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  • July 2020
    M T W T F S S

No time to read for fun? Try these new comics!

School is starting and cutting into crucial Reading for Fun time.

Nicolas Cage Cat is sad without Fun Reading Time via nickcagecats.tumblr.com

Luckily, there are lots of new comics to read – comics can often be quicker to read, and there are some good ones that just arrived in a library near you.

New takes on the Paranormal:


Zombiellenium V.1: Gretchen by Arthur De Pins

Gretchen is witch and an intern at Zombiellenium – a scary theme park staffed entirely by real supernatural beings under contract for life. She stops a guy from robbing a convenience store while picking up stuff for her co-workers, and he promptly walks out into traffic and gets hit by a car driven by a vampire – who then resurrects him. He becomes the new staff member at Zombiellenium, and his powers are yet to be realized.


The New Deadwardians V.1 by Dan Abnett



Bad Machinery V.1: The Case of the Team Spirit by John Allison

Shauna. Charlotte. Mildred. Three schoolgirl sleuths. Jack. Linton. Sonny. Three schoolboy investigators. Tackleford. One mid-sized city with a history of countless mysteries. Is there enough room at Griswalds Grammar School for two groups of kid detectives?



Blue Bloods by Melissa De la Cruz & Alina Urusov, adapted by Robert Venditti

For this elite group of teenagers, New York is all about parties, fashion…AND BLOOD. Schuyler Van Alen is a loner, and happy that way. But when she turns fifteen, her life dramatically changes. A mosaic of blue veins appears on her arms, and she begins to have memories of another time and place. When a classmate is found dead at a night club, the mystery deepens. Most surprising of all, Jack Force, the hottest boy in school, starts showing a sudden interest in her. Schuyler wants answers, but is she prepared to learn the truth…especially when she discovers her part in it?


Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl and Cassandra Jean

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But a secret cannot stay hidden forever.


Avatar the last Airbender: The Search, Part One by Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru

Last year brought The Promise Parts 1-3, where the gang tries to unite all the nations, only to meet resistance and unrest – especially from Fire Nation. Now Fire Lord Zuko is rethinking his stance and wants to learn about his mother and his past. And he’s taking his sister with him…


Doctor Who V.1: The Hypothetical Gentleman by Andy Diggle, Mark Buckingham, Brandon Seifert, et al.

Three Dr. Who adventures with the eleventh Doctor.



War Brothers by Sharon McKay and Daniel LaFrance

Based on a true story, it will be hard to put down this recounting of a kidnapped boy forced to go to war in Joseph Kony’s twisted child army.


Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani & Maris Wicks

It’s hard enough breaking into primatology if you’re a woman, and it’s also hard to produce groundbreaking scientific work. But these three women did both things, and got to live in the wilderness with the great apes.


Race to Incarcerate by Sabrina Jones & Marc Mauer

The United States’ rate of incarceration is the highest in the world. This is the  complex story of four decades of prison expansion and its corrosive effect on society.



Kitaro by Shigeru Mizuki

Meet Kitaro. He’s just like any other boy, except for a few small differences: he only has one eye, his hair is an antenna that senses paranormal activity, his geta sandals are jet-powered, and he can blend into his surroundings like a chameleon. Oh, and he’s a three-hundred-and-fifty-year-old yokai (spirit monster).


Durarara! Drrr!!: Saika Arc by Ryogo Narita

Ikebukuro, Tokyo-a neighborhood where twisted love prowls!! A series of street slashings in Ikebukuro begins to connect total strangers: A teenage girl with no personality of her own; a beat writer for a third-rate tabloid; a teacher suspected of harassment; an informant based in Shinjuku…and a headless rider straddling a pitch-black motorcycle!! Meanwhile, the slasher continues to terrorize the night, all in search of…”him”!?
It is the year Universal Century 0079, in a space colony the Earth Federation is storing and testing a new piloted robot for use in the battle against the Principality of Zeon. The experimental RX-78 Gundam mobile suit is scheduled to be transported to Federation command in Jaburo, deep within the Brazilian jungles. Unfortunatley, before the transporter would arrive, the Federation would come under attack from Zeon. With few resources available against the Zeon’s most mobile mechs, Federation forces strike back using their new weapon, the mobile suit Gundam. Caught in the crossfire is a young teen named Amuro Ray. Not willing to see innocent people die like this, Amuro crawls into the cockpit of the closest machine around him.
Veteran hero Wild Tiger has years of experience fighting crime, but his ratings have been slipping. Under orders from his new employer, Wild Tiger finds himself forced to team up with Barnaby Brooks Jr., a rookie with an attitude. Overcoming their differences will be at least as difficult for this mismatched duo as taking down superpowered bad guys.
For Shion, an elite student in the technologically sophisticated city No. 6, life is carefully choreographed. School, study, and the occasional visit with his friend and classmate Safu. One fateful day, however, he takes a misstep, sheltering an injured boy his age from a typhoon. Known only as Rat, this boy is a VC – a fugitive living outside the computerized tapestry of city control – and helping him will throw Shion’s life into chaos and start him down a path to discovering the appalling secrets behind the superficial perfection of No. 6.


http://vufindplus2.einetwork.net/bookcover.php?id=.b3209761x&isn=9781608863242&size=large&upc=&oclc=837660472&category=&format=  http://vufindplus2.einetwork.net/bookcover.php?id=.b32166023&isn=9781608863235&size=large&upc=&oclc=816030891&category=&format=  http://vufindplus2.einetwork.net/bookcover.php?id=.b32166035&isn=9781608863174&size=large&upc=&oclc=813010879&category=&format=

Adventure Time V. 1 – 3 by Ryan North and Shelli Paroline

The Lich, a super scary skeleton dude, has returned to the Land of Ooo, and he’s bent on total destruction. Luckily, Finn and Jake are on the case–but can they succeed against their most destructive foe yet?


Crater XV by Kevin Cannon

An intoxicating tale of swashbuckling adventure, abandoned moon bases, bloodthirsty walruses, rogue astronauts, two-faced femme fatales, sailboat chases, Siberian pirates, international Arctic politics, and a gaggle of orphans.


Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

Delilah Dirk is an Indiana Jones for the 19th century. She has traveled to Japan, Indonesia, France, and even the New World. Using the skills she’s picked up on the way, Delilah’s adventures continue as she plots to rob a rich and corrupt Sultan in Constantinople.

Realistic fiction:

Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge

Will is dealing with some heavy stuff. She pushes it to the back of her mind and focuses on her favorite things: building artsy lighting devices, and hanging out with her friends. They discover an art carnival being planned in their town and get in on the action. It’s all great until a Hurricane Whitney lives Will in the dark without distractions from her thoughts.


Peanut by Ayun Halliday & Paul Hoppe

Sadie has the perfect plan to snag some friends when she transfers to Plainfield High–pretend to have a peanut allergy. But what happens when you have to hand in that student health form your unsuspecting mom was supposed to fill out? And what if your new friends want to come over and your mom serves them snacks? The situation can only get worse before it can get better.


Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen & Faith Erin Hicks

How to steal a high school election, build a battlebot, and run away from home on Thanksgiving.

Ancient philosophers with dangerous ideas! Lucretius and De Rerum Natura

For the last four months, I  very slowly was reading through one book of poetry. Admittedly, this is a long book, comprised of six smaller “books” (or chapters, if you will), and I wanted to take my time and not rush through it.

De Rerum Natura, or On the Nature of Things was written by a poet-scientist-philosopher by the name of Lucretius, sometime in the 1st century BC. Very little is known about Lucretius: when exactly he was born, when he died,  when he wrote the poem, who exactly he wrote it for, etc. etc.  What we do know from his writing is that he was a disciple of the philosopher Epicurus. You may know him by the word that was derived from his name/philosophy – epicurean, meaning “fond of or adapted to luxury or indulgence in sensual pleasures; having luxurious tastes or habits, especially in eating and drinking.” (Also the inspiration for recipe-aggregator Epicurious)

Only a bit of what Epicurus wrote remains in the world, which makes De Rerum Natura extra important. Even more important is that it’s beautiful to read, and still moving as a piece of writing. While Lucretius explains the way the world is made of atoms, how that relates to the soul, and now-wacky theories about how the sun rising comes from a collection of “fire seeds” and how earthquakes are caused by collapsing caves on the inside of the Earth, he’s also paying close attention to metaphor and language, and making it something that one would want to read.


In fact, the original discovery of the manuscript of De Rerum Natura was made by chance, and a re-discovery in much the same way led to its reader, Stephen Greenblatt, writing a book on how he was affected and why the ideas in the poem are still important. That book is called The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, and this is some of what Greenblatt has to say about Lucretius

“Lucretius, who was born about a century before Christ, was emphatically not our contemporary. He thought that worms were spontaneously generated from wet soil, that earthquakes were the result of winds caught in underground caverns, that the sun circled the earth. But, at its heart, “On the Nature of Things” persuasively laid out what seemed to be a strikingly modern understanding of the world.” –  from an interview in The New Yorker.

“It’s a theory of everything. That is its glory and perhaps its absurdity. It tried to say what the nature of everything was.

And it had at its center an ancient idea, wasn’t invented by the poet, but actually by philosophers before him. But the whole theory was, in effect, lost, except for this poem. And the theory is that the world consists of an infinite number of tiny particles.

The ancient Greeks called them the things that can’t be broken up, and the word for that was atoms. …these were dangerous ideas, especially as Christianity took hold.” – from PBS

Why would his ideas be dangerous? Because they went against established (or what were beginning to be established) religious ideas – “. …Epicurus taught that all things were made of atoms, including the human soul, which was consequently as mortal as the body. He taught that though the gods exist, in a blissful state to be imitated by mortals, they neither created the physical world nor intervened in it. The clear aim of these teachings, together with the injunctions to avoid public life and cultivate moderate pleasure, was the elimination of all anxiety regarding human life and all fear of death and the supernatural. Little wonder that both the Roman political establishment and later the Christian church regarded Epicureanism as a dangerous threat.” – from Poetry.com


But don’t take my word for it – sample some of De Rerum Natura‘s wonderfully dour explanations of death, from Anthony Esolen’s really great translation:

“And now, so crippled is our age, that the earth,
Worn out by labor, scarce makes tiny creatures–
Which once made all, gave birth to giant beasts.
For I find it hard to believe that a golden cord
From heaven let living things down into the fields,
Or they were made by the stone-splashing waves of the sea;
The same earth gendered then that now gives food.
What’s more, at first she made, of her own prompting,
The glossy corn and the glad vine for us mortals,
And gave, of her own, sweet offspring and glad pasture.
Yet these now hardly grow for all our work:
We sweat our oxen thin and the strength of our farmhands
We crush; for our fields the plow is not enough.
So full of labor and so spare of birth!

Now the old plowman shakes his head and sighs
That all of his hard work has come to nothing,
Compares the present days to days gone by
And over and over touts his father’s luck.
Disheartened, the planter of stooped and shriveled vines
Curses this bent of our age, and rattles on
With his reproach: our elders, full of reverence,
managed to live with ease in narrow bounds,
With much less acreage to a man; he doesn’t
Grasp that, slowly, wasting away, all things
Go to the tomb, worn out by the long years.” (II, 1149-1173)

Don’t want to read the whole thing? Check out an illustrated excerpt in The graphic canon. Volume 1 : from the epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous liaisons, edited by Russ Kick.



– Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

When a government can shut off the internet…

At the very end of November, as part of its ongoing bloody and brutal civil war, Syria’s government shut down the internet for the entire country.  According to the Christian Science Monitor, this was an “unprecedented” event.  The move led to more riots against the regime, not less, and the government blamed unidentified “terrorists”.

By Ronald Eikelenboom (Flickr: (no) internet) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ronald Eikelenboom (Flickr: (no) internet) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Shutting down a nation’s internet service is unprecedented because goes against the history of how the internet was developed.  Although the internet predecessors ARPANET and DARPA were government projects, the theory of the internet, grown in the 60s (a fuller, more specific history can be read here) was based on the idea that it would be a network of “multiple independent networks of rather arbitrary design” with one of its groud rules being that “there would be no global control at the operations level.” (Quotes from The Internet Society, “Brief History of the Internet”)  This was practical – if another country attacked the U.S., it could not take out its networked communications all at once.

And yet, now Syria just did the same thing to itself!

Ideas of how networked technology can be manipulated– and the power it gives people and governments– have been popping up in excellent books for a long time.  Here are some good ones that are recently published.

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson


a story of an elite hacker living in an unnamed Middle Eastern state in the throes of political upheaval. He gets involved with the wrong girl, who sends him a very old book to keep safe, and he learns the hard way about worlds beyond this one, jinn, and if he really wants to figure out what he believes in.

Zahra’s Paradise by Amir & Khalil


Zahra’s Paradise is the fictional story of the search for Mehdi, a young protestor who has disappeared in the Islamic Republic’s gulags. Mehdi has vanished in an extrajudicial twilight zone where habeas corpus is suspended. What stops his memory from being obliterated is not the law. It is the grit and guts of a mother who refuses to surrender her son to fate and the tenacity of a brother—a blogger—who fuses culture and technology to explore and explode absence: the void in which Mehdi has vanished.” – from the book’s website

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow


After being interrogated for days by the Department of Homeland Security in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco, California, seventeen-year-old Marcus, released into what is now a police state, decides to use his expertise in computer hacking to set things right.

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner


Las Vegas is gone—destroyed in a terrorist attack. Black Hawk helicopters patrol the skies over New York City. And immersive online gaming is the most dangerous street drug around. In this dystopic near-future, technology has leapt forward once again, and neuro-headsets have replaced computer keyboards. Just slip on a headset, and it’s the Internet at the speed of thought. For teen hacker Sam Wilson, a headset is a must. But as he becomes familiar with the new technology, he has a terrifying realization. If anything on his computer is vulnerable to a hack, what happens when his mind is linked to the system? – from Google Books synopsis

– Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

A Few of my Favorite Webcomics

By now, I hope you are all familiar with the graphic novel/manga section of your library (and the wonderful subject heading of graphic novels.)  If you’re not, and feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of comics and graphic novels out there, these lists are a good place to start.  But that’s not really what I want to talk about today.  I’d like to talk about the weird and wonderful world of webcomics (WaWWoW) (that’s not a real initialism).

illustration by flickr user opensourceway

When I first stumbled on webcomics RSS feeds were just being invented, so I had to go back to my favorites every day and check to see if they’d been updated.  Since anyone can make and post a webcomic online for not very much money (or free if you don’t use much bandwith and free blogging software), the number of comics was huge and the quality hit or miss. The best way that I found to find new webcomics was to look at the links on the pages of my favorite author/artists.  At a certain point this became recursive, since they all linked to each other.  I still read some of these comics today – they’re still going strong and have gone through who knows how many plotlines and name changes and drawing styles.  That’s one of the great things about webcomics – you can see an artist’s style evolve and become better and better.

Webcomics from the old days of the new millennium!

1. Bad Machinery (formerly Bobbins, then Scary-Go-Round)

The current cast is a group of (British) kids solving mysteries and it’s so good.  John Allison (the writer & artist) is also the reason that I learned about Kate Beaton, history comics funny lady extraordinaire, so he obviously has good taste.

by John Allison


2. Questionable Content

This comic is like if Friends were set in hipster post-college Massachusetts and everyone was more awkward.

by Jeph Jacques


3. The Adventures of Dr. McNinja

Exactly what it sounds like. You can also get it collected on paper from your library

by Christopher Hastings


4. Dinosaur Comics :

Clip-art style dinosaurs being absurd.

by Ryan North

by Ryan North

Of course, nowadays,

it’s easier to find an even vaster variety of comics online.  Comic big-name Warren Ellis serialized his science-fiction story Freakangels, about a group of teenagers whose strange telekinetic powers destroy the UK, for free, online, and published it so it could be bought by people and library systems like our own.

Now there are sites devoted to groups of serialized comics, like Study Group, with indie/underground style artists, Activate Comix, founded by Dean Haspiel, Saturday Morning Webtoons, aimed at younger readers, and ShiftyLook, with more superhero-themed offerings.

yes, it is rad.

Comics veterans like Sam Hurt have uploaded their archives online, while artists of the digital age like Derek Kirk Kim, Hope Larson, Bryan Lee O’MalleyKrystal DiFronzo, Peter Quatch, and Amelia Onorato have a blog or tumblr as a matter of course.

Amelia Onorato


Peter Quatch


Derek Kirk Kim


Comics blogs like the Comics Alliance will link to webcomics of note, like Rigby the Barbarian by Lee Leslie (“Rigby is just another disgruntled archaeology student when she finds a magical sword that provides her with a one way ticket to medieval fantasy camp, and the responsibility of delivering her new neighbors from the clutches of the wizard known only as The Fate-Maker”)

By Lee Leslie


Family Man by Dylan Meconin (“Hundreds of miles away, a small University is stranded in the woods along the Bohemian border.  It boasts some impressive assets, including a library fit to stun the neediest scholar.  But amongst the thousands of volumes purporting to provide light and understanding, there are quite a few lingering shadows. Nowhere is it darker than between the University’s benevolent dictator of a Rector and its remarkable and elusive Librarian…except for perhaps in the woods outside, where human nature is forfeit to a much more brutal contract than any philosopher-king could devise.”),

by Dylan Meconin


As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman (“a story about Charlie — a queer 13 year old girl who finds herself stranded in a dangerous place: an all-white Christian youth backpacking camp.”)

by Melanie Gillman


and Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel (“Step back then, to 1887, and board the steamboat Lorelei for mystery, intrigue and romance on the Hudson in the Gilded Age.”) – a serialization ahead of publication in the vein of Doug TenNapel’s Ratfist and Faith Erin Hicks’ Friends With Boys

by Mark Siegel


And if that’s not enough, you can find links of award winning webcomics like Boulet’s Darkness –a funny, originally French story about a manga-level broodingly-attractive man that won the 24-hour comics award. (More info about 24 Hour Comics Day is here.)

by Boulet


Or in the Outstanding Online Comic category of the Ignatz Awards which will be decided at the Small Press Expo in Maryland.

Jillian Tamaki’s excellent Supermutant Magic Academy was nominated!

I’ll be attending this year to find new and old favorites, because I can’t get enough. Neither can you? Then start clicking on the links and read on!(All the images will go to the webcomics cited).  There are so many that I’m sure I missed a ton – what’s your favorite?

– Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

We need your opinion! Be a graphic novel reviewer.

Every year, the Young Adult Services Association, a national association of Young Adult Librarians/Library Staff/Library Advocates, puts out lists of the best media of the year in a bunch of different subjects.  Don’t like long, slow books? Take a look at the Quick Picks list. Prefer movies? We have Fabulous Films for you. Want to read nonfiction? They have it. Into books published for adults?  They’re onto that too.

There is also a list of the best graphic novels published for teens, and that’s where we need your help.  In January, this list is voted on through a committee.  I’ve volunteered to be on it, so all this year I’ve been reading comics and graphic novels to find what I think are the best ones that teens would like.  The rest of the committee and other graphic novel readers have also been nominating titles for the list.  But we need to know what the teen readers really think. After all, we’re making the list for you.

If you want to let the committee know what you think of the nominated titles, you can do so by

1. finding a nominated title by looking at the list

2. getting it from your library (or asking me if I have a reading copy you can borrow)

3. reading it

4. using this online form to tell me what you thought of it.

Then I can take your opinions with me to help us decide what really are the Great Graphic Novels of this year.

Have a title that’s not nominated yet, but you think it should be?  You can nominate it using this form – but it has to have been published after September 2011.

Happy reading,

-Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

The Plague of Comic-Movies!!!

Well, ok, it’s not a plague.  Unless you meant plague as a good thing, in which case, yes.  Have you noticed this good plague of movies made from comic books?  Perhaps the title Watchmen rings a recently-advertised bell?  Or Iron Man

With Marvel actually producing movies in its own studio, and other titles being optioned like… hotcakes (or something that is actually currently popular), it’s safe to say this plague will not be slowing its seemingly exponential growth. 

The comic book that I’m very excited to hear is being movie-atized is The Umbrella Academy, written by My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way.  If you have never read it, 3 copies are now available at your library (at the time of my posting this).  In short, it is about a group of seven adopted children who have been brought up to be superheroes.  The first six issues focus on the siblings being reunited after their adopted father’s death.  They start to figure out that something big is coming… and it may have to do with their seventh sibling, Vanya.  A short video review of the series can be found here.

According to this L.A. Times blog interview with Way, the comic was optioned at last year’s ComiCon in San Diego, and he envisions its transition to film as looking more Sweeney Todd than Harry Potter.  And just on Tuesday it was reported that a screenwriter had been chosen to adapt  The Apocalypse Suite: Mark Bombak, whose most recent work can be seen in The Race to Witch Mountain.  A Disney film might not be the best example to pair with The Umbrella Academy, but let’s give the guy the benefit of the doubt. 

By the way, that movie is an remaking of a movie that was an adaptation of a book.  But the question of where originiality lies in moviemaking is another topic for another day.  Let us be thankful that the original book and the original movie are both available at the library in case there is a need for comparison and contrast.

Other interesting Umbrella Academy Links:

Gabriel Bá (Umbrella Academy illustrator)’s personal art site.

Umbrella Academy unofficial fan site

A list of Gerard Way’s 10 favorite graphic novels

Graphic Novel Review- Mice Get Medieval!

Who knew mice could kick so much behind? In David Petersen’s new graphic novel ‘Mouse Guard: Fall 1152’ mice are living in hidden towns and villages to protect themselves from constant attack by larger predators. The Mouse Guard exist to protect fellow mice travelling to and from these settlements. With sword and staff our intrepid guardsmen Kenzie, Saxon, and Lieam fight for truth, justice, and the rodent way. Now, however, they face a challenge far greater than any snake, hawk, or weasel. One of their own has betrayed them and plans to take over Lockhaven, the Mouse Guard citadel. Will they discover who the traitorous ‘rat’ is in time, or will the Mouse Guard fall to treachery?

Check out ‘Mouse Guard: 1152’ to find out!

Steve- CLPLawrenceville

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