Graphic Novel Review: These Savage Shores by Ram V, illustrated by Sumit Kumar.

These Savage Shores by Ram V, illustrated by Sumit Kumar, colored by Vittorio Astone, lettered by Aditya Bidikar. Vault, 2019. 9781939424402. Contains issues #1 – #5.

Alain Pierrefont, an injured vampire on the run, arrives in Calicut, on the Malabar Coast, in 1766. Young Prince Vikram of the Zamorin hosts Alain, and the East India Company wants him to help exert influence over the young ruler to open a land trade route. Alain is warned by the Prince that “Savage things roam the nights in these parts.” He doesn’t take that warning at all seriously. He should have.

Other creatures roam the land, or maybe protect it. Soon the hunter on Alain’s trail is there, too, as are some of the other vampires who knew him in Europe. There’s a bit of romance, an ancient immortal, and quite a bit of violence. Kumar’s art and Astone’s colors work together to create the perfect atmosphere for Ram V’s story.

This book is right up there with Gideon Falls as one of the best horror graphic novels of last year. It has a lot of brooding shelf appeal, especially for anyone who reads the great marketing copy on the back.

 

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Graphic Novel Review: dancing at the pity party: a dead mom graphic novel by Tyler Feder

dancing at the pity party: a dead mom graphic novel by Tyler Feder. Dial, 2020. 9780525553021. 202pp, including a bunch of family photographs at the end.

Tyler’s mother Rhonda was diagnosed with cancer when Tyler was a college freshman, and died not too long afterwards following intensive chemotherapy. Tyler convinced me (as she will convince you) that her mom was the coolest. Dealing with her death has been tough on Tyler, her dad, her sisters, and everyone who knew her.

Reading about her mom’s final moment (and the days of waiting for it) brought back similar experiences for me — I had to put this book down a few times and take some deep breaths. Her lists of dos and don’ts for dealing with a grieving person are spot on. And I learned a lot about shivas, which I’d heard of but never really understood. The photos at end are devastating and wonderful — don’t jump ahead unless you absolutely can’t help it.

This is going on my shelf next to Doug Stanhope’s Digging Up Mother, which has the greatest sendoff I think anyone could ever hope for (opinions will vary), and It’s OK that you’re NOT OKAY by Megan Divine, a book that helped me a few years ago after a friend died.

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Guest Book Review: Women of Substance

Women of Substance by Revilo. Hallmark Books, 2005. No ISBN. 80pp.
This is a collection of silly cartoons by Oliver Christianson, better known as Revilo, a well-known cartoonist who writes and draws for Hallmark. His books and cards have made me giggle, chuckle, and snort loudly. He simply doesn’t give a crap. Women of Substance depicts snarky, self-deprecating women who know how to laugh at themselves and others. Between all my own issues and the opportunities my library’s patrons give me, Revilo is my hero — he’s actually drawn and exposed my innermost thoughts! Below are a few that made me laugh the hardest.
Guest review by NowBrusMom.
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Easy Reader Reviews

Kiwi Cannot Reach (Ready to Read Level One) by Jason Tharp. Simon Spotlight, 2019. 9781534425125.

Kiwi can’t reach a rope above its head, so it enlists the help of the reader to shake the book and push buttons and do other stuff to help it. The best thing about this early reader is that it’s a very short and simple (and wonderfully drawn) comic book in disguise. (In fact most of the books in this review are.)

 

Barry’s Best Buddy (Easy-To-Read Comics Level One) by Renée French. TOON Books, 2012. 9781935179214.

This is about a small bird named Barry. His friend Polarhog wakes him up because he has a surprise. He buys Barry a hat (but Barry doesn’t like hats). He buys Barry an ice cream (Barry doesn’t like ice cream, either). (The ants at the bottom of the pages offer a clue to Polarhog’s final surprise, which Barry does like.)

My family loved French’s Tinka, about a tiny sheep. They’ll love Barry, too.

Mr. Monkey Bakes a Cake by Jeff Mack. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. 9781534404311.

Mr. Monkey puts a lot of bananas into his cake and his stomach. Since he’s not hungry for the cake, he decides to enter it in a show. Now he’s got to get it there. A lot of things make that difficult, including weird vehicles, ravenous birds, and a hungry but ultimately friendly gorilla. My favorite two-page spread has a lot of those birds on it. Have a look at it, it’s spectacular.

 

 

Knight Owls (Ready to Read Level One) by Eric Seltzer, illustrated by Tom Disbury. Simon Spotlight, 2019. 9781534448810.

My favorite of the Ready to Read books by Seltzer and Disbury in my to-review pile, this features medieval owls in armor, a pizza-making dragon, and a fair bit of reading. It’s friendly, funny, and well drawn, but not as slapstick as Mr. Monkey.

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Mostly Picture Book Reviews

Duckworth, the Difficult Child by Michael Sussman, illustrated by Júlia Sarda. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019. 9781534405127.

When a giant snake comes out of his closet, Duckworth’s parents, who are trying to deal with him, tell him he’s too old to be imagining things like that. After he takes a nap, the snake eats him. His parents continue to ignore it.

 

 

How To Be A T. Rex by Ryan North, illustrated by Mike Lowery. Dial, 2018. 9780399186240.

When Sal grows up he wants to be a T. Rex. His brother says that’s impossible. His brother is wrong. It’s fun being a dinosaur, but there are downsides, too. (This is another great, short comic disguised as a picture book.)

 

 

 

Everything Awesome about Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts by Mike Lowery. Orchard Books, 2019. 9781338566291. 128pp (not a picture book!)

I’m obviously a huge fan of Lowery’s picture books, and of pretty much everything he draws. This is maybe my favorite dinosaur book ever, probably because it has lots of other animals, too. Lowery’s lettering is as fun as his drawings.

This fall there’s another book like this coming from Lowery, about sharks and other underwater creatures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Two Mutch Sisters by Carol Brendler, art by Lisa Brown. Clarion Books, 2018. 9780544430747.

“The Mutch Sisters were collectors.” They still are, and their house is full of crap — two of everything. There’s no space! Ruby tells Violet she’s moving out. And she does. Then Violet feels like something is missing, and takes drastic steps. (Is this a warning about two collectors getting used to living together? That’s how I’m taking it.)

Worth noting: Brown draws everything from cats to glockenspiels to bear skins with tons of panache. She’s one of my five favorite picture book illustrators, right up there with Jon Agee and Mike Lowery!

 

 

The Lost Book by Margarita Surnaite. Margarget K. McElderry Books, 2019. 9781534438187.

Books are everywhere in Rabbit Town, and everyone loves them except Henry. Then he finds a lost book, and sets off to find its owner in the human city. Touching and surprising plus (spoiler alert) Henry doesn’t fall in love with books at the end!

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Picture Book Reviews

In A Jar by Deborah Marcero. GP Putnam’s Sons, 2020. 9780525514596.

Llewellyn is a rabbit who collects things in jars: rocks, feathers, leaves. One day he collects the light of a sunset and gives it to his friend Evelyn. Then they collect things together, at least until her family moves away.

 

 

 


my heart by corinna luyken. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2019. 9780735227934.

A black and white and yellow book that contains a poem about happiness, sadness, and our ability to open our hearts. There’s a little darkness in this book, but the yellow lets the joy burst through so much it’s amazing.

 

 

 

Imagine! by Raúl Colón. Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2018. 9781481462730.

A young man visits the Museum of Modern Art. Characters and creatures from paintings step out of their frames, and they dance together down the street and around New York City. Colón’s colorful drawings are as amazing as always, but really leap off the pages in this one.

 

 

Rodzilla by Rob Sanders, art by Dan Santat. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2017. 9781481457798.

A giant, soft, squishy monster is loose in the city. It farts, unleashes giant boogers, and hurls. Hilariously gross.

 

 

The Fox On The Swing by Evelina Daciutè and Aušra Kiudulaite. Thames & Hudson, 2018. 9780500651568.

Paul lives in a treehouse in a park with his family. He befriends a fox by giving it his daily roll from the bakery. Sometimes the fox is down, but other times it’s super happy, but they’re great friends. One day Paul and his family move away. (Don’t worry, he’s able to find happiness again.)

This totally wordy picture book is by two Lithuanian creators, and feels even more philosophical than most picture books. The art is outrageously odd and fun.

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Graphic Novel Review: Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist by David Almond, illustrated by David McKean

Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist by David Almond, illustrated by David McKean. Candlewick, 2019. 9781536201604. 80pp.

While Joe Quinn, Geordie, and Davie watch two girls play tennis, Joe tells them about the poltergeist at his house. There’s been stuff flying all over and smashing his place up. They don’t quite believe him as Joe has told lies before, but as his mom makes them chips things start flying around the kitchen. Geordie thinks it’s nonsense. But Davie, he seems to believe a bit, which has something to do with the fact the he misses his dead sister. Davie keeps going back to Joe’s, and talking to a priest (who is questioning his own beliefs).

Based on a previously published story by Almond, McKean’s drawings & collages are simply fantastic. I can’t imagine many kids or teens being wowed by this, but adult comics fan will love it, especially if they’re nostalgic for the days when they could eat a sandwich full of butter, chips, and ketchup. McKean even uses elements like panel borders and word balloons to help tell the story. This is a great graphic novel that I’ve already read several times.

 

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Today’s comic (717)

As Willow just told me, this comic worked three months ago when I wrote it, back when the CDC was telling folks that masks didn’t matter.

I looked at it this morning before posting it and thought that  it read like Martin was being a bit dumb. I think we’re all a bit dumb sometimes, even librarians, and I thought this would lead to a bit of discussion in the comments. But I was wrong –clearly it doesn’t work now.

It quickly became clear from all of the comments on Facebook and Instagram that this was simply irritating many of you, and the discussion showed signs of turning into an angry masks vs. no masks debate.  I should have seen this coming but didn’t. My goal is to give you a moment of levity in your day, not to add to worldsuck.

I apologize if Library Comic let you down today. My fault entirely.

I’m going to leave it up on the site with this note under it (you’ll see it twice in your browser if you’re looking at the strip in question) in case you have comments.

-Gene

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Addams’ Apple: The New York Cartoons of Charles Addams

Addams’ Apple: The New York Cartoons of Charles Addams. Pomegranate, 2020. 9780764999369. 160pp including an index, a preface, and a forward.

This is a really nice, geographically-themed collection of Addams’ single panel comics. Most are black and white, but there are a few color pieces, too. There aren’t many Addams Family strips — it’s a chance to explore the range of his style, and to see just how great a cartoonist he was. The man has a lot of fun with perspective, his ink washes are amazing, and his sense of humor surprised me in a few instances. This would make a great gift, or be an amazing discovery on a library shelf.

 

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Graphic Novel Review: Lupus by Fredrik Peters

Lupus by Fredrik Peters. Translator: Edward Gauvin. Top Shelf, 2019. 9781603094597. 392pp.

This non-epic science fiction story starts with Lupus on a long, drug-fueled interstellar fishing trip with his friend Tony. In a bar Lupus meets Sanaa, a sad-looking but radiant woman who asks him to take her with them. They do. Saying much more about the plot would ruin the story, which involves going on the run, hiding out, alien biology, and folks not sure what they want or need from each other. It’s intense in moments yet relaxed for long stretches, and I loved the way the whole thing unfolded.

This is a mammoth black and white graphic novel originally published as four separate books in France. I’ve read and enjoyed Peters’ books that have been translated into English in the last few years, but this is my absolute favorite. His inks remind me of Doug Tennapel’s old black and white comics — they have incredible energy, they’re beautiful to look at, and they absolutely serve the story. I hope you like this book as much as I did.

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