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DAN PATTERSON - Graphic Novel Specialist/Cataloguing Coordinator

May 2017

"The Flintstones. Volume 1" by Mark Russell

Part of DC Comics new hip, modern takes on classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons, The Flintstones takes the classic bedrock characters and infuses them with modern sensibilities.  Fred and Barney are veterans of the fight for Bedrock, Wilma is a local artist and Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm are tweens in this biting satire of modern life via a prehistoric setting.  I can’t say I fondly remember the original cartoon but this comic is a great read.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1234426

"The Stone Heart" by Faith Erin Hicks

The adventures of Kai and Rat continue in Faith Erin Hick’s second volume in the Nameless City trilogy.  The two are doing well after stopping the assassination of the General of Blades but there is still tension in the City and secrets to be revealed.  It seems there are more challenges to face before the Nameless City finds peace.

JUVENILE GRAPHIC NOVEL

Hardcover LBN 1234328

Paperback LBN 1220523

"Getting Out of Hope" by James Cadelli

Life isn’t great in small town Hope.  Justin, Leo and Dean are on a road-trip in an old RV that breaks down, while Marie manages a local apartment with tenants like JoJo, an old woman dealing with aging, and Thomas, a small-town drug dealer.  Cadelli weaves the stories of all six together as they hope to get out of Hope town and head towards a better life.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1249592

April 2017

"Nunavik" by Michel Hellman

The North is an indelible part of Canadian identity, yet for most the reality of life near the Arctic Circle is largely unknown.  Facing a spot of writer’s block trying to follow up his book Mile End, Michel Hellman decides to take a trip up to Nunavik, the northern portion of Quebec, and experience the north for himself.  Traveling to tiny towns accessible only by plane, Michel meets Inuit, activists, hunters and documentarians in this funny and honest memoir that provides a unique look at northern life.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1211513

"Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos, and Me" by Lorina Mapa

Returning to the Philippines after the untimely death of her father, Lorina Mapa has the opportunity to reflect on both her life growing up there in the 1980s and her current life living in Montreal.  Reflecting on family and society, mixed with imported music and the 1986 revolution that brought down Ferdinand Marco, Mapa mourns her father and the life left behind.  Duran, Duran, Imelda Marcos and Me is a moving reflection on a modern life.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1249197

"Ichi-F: A Workers Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant" by Kazuto Tatsuta

In the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi, amateur manga artist Kazuto Tatsuta applied to work as part of the cleanup crew decommissioning the nuclear plant. Partly motivated by the desire to help and partly motivated by tales of high pay, Tatsuta joined a distant subcontractor of TEPCO and began work at the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

Ichi-F is Tatsuta’s look at the day-to-day life of the cleanup crew as they slowly decommission the plant in a process that will ultimately take decades.  Morning drives in through the abandoned countryside where Tsunami damage was still present, the onerous process of suiting up in protective gear to sometimes spend as little as an hour on site before the daily radiation limit is reached, regular radiation checks, and even occasional misses with loose cows on the highway, are all part of the cleanup crew experience in this interesting insider’s look.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1234600

March 2017

"Superman. Volume 1. Son of Superman " by Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason and Doug Mahnke

The beginning of Superman in the rebirth era sees the pre-52 Superman and Lois Lane returning to DC Comics in the wake of the death of the New 52 Superman.  Also along is their son Jon, who is just beginning to develop his own super powers in light of his half Kryptonian heritage.  The result is not just a tale of super battles against villains but also a tale of Superman being a father and a family man putting forth the most interesting Superman comic in years.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1234387

"Scooby Apocalypse. Volume 1" by Keith Giffen and Howard Porter

I wouldn’t have thought I’d be reading a Scooby-Doo comic in 2017 but DC Comics announcement  of a teen rated Scooby-Doo reboot set in a post-apocalyptic world was crazy enough to pique my interest, so when the opportunity came along I had to read it.  Yes, it is a post-apocalyptic story where the monsters the Scooby gang fight are real but it also manages to retain enough of the original to be truly Scooby-Doo.  Scooby Apocalypse is a fun comic and definitely worth a read.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1234415

"Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire" by Neil Gaiman and Shane Oakley

A short, darkly comical tale of an author filled with desire to write a great literary novel but being constantly interrupted by the travails of the gothic world he lives in. This is a great little tale by Neil Gaiman with a fun twist at the end.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1234372

February 2017

"Seth's Dominion: A Film by Luc Chamberland" by Luc Chamberland

Luc Chamberland takes a look at the life of acclaimed Canadian graphic novelist Seth in this innovative double-spined hardcover with DVD.  Featuring selections of Seth’s work in one section, a photo essay of Seth’s life in another section and a DVD with the documentary itself, Seth’s Dominion presents a look at the idiosyncratic artists life and work.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1217021

"Bandette. Volume Three, The House of the Green Mask" by Paul Tobin; art by Colleen Coover

Bandette’s delightful adventures continue in this third volume.  The legendary House of the Green Mask is supposed to hold many of the artistic treasures of the world and The Voice has set his sights on it and kidnapped Bandette’s beau to force her to uncover the secret. It’s a romp of revenge and rescue in this great graphic novel.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1221231

"James Bond: Vargr" by Warren Ellis; illustrated by Jason Masters

When England is hit with a bad strain of cocaine that kills its users, James Bond is put on the case. Fresh off avenging the death of 008, Bond heads to Berlin to track down the source of the bad drugs.  But naturally for James Bond, the mission does not quite go as smoothly as planned...  Smart and modern, Ellis and Masters have put together a great comic adaptation of the classic James Bond.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1234868

January 2017

"The Longest Day of the Future" by Lucas Varela

In a futuristic city, two mega-corporations are engaging in a ceaseless cold war scheming to destroy each other and reign supreme. Things are largely at a stalemate until the arrival of a mysterious alien UFO sets in motion a day which might change everything.  Longest Day of the Future is a great look at a disconcerting corporate future.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1197037

"Moon Knight. Volume 1, Lunatic" by Jeff Lemire

Jeff Lemire’s work, both independent and on super-hero titles, is usually great and here he takes on Moon Knight, a masked vigilante with a penchant for Egyptian gods and dissociative identity disorder.  While waking up in a mental institute with amnesia is an often abused plot point Lemire expertly weaves in the Moon Knight mythos to create a fantastic story as he takes on gods and monsters to save the world.  Or at least his own mind.

YA GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1185054

"Notes on a Thesis" by Tiphaine Riviere

Being accepted into a PhD course should be a time of great excitement even with the daunting task looming ahead, but Jeanne discovers there is more to the process than simply researching and writing.  Indifferent supervisors, petty rivalries and the grind of time work to derail Jeanne’s quest for doctorate. Notes on a Thesis is a great slice-of-life look at striving for higher education.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1211465

December 2016

"Hilda and the Stone Forest" by Luke Pearson

Even living in the city of Trollberg, Hilda has continued her adventurous ways, chasing runaway houses and flying with her bird friend in the sky. Naturally, her mother is a little concerned about these all too regular dangerous adventure and ultimately ends up grounding Hilda. However, when Hilda is caught sneaking out of the house a new adventure begins, but this time Hilda’s mother is coming along.  Luke Pearson’s Hilda books have always been fantastic and Hilda and the Stone Forest continues that tradition while also adding some depth in the relationship between Hilda and her mother.

JUVENILE GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1172408

November 2016

"Secret Path" by Jeff Lemire & Gord Downie

Secret Path is a combined media project of an album and graphic novel plus a television film on CBC telling the story of Chanie Wenjack, a young Ojibwe boy who died of exposure trying to reach his home after escaping from a residential school.  Though the album (given by a download code in the book) will not work in a library setting, the graphic novel alone, combining Downie’s lyrics with Lemire’s art is still a powerful piece telling a tragic story of Canada’s indifference and even hostility to its indigenous population.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1220836

"Bloom County. Episode XI, A New Hope" by Berke Breathed

It’s been more than twenty five years since Berkeley Breathed produced a regular Bloom County strip but in 2015 Breathed returned to his most famous creation by posting strips on his Facebook page in the run up to the 2016 presidential primaries. Whereas Bloom County once had been a slog of missed deadlines, Breathed once again finds joy in his creation, pointing out that he produces the strips to make him laugh as much as anybody else. These comic strips are great. You can feel the joy in their creation as Milo, Michael, Opus, and Bill the Cat once again take their antics to the page.

COMIC STRIP ANTHOLOGY Paperback LBN 1211151

"The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo" by Drew Weing

Charles is not happy. Moved into the big city by his parents, Charles has enough problems adjusting but things get even worse when he discovers that he has a monster in his closet.  Luckily, there is Margo Maloo, Monster Mediator, to step in and make things right. It turns out Echo City is inhabited by both monsters and humans and it’s up to Margo to make sure everyone gets along.

JUVENILE GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1178417

October 2016

"Black Panther. A Nation Under Our Feet, Book One" by Ta-Nehisi Coates & Brian Stelfreeze

Acclaimed writer Ta-Nehisi Coates begins his run on Black Panther in this first volume of the current series.  Wakanda is in turmoil as uprising and revolution roil the land and King T’Challa is caught in the middle trying to guide his country back to peace.  A Nation Under Our Feet is an unusual take in superhero comics in that the antagonists are not laughing supervillains in gaudy costumes.  Instead this comic is about the socio-economic circumstances of a modern (but fictional) African nation, represented by revolution against the monarchy and terrorism in the name of freedom for the people.  A Nation Under Our Feet is very much deserving of all the praise and attention it has received.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1184960

"Three Thieves. Book Seve, The Iron Hand" by Scott Chantler

Scott Chanter’s Three Thieves series comes to a conclusion in the seventh volume, as  Dessa’s journey to find her brother nears its end.  Greyfalcon’s machinations have been discovered but he still has Jared and his plans are already in motion and poised to succeed. But Dessa and the others race back to Kingsbridge to stop Greyfalcon before it’s too late.  The Iron Hand is a great ending to a fantastic series.

JUVENILE GRAPHIC NOVEL

Hardcover LBN 1180606

Paperback LBN 1180605

"Blue Mondays. 1, The Kids are Alright" by Chynna Clugston-Flores

Bleu l. Finnegan loves Adam Ant more than any other rock musician and he’s performing a concert in the city. The only problem is the tickets are all sold out leaving Bleu on the outside. Luckily the radio station is offering tickets but only to caller number nine.  That’s only the beginning of the high school adventure. Add in a prank war with boys, a handsome new substitute teacher and other high school challenges and you have a fun, lively school comedy.

YA GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1211320

September 2016

"Fight Club 2: The Graphic Novel" by Chuck Palahniuk & Cameron Stewart

Chuck Palahniuk continues the story of Tyler Durden withFight Club 2, this time helped out by the art of Cameron Stewart as the sequel takes on the form of a graphic novel instead of prose. Time has passed since the original novel, the narrator and Marla are married and have a son, Tyler Durden secretly rules the world, and Project Mayhem continues to strive to change the world. The story starts with Tyler Durden kidnapping Junior and it ends, well, in Chuck Palahniuk Fight Club fashion.Fight Club 2 is a worthy follow up to the original.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1134283

"Ghosts" by Raina Telgemeier

The new graphic novel from Raina Telgemeier, Ghosts,is the story of Catrina, Maya, and her family. Catrina is reticent about moving up to the Northern California coast but the weather is said to be better for her sister Maya, who has cystic fibrosis. Catrina also isn’t a fan of ghosts which is a little unfortunate as Bahia de la Luna is prime ghost territory and home to a grand Day of the Dead festival.  Ghosts is another great read from Raina Telgemeier, filled with earnest, likable folks and a friendly ghosts.

JUVENILE GRAPHIC NOVEL

Hardcover LBN 1185764

Paperback LBN 1182620

"Angel Catbird" by Margaret Atwood, Johnnie Christmas & Tamra Bonvillain

What do you do when you accidently get transformed into a genetically spliced part-cat, part-bird, part-human? That’s the problem facing Strig Feleedus after an accident involving a super gene splicing formula.  Being a human-animal hybrid would be hard enough but with the conflicting aspects of both the cat and the bird, things are even more difficult. Add in a villainous half-rat and Strig’s life just became significantly more complicated.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1209629

August 2016

"Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! - Volume 1" by Kate Leth & Brittney Williams

In a world of convoluted characters, Pasty Walker has to be one of the most complex. Originally starting in a teen-romantic comedy in the 1940s, moving into romantic adventure for a brief period in the 1960s, Walker then moved into the superhero continuity by joining the Avengers in the 1970s (while still keeping her teen romance stories in continuity).

She's been married to the son of Satan, taken to Titan for training and was, for a period, dead.  Luckily her latest adventures are a little less dangerous as she starts a temp agency for powered individuals who have no desire to be either a hero or a villain. Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat is a fun little series, along the lines of Marvel’s other recent fun series like Squirrel Girl andHoward the Duck that was a pleasure to read.

YA GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1170570

"Trump: A Graphic Biography" by Ted Rall

Just in time for the final stretch of the U.S. Presidential campaign, comes Ted Rall’s Trump: A Graphic Biography, which mixes the details of Trump’s life with an analysis of Trump’s appeal at a time when the United States is in decline. Not necessarily the deepest look at Donald Trump, but this graphic novel is a nice, informative primer on the Republican Party nominee.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1196955

"Wolverine: Old Man Logan: Berzerker" by Jeff Lemire

Spinning out of Marvel’s Secret Wars and descended from Mark Millar’s well-regarded Old Man Logan comesWolverine, Old Man Logan. Originally from a timeline where the villains of the Marvel universe were victorious and wiped out the heroes, Old Man Logan finds himself transported to the Marvel Prime universe where the tragic events of his world haven’t happened. Confused and determined to prevent his future from happening by any means necessary Old Man Logan sets off to kill those responsible before they have a chance to act.

YA GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1170624

July 2016

"Paper Girls. Volume 1" by Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang

Brian K. Vaughan (writer of Saga) pens this tale of paper girls encountering the weird on Halloween in 1988. Erin, Mac, Tiffany and KJ are just regular 80s kids out delivering papers after Halloween, teaming up in case of bullies. Things deteriorate rather quickly though after two hooded thieves mug Tiffany and KJ and lead them to a space egg. Then everybody disappears or mutates, time travel happens, and things go very weird.  While it could go off the rails quickly, Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang hold Paper Girls together with their usual solid work.  Paper Girls might not be on the same level ofSaga but it’s a good read, especially for those of us who remember being teens in the 1980s.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1172277

"Lucky Penny" by Ananth Hirsh

I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into with Lucky Penny. The art looked great and the blurb seemed squarely in the lovable loser category, but that was about all I knew. Still it was enough for me to pick up the book and give it a read.  Lucky Penny is a charming little tale featuring the rather unlucky Penny trying to get by after losing her job and apartment.  Penny is a very likeable character and the story manages to surprise despite the ordinary initial premise.  A pleasant read.

YA GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1172285

June 2016

"Yotsuba&! - Volume 13" by Kiyohiko Azuma

After a brief hiatus my favourite manga returns withYotsuba&! Volume 13. Just back from the camping trip featured in volume 12, Yotsuba settles back into the regular life at home. Life doesn’t stay humdrum for long however as soon enough grandma is in for a visit. Volume 13 continues Yotsuba’s feel-good, slice-of-life adventures with another great volume.

YA MANGA Paperback LBN 1177040

"The Paybacks - Volume 1: Payback's A Bitch" by Donny Cates, Eliot Rahal, and Geoff Shaw

Being a superhero can be an expensive hobby and not everyone is a playboy billionaire who can finance their own adventures.  The Paybacks are a repo squad, formed from super-heroes who have defaulted on their loans to their mysterious benefactor, whose mission is to recover the loans by any means necessary, including forcible conscription into their own ranks. That’s bad enough but when a murderer begins to get to their targets before the Paybacks do things take a turn for the worse.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1134266

"Rat Queens.  Volume Three, Demons" by Kurtis J. Wiebe

The rude and raucous fantasy adventures of the Rat Queens continue. Having survived an encounter with an evil, elder god the Rat Queens find themselves journeying from Palisade towards Mage University. Hannah’s father is in danger and even if she was banished from Mage U she still wants some questions answered but Hannah will learn that things are never easy when dealing with demons.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1171617

May 2016

"The Nameless City" by Faith Erin Hicks

I've been a fan of Faith Erin Hicks ever since I came across The adventures of Superhero Girl, so was looking forward to The Nameless City with great anticipation. Kaidu is newly arrived in the Nameless City, an outsider in the city his nation of Dao has conquered. Rat is a native of the city unconcerned with the latest conquerors. The idea of the outsider and the local striking up an unlikely friendship is not necessarily new but Hicks deft touch at creating likable, charming characters and great art (along with some great colouring by Jordie Bellaire) make a familiar idea a fantastic read. With this being the first volume of a number of books there are some unresolved elements as hooks for future plot developments, but The Nameless City stands well as its own story providing a feeling of looking forward to more rather than feeling unresolved.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1131777

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1131776

"The White Donkey: Terminal Lance" by Maximilian Uriarte

The White Donkey is a fictional tale of a US Marine and his time headed to, in, and coming back from Iraq. Deeply grounded by Uriarte’s own service as a US Marine, this books sense of reality is one of its greatest strengths, even as it might sometimes feel alien to people like me who haven’t served. Still, while what the reader may draw from the book will depend on what direction they come in from, it offers a great reading experience to everyone and is especially relevant in this current time where military service and its aftermath on the individual are such hot topics.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1184996

"I Hate Fairyland. Volume One: Madly Ever After"by Skottie Young

At 6 years of age young Gert was sucked through a portal to Fairyland, echoing Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. All she had to do was quest through Fairyland to find the magic key to open the door home. Unfortunately, Gert is terrible at finding things and after thirty years in Fairyland she’s mentally forty years old but stuck in a six year old's body and still trying to find the magic key using whatever means necessary.  I Hate Fairyland is a humorous bright, colourful, blood-soaked romp through the lands of a child’s dreams.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1169781

 

April 2016

"Through the Habitrails: Life Before and After My Career in the Cubicles" by Jeff Nicholson

Through the Habitrails is a surreal, darkly humoured portrayal of the soul crushing nature of modern corporate work where employees are physically tapped for their essence and hamsters crawl through habitrails feeding on the misery of the employees. Through the Habitrails isn’t the most comfortable read and borders on being depressing but ultimately manages to climb up to marginally uplifting.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1144415

"Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling" by Tony Cliff

Delilah Dirk and Selim return in their second adventure from Tony Cliff. Framed as a spy for the French during the Peninsular War, Delilah Dirk and Selim journey to England to clear their names and maybe get a little revenge in the process.  The only problem is that Delilah’s own family may be a bigger obstacle than the agents who framed them. Delilah and Selim continue to be a fantastic odd couple in this great read.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1131775

"Nichijou - Volume 1" by Keiichi Arawi

 

I’ve always enjoyed weird comedic slice-of-life manga and Nichijou fits right into that group despite being a little more extravagant than others. A robot school-girl worried about the turn key sticking out of her back, a school principal who wrestles deer that have wandered into the school yard and a faux upper-class student who rides a goat to school mix in with standard high school topics like romance and missed homework assignments to create this fun manga.

MANGA Paperback LBN 1135141

March 2016

"Prez. Volume 1" by Mark Russell and Ben Caldwell

Is the U.S. ready for a teenaged president? It’s the near future, corporations are in charge behind the scenes buying votes with only their own rivalries keeping a semblance of political competition.  Beth Ross is a 19-year old fast-food worker famous for being featured in an embarrassing viral video who, by a fluke of the electoral process, ends up as president of the United States.  It’s youthful idealism versus corporate greed.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1134316

"Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant" by Tony Cliff

With the upcoming Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling I decided it was time to pick up Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, which tells the tale of lovable rogue Delilah Dirk and her new found friend Selim in her quest to rob the Sultan of Constantinople.  Delilah Dirk is a thoroughly enjoyable tale that deserves all the recognition it received.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 912436

"Amulet. Book Seven, Firelight" by Kazu Kibuishi

Kazu Kibuishi’s bestselling Amulet series returns. The fight against the Elf King continues but he may not be the only evil looking to harm Emily, Navin and the others. Amulet continues to be a fantastic read.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1139079

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1138428

February 2016

"An Age of License" by Lucy Knisley

When an opportunity comes up for a trip to Europe, expenses paid, you have to take it! But when a comics festival in Norway invites Lucy Knisley to attend - it turns into an epic, enlightening trip full of romance and introspection. Knisley’s graphic memoirs are always fantastic and An Age of License is another excellent example.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1009438


"Displacement" by Lucy Knisley

When Lucy Knisley’s ninety year-old grandparents decide to go on a Caribbean cruise, Lucy finds herself accompanying them as their caretaker. Instead of a cruise full of fun and relaxation, Lucy instead tries to connect with her grandparents and come to terms with mortality.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1038261


 

January 2016

"21st Century Tank Girl" by Alan Martin

Illustrated by Jamie Hewlett

How do I describe Tank Girl? It’s an absurd, violent, anti-authority, punk comic featuring a crew of probably insane misfits roaming a semi-post-apocalyptic Australia tinged with British pop references and getting into weird adventures. Back in the early 90’s I somehow ended up getting my hands on the first North American releases and quite enjoyed the madness. 21st Century Tank Girlis a collection of the most recent mini-series featuring the return of original artist Jamie Hewlett.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1114223

"Space Dumplins" by Craig Thompson

Space Dumplins is a subversively surreal adventure telling the story of Violet Marlocke and her two quirky cohorts as she sets off into space to rescue her father after he goes missing on a secret mission. Girls will like the fearless and friendly Violet, boys will like the gentle but ever present scatological references, adults will appreciate the grand themes of family and ecological commentary while everyone will enjoy the great art and sharp writing.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1100547

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1100546

"Giant Days Volume 1" by John Allison & Lissa Treiman

John Allison (Bad Machinery) writes this comic covering the escapades of three fresh university students living away from home for the first time. Classes are hard enough but add in old enemies, new temptations, social complexities and rampant first-year uber-colds and you have a recipe for a funny coming of age tale for Esther, Susan, and Daisy.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1113977

December 2015

"Drinking at the Movies" by Julia Wertz

I'd initially read Drinking at the Movies back in 2010 when it first came out and though I really liked it I never got around to picking up a copy for myself.  Once I saw it was being re-released by Koyama Press I immediately ordered a copy.  Drinking at the Movies is an autobiographical graphic novel telling the twists and turns of Julia’s life as she deals with moving from San Francisco to New York, a brother battling substance abuse and her own issues with drinking. However, rather than being dark, Drinking at the Movies is witty and humorous even when chronicling serious times. Nominated in the Best Humor Publication category for the 2011 Eisner Awards.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1106457

November 2015

"Trashed" by Derf Backderf

Rarely has the excitement of EPA stats on American garbage habits been portrayed in graphic novel form but in Trashed Derf does just that, combining some sobering information on America’s addiction to disposable goods with the story of small town, bottom of the rung sanitation workers trying to survive bad weather, bizarre townsfolk and small-town bureaucrats.  Based on Derf’s own experiences as a garbage man, Trashed is mostly humorous, occasionally revolting and definitely an interesting read.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1103048

October 2015

"Killing and Dying" by Adrian Tomine

Killing and Dying is a collection of six short graphic stories by Adrian Tomine, each with a distinct visual style but at their heart a beautifully written look at modern life.  Tomine is a master of the form and it shows through in each story, whether it features a woman who discovers she bears an uncanny resemblance to an adult film star or a father dealing with his daughters venture into stand-up comedy.  My personal highlight is “A Brief History of the Art Form Known as Hortisculpture,” a tale of a frustrated artist trying to bring a new art form to the world.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1070898

September 2015

"Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City" by Guy Delisle

Jerusalem is the fourth of Guy Delisle’s fantastic travelogues, detailing his various journeys to places off the standard tourist path.  Jerusalem finds Guy accompanying his wife to Jerusalem on her work with Médecins Sans Frontières and once again through a series of comic vignettes Delisle explores the complexity of daily life in Jerusalem.  Checkpoints, expats, daycare, settlements and daily shopping all combine in a humorous but poignant portrait of a city in conflict.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 817304

"ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times" by Andrew MacLean

I’ve always been a fan of sci-fi and post-apocalyptic stories so when I saw ApocalyptiGirl, it was an easy decision to give it a read. ApocalyptiGirl is not overly long but manages to fit in a rousing tale musing on friendship, home and the nature of humanity’s inclination to violence.  Aria is on a mission on a post-apocalyptic world, searching for an ancient source of power. Her only companion her cat, Jelly Beans as she explores the remnants of the world before determined to succeed and escape.  Andrew MacLeans writing is solid and his art is fantastic in this great graphic novel.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1038338

August 2015

"The Weed Whisperer" by G.B Trudeau

The first comic strip artist to ever win a Pulitzer Prize, Garry Trudeau has been chronicling American politics and culture since 1970. His daily strip, syndicated to 1,000 newspapers worldwide, has been collected into 72 editions and sold over seven million copies. There has never been a shortage of material to work with, from Viet Nam and Watergate to the Bush years, but with recent changes to U.S. marijuana laws, “The Weed Whisperer” hits a high note detailing a major tactical change in “The War on Drugs.” (Reviewed by Ron: Dan Patterson will return from holidays later this month)

COMIC STRIP ANTHOLOGY Hardcover LBN 1101455

July 2015

"Barakamon" by Satsuki Yoshino

Life takes a turn for the comedic as a young professional calligrapher gets sent off to a rural Japanese island inBarakamon. After Seishu Handa punches the elderly curator of a calligraphy exhibition for calling his writing unoriginal he is sent on a retreat to Goto Island to reflect on his actions and dedicate himself to his work. Unfortunately for Handa the colourful locals are more interested in interrupting his work than allowing him the peace he desires. I’ve always liked the slice-of-life, comedy genre and Barakamon is a great example. The characters are wacky yet still very likable and the story has the right mix of mundane and outrageous to be quite enjoyable.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback Vol. 3 LBN 1039947

June 2015

"Descender, Issue #1-3: Volume 1, Tin Stars"by Jeff Lemire

I’m always willing to take a chance on a Jeff Lemire's work and a pure science fiction tale is especially interesting. In Descender, after a mysterious but devastating incident involving artificial intelligence, robots have been banned and bounty hunters track them down.  Tim-21 is a young robot boy, reactivated after ten years on a deserted mining colony, innocent and unaware of the galaxy around. Tesla is a government agent dragging Doctor Quon, the former pre-eminent robotic scientist, on a hunt for Tim-21, searching for answers about the incident that caused artificial intelligence to be banned. Being only three issues in, it is early but I’m excited about where this series is headed, enough such that it’s on my pull list at the local comic shop and I eagerly await issue #4. Jeff Lemire’s writing is always great and the art by Dustin Nguyen is beautiful.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1105116

"Copperhead: Volume 1, A New Sheriff in Town" by Scott Godlewski

The mix of Science Fiction and Western genres isn’t a new idea at this point but also hasn’t been trod on so heavily as to become cliché. The tale at the core of volume one of Copperhead isn’t new. Single mom Clara Bronson is the new Sheriff in the grimy mining town of Copperhead on a backwater planet. The deputy resents being passed over for the promotion, there’s a shady mining tycoon who is undoubtedly up to no good and a family of hillbilly aliens causing a ruckus but add in some aliens, a potentially hostile native species and a questionable past and you have the beginnings of an interesting tale. Volume one is a good set up; introducing the characters and setting and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1062175

May 2015

"Robert Moses: The Master Builder of New York City" by Piere Christin and Olivier Balez

Pierre Christin and Olivier Balez’s Robert Moses: The Master Builder of New York City chronicles the rise and fall Robert Moses, the urban planner that is, more than any other person, responsible for New York City as it exists, either directly through his works or indirectly through the opposition his works roused. When Moses began his rise New York was still a relic of the 19th century and by the end he had presided over the works of the New Deal era and post-war suburban boom and butted into the changing culture of 1960s America. Moses’ story isn’t just about urban planning but also a rise to and eventual fall from power.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1028203

"Spider-Verse" by Dan Slott

Every Spider-man ever; such is the tagline of Amazing Spider-Man’s Spider-Verse event. It is not inaccurate as Spider-Verse presents so many different Spider-Men, Spider-Women, and even some Spider-Animals as to be almost overwhelming. Spider-confusion aside, Spider-Verse is a genuinely fun comic event. The Inheritors have control of the web of fate and are using it to hunt down and exterminate Spider-folk from across the multiverse. Naturally the response of the as yet un-exterminated Spider-folk is to band together to fight the Inheritors and save themselves. There’s a large degree of fan service here but having Amazing Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, Superior Spider-Man, Spider-Ham, Spider-Woman, Spider Gwen and many more teaming up in one event is just enjoyable.

YA GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1047422

April 2015

"The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Volume 1, Squirrel Power" by Ryan North, illustrated by Erica Henderson

It’s hard to explain Squirrel Girl and why she’s popular, as at the heart of it a young woman with the proportional abilities of a squirrel (including a tail) is silly. Then again, that silliness is the key. In the current day of the grim and dark superhero the fun and silliness of Squirrel Girl is a welcome change of pace. Originally created for Marvel’s 1991 Winter Special where she defeated Doctor Doom, Squirrel Girl was initially destined to be a footnote in Marvel history, possibly a trivia answer for the world’s worst superhero. However, her popularity continued to grow and she appeared in a few other Marvel comedic side stories, then as a side character in New Avengers. Now Squirrel Girl is the star of her own ongoing series, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Doreen Green finds herself moving out of the Avengers attic and heading off to Empire State College. Can Doreen balance student life with being a superhero? Probably not but the tale is sure to be fun. Currently the series is two issues in and so far has been quite enjoyable. Ryan North (Adventure Time) does a great job capturing the clueless confidence of Squirrel Girl and the art by Erica Henderson is fun and in line with the fun tone of the comic.

YA GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1065751

"Diary Comics" by Dustin Harbin

Diary Comics is a collection of semi-regular autobiographical comics following the ups and downs of the daily life of Dustin Harbin; sometimes featuring his relationship with his girlfriend, sometimes featuring the daily tribulations of a working cartoonist and sometimes just the ordinary happenstance of life. For the most part each comic represents a single day but as the days go on the thread of self-doubt and the trap of depression emerge to connect the disparate events leading to a self-reflective finale. Diary Comics stays on the right side of autobiography, staying revealing and thoughtful without falling over the edge into self-indulgence.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1059131

March 2015

"The Sculptor" by Scott McCloud

Would you trade your life for the chance to fulfill your dreams? David Smith is faced with that choice when offered a deal from Death itself. The reward is the ability to sculpt anything the mind can imagine, even the hardest of materials flowing easily beneath his touch. The cost is that he only has two hundred days to accomplish his dream of being a famous artist before Death claims him. Facing obscurity and with nothing else going on in his life the deal seems like a windfall. However, fame turns out to be more elusive than David thought and once love enters the picture the cost of Death’s deal may be too much for David to bear.The Sculptor marks Scott McCloud’s return to fiction and with it he has crafted an engrossing tale of the quest for fame and the costs of making unfortunate deals.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 1031462

"Feynman" by Jim Ottaviani

Nobel prize winning physicist, contributor to the Manhattan Project, and a pretty good bongo player.  Richard Feynman was all that and more as shown in Feynman, a graphic novel biography by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick. Covering his life from growing up in Long Island to working on the atomic bomb, teaching at the California Institute of Technology, investigating the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and beyond, Feynman also reveals the humour and exuberance of Feynman as he learns safe cracking, tries to travel to Tuva and plays a few practical jokes on his colleagues.  This is my second time reading through Feynman and it is just as enjoyable, even possibly more so, this time around.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 896209

February 2015

"Rocket Girl. Volume 1, Times Squared" by Brandon Montclare

I started reading Rocket Girl without much foreknowledge. I’d seen mentions here and there that it was a good read but details never seemed to accompany these mentions. Still, the cover images were striking and Image is a publishing many great books these days so when the chance came to read volume one I took the chance.

Rocket Girl is a great comic featuring teenaged alternate reality cops, a potentially evil corporation, time travel back to the 1980s and jet packs. The writing in Rocket Girl is great, keeping a sense of fun and not getting bogged down in the intricacies of time travel. DaYoung Johansson is a fun protagonist featuring a mix of teenaged idealism and confusion as she adjusts to a different time. Amy Reeder’s bright, clean art is distinct and appealing. I’ll give Rocket Girl the best compliment I can, next time I stop by the comic shop I’m going to add it to my pull list.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 1021189

December 2014

"Andre the Giant: Life and Legend" by Box Brown

I must admit I still retain a bit of a soft spot for professional wrestling. Sure, I don’t watch it anymore and I couldn’t tell you who the WWE is touting as its champion these days but I do have some nostalgia for the days before RAW and Smackdown and even before the WWE itself (in those days it was WWF). One of the biggest names in 80s wrestling and, indeed, the largest man was Andre Rene Roussimoff. Though his time was short Andre the Giant’s larger than life fame lingers on.Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown is a fantastic look at Andre’s life from his early struggles with acromegaly that left him too large to get onto the school bus, through the peak of his wrestling career, his appearances in movies and, indeed, his constant pain and drinking. Andre the Giant is a fantastic read, perfect for a wrestling fan (lapsed or otherwise) but is also a great story on its own for general readers.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 987936

November 2014

"Ms. Marvel. Volume 1, No Normal" by G. Willow Wilson

I have always appreciated the more grounded tales of super-heroes. Flying through the sky fighting a grand battle against aliens can be fun but it’s the smaller tales of Spider-Man trying to make ends meet, keep his super-identity secret from his Aunt, and still stop the goons from robbing the jewellery store, that have always been most interesting to me. Ms. Marvel is firmly in the latter category of grounded super-heroics. Kamala Khan is an ordinary teenager in New Jersey, trying to balance school, a social life, her Muslim faith, and the expectations of her parents. A tough enough task on its own that gets even more complicated when she is empowered with super abilities and stumbles upon a super-villain threatening New Jersey. The writing from G. Willow Wilson is fantastic, blending teenage super-hero angst with a large helping of humour, and the art from Adrian Alphona is excellent. Ms. Marvel is one of my favourite comics going right now and I always look forward to the next issue.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 997579

September 2014

"Trillium" by Jeff Lemire

From Essex County to his work on DC titles like Justice League United, Jeff Lemire has covered a broad range of genres over his career. Trilliumdelves more deeply into pure science fiction, similar to another of his works, The Underwater Welder. Nika Temsmith is a botanist in 3797 trying to save the human race; William Pike is an explorer in 1921 searching for a way out from the trauma of World War I as he searches for a lost temple in South America. Separated by almost 2,000 years and the vastness of space they manage to meet and fall in love. Trillium is a mysterious and cerebral tale that encourages repeated readings.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback LBN 990419

August 2014

"Seconds" by Bryan Lee O'Malley

I had a little bit of trepidation heading into Seconds, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s next work after the break out success of the Scott Pilgrim books. Scott Pilgrimwas fantastic but there was a chance that it was a unique work at the right place, right time and had O’Malley tried to go to the same place again it probably would have ended badly. Luckily, Secondsdoesn’t try to match Scott Pilgrim but instead heads off in its own direction and the result is another great graphic novel. Seconds dials back the magic and humour of Scott Pilgrim and instead provides the deeper, more grounded tale of Katie, an aspiring restaurateur who discovers a magic mushroom that can change the past. At Secondsheart is a contemplation of the decisions one makes in life and whether one should take an opportunity to change those decisions or accept that even regrets are essential to define who we are. Secondsis an excellent read and I highly recommend it.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Hardcover LBN 964385