Sexcastle by Kyle Starks

Link to this review in the form of a comic strip by geneambaum tagged graphic novelhumor

Unshelved comic strip for 7/17/2015
Comics Squad: Recess! by Jennifer Holm, Gene Luen Yang, Dav Pilkey, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Ursula Vernon, Matthew Holm, Eric Wight, Dan Santat, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman

Link to this review by craigseasholes tagged anthologygraphic novelshort stories

This anthology contains eight elementary-school-themed comics by all-star graphic novelists. Wight’s Jiminy Sprinkles (a cupcake) finds a friend in a lonely little peanut named Grover, whom the other kids call Goober. He and Jiminy find a sweet (and chill) way to win over the Mean Green Gang of veggies, a game of flash-freeze tag which allows Jiminy to demonstrate his chilly superpowers (they’re derived from peppermints). An inventor friend of Krosoczka’s Lunch Lady’s, fires up the untested Pizzatron 2000 and produces a mozzarella-spewing Pizza Monster. Smelling something fishy (anchovies), Betty has only a rolling pin and garbage can lid with which to subdue the beast before it consumes the lunchroom crowd. A teacher in Pilkey’s story warns Mr. and Mrs. Beard about their son George’s impudent persistence in drawing comics instead of doing serious school work in her classroom which has "no place for creativity.” The "Book-Em Dog-Man" graphic novella in question follows as proof of how serious schoolwork was ignored in favor of another childish, action-packed comic. (The teacher doesn’t seem to get that it’s pro-reading; Dog-Man not only saves the world, he saves a bunch of books from an evil cat, too.)

Why I picked it up: These comics creators are rock stars in my elementary school library, where comics out-circulate all other formats and genres.

Why I finished it: The comics reinforce the power of imagination, but none more than Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman’s "Rainy Day Recess,” in which the fifth grader who serves as rainy-day recess monitor leads bored and disappointed little kids in a dice-rolling fantasy kickball game. When the rain stops and the teacher announces they can go outside, the kids continue to play in their imaginative world with its fun, unlimited surprises. Kinda like being absorbed in reading a great comic, right?

It's perfect for: Brandon, a fifth grader who reminds me of the desperate boy in Santat’s "300 Words." Brandon will laugh when the boy barfs on a girl during a play, and then again when he has to ask that same girl to copy her homework.

Doctor Who Event 2015: Four Doctors by Paul Cornell, Neil Edwards

It’s the greatest Doctor Who comics crossover event of all time, as the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth incarnations of the Doctor come face to face for the first time ever!

When an unseen enemy maneuvers the three Doctors into an impossible meeting, the future of the universe itself is put at stake. It will take all of the Doctor’s innate cunning and adaptability to team up with his past and present selves to uncover the immensely powerful culprit, fix the time stream, and right an ancient wrong!

What mysterious event from the Doctors’ collective past will have an unforgettable effect on their future?!

Four Doctors is the blockbuster next chapter in the stunning ongoing adventures of each Doctor - and also stars TV companion Clara Oswald alongside comics companions Gabby Gonzalez and Alice Obiefune.

It’s an unmissable crossover epic from two creators at the height of their craft!

Saturday August 15, 2015 is Doctor Who Day!

To help celebrate, Titan Comics is offering an event kit which includes: a poster, coloring sheets, quiz packs, and more! To request a kit, (quantities limited) email Be sure to include your library's name and full address.

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The Legend of Bold Riley by Leia Weathington, Marco Aidala, Vanessa Gillings, Kelly McClellan, Konstantin Pogorelov, Jason Thompson

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged fantasygraphic novel

Rilavashana is the youngest child of the king and queen of Prakkalore. She favored history, and was taught by a man from the west who nicknamed her Riley. She loved her home and family, but she was restless. After considering her future, she straps on a sword, jumps on a horse, and sets off to see the world.

Why I picked it up: I was at the Stumptown Comics Festival a few years ago. I remember almost everyone was asleep at their tables as my daughter and I walked the floor, but Weathington made eye contact, waved me over, and pitched us her book. I was so blown away by her enthusiasm that I bought it.

Why I finished it: I agree with what Jane Espenson says in her forward: “Has there really been no Legend of Bold Riley before this? The story feels like a classic...” Her adventures recall some of my favorite myths and legends as Riley uses her wits to defeat the monstrous (and seemingly mythical) Morishaksa trying to prey on the goats she’s defending, comes face-to-face with Prakkalore’s patron god, and calls out a creature that has made its nest in the guts of a good man, turning him wicked.

Readalikes: At the end of the book, Riley falls in love with Ghemuen, the beautiful Steward of the Golden Trumpet Tree. The combination of strange creatures, verdant forest, and a story that centers around death reminded me of Beautiful Darkness, a haunting graphic novel in which tiny beings emerge from and inhabit the rotting remains of a little girl in the woods.

Amazing Fantastic Incredible A Marvelous Memoir by Stan Lee, Peter David, Colleen Doran

Stan Lee is a man who needs no introduction. The most legendary name in the history of comic books, he has been the leading creative force behind Marvel Comics, and has brought to life—and into the mainstream—some of the world’s best-known heroes and most infamous villains throughout his career. His stories—filled with superheroes struggling with personal hang-ups and bad guys who possessed previously unseen psychological complexity—added wit and subtlety to a field previously locked into flat portrayals of good vs. evil. Lee put the human in superhuman and in doing so, created a new mythology for the twentieth century.

In this beautifully illustrated graphic memoir—illustrated by celebrated artist Colleen Doran—Lee tells the story of his life with the same inimitable wit, energy, and offbeat spirit that he brought to the world of comics. Moving from his impoverished childhood in Manhattan to his early days writing comics, through his military training films during World War II and the rise of the Marvel empire in the 1960s to the current resurgence in movies, Amazing Fantastic Incredible documents the life of a man and the legacy of an industry and career.

This funny, moving, and incredibly honest memoir is a must-have for collectors and fans of comic books and graphic novels of every age.

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Silk Road to Ruin: Why Central Asia Is the Next Middle East by Ted Rall

Link to this review by wally tagged graphic novelnonfiction

Journalist Ted Rall became fascinated by Central Asia when, as a boy, he read about it in an article in National Geographic. As host of radio’s Stan Watch: Breaking News from Central Asia, he practically dared listeners to join him on what would be the first of several excursions to the third world nations known as the Stans (Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, et al.). In this book, he takes readers along on that and several other trips to the region. The checkpoints and border crossings involved beautiful mountain scenery, multiple visas, guns, bribes, and eventually a near-mutiny from his own tour group. Rall also describes life in the vacuum created by the fall of the Soviet Union, as well as the effect of American policies (or the lack thereof) on the region. 

Why I picked it up: I know next to nothing about Central Asia. This book seemed like the perfect introduction to the region with in-depth reporting on how the seven nation-states fared after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Why I finished it: Rall tells a great story, whether he’s explaining buzkashi, a sport during which horse-riding competitors try to drag a goat carcass across a finish line before they are dragged from their horses by their opponents, or the time in 1997 when he was pulled off a bus near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border by a Taliban officer with orders to shoot all Americans. (To get through the latter, he negotiated his own safety with the English-speaking, NYU-educated officer, first with logic, then with chitchat about cultural differences. The man gave him free passage but warned him that because the Clinton administration had bombed a civilian village, America would soon pay for its crimes.)

It's perfect for: Paul, whose world travels have a growing sense of adventure and possibly risk. He would appreciate the maps and cheat sheets for each of the seven Stans, along with Rall’s detailed encounters with dictatorships in this impoverished region. But his favorite part would probably be the long chapter on checkpoints and how to properly bribe your way through them.

Reads Well With Others an Unshelved collection by Gene Ambaum, Bill Barnes

The very first full-color Unshelved collection, Reads Well With Others features stirring tales of library derring-do, often inspired by, and occasionally blatantly documenting, true stories from librarians around the world. In this volume you'll find strips about:

  • Unattended children
  • Creeps
  • Staff trainings
  • Website redesigns
  • Reading Levels
  • Confidentiality
  • Bookstores
  • Coffee

... and much more, including Conference Tips never seen on the Unshelved website.

It's the same compact size as our last three collections, but this time around every strip is in full color!

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In Real Life by Cory Doctorow, Jen Wang

Link to this review by sarahhunt tagged coming of agegraphic novel

Anda is finding new friends and challenges playing an online game in a girls-only guild. Real life starts to intrude when one of her guildmates shows her how to get PayPal cash for performing certain tasks in the game. At first she thinks she's cleaning up bots, but it turns out she's caught between battling groups of gold farmers: players and even whole companies who earn and sell online achievements.

Why I picked it up: I wanted to read a girl gamer story, and Wang’s art is utterly gorgeous.

Why I finished it: Doctorow can be kind of explainey, but Anda's vulnerability and growing confidence in the game and school totally won me over, and made the economics feel organic to the story.

It's perfect for: Rosalie, who's given a lot of hours and heart to our union. This story will remind her that the seed of getting workers together to demand better treatment is really caring for another person and wanting them to be treated fairly.  

The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novelliteraryromance

Maggie is drifting into middle age. She’s trying to start a business venture that will return her to fixing cars, which she was known for when she was a teenager. She’s also trying to connect romantically to one of two men she’s known most of her life, Reno and Ray. But their histories and present circumstances make it very difficult to reach for the once in a lifetime connection they shared, and they seem destined to merely circle around one another.

Why I picked it up: I read a Love & Rockets book once in a while, but I always feel like I’m missing too much of the back story, and I’ve got no idea where to start. I’ve heard Jaime Hernandez’s books are the best of the bunch, and this seemed to be a stand-alone graphic novel (there’s no volume number), so I decided to give it a try.

Why I finished it: All of the elements are woven together masterfully. A few chapters about the characters as kids added to the depth of the story by providing motivation for how they interacted as adults. Particularly heartbreaking is the story of Maggie’s estranged brother, Calvin, including the sexual abuse he suffered and the tragedy that results.

Hernandez’s female characters have a mix of body types that is rarely seen in comics. They’re fat, thin, athletic, young, old, and everywhere in between. What’s amazing is that they’re drawn in a way that expresses their beauty and shows his love for them all.

Readalikes: Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise, an epic romance filled with beautiful women and missed romantic connections that weighs in at over 2000 pages. Do yourself a favor and read it all.

Buddy Buys a Dump by Peter Bagge

Link to this review by wally tagged graphic novel

Buddy’s collectibles shop is going nowhere, so he buys a dump. It’s not a good decision. But he cleans it up, fixes up the house there, and makes it into a decent home for his family, at least until his friend Jay buys the scrap metal dealership next door and starts leaving toxic waste laying around.

Why I picked it up: I’ve seen Bagge’s work in little bits and pieces, and always enjoyed his dark humor as he takes a few pokes at Generation X and the decline of the middle class. 

Why I finished it: Bagge’s humor is right out of a John Waters movie -- loud, outrageous, sometimes transgressive. In one running joke, Buddy must bury (and rebury) a body that he and his friends had disposed of years before.  But through it all Bagge somehow made me sympathize with Buddy.

It's perfect for: Fans of R. Crumb, who I learned gave Bagge the job of editing his comics magazine Weirdo in 1983. Crumb and Bagge share a similar view of people who survive on the edge of respectability and eke out their living outside of mainstream American society. They sympathize with their dreams and laugh at their failures. 

Displacement by Lucy Knisley

Link to this review by sarahhunt tagged graphic novelnonfiction

Knisley volunteers to chaperone her ninety-year-old grandparents on their caribbean cruise and ends up on another transformative journey, this time headlong into her fears about aging and death.

Why I picked it up: I'm a fan of her work. And I’ve been on two cruises that weren't of my choosing, so I wanted to see what Knisley would make of that surreal world.

Why I finished it: Knisley moves rapidly between love, sorrow, and worry every day of the cruise. Her grandmother often greets her with, "Are you a person I know?" and she has to launder her grandfather's pants each evening after inevitable bathroom accidents, but she takes each moment she can to be close to them.

Readalikes: Be Sweet: A Conditional Love Story by Roy Blount, Jr., a biography of his mother who, like Knisley's grandparents, never says, "I love you." Both explore the effects this can have on the generations that follow.

The Atomic Legion by Mike Richardson, Bruce Zick

Link to this review by wally tagged graphic novelsuperhero

After his parents die, Robby is on a flight to London where he’ll live with his uncle. His plane is hit by a stream of energy from beneath the North Pole, and Robby is saved by a team of robots. He awakens in a lab filled with weird devices where he meets an Einstein look-alike named The Professor and members of The Legion, a team of superheroes in hiding. They include Tomorrow Man (an illegal alien), The Amazon (the inequalities of our society nearly drove her mad), Doc Simian (a genetic scientist genius whose experiments caused his body to devolve to a gorilla), and others. They live in their hidden fortress inside a time bubble in peace and anonymity, and occasionally they secretly help humanity. 

When an underwater communications cable is cut and the world's information lines are threatened, the Professor takes the Legion to repair it and face his nemesis, the mad scientist Rue Morgue. Robby is far too young and vulnerable to go along with the adults, but he sneaks aboard their craft.

Why I picked it up: The cover features a classic-style comic book drawing of a one-eyed, multi-tentacled creature thrashing a group of caped crusaders. It looked like fun.

Why I finished it: I really enjoyed the artwork. All the machines have a 1940s Art Deco look, and the bright colors accentuate everything. The plot parodied classic cliffhangers and had lots of inexplicable plot twists.

It's perfect for: Justin, who would love how Robby has to shame the heroes into helping rescue the Professor. The Legion has been in hiding since the 1950s, and the outside world makes them nervous. He'd also get Robby’s crush on the only superhero who seems close to his age, a pretty teenage girl called Zap whose outer toughness hides a secret vulnerability. 

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