the comments below.

Trade Watching – Curse Words #1

Collection development is a large part of a library’s budget and a librarian’s time. It can be difficult to develop a graphic novel collection development plan when the length between reading a review for a first issue and the time when a trade comes out can be affected by many factors, including printer issues and unscheduled delays. Trade Watching posts will consist of reviews of #1 issues with their projected trade paperback release date along with a reminder when that date rolls around.

2017-05-curse-wordsCurse Words #1
By Charles Soule and Ryan Browne
Colors by Ryan Browne, Jordan Boyd, and Michael Parkinson
Letters by Chris Crank, Ryan Browne, and Shawn Depasquale.

“Once Upon a time, there was a wizard. Then it all went to hell,” cold opens the new Image title by Charles Soule and Ryan Browne. Meet Wizord, a magician from another dimension sent by his master, Lord Sizzajee, to end the world. However, after days of spell preparation, a chance encounter with a hot dog vendor turns Wizord into Earth’s protector instead of destroyer. When asked, “How is it that they [people relaxing along the water] can spend so much time in idleness? Where are their masters?” Wizord gets his first glimpse at a world without slaves and masters, nobles and those in their services, and he admires. Staying on Earth, Wizord cleans up his look, but keeps his incredible hipster beard, rents an office space, and with his sidekick, a talking Koala named Margaret, starts his work as a Wizard for Hire.

In this issue, we discover Wizord’s origin, along with a few of his clients. His business has only three rules: no curses, no wars, no love. He’s extinguished wildfires, conjured food to alleviate hunger, returned a missing child to their family, and denied a nefarious looking general. When Johnny One, a baby faced musician who could be mistaken for a Canadian YouTuber turned Usher protégé, visits Wizord to become platinum, all seems to go well until Cornwall, an Elizabethan inspired wizard, attacks Wizord for his insurrection.

2017-05-curse-words-pg-7Browne’s art is arresting and vibrant, creating a colorful yet based in reality world for Wizord to inhabit. Panel layout plays a large roll in pushing the narrative for many comics and Browne’s use of irregular, yet straight lined panels invoke the mystical arts. Many of the panels feel like they are parts of a potion which must be put together in a particular way for the story to advance. The use of color injects a lot of symbolism into this book. The potion created to destroy the world is pink, but Wizord is paid in sapphires, has a blue staff and his magic is blue. Cornwall’s magic is also pink and his staff is rather phallic in nature. I’m excited to see how the symbolism continues in the next few issues.

I have been a huge fan of Soule since his run on She-Hulk a few years ago. He tends to write solitary characters with extraordinary powers like She-Hulk, Daredevil, and Swamp Thing. An immigration lawyer as well as a writer, it feels like Soule’s work with immigrants seeps into his books though the outsider characters he often writes. It is also interesting to note that this book does not have caption boxes, everything is divulged through dialogue and the occasional tweet, mostly about how Margaret is left out of some of Wizord’s situations. It is difficult to tell the relationship between Wizord and Margaret. Why is Margaret an animal? Is she a magician gone bad? In servitude to Wizord? We’ll have to wait and  see in issue #2 and beyond.

Curse Words Volume 1 is set to be released on July 25th, 2017.