Graphic Novel Review: The Unwanted

The Unwanted: Stories of The Syrian Refugees by Don Brown. HMHTeen, 2018. 9781328810151. 105pp.

Unwanted Cover photoBrown’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 into focus (even for just a page or two), it makes it clear that every person in every crowd is dealing with their own particularly difficult experiences.

In Brown’s notes, he says he wanted to focus on the refugee experience, and disregarded everything else to avoid creating “an enormous, sprawling book, one that would not be well served by a graphic novel.” Included in the back are journal summaries from his visits to a refugee camp in Greece in 2017 (along with photos), source notes on particular pages that include the sources of dialogue, and an extensive bibliography. Kudos to him for all of this — it’s not the standard in nonfiction graphic novels, but it should be.  While this book may not answer every question about Syrian refugees, it is a great graphic novel.

Unwanted Interior regular

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Graphic Novel Review: Onibi

Onibi Cover (small)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, and light, and make every page a pleasure to read and reread.

Onibi 3 square

 

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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.

Pebble and WrenIf 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 Germany to become a godfather, I’ll introduce you to my new collaborator.

Best,

-Gene

 

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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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Thanks!

Just wanted to say thanks on behalf of Chris and me for making Library COMIC’s first year a success.  It’s been a fantastic, surprising year, from our first library conference to our enamel pin Kickstarter to regularly being read by more than 300,000 of you via our website and social media.

Next year I’ll be at more conferences, plus we’re already working on our next Kickstarter idea. We’ll probably open an online store at some point, too, and I’ll continue to give keynotes and talks at staff days and conferences.

Personally, I’ve had a rough few weeks — a close friend, whom I met at the library system where I used to work, passed away. But his death brought me into the orbit of people I used to work with, many of whom I hadn’t seen for years. It reminded me how much I love the people I’ve had the chance to work with at the library.

I hope you’re lucky enough to feel that way about your colleagues, and I hope to meet many of you in the coming year.

-Gene

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Thanks for the American Library Association Conference memories!

ALA 2017 LincolnA big thanks to all of you who stopped by the Library Comic booth at the American Library Association conference last weekend. Our first conference appearance was a huge success, and I hope you all had a chance to meet some of the other comics folks in the Graphic Novel Pavilion, too.

Special thanks to everyone who volunteered their time to help me out in the booth:

Laura Keys and her husband Robert Kaplafka helped me move in and set up. Laura does live performances as historic women including Mary Todd Lincoln and Laura Ingalls Wilder. She introduced me to the fantastic Kevin Wood aka Abe Lincoln (pictured above), who joined me at the booth on Friday night. They both do school visits — check out their websites at www.laurafkeyes.com and www.mrlincoln.com if you’re looking to book a great program.

I also owe a big shout out to retired speech professor Marlene Atkins, librarian / MLIS student Samantha Mairson, and my gaming buddy Ryan Nolet for going above and beyond the call of duty. Without your help at the booth folding T-shirts, providing caffeine infusions, and giving me time to run to the men’s room, it would have been a tough show.

Personal highlights of the show for me included meeting several French graphic novelists, short conversations with Owly creator Andy Runton and Drama / Ghosts creator Raina Telgemeier, and seeing Lynda Barry give the most amazing and indescribable speech ever at Saturday’s Eisner party. Holy crap and wow!

Hope you had a great time, too, and that I’ll see you all again at ALA Midwinter in Denver.

-Gene

 

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Welcome to Library Comic!

Hey there,

You’re here at the very beginning. Thanks for joining us. It’s good to have you here! Our first comic will post tomorrow.

Library Comic is about the goings on at a large library with a large staff. (Chris and I have been quietly working on it for months as we wrapped up work on Unshelved.) We’re going to infuse it with the all sorts of realistic weirdness on both sides of the desk as we get to know the characters we’ve created. Right now our vision is that the central character will change from time to time, and I want the patrons to get as many good lines as the librarians, but we’ll see what happens. So far it’s been great fun, even though Chris is keeping me from having patrons clip their toenails in every comic (this is, apparently, my go-to weird/repulsive library patron behavior right now.)

But I digress. We’d love to hear how you like it. And send us your stories.

Plus, pretty please, sign up for our newsletter + tell all your friends.

-Gene

thelibrarycomic@gmail.com

PS: Check out the site on your phone, too — Chris optimized it so you can look at it on your phone or the site or wherever you want.

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