Posted on June 18, 2019 at 9:00 am by Gene Ambaum
To Your Eternity Volume 1 by Yoshitoki Oima. Translation: Steven LeCroy. Kodansha, 2017. 9781632365712. 196pp.
An orb that can take any form is cast to the earth. It lives for a while as a rock, and then as moss, and then, after a wolf dies nearby, it takes its form and becomes conscious. It “reunites” with the wolf’s master, a young boy alone in a village who teaches it how to survive. The people from the village left to find paradise, and to escape the harsh life in a snowy locale. Eventually the boy and the wolf set out to follow them.
This is another book that was hand sold to me by Chris at Seattle’s Comics Dungeon, who is now officially my go-to guy for manga. He let slip that the orb eventually takes human form, but then has to learn how to behave as a human. This is a compelling yet weird start to a story I’m going to follow in later volumes.
Also: this book put me right into the mind of Anne Leckie’s latest novel, and her first fantasy, The Raven Tower, which also has a lot to do with a powerful stone that fell to earth.
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Posted on June 13, 2019 at 11:50 am by Gene Ambaum
Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau. First Second, 2019. 9781626726413. 364pp including a recipe for sourdough rolls and some production art in the back.
High school is over, and so is his sister’s wedding. Ari wants to move away to Baltimore with his friends/band mates. His parents need him to stay and help out at the family baker, so Ari hatches a plan to hire a replacement for himself. Enter Hector, a handsome dude who loves baking. Hector will either make it easier to leave or impossible, especially if their friendship ever moves on to the romance it seems destined to become.
The art is black and blue-green, a color that reminds me of a crayon I used to love, and it’s wonderful. The book seems destined to be a favorite of high school kids like my daughter, who hate it when adults their parents’ ages try to label everyone’s sexual orientation. There’s no coming out scene, no weirdness or negative attitude in this book, just a slight thick-headedness on the part of Ari as he tries to figure out what’s going to make him happy.
Reading this reminded me of This One Summer because both graphic novels capture an in-between moment in the lives of their characters. In This One Summer’s case, that was the moment kids become adults. In Bloom it’s the moment when young adults push away from their parents and take full responsibility for their lives and happiness. Highly recommended for all high school libraries.
Posted on June 11, 2019 at 11:51 am by Gene Ambaum
The World’s Best Jokes for Kids Volume 2 by Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar. Andrews McMeel, 2019.. 9781449497996. 124pp.
Silly jokes and puns for kids, every single one illustrated (as it says on the cover) from the creators of Happiness Is… Are they going to be funny to adults? Sometimes. Are kids going to tell them over and over and over again while giggling? I think so. I HOPE so.
I love the illustrations, and the jokes are pretty good. I’m giving my review copies to two kids I know because 1) they’ll love them and 2) they’ll probably torture their parents with them. I can justify the gift because puns are food for thought — they require a deep understanding of language — but I know that I’m going to have to fight hard not to laugh when my friends give me the dead-eyed “Really?” look after the chaos starts.
For a taste of the jokes and illustrations visit:
Posted on June 8, 2019 at 10:53 am by Gene Ambaum
Posted on June 6, 2019 at 11:10 am by Gene Ambaum
Dugout: The Zombie Steals Home by Scott Morse. Scholastic Graphix, 2019. 9781338188097. 256pp.
Twin sisters Stacy and Gina are baseball rivals. Gina and her team are doing well, while Stacy isn’t having any luck. Some of Stacy’s teammates on the Rooks think they’re cursed, and that her grandma is a witch. The latter is true, but their grandma isn’t going to teach Stacy and Gina spells until they’re at least sixteen. After Gina secretly uses her grandma’s magical ingredients on Stacy’s glove anyway, a zombie climbs from the ground in the middle of the Rooks’ practice field. It’s a freaky looking (if somewhat rotten) old guy zombie but don’t worry, it quickly and humorously becomes part of the team. Later, there’s a ghost in a baseball uniform, and a baseball-centered mystery/adventure involving both.
Full disclosure: Morse is one of my favorite cartoonists. I own copies of most of his books and several pieces of his art and I was giddy when I saw a new book by him. (He’s the creator of Soulwind, which was just reissued in a single volume, and is known in kid lit circles for the Magic Pickle series and his story in the first Goosebumps graphic novel.) I’ve seen him draw a few times, and he’s always super quick. I feel like this gives his illustrations an energy I find lacking in a lot of drawings, and in this book it really adds the chases and sports scenes. Recommended for all kids graphic novel collections.
Posted on June 4, 2019 at 10:57 am by Gene Ambaum
Bastard by Max de Radiguès. Fantagraphics, 2018. 9781683961307. 174pp.
Hobo Mom by Charles Foresman, art by Max de Radiguès. Fantagraphics, 2018. 9781683961765. 62pp.
Belgian comics creator Max de Radiguès’s Moose was an amazing YA graphic novel about a kid dealing with an ethical conundrum: whether or not to let his bully die. His two new books deal, in one way or another, with the ethics of motherhood. (And he has several more about to be published in the U.S.)
In Bastard, May and her young son Eugene are on the run after taking part in 52 robberies in one city as part of a gang. After escaping the cops and burying their loot, it becomes clear they’re still not safe. A kind truck driver offers them a chance to lay low for a while, but it’s hard to tell if he’s really a nice guy.
In Hobo Mom, Natasha rides the rails to where her ex and her daughter live. It’s clear she broke his heart, and Sissy has no idea that Natasha is her mother, but Natasha wants to get to know her. After she stays with them for a bit, they start to form a family of sorts, but it’s unclear if she can or should resist the pull of the road.
I love the way de Radiguès’s simple art lets him suddenly mix adult moments into what look like kid-friendly books, in a way that really shakes things up. And I really loved the subtle use of colored screen tones in Hobo Mom — just a nice touch. (I met de Radiguès at NCSfest in May, and he said that he and Foresman drew the book together, passing pages back and forth, and that he inked the final pages to make the art look unified.) Anyway, I’m a huge fan.
Next up on my list by him: Rough Age, another graphic novel about teens, out from One Percent Press in August.
Posted on June 3, 2019 at 10:47 am by Gene Ambaum
Friday was Pat Coleman’s last strip for Library Comic. I know many of you, like me, love Pat’s style, plus all the Easter eggs and celebrity lookalikes he’s been slipping in. He always brings his personality and a huge array of skills to his illustrations, and I hope you’ll join me in thanking him for all his work.
Willow Payne will be taking over art duties as of today, at least for a bit. She’s been working with me for years on Unshelved Book Club strips and our Barbarian Girl graphic novel, plus she illustrated The Library Tarot deck. I think you’re going to love her style, too, if you don’t already.
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Posted on May 30, 2019 at 10:54 am by Gene Ambaum
The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin. Candlewick, 2018. 9780763698225. 544pp. with a discussion by Anderson and Yelchin at the end, about creating a book in which the illustrations disagree with the text.
Elfin scholar Brangwain Spurge is loaded into a barrel then shot from a giant crossbow, sending him on a journey over the Bonecruel Mountains and into the goblin kingdom. (It goes worse than you’d imagine, even with that start.) He’s a spy with a mission from the Order of the Clean Hand and, unbeknownst to him, possibly an assassin. In the goblin kingdom he’s hosted by Werfel the Archivist, historian at the Court of the Mighty Ghohg, who’s excited to meet an elf despite the history of war between their peoples. Werfel tries to show Spurge the best of the goblin kingdom, and to prepare him to meet (and dance for) the otherworldly and somewhat inexplicable Ghogh. Nothing goes as planned: the pair don’t become fast friends, and it’s all Werfel can do to keep Spurge safe.
The story is immensely entertaining, especially as Spurge’s former tormentor back home starts to get what he deserves, and (minor spoiler) as a friendship forms between Spurge and Werfel. The book is full of silent sequences of images by Yelchin that look like 19th century goblin etchings sent through a library fax machine. They’re as hilarious as they are fun to read.
Posted on May 28, 2019 at 10:09 am by Gene Ambaum
The Highest House by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. IDW, 2018. 9781684053544. 188pp. Contains #1 – #6 of the series in an oversized paperback.
Moth’s mother sells him as a slave to Clan Aldercrest in order to feed his siblings. It’s soon clear that the Steward sees something special (perhaps magical) in him. After he crosses The Bridge of Sorrows and enters Highest House, Moth begins training as an apprentice roofer. He also begins delving into the mysteries of the House, both on his own and with a powerful being trapped somewhere inside it who speaks to him and wants Moth to pledge himself to its service.
This book has a lot to recommend. It’s from the creative team behind The Unwritten and the original run of Lucifer, both published by DC’s Vertigo imprint. Carey also writes as M.R Carey (The Girl With All The Gifts and its sequels), plus he authored the Felix Castor novels, many other great comics, and lots more I probably don’t know about.
Check out his work if you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman. This oe also reminded me of Anne Leckie’s newest book, her first fantasy novel, the story of a trapped god: The Raven Tower.
Posted on May 23, 2019 at 10:37 am by Gene Ambaum
An overconfident newcomer to Alaska and his dog walk through the frozen Yukon, headed for camp. He’s distracted by thoughts of warmth and food. The dog, of course, can’t tell its master how much the cold worries it.
I can’t think of another comics illustrator as gifted as Chabouté. This short graphic novel combines the best elements of his Alone (an exploration of the mind of an isolated man) and his adaptation of Moby Dick (the time period, and strong, quick characterizations) with a sense of struggle and cold to perfectly express the short story by Jack London. (And maybe this is weird, but I was struck by his perfectly drawn birch trees. And his sticks! Every detail of this book looks perfect.)
Worth noting: this graphic novel could save your life if you’re given to wandering in frozen landscapes alone.No Comments - Read More