Monthly Archives: December 2020

Top Ten Graphics of 2020

I am glad to say goodbye to 2020, no doubt, but I did get a lot of reading done along the way. Here are a few of my favorite comics from this year (listed in alphabetical order). A few have more than one volume and I have not designated a particular volume if I would recommend the whole series.

BTTM FDRS by Ezra Clayton Daniels

From the creator of Upgrade Soul comes a tale of body horror and gentrification with art-comics visuals and snappy dialogue…what’s not to like? Dare to visit…Chicago. The dark side.


The Case of the Missing Men: A Hobtown Mystery by Kris Bertin and Alexander Forbes

Did you like teen detective stories when you were growing up? You know, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, that kind of tale? If so, now you can start another such series with a little Twin Peaks thrown in the mix. This first case involves men who go missing, a sinister conspiracy, and plucky teens trying to make sense of what is happening to their small town.


Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows by Jeff Lemire and Max Fiumara

Part of Jeff Lemire’s Black Hammer universe, Doctor Star is a loving tribute to James Robinson’s classic Starman series. Here we find a scientist turned superhero who sees the universe and has many adventures but loses something irreplaceable. A lengthier review can be found here.


Folklords by Matt Kindt and Matt Smith

Dos Matts (Kindt and Smith) weave a tale of a young man out of synch with his magic-based world who takes on a quest to discover its secrets. Plus, warrior librarians!


The Grand Abyss Hotel by Marcos Prior and David Rubin

Crazy story and amazing art from Marcos Prior and David Rubin about violence devastating modern civilization. Violence right out in the open but excused. What happens when excuses stop pacifying those who hear them?


Jazz Maynard by Raule and Roger

Cool, moody, and stylish, this comic series from Spanish creators Raule and Roger was originally published for the French market. Each volume is composed of a trilogy of the original comics to tell a coherent chapter in the life of this jazz musician-cum-master thief. The stories are seedy, violent, and sexy, just like the protagonist.


A hilarious take on Egyptian mythology. Hamish Steele regales us with a retelling of the Osiris myth that is by turns violent, insane, perverted, and funny. If you like the kind of literary humor found in Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant, this is a must read.


Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag

I read Book Two this year but would recommend starting with Book One as this volume does build on the previous one. This is the tale of a former superheroine who has decided to try to live a normal life but keeps having to deal with the fallout from her previous life.


Jimmy Olsen is given the assignment of a lifetime, finding out who murdered him. Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber take all the wacky things they loved about those Silver Age Jimmy Olsen stories and go meta all over them. Step through the fourth wall and have a ball!


You Brought Me the Ocean by Alex Sanchez and Julie Maroh

Part of DC’s Graphic Novels for Young Adults series, this is a short but affecting coming of age story about Jake Hyde, known in the regular continuity as Aqualad. Jake feels like an outsider until he discovers his powers and falls into a romance that will forever change his life.


All of these works can be checked out from LFPL. Each title has a “Check Our Catalog” link that will take you to where you can view the location and status of the specific item in our system. You may have the item shipped to the library of your choice by placing a hold request (using the “Place Request” button on the right-hand side of the item’s catalog entry).


If you are interested in these titles or other works of sequential art, check out LFPL’s Comics and Manga webpage. And if you’d like to see top graphics from past years, click here.

Never A Lovely So Real: The Life and Work of Nelson Algren by Colin Asher

This is the latest biography of a writer you have probably never heard of. But his story and reputation have made a bit of a comeback of late. There have be a couple of biographies and three documentaries on Nelson Algren in the past few years. He was considered one of America’s greatest novelist in the 40’s and 50’s, but during the Red Scare, his stature took a tumble. He won the first ever National Book Award. It was presented to him by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1950 for his 3rd novel, The Man with the Golden Arm.

Five years later, Otto Preminger broke the Production Code and it became the first major motion picture about morphine addiction, and it starred Frank Sinatra. But Hollywood and Preminger cheated Algren out of money and respect. Preminger thumbed his nose at the lowlifes Nelson hung around with, and Nelson saw Hollywood as fake.

Algren held a lifetime grudge and he became sour on the American Dream quickly. He got a decent amount of money, but he was a gambler and lost it all quickly. He preferred the losers in life to the winners. So he hung around junkies, prostitutes, gamblers, and con men.

In 1956, he published A Walk on the Wide Side (WALK). It was a re-write of his first book, Somebody in Boots, a depiction of his travelling days throughout Texas and New Orleans during the Great Depression looking for work. Louisville’s Hunter S. Thompson was a big fan of his and WALK, and would getting into a letter writing feud with him about the amount of a long quote that Hunter used in his first book, Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga. Lou Reed would take this title in the early 70’s and make one of the most iconic rock songs ever about a different kind of misfits.

He had many fans, Richard Wright, Carl Sandburg, Ernest Hemingway, and Kurt Vonnegut to just name a few. He had famous lovers and many one night stands. He had a relationship with a junkie prostitute that was being abused by her husband and he helped her get clean and remarried.

The world’s leading feminist Simone de Beauvoir would visit him in Chicago from Paris in 1947. They would become soulmates. He showed her the underworld of Chicago and she was hooked. In the 1950’s, the FBI and State Department had him under surveillance for his days as a Communist in the 1930’s alongside Richard Wright and Studs Terkel. So he couldn’t leave the U.S. and his relationship with Simone fizzled. But she was buried wearing a ring he bought her.

He was able to visit Cuba and while there he called on Hemingway, who had just survived his second plane crash at the end of 1955.

In the 60’s, Algren wrote mostly for money. Quick books about his worldly travels. A book defending Hemingway after his death. Many magazine articles. He had never made the money or got the prestige that he deserved, so he made a mockery of his life and work, because that’s how the world treated him.

He taught a semester at the Iowa Writers Workshop in the mid-60’s, but he was a terrible teacher and didn’t think creative writing could be taught. He was the highest paid writer there and he got his third wife a position too, but he gambled all their money away.

Nelson always had a love-hate relationship with Chicago and after living there for almost six decades, he left to write a book about the Boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter in 1975. He would call Carter “the sanest man that I ever met.”

Nelson died in 1981 on Long Island at the age of 72. He was alone much of his time, despite many friends and lovers (and three brief marriages). In the documentary, The End Is Nothing, The Road Is All, Terkel called him two images, the Cat and Art Carney (from “The Honeymooners”). Vonnegut, who had met Algren at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, says Algren was the loneliest man he ever knew. 

If you want to read some of the greatest prose ever written, read Algren. If you want to read a great biography of an interesting life, read this work by Colin Asher.

Reviewed by Tom, Main Library

The June Boys by Court Stevens

Court Stevens, is a community outreach manager for the Warren County Public Library in Bowling Green, Kentucky

Nestled in a rural section of Tennessee, the small town of Wildwood holds a big mystery. Every June for a decade, some of Wildwood’s children are kidnapped by the someone calling himself the Gemini Thief. The boys usually return unharmed thirteen months later…until this year. Now, four boys are taken and one has been murdered.

Where were the kids all that time? Who took them and why? Why has the Gemini Thief’s pattern changed? Several teens decide it’s about time to take charge and get some answers. 

One teen, Thea Delacroix, is a cousin of one of the June Boys, Aulus McClaghen. Thea, out on a ride with her boyfriend Nick, comes upon a crime scene with a dead body. The victim has a keychain in the shape of a castle exactly like the one Thea carries. Could this be a link to Thea herself? Is it a coincidence that Thea’s father is in the process of renovating a castle on the outskirts of town, or is this another connection? Is the body that of Aulus?

If tales of suspense grabs your attention or if you just like solving a mystery, check out The June Boys by Court Stevens.

Review by MicahSt Matthews Branch

American Princess by Stephanie Grace Thornton

Alice Lee Roosevelt was called “the other Washington monument” and after reading American Princess by Stephanie Grace Thornton I understand why. She was the precocious eldest child of Theodore Roosevelt, of whom he was quoted as saying, “I can either run the country or I can control Alice; I can’t do both.” Known as the “original White House Wild child,” this is the first piece of historical fiction to be written about Alice Roosevelt that I’ve read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Theodore Roosevelt is a favorite president of mine and Alice has always fascinated me. I wondered if what was said about her was true, so I picked up the book to satisfy my curiosity. Despite the book being historical fiction, I feel like I’ve learned a bit more about Alice Roosevelt.

Being a historical fiction novel, I assume that Thornton took artistic liberties with the story so I don’t know what is fact and what is fiction, but I am reminded of the Mark Twain quote,” fact is stranger than fiction”. If only a hand full of events are true then, Alice marched to her own drum at a time when women and young girls didn’t have much freedom. Alice is our narrator beginning with her rebellious teenage years and ending in her eighties. The author’s note at the end has only helped to stoke my interest in Alice Lee Roosevelt. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker (Alice’s biography) adds more to her story by letting us know who she truly was. Alice Lee Roosevelt was a unique first daughter, and her life seems to reflect that.

A perfect selection for fans of historical fiction, those that have read America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and want to read about another presidency from the daughter’s point of view.

– Reviewed by CarissaMain Library