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What’s new in Graphic Novels?

Something about the melding of word and image has always captured the imagination.  It’s no wonder then that graphic novels have become so popular.  From manga and traditional superhero comics to graphic memoirs (like Alex Award winner Stitches) and graphic non-fiction, graphic novels clearly have something for everybody. 

If you’re someone who has always thought about graphic novels as kids stuff, where stories aren’t compelling or complex enough for you, check out these great new titles below.  Some are from YALSA’s “2010 Great Graphic Novels for Teens” top ten list, some are personal picks.  I bet you’ll find something to love:

Stitches: a memoir by David Small – One day David Small awoke from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he had been transformed into a virtual mute. A vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot, the fourteen-year-old boy had not been told that he had cancer and was expected to die. In Stitches , Small re-creates this terrifying event in a life story that might have been imagined by Kafka. As the images painfully tumble out, one by one, we gain a ringside seat at a gothic family drama where David, highly anxious yet supremely talented child, all too often became the unwitting object of his parents’ buried frustration and rage. Believing that they were trying to do their best, David’s parents did just the reverse.

I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and Ken Niimura  Barbara Thorson, bullied and friendless, will not back down. She is smart, angry, won’t follow the rules, won’t let anyone close, and sees things no one else does. In short, she is a very disturbed girl, and the power of I Kill Giants is its ability to convey the reality of a frightened little girl’s pain along with the wonder of her apparent fantasies.  Barbara, a girl battling monsters both real and imagined, kicks butt, takes names, and faces her greatest fear in this bittersweet, coming-of-age story called “Best Indy Book of 2008” by IGN.   

Ōoku: the inner chambers by Fumi Yoshinaga In Edo period Japan, a strange new disease called the Red Pox has begun to prey on the country’s men. Within eighty years of the first outbreak, the male population has fallen by seventy-five percent. Women have taken on all the roles traditionally granted to men, even that of the Shogun. The men, precious providers of life, are carefully protected. And the most beautiful of the men are sent to serve in the Shogun’s Inner Chamber…

Smile by Raina Telgemeier – Eleven-year-old Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after a trip-and-fall mishap, she injures her two front teeth, and what follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, corrective surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.This coming-of-age true story is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever been in middle school, and especially those who have had a bit of their own dental drama.

Bayou by Jeremy Love South of the Mason-Dixon Line lies a strange land of gods and monsters; a world parallel to our own, born from centuries of slavery, civil war, and hate. Lee Wagstaff is the daughter of a black sharecropper in the depression-era town of Charon, Mississippi. When Lily Westmoreland, her white playmate, is snatched by agents of an evil creature known as Bog, Lee’s father is accused of kidnapping. Lee’s only hope is to follow Lily’s trail into this fantastic and frightening alternate world. Along the way she enlists the help of a benevolent, blues singing, swamp monster called Bayou. Together, Lee and Bayou trek across a hauntingly familiar Southern Neverland, confronting creatures both benign and malevolent, in an effort to rescue Lily and save Lee’s father from being lynched. v. 1 by Jeremy Love

Invincible Iron Man, vol. 1 by Matt Fraction – (Here’s a superhero comic for good measure.  Just in time for the new Iron Man movie, up-and-coming writer Matt Fraction has (literally) rebooted Tony Stark.  Great stuff.) Tony Stark – Iron Man, billionaire industrialist, and director of S.H.I.E.L.D. – faces the most overwhelming challenge of his life. Ezekiel Stane, the son of Tony’s late business rival and archenemy Obadiah, has set his sights, his genius, and his considerable fortune on the task of destroying Tony Stark and Iron Man. What’s worse, he’s got Iron Man tech, and he’s every bit Iron Man’s equal and opposite, except younger, faster, smarter – and immeasurably evil.

***
And if you’re a fan of graphic novels who’s looking for a place to talk about your interest, you should check out Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s new Graphic Novel Discussion Group, “Out of the Gutter” held on the third Monday of each month at the Main library in Oakland.

Anyone aged 12 and up is welcome.  Each meeting features a theme for discussion as well as a special guest from Pittsburgh’s comics community.  If you have any questions, please get in touch:

412-622-3121 or
wittigc@carnegielibrary.org

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