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Read Horror Manga Now!

Every October, as the wind turns chilly and whistles around the corners of buildings like some creep, I re-read The Enigma of Amigara Fault by Junji Ito. Just to get myself into the Halloween mood — I love things where I can’t stand reading any more, but I can’t stop, either. Amigara never fails to fill me with uncanny dread, even though it’s only 32 pages long and has nary a monster in sight.

The premise is that an earthquake in Japan has opened up a mysterious fault line in a mountain, revealing a series of human-sized holes.  Some people who have seen the images of the holes on television are mysteriously compelled to go look at them in person. And some think that there is a hole in the mountainside that is shaped just like them. Made for them. And they start to think that they should go into the mountain.

I won’t say any more, so as not to ruin it for you, but I will give you some more ideas of horror manga that you can check out from the library.  You’ll find more atmospheric stories featuring inexplicable compulsions that lead to grotesque consequences, as well as different kinds of spirits and demons than in Western culture’s horror stories.  And best (or worst) of all, it’s illustrated.  So the horrific images can be burned into your psyche.

Uzumaki Vol. 1-3 / Junji Ito

Strange things begin to happen in a small Japanese village. Its residents are being consumed in different ways by the form of the spiral – from contorting their own bodies to being strangely infected by giant snails.  Inhabitants try to leave but are unable. (Also available in animated form!)

Scary Book, Vol. 3 / Kazuo Umezu

There’s a horror manga prize named after Umezu (Junji Ito has won it) so you know he must be good!  I have read the excellent Cat-Eyed Boy, which is now sadly gone from the library system (*sniff*), but we still have this volume to check out and enjoy.

Mushishi / Yuki Urushibara

So, I wouldn’t technically call this horror manga, but it does have to do with unseen things that affect humans in weird ways, and I really enjoyed reading it. Ginko is a traveling supernatural doctor. He diagnoses diseases caused by the Mushi – normally invisible creatures that are tapped into the life force and cause strange side effects when they infect humans.

Rohan at the Louvre / Hirohiko Araki

Rohan is a mangaka who falls for a girl who is haunted by the story of a painting made with the blackest ink known on earth. He gets obsessed with the painting in turn and goes to the Louvre to see it for himself. Things get weird from there.

 

Have a favorite horror manga?  Let me know in the comments – I’m always looking for new ones to read.

 

– Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

Teen Review: TeenBoat! by Dave Roman and John Green

My name is Jayne. I’m fourteen. I go to CAPA for Visual Arts, but I love to write so much more. Creative writing has been apart of my life for so long now; I feel lost without it. I’m obsessed with everything British, Beatles, Tim Burton movies, and Harry Potter. Oh and cats! I hope you love what I review and I hope you comment and tell me what I could do better. Anyway, thanks for reading!

Teen Boat! by Dave Roman & John Green

I am absolutely in love with Teen Boat! It’s really funny and I think teens will love the weird and quirky behavior of TeenBoat (that’s his actual name!).

So Teen Boat! is about a boy who’s name is the title and can magically transform into a boat. This book is divided up into about five sections and each tale involves TB (Teen Boat!) and his friends. In the first few chapters or stories, TB is in love with this girl who has the same name as the ship that Christopher Columbus sailed. I found this hysterical because of course TB would be the one who falls in love with a girl with the name of a ship! In the next few, we are introduced to Joey, TB’s best friend who is a girl and has a secret. But I’m still guessing as to what it is. There is some Italian involved with one of the stories, when they go to Italy.

Anyway, TB gets involved with Pirates, boat-napping captains, gondolas, and angry jocks. So, if you’re a fan of graphic novels, you’ll love love love this book. And I do know that there is going to be another Teen Boat book in the distant future. So, I can tell you, I’m excited.

I was also surprised that John Green co-wrote this book* because I always took him for a more serious writer (and I didn’t want to read him because of it), but this definitely changed my mind. I hope it changes your mind about him, too.

*Librarian’s note: This is a different John Green, but don’t blame Jayne–I assumed it was THE John Green and told her so. D’oh! Still, “TB” is HILARIOUS.

Event Books: The Biggest Stories in Comics

Marvel's biggest 2012 publishing initiative is the 12-part "Avengers Vs. X-Men" event

If you have even a passing familiarity with superhero comic books, you know that “event books” (i.e. the Hollywood blockbuster story lines often featuring characters “crossing over” from their respective titles) are all the rage. Marvel Comics’ Avengers VS. X-Men event kicks off this week, but it’s just the latest in a series of big-time crossover events to demand the attention of fanboys and casual readers alike.

So why are these stories suddenly everywhere? There was a time when “events” were used to clear up old continuity errors (e.g. the now classic Crisis on Infinite Earths by George Perez and Marv Wolfman which simplified fifty years of muddled DC Comics storytelling) or just to give Summer sales a boost. Now, event books are happening multiple times a year.

Chalk it up to waning comic sales. In February, only two titles sold more than 100,000 copies. The big publishers, Marvel Comics and DC Comics, feel that the best way to sell more issues is to create more excitement. But how is your friendly neighborhood comic fan supposed to keep up with all of these titles? From Realm of Kings to Avengers VS. X-Men, Marvel alone has released twenty “events” in the last three years (DC Comics has had six “events” in that time).

Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley recently explained Marvel’s “event” process to Comic Book Resources:

First, I want to clarify that we do not do “crossover” events. This is [an] important distinction. I was here in the ’90s when “crossover” events were the norm, which is when you make a reader buy four or more different titles in a specific order to get the whole story…We do line-wide editorial events. These events usually involve a core book like “Civil War,” “Secret Invasion,” “Siege,” etc. that could be read on their own for the complete story. Other books in the line will then use that event to develop “tie-in” stories which could be “in line,” a new miniseries or one-shot. Sorry to go off on a tangent but this is a very important distinction because we are not requiring the fans to buy into three or four other ongoing series to get the main story.

The distinction between a “crossover” and a “line-wide editorial event” may be rather murky to your average reader. Luckily, “The Big Two” (Marvel and DC) publish all of their event comics in convenient graphic novel hardcovers and trade paperbacks, and they’re available at the library for your reading pleasure.

Other than the non-stop action and world-changing plot lines, event books are great because they’re a convenient point for casual fans to jump aboard the comics train. Take a look at these recent event books–they’re a great place to begin (or continue) your love affair with comics:

Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985) by Marv Wolfman and George Perez – The event book that started it all! Crisis on Infinite Earths was originally conceived to be a celebration of DC’s 50th anniversary; however, Marv Wolfman and Len Wein saw it as a chance to clean up DC’s rather convoluted continuity that had built up over time. The story introduces readers to two near-omnipotent beings, the good Monitor and the evil Anti-Monitor, who had been created as a result of the same experiment that created the Multiverse. The Monitor made cameo appearances in various DC comic book series for two years preceding the publication of the series. At first, he appears to be a new supervillain, but with the onset of the Crisis, he is revealed to be working on a desperate plan to save the entire Multiverse from destruction at the hands of the Anti-Monitor.

Infinity Gauntlet (1991) by Jim Starlin and George Perez – Thanos mounts the six Infinity Gems, (collected in the The Thanos Quest limited series), on his left glove to form the titular Infinity Gauntlet. Each Gem grants its bearer complete mastery over one aspect of the universe: Time, Space, Mind, Soul, Reality, and Power. Now all-powerful and desperate to win the affections of Death, Thanos decides to offer the entity a gift of love by completing a task she had given him, erasing half the sentient life in the universe (including most of the X-Men, Daredevil, and the Fantastic Four), quite literally with a snap of his fingers.

Age of Apocalypse (1995-1996) by Howard Mackie – My favorite childhood “event,” the Age of Apocalypse storyline imagined a world in which Professor Charles Xavier died before founding his X-Men, leading to a truly apocalyptic world ruled by the ancient mutant Apocalypse. If you like parallel universes and alternate realities, this is the event for you.


Siege (2010) by Brian Michael Bendis – In the aftermath of Marvel’s Dark Reign company-wide storyline, which led to a shift of power in the Marvel Universe toward Norman Osborn, a former supervillain who, through deception and media manipulation, has become the United States’ security czar. The story also depicts the Asgardian trickster deity Loki, manipulating Osborn into leading an all-out assault to overthrow Asgard. The events in “Siege” lead to the subsequent company-wide storyline, Heroic Age.

DC Comics, The New 52 (2011) – The New 52 is a 2011 revamp and relaunch by DC Comics of its entire line of ongoing monthly superhero books, in which all of its existing titles were cancelled, and 52 new series debuted in September 2011 with new #1 issues. Among the series being renumbered are Action Comics and Detective Comics, which had previously retained their original numbering since the 1930s. Touted as a large publishing event following the conclusion of the Flashpoint crossover storyline, DC’s relaunch entails changes to both the publishing format and fictional universe to entice new readers

And if you can’t wait for Avengers VS. X-Men, make sure to head on over to Phantom of the Attic on S. Craig Street tomorrow night at 8PM for their Avengers Vs. X-Men Pre-Release Party!

Excelsior,

– Corey, Digital Learning Librarian

Teen Intern Manga Review: A Certain Scientific Railgun

Today CLP East Liberty‘s own Teen Youth Intern, Savion, will review a recently published volume of manga. It was sent to me for review by the publisher, Seven Seas, and I wanted to see if had any appeal for the teen collection. Here’s what he has to say:

This manga called A Certain Scientific Railgun by Kazuma Kamachi and illustrated by Motoi Fuyukawa is nothing short of awesome. The main character’s name is Mikoto Misaka. She is almost the most powerful mutant in town.

I liked this book because, the topic entertained me, and the idea of a middle school girl having the power of a railgun just seems exquisite–she basically uses electricity to fight but the voltage level is very high*. Everyone does not have powers, only the mutants–other locals are just humans. The kids who do have powers are special.

In school Mikoto and her friends learn how to control their powers and become more powerful. Every mutant has a power level that goes from 0 to 5, 5 is the most powerful level. Mikoto is a level 5 and she has the power of a railgun.

I like this book because it has a lot of action in it, like when the main character Mikoto fights other mutants. I like her use of her powers of the railgun. Another thing I like about this book is the characters’ personalities. They feel like real people but just inside of a book. I like the art style in the book. It is manga of course. This book flows a lot like anime and I happen to really like anime. I like how this book goes more on the teen side then the younger audience.

I don’t have many dislikes of this book. But it could have a better variety of powers to distinguish throughout all of the characters. I don’t like how Mikoto only uses her powers to fight. She could also use them to hack into computers and lots of other cool fun things that have to do with electricity.

I highly recommend this title for the library.

-Savion, CLP – East Liberty

*NOTE – I had to look this up while I was reading the book, so I thought I’d pass on the information: a railgun is a gun that does not use gunpowder. Instead, its power comes from an electrified magnetic field. (Click here for more detailed information.)  That’s why Mikoto’s nickname is “the Railgun”.  Check out this video to see how much destruction a railgun can create:

The library doesn’t have this book (yet?) but if you’re looking for similar action-style manga we do have these options:

Like reading about so-called “mutants”? We have a ton of X-Men comics…


 

 

 




Prefer to stick with manga?

Code:Breaker / Akimine Kamijyo: Teenage assassins with superpowers!

 

 

 

 

Rurouni Kenshin / story and art by Nobuhiro Watsuki:

Kenshin is a wandering former assassin during the Meiji period in Japan. Some of the characters have superhuman skills.

 

 

 

 

 

The Prince of Tennis / story & art by Takeshi Konomi.

What if you could defy physics? Would you use your skills to play tennis?

International Manga Library!

photo by flickr user Telstar Logistics

Last month Meiji University in Tokyo opened the International Manga Library on its Surugadai campus.   According to this article from the Japan Times Online, the library has over 2 million volumes of manga, and if you’re ever in Tokyo, you could become a one-day member.

The Carnegie Library system doesn’t have a manga collection that’s quite that big, but ours isn’t too shabby.  Our librarians have put together a booklist of recommendations over on the Books and More section of our teen page, or you can browse our holdings by clicking here.  That’s 678 records, and some of those records are for series with 20+ volumes, so it would take someone a while to work through them all. 

Other Resources:

  • If you are getting a gift of money for the holidays and need some fun Japanese swag to use it on, there’s a shop in Pittsburgh called Kawaii that might be able to help.
  • Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat will give you previews of new manga on their websites.

Six Degrees of Michael Cera

Lately I’m noticing that Michael Cera is connected in a lot of ways to exciting developments in movies that are connected to exciting books (not coincidentally for teens).  And the people that he’s connected to are also exciting.  And the best part is that all of these developments have some kind of creative and funny internet offshoots.  Which is to say: more than a totally fake  twitter account or Facebook Group for fans or an  imdb page

photo by Flickr user wvs

photo by Flickr user wvs

Let us count the ways.  It’s more like brainstorming than the Six Degrees game, but that wouldn’t have made a catchy blog title, now would it?:

1. Michael Cera starred in Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist   nickandnorah

2. Which is a great book by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, two authors of excellent, excellent YA books (just click their names to see what the library system has).   They are also bloggers on their own websites, makers of playlists for their books, etc..

3. Michael Cera co-starred in this movie with Kat Dennings, who you may also know from the movies The House Bunny and Charlie Bartlett.  She also has a really funny blog that includes original illustrations.  Here is an excerpt:

“When it rains, it pours, spider-wise. And I’m so glad because I was worried that I might start enjoying my life, you know? Anyway, tonight during a Netflix Instant screening of an embarrassingly 90s teen romcom I stumbled blindly into my bathroom mirror to inspect my facial situation when what should appear in my shower but a GIGANTIC ARACHNID. And it was just far enough away in the corner that it was going to have to be one of those get-on-all-fours terminations that I always find especially hideous. Therefore, I calmly and gracefully weighed my murdering options.”

4.  Michael Cera is also starring in a movie adaptation of the Scott Pilgrim comics.  The website for the movie adaptation has funny video blogs of the production.

scottpilgrim

5. Scott Pilgrim is a really funny comic about a boy who graduated high school but never got around to growing up, but suddenly meets this girl he really likes and has to fight her evil ex-boyfriends and also maybe come to terms with the fact that his band isn’t that good.  It also has a website, and its author/illustrator-Bryan Lee O’Malley–has other comics available for reading on his webpage and a great flickr page, especially informative for aspiring comics writers.

 

salamanderdream6.  Bryan Lee O’Malley’s wife, Hope Larson, also writes and draws wonderful comics.  You can read some of them here on her website.

It’s Earth Day

According to the Library of Congress website, “Earth Day was first observed on April 22, 1970, when an estimated 20 million people nationwide attended the inaugural event.  Senator Gaylord Nelson promoted Earth Day, calling upon students to fight for environmental causes and oppose environmental degradation with the same energy that they displayed in opposing the Vietnam War.”

 

It seems like every day there are more and more stories (and debates) in the news about climate change or the need for environmental regulations.  It was a huge issue in the recent presidential election.  At heart, Earth Day is about celebrating the future of the planet and trying to make sure that you, whoever you are, will have a healthy place to live. 

 

So it makes sense that there are a bunch of good, recent books for teens about this subject: fiction and non-fiction and even science fiction.  They look at what’s happening now on the Earth, what could happen to the Earth, and what teens are doing, have been doing, or might do to make the Earth a better place.

 

FICTION

somethingrottenSomething Rotten by Alan Gratz

Hamilton Prince’s father owns the huge paper mill that dominates the town of Denmark, Tennessee.  Hamilton Prince’s father has also just been murdered, and he has to find out who did it.  He relies on his friend Horatio and an environmental protester named Olivia to help him put the clues together.

theycamefrombelowThey Came from Below by Blake Nelson

Emily and Reese have the whole summer to hang out together on the beach at Cape Cod–and to chase the two new boys in town, Steve and Dave.  Sometimes trying to talk to a boy makes you feel like boys are a whole different species–but what if they actually are?  And what if they’re really angry about how your species is treating the Earth?

lifeinpinkandgreenMy Life in Pink and Green by Lisa Greenwald

Lucy’s interest in her family’s pharmacy and her knowledge of all things makeup come together in eco-friendly ways as she battles a corporate store looking to put the pharmacy out of work–and shows her family that she’s a force to be reckoned with.

 

exodusExodus by Julie Bertagna

It’s 99 years in the future.  The world has been flooded because of climate change.  Mara’s island is being destroyed by the ever-creeping flood and she has to use antique technology from the beginning of the 21st century to lead her family and friends across the ocean.

 

 

NONFICTION

legacyoflunaThe Legacy of Luna by Julia Butterfly Hill

In 1997, Julia Butterfly Hill climbed one of California’s giant redwood trees.  She didn’t come down for 2 years.  Her struggle to defend the redwoods from logging is chronicled in this memoir.  (She is still an activist and has a blog.)

 

weirdweatherWeird Weather: Everything you didn’t want to know about climate change but probably should find out. by Kate Evans

Environmental facts are anything but boring in this book, presented in comic form.

 

secondtimecoolSecond-Time Cool: The art of chopping up a sweater. by Anna-Stina Lindén Ivarsson, Katarina Brieditis, and Katarina Evans

You know there are clothes in your closet that you kind of never want to wear again.  They don’t fit right, or they had something spilled on them, or whatever.  Luckily, you can use scissors, buttons, thread and more to make them wearable again–all for less of a cost than buying something new.

 

BONUS!

The Boston Globe’s Big Picture blog has an amazing set of photographs relating to Earth Day:  interactive pictures of cities that celebrated Earth Hour 2009, an hour on March 28th when people in each city signed up to turn off their lights and save energy.  You can click on each picture in the blog to watch the city dim.

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