Posts filed under ‘Graphic Novels’

Featured Genre Friday: Graphic Novels

Hyperbhyperboleole and a Half by Allie Brosh / Pub Date: October 2013 / 384 pgs.

I tried to put this book down.  I really did.  But it was like it was glued to my hands and my fingers were compelled to keep turning its  pages.  I just could not stop reading, laughing at, and empathizing with Allie Brosh’s hilarious stories accompanied by colorful, brilliant drawings rendered in MS Paint.  Although I had heard of her hugely popular blog/webcomic of the same name, I was largely unfamiliar with Brosh’s work.  I also don’t read many graphic novels, but after reading this, I may be a convert. There is a lot to like about this book: the tone ranges from light and funny (the many misadventures of her two canine companions, the “Simple Dog” and the “Helper Dog”) to serious and insightful (Brosh’s two-part account of her descent into clinical depression).   Those who are already rabid fans of her blog (because it doesn’t seem like there are any other kind) will be happy to know that more than 50% of this book is brand-new content.

In short, this book would be enjoyed by people who like any of the following: dogs, cake, geese, Microsoft Office Suite, scribbling, comics, humor, breathing air. Read it!

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes / Pub Date: December 1997 / 80 pgs. Ghost_world

Picking up this seminal graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, I was already familiar with the characters and story, being a fan of Terry Zwigoff’s 2001 film adaptation.  Reading the original graphic novel after seeing the film left me feeling a little wanting, mostly because Zwigoff’s film did such a marvelous job of portraying the wonderfully oddball characters onscreen, and fleshed out the plot considerably more than the book. However, I think it’s a case of different mediums having different strengths.  Clowes’ graphic novel has clout for a reason.  At a slim 80 pages, Ghost World tells the story of teenage best friends Enid and Rebecca, two misfits trying to figure things out shortly after their graduation from high school.  Enid has tentative plans to attend art school; Rebecca ends up assimilating herself into “normal” society.  The humor in the book comes from Enid and Rebecca making snarky comments about everyone they know, but the real heart of the story is the slow dissolution of their friendship as they come of age.

Although the graphic novel’s color scheme is literally muted, figuratively, there is no shortage of colorful characters that inhabit Enid and Rebecca’s Ghost World.  Many characters are rendered so expressively that they border on grotesque.  They’re meant to evoke a certain fascination, which certainly succeeds.  Although after seeing the movie, the storyline felt slightly insubstantial and sketchy to me (mostly because my favorite character was missing–he is actually an amalgam of several minor characters from the book), Clowes’ painfully realistic characters make this book worth picking up.  In a genre saturated by superheroes, the antiheroes of Ghost World will strike a chord, especially with high school students.

-Becky

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October 3, 2014 at 3:25 pm Leave a comment

Pedro and Me: Friendship, Loss, and What I Learned by Judd Winick

Enjoy another review from our graphic-novel expert, Christine!

Pub Date: Sept 2000 (re-printed April 2009)

Non-Fiction Graphic Novel (Young Adult)

192 pgs.

If you’re a pop culture junkie like me, you may recognize the name Pedro Zamora.  Pedro was an HIV-positive AIDS educator who starred on MTV’s The Real World: San Francisco in 1994.  If you haven’t heard of him, don’t be discouraged – you don’t need to know him, or have ever watched an episode of The Real World to enjoy this book.

Pedro and Me is a graphic novel, written and drawn by Judd Winick, one of Pedro’s housemates on the popular reality TV show.  The book is an autobiography, but speaks just as much about Pedro as it does the author.  When Judd first learns from the producers of The Real World that he’s going to be living with someone who is HIV-positive, his gut reaction is “why me?”  He’s uncomfortable with the idea, but feels guilty about his discomfort.  All he knows about HIV and AIDS comes from the media – stereotypes and pictures of end-stage AIDS patients in hospitals.

After meeting Pedro, Judd begins to see past these images.  As his friendship with Pedro grows, he realizes how strong and caring Pedro is, despite his HIV status.  Pedro is an AIDS educator – he travels the country giving speeches to young people and appearing on talk shows in order to educate the public about HIV/AIDS and how it can be prevented.  He sees The Real World as an opportunity to educate millions of Americans at once.  And he certainly succeeds.  His story continues to touch lives, even after his death.

This book is exceptional for its inspiring story of friendship, growth, and an important and all-too-often taboo topic.  It teaches practical information about HIV/AIDS and its prevention, while at the same time teaching about the humanity within all people.  Pedro is certainly praised, but he is not lifted on a pedestal.  He is human, just like the rest of us, and he gets angry, scared, and frustrated like we all do.  This book is sentimental and emotional, but also funny and informative.  You’ll probably be crying by the story’s unavoidable ending.       –Christine

December 8, 2010 at 7:56 pm Leave a comment

Featured Contributor Friday

Today we’re excited to have another brand-new writer for the blog: Christine, who works mainly in the Reference department and has a special interest in YA titles. Also, she’s helping this blog branch out by contributing our very first review of a graphic novel. Enjoy!

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Graphic Novel (Young Adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 2008

436 pgs.

Summer is over, and that means that Masconomet High School’s summer reading books are slowly making their way back into the library.  Here’s a look at one that holds a soft spot in my heart: one of the suggested titles for the 12th grade elective course “The Graphic Novel.”

Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons was the only graphic novel on Time magazine’s 2005 list of All Time Greatest Novels.  It is part superhero comic, part science-fiction, part alternative history, and part political intrigue.  The book takes place in an alternate 1980’s New York City, where “costumed vigilantes” have recently become outlawed.  When a vigilante named The Comedian is found dead, fellow former-superhero Rorschach suspects a plot to destroy all vigilantes, and begins an investigation on his own…outside of the law.

Watchmen is noted for its deconstruction of the superhero archetype, showing heroes who are incredibly flawed, and incredibly human.  The Comedian is a cynical, ruthless killer employed by the US government.  Rorschach is extremely right-wing, possibly mentally ill, and sees morality in black-and-white.  Doctor Manhattan, the only character with actual superpowers, feels like an outcast because of them, and sees the world so differently from the rest of humanity that he no longer cares at all about the human race.

This book requires a suspension of disbelief from its reader, but if you stick with it, it will reward you.  You may have heard of the movie, which hit theaters last March.  It’s visually stunning and a great adaptation, in my opinion, but you might want to both read the book and watch the film.  Doing one will enrich your experience of the other.  -Christine

September 17, 2010 at 7:51 pm 1 comment


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