Author: Gene Ambaum

Graphic Novel Review: Blackbird Days

Blackbird Days by Manuele Fior. Fantagraphics, 2018. 9781683960836. 104pp http://amzn.to/2QlRnSA – As a balding middle aged guy, I should probably support the decision to put Inspector Marcuzzi and his futuristic car on the cover of this collection of short graphic works. But honestly? I’m not drawn to books about guys who look like me, and I doubt you are, either. It was only after seeing the book a few times that I recognized Fior’s name as the author / illustrator behind 5,000 Kilometers per Second and The Interview and started reading. – The title story is very softly science fiction, and has some connection to The Interview. Of the rest I really enjoyed “Class Trip,” a very short tale about a rude student and the literature instructor he’s at odds with in which Fior doesn’t shy away from or mock middle aged nudity. “Postcard from Oslo,” a two page vignette about a young Italian woman staying in the Norwegian countryside, […]

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Graphic Novel Review: Edison Beaker, Creature Seaker: The Night Door

Edison Beaker, Creature Seeker: The Night Door by Frank Cammuso.  Viking, 2018. 9780425291924.  160pp. While hanging out with their Uncle Earl, Edison, his sister Tess (short for Tesla), and her hamster Scuttlebutt learn the truth about the family business: they’re not exterminators, they keep their town safe from the supernatural creatures that live on the other side of the Night Door. Now their uncle is missing, and so is the keystone, the only thing that has the power to shut the Night Door. The hunt for the keystone takes Edison into the darkness on the other side of the door, where he has to save his family from Baron Umbra and his shadowy underlings. This beautifully drawn graphic novel is perfect for readers who enjoyed Cammuso’s other series: Salem Hyde, The Knights of the Lunch Table, and Max Hamm Fairy Tale Detective.

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Graphic Novel Review: Coda Volume 1

Coda Volume 1 by Simon Spurrier & Matías Bergara. BOOM!, 2018. 9781684153213. Contains #1 – #4 of the comic book series. http://amzn.to/2DOx4HA Sometimes coloring is so good it’s impossible to ignore. (See: Laura Martin’s work in the Planetary series and Issabelle Arsenault’s in Jane, the fox & me). Other times it just adds to the fun. (See any issue of Adventure Time or Invincible, and every book of Trondheim and Sfar’s Dungeon series). But once in a while colors are so berserk and eye catching I can’t understand how they work together — examples include Tula Lotay’s colors in Supreme: Blue Rose, the covers for Slam!, and now Matías Bergara’s insane mix of gradients in Coda. There may be thousands of colors on the first page, an illustration of a rotting husk of a giant dragon.  Somehow they work together to perfectly create this broken, post-apocalyptic, former high fantasy world. The writing is great, too —- Spurrier’s first bit of […]

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Graphic Novel Review: Grass Kings Volume 1

Grass Kings Volume One by Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins.  BOOM! Studios, 2018. 978168415115.  Reprints #1-#6 of the series.  176pp including a cover gallery and additional artwork.  https://amzn.to/2JYpDxJ The Grass Kingdom isn’t too far from the city of Cargill, on some land by the sea. It’s a place full of people seeking the freedom to live as they like. They’re ruled by Robert, but he’s been doing way too much drinking since he lost his daughter and his wife. The Kingdom is surviving because it has an airport and everything its residents need, including its own police officer. After Robert gives shelter to a woman on the run, all hell breaks loose. The Sheriff of Cargill wants her back, and sends in a thug, Big Dan, to provoke a response. It all ends up with a threat against all the residents of the Grass Kingdom, and they show everyone why that’s a very bad idea. Jenkins’ watercolors are fantastic, and […]

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Graphic Novel Review: Kitten Construction Company

  Kitten Construction Company: Meet the House Kittens by John Patrick Green. First Second, 2018. 9781626728301. Mewburg is building a new mansion for its Mayor, but the City Planner won’t consider Marmalade’s design because she’s a cute little kitten and “just too adorable to be taken seriously.” After meeting Sampson, an electrical engineer / kitten who’s only been able to work as a dishwasher, they form an all-kitten construction firm and set out to prove their skills. This is a wonderfully silly book that I wouldn’t mind reading over and over again to the right kid. Green’s art and comics keep getting better, which is saying something since his last book was Hippopotamister. A big shout out to Cat Caro’s textured colors — they really up the cute quotient.

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Graphic Novel Review: The Unwanted

The Unwanted: Stories of The Syrian Refugees by Don Brown. HMHTeen, 2018. 9781328810151. 105pp. Brown’s graphic novel opens with protests in Syria in March 2011, and the violence that followed. As Syrians flee the country and Assad’s soldiers, others join the fight. Hardships plus the possibility of torture and execution force many to make difficult choices for themselves and their families. Overloaded ships overturn at sea. Profiteers are everywhere.  It’s not clear who refugees can trust or where they can go, but leaving seems like a better, safer bet than staying. The book doesn’t follow a single refugee on her harrowing journey, but instead summarizes the experiences of many based on diverse sources. Individual faces are often drawn somewhat indistinctly, more so in crowd scenes. Despite the circumstances, there are moments of joy and hope. The book made me realize both the scope and scale of what’s happening, and in giving specific examples (with sources cited) and bringing different people […]

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Graphic Novel Review: Onibi

Onibi: Diary of a Yokai Ghost Hunter by Atelier Sento (aka Cécile Brun and Olivier Pichard). Translated from French by Marie S. Velde. Tuttle, 2018. 9784805314968. 128pp. In a small shop in Suruwada, a young French tourist (Cécile) buys a magical camera with a lens polished by monks. Cécile and her boyfriend Olivier are told it can photograph supernatural creatures, or Yokai. As they explore the area and its stories, Cécile snaps a photo which is printed in blue at the end of each story (see below). The tales of the yokai are true, and invisible creatures are everywhere (including foxes and the worm-like bura bura along with more familiar types of ghosts). Brun and Pichard were inspired to write this graphic novel on their trips to Niigata Prefecture and the folks they met there. Their love the people, the place, and in particular the food comes through. The creative team’s pencils and watercolors give great expressiveness to faces, colors, […]

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Enter Pat Coleman — comic 496

Please help me welcome by buddy Pat to the Library Comic team. He’s an illustrator and artist who’s also done a bit of cartooning (and is now going to be doing more more more) and a lot of work for the American Library Association. Pat’s a great guy to wander through museums with — he knows a ton about techniques artists use (at least someone can answer my questions!), sometimes disagrees with my questionable taste in modern art, and tells hilarious, cringe-inducing stories. I love the style he brings to the library and the characters — it’s a bit more Scooby Doo, and at times a bit more spooky — and I can’t wait to see what’s going to develop as we work together. -Gene PS: If you recognize Pat’s last name from libraryland and you’re wondering, the answer is yes, he’s her husband.

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The End Is The Beginning

Today marks the end of Chris Hallbeck’s time co-creating Library Comic with me. He’s been great to work with for the past two years on this project (and even farther back on Unshelved), plus he’s brought me back into the DC Universe of TV-shows and he’s the most LEGO-riffic dude I know. If you need advice about social media, I hope you’re luck enough to know someone as knowledgable as Chris. If you haven’t seen his  new comic, please check out the totally sweet Pebble and Wren — it’s amazing work by a cartoonist at the top of his game, and there’s already a few months of comics to enjoy. (That link is to the first one.)  And of course Chris is still writing and drawing Maximumble, too!   Library Comic is going to have a few weeks of repeats featuring some of my favorite strips from the last two years. Then, after I return from a quick trip to […]

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Book Reviews

I’m going to start posting book reviews here in the Library Comic blog 1-2 times per week starting in November 2018. I’ll mostly be reviewing graphic novels, though I’ll also be featuring art books, picture books, and whatever else I enjoy reading. I’m also planning to create a few comics-format (or at least comics-suppmented) reviews like I used to do for the Unshelved Book Club. You can see my recent reviews (with Sarah Hunt! and guests!) at Book Threat, and if you’d like to check in on book reviews on this site, you can use this link. Stay tuned. -Gene PS: If you don’t see the links in the above, click on the title of the post and you will. A complete list of books I recommend reading will be available at http://www.amazon.com/shop/librarycomic

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