Tag Archives: Comics

Some graphics to read after Women’s History Month

There are so many great comics with women as creators and as protagonists. I have chosen twelve titles (listed in alphabetical order below) that I think are worth checking out no matter what time of the year. Along the way, I have tried to pick a diverse set of tales for you to enjoy. If you’d like, you can read one every month (especially as most of these are series, you’ll have plenty of time to complete the list by next March).

Faith Herbert – a psionically gifted “psiot” discovered by the Harbinger Foundation – has always aspired to greatness. But now this once ordinary teenager is taking control of her destiny and becoming the hard-hitting hero she’s always known she can be – complete with a mild-mannered secret identity, unsuspecting colleagues, and a day job as a reporter that routinely throws her into harms way!
What if the second coming of Alexander the Great wasn’t a privileged diplomat or a battle-hardened soldier, but a teenage girl from South Central L.A. named Destiny? Orphaned at birth and a perpetual victim of police brutality, this incomparable strategic genius finds herself uniting the city’s organized criminals, gangs, thieves, and thugs, turning them against a corrupt system.
Welcome to the House of Dahomey, the houseboat of Erzulie Fréda, where the souls of Voodoo followers go when they sleep. But even the fearsome Erzulie is powerless when her dream river turns sour, tossing her house from one realm and into another … the Dreaming! 
In 1960s America, Kusama is a symbol of free love and peace. She fights a constant battle with her mental health but finds salvation in art. From her childhood in rural Japan through her radical happenings in New York to her groundbreaking international installations, this vivid graphic novel documents the incredible journey of a remarkable icon.
Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl, but Freddy is learning she is not the best girlfriend, so she seeks help from a mysterious medium and advice columnists to help her through being a teenager in love.
 Lunella Lafayette is a preteen genius who wants to change the world but lives in fear of the Inhuman genes inside her! Now, Lunella’s life is turned upside down when a red-scaled beast is teleported from the prehistoric past to a far-flung future we call…today! But will they be BFFs forever, or just until DD’s dinner time?
Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steampunk, this is the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both.
Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City – until she is suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the all-new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? As Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them as well.
Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. 
Nubia has always been a little bit…different. As a baby she showed Amazonian-like strength by pushing over a tree to rescue her neighbor’s cat. But despite her having similar abilities, the world has no problem telling her that she’s no Wonder Woman. When Nubia’s best friend, Quisha, is threatened by a boy who thinks he owns the town, Nubia will risk it all–her safety, her home, and her crush on that cute kid in English class–to become the hero society tells her she isn’t.
The horrors, the anxiety, and the awkwardness of modern adult life! Like the work of fellow Millennial authors Allie Brosh, Grace Helbig, and Gemma Correll, Andersen’s total frankness on extremely personal issues such as body image, self-consciousness, introversion, relationships, and bra-washing makes her comics highly relatable and consistently hilarious.
When a birth defect wipes out the planet’s entire population of men, Woman World rises out of society’s ashes.

– Article by Tony, Main Library 

In Defense of Comics, pt. 6

Welcome back, true believers and fellow travelers! I know it’s been a long time but your intrepid author is still on the case, dropping science on those four-color and/or black and white narratives you love so well.

First off, some definitions which will be useful to know for this installment’s conversation:

  • Canon, in comics, is the official body of stories that are considered to be the “true” history of a fictional character, team, or world.
  • Continuity is the accumulated history of a character or shared universe that is accepted by the publisher and the community of readers. It is often coherent in the way that a life story seems to be. This means that there may be odd stories or character quirks that exist but are explained or ignored in favor of consistency.
  • Copyright (defined by the U.S.P.T.O.) is “a form of protection provided by U.S. law to the authors of original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression.”
  • Legacy characters are ones who take on the identity of a previously established character. Often this is due to the age, disability, or death of the original character.
  • Reboot (or Continuity Reboot) is when previously established continuity is ignored in part or completely. Some feel that rather than the old continuity being destroyed, the current run simply recounts the tales of an alternate universe version of the same characters (however this interpretation is generally not accepted by the publisher as the new comic is now put forward as the “true” continuity with the older version ceasing to exist).
  • Rebrand (or Retool) is when a character changes without the rest of the continuity itself changing. It may be as simple as a costume change, more general as a new set of powers, or as complicated as a total change of the character’s identity. There may be no good reason for the change, other than for marketing purposes.
  • Retcon (or Retroactive Continuity) is the changing of some past event in a comic by a current plot line. It typically involves some kind of alteration or nullification of the previously understood continuity. However, a clever retcon will fit seamlessly with the past continuity though the understanding of events will change.

Let’s look at continuity using the case of everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. The character has been either in high school, in college, in the adult world, married, unmarried, a journalist, a billionaire tech innovator, a clone (yes, a clone!), bonded with an alien symbiote, et cetera, all while remaining in copyright and under the control of one publisher, Marvel Comics. Spidey has stayed primarily in his late teens or early 20’s for most of that time, though in August it will have been 60 years since his first appearance (Amazing Fantasy #15). Spider-Man’s many changes are not that unusual for the comic business (for instance, the Barry Allen version of The Flash clocks in at 65 years since his debut, 23 years of which he was canonically dead).

OK, let’s talk about the function of narrative. Narrative is the pithy way to say, “how a story is told,” or “the way in which meaning is conveyed from author/publisher to audience/consumer.” In order to do so, narrative takes many possible pieces of information and compresses them in a way that can be (relatively) easily translated. Typically, there are five elements of narrative: setting, characters, plot, conflict, and result (some would say “resolution” but one possible outcome is just that something happens and nothing is truly wrapped up tidily).

Disjunctures in narrative are where the various issues surrounding continuity arise. These innovations, breaks, or interruptions may eventually be enfolded into the ongoing mythology of a series (oh, wait, there’s Pink Kryptonite, too) or may lead to larger adjustments (so, uh, Thor Odinson isn’t worthy to wield Mjolnir? But Jane Foster is? Ok, let’s roll). Or more drastically, there is no connection between two versions of a character in the same fictional universe (ex: Jack Kirby and Neil Gaiman’s versions of Death*). As well, another creative team may decide that they just need to start from scratch but use a cool name that is too good to pass up (I’m looking at you Kamala Khan). Many times, the characters will be linked in some manner (most common is a passing of the mantle) and so a legacy character is born.

Keep in the back of your mind that copyright often makes this complicated in the case of older comics. This is because once copyright protection expires (or if it was not appropriately established in the first place), a different publisher or creative team can swoop in and do what they want with the character. This sometimes means there are competing versions of the same character at the same time on the market. That’s not a problem when you are enjoying the stories (or collecting) contemporaneously but can make it a nightmare when trying to delve into the history of a long-standing property.

A perfect case in point would be British comic Marvel Man (alternately named Miracleman), made popular in later years by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman stories. Originally, the title was published from 1954-1963 by L. Miller and Sons, a British producer of comics, magazines, and cheap paperbacks. Mick Anglo, the creator of the character, who left employment with L. Miller and Sons, also published some tales on his own in 1960-1961. L. Miller and Sons went out of business altogether in 1966 and the character languished for almost 20 years.

In 1982, Quality Publications put out a new version of Marvel Man with Alan Moore as writer and Garry Leach (and later Alan Davis) as artist. After two years and complaints from Marvel Comics, the character’s story ended abruptly without being resolved. Quality then licensed the character to two indie publishers in succession, Pacific Comics, who quickly went out of business, and Eclipse Comics. When Eclipse got ahold of the character, they changed the name to Miracleman to avoid legal action by Marvel Comics and hired Neil Gaiman to be the writer.

It gets pretty murky after that because Eclipse went out of business in 1986. Todd McFarland, a popular creator at the time (his most famous creation being Spawn), purchased the rights to the catalog of Pacific Comics in 1996. Neil Gaiman disputed McFarlane’s ownership, contending that as the name had changed and he had crafted a completely different version of the character, he was a co-owner of Miracleman and had not surrendered his interests at the time of Pacific Comic’s sale.

After years of legal action, the original creator, Mick Anglo, was deemed the true owner of the character in 2009. That same year, Marvel Comics purchased the rights from Anglo. Eventually, they released the entire series in an oversized trade paperback edition, retaining the title Miracleman. And finally, just this past year, Marvel decided to bring the character into the mainstream Marvel Comics continuity in their new Timeless series, the trade paperback of which is scheduled to be released this February.

Along the way, the character was distinctly different under each era of publication, though subsequent incarnations did incorporate elements from the previous iterations. The comic has had six publishers, some in the UK and some in the United States. It was its own independent universe for most of its run but now is a part of a larger multiverse. It has been released in multiple sizes, carried different numbering, and two separate names over the years.

As you can see, totally a nightmare but totally worth reading (*ahem* LFPL currently owns volume 1 of the Marvel reprints).

The Marvel Comics edition published in 2014

Reboots and rebrands are more controversial. They may well be the thing needed to give a shot in the arm to a flagging character or group. The new direction or new look can also come with new artists or authors, spinning exciting new stories. Sometimes it is a small thing, such as a character with a goofy or outdated costume gets upgraded into a much cooler outfit. But the changes involved often are met with resistance by the regular readers, who have a vested interested in the continuity they have come to know and love.

The modern issue with rebooting is that (in a market that has seen a noticeable downturn in sales for individual issues over the last decade or two) reboots are becoming very common. The reason for this is that — due to collectors’ habits — a new first issue for a title generates a big bump in sales. But the practice also leads to burnout on the part of regular readers and contributes to attrition of those readers over time as they drop titles or even whole publishers.

Despite all that, I do love new takes on old characters, especially a well-done retcon. One in particular that I enjoy is the Captain America storyline, The Winter Soldier, by Ed Brubaker. I don’t want to spoil it for you but I will tell you that this run is the basis for several of the MCU blockbusters that have come out and for The Falcon and Winter Soldier television series.


*Both denizens of the DC universe, Kirby’s Death is known as the Black Racer, who, hilariously, is just a guy using skis to zoom through the air while Gaiman’s Death is the cute GGF (Goth girlfriend) that generations of fanboys have lusted after.


– Article by Tony, Main Library 

Books That Will Build You Up!

If you want to start your morning on the right foot read, Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me and for You by Lin-Manuel Miranda. You won’t want to read this book in one setting. You are going to want this book on your bedside table, readily available to incorporate into your morning and night time routines.


The Comfort Book: Haig, Matt: 9780143136668: Amazon.com: Books

If you have anxiety or depression or just want a little extra comfort in your life, read The Comfort Book by Matt Haig. This book does not need to be read in order. This book is full of stand alone affirmations to lift you up. Haig includes a list of music that brings him comfort among essays and personal antidotes of his mental health journey.


It’s impossible not to smile while reading Little Moments of Love by Catana Chetwynd. Chetwynd has perfected a collection of comics about the sweet moments in relationships. If you want to read about the snuggly parts of romance than this book is for you. You might just want to find your coziest spot and settle in before you begin.


A young boy meets three friends in this short graphic novel, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. In this quiet and thoughtful book the four friends traverse through the wilderness all the while sharing their hopes and disappointments. Hopefully when you finish this short story you will feel loved and encouraged and optimistic about the world.


Amazon.com: For Every One: 9781481486248: Reynolds, Jason: Books

When your dreams seem impossible and you are feeling tired and beaten down, pick up For Every One by Jason Reynolds. In this short poem, Reynolds will encourage you to continue on through all the adversary. In this short poem we are reminded of our own strength and the power to persevere.

– Reviews by Catherine, Main Library

Ten Graphics You Should Check Out

Real quick…there are tons of great comics out there and your library has quite a selection. We’ve got something for every age, rage, or cage, baby…believe that.

I’m not here to sell you anything, just sharing. Here are some works that I have enjoyed since the beginning of the year. Click on the links below and check the bibliography for more details (including a description of and – sometimes – reviews of the work).

Imagine if the Mothership Connection met Firefly…but funkier

Jonathan Hickman jump-starts the whole X-Men side of the Marvel Universe…which is X-cellent if you’ve never read them before and need a convenient place to dive in

Indigenous (?) rebellion against an American Empire gone amuck

Some of the most embarrassing autobiographical stories about the comic biz collected in one place

’70’s-into-’80’s sci-fi, sure, but it also is one of the early works that showed what a new wave of British artists were about to do to the comics industry…completely change it for the better

  • Ms. Tree by Max Allan Collins & Terry Beatty
Currently, the longest running continuous pulp-detective series in comics form (outside of comics strips)

  • Satania – Fabien Vehlmann, Marie Pommepuy, & Sébastien Cosset
From the same creative team that brought you Beautiful Darkness, a phantasmagorical tale about adventurers discovering what really lies deep below the Earth’s surface

Amazing art, fantastic story. You have got to read this one just for the beauty of it


Another great edition to DC’s Graphic Novels for Young Adults series. This time, it’s a coming of age tale of a daughter who feels she has had to live in her mother’s shadow for all these years, only to find her own path
Just gorgeous. Toppi is an amazing artist and an inspiration for many who’ve come since. Sci-fi, fantasy, you name it, he can do it all

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 discussing these titles or other works of sequential art, please join LFPL’s Graphic Novel Discussion Group. Our next meeting is this Saturday, September 11, 2021. We will be taking a look at The Great Darkness Saga by Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen.

– Review by Tony, Main Library

2021 Eisner Awards Nominations

These are often called the comic book world’s version of the Oscars

Comic-Con has announced nominations for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards 2021. The nominees are for works published between January 1 and December 31, 2020 and were chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of judges.

All professionals in the comic book industry are eligible to vote.

The deadline for voting is June 30, 2021. The results of the voting will be announced in July in a virtual ceremony as part of Comic-Con@Home.

For a list of items in the library that are Eisner Award-winning works, click here.


Hey, if you are interested in discussing comics, manga, or comics-related media, please join LFPL’s Graphic Novel Discussion Group.

Upcoming meetings will take place on the following dates:

  • Patriotism & Superheroes – Saturday, July 03, 2021 – 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
  • Free Comic Book Day – Saturday, August 14, 2021 – 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM (yes, there will be free comics for attendees!)

 Article by Tony, Main Library

Types of Comics

(a small selection of different kinds of comics at the Louisville Free Public Library)

Comics are a medium, one that comes in an many formats. Below is a short guide to the rich variety of these publications.

Album – European comics with larger page size and higher number of pages than comics in the U.S. See Pamphlet

Anime – Animation, for TV or the movies, made in Japan, and for the Japanese market.  For more info, see our Manga and Anime FAQ

Animation  A form of film using drawings (and sometimes other techniques) to create the illusion of motion

Asian Comics  Comics are called manga in Japan, manhwa in Korea, or manhua in China. For more info, see our Manga and Anime FAQ

Audio Comics – A form of audio narrative that is structured like a comic when created. Important elements such as action and setting are explained in detail. Sound cues are used to indicate shifts from panel to panel. For people who are not blind, it sounds something like an old-time radio serial

Bande Dessinée (or BD French term for Comic Books. They are usually published in the Album format

Bluesies – See Tijuana Bible

Caricature – a drawing style that exaggerates features, particularly of the face, to portray individuals in an easily recognizable manner. Often used in editorial Cartoons

Cartoons (when not animated)  Typically, these are single panel comics of an editorial nature

Chick Tracts – Short Pamphlet with Evangelical Christian themes. This type of comic gained its name from the most prolific publisher of the form, Jack Chick

Comic Art  A form of Sequential Art

Comic Books (or Comics The most generally used name for individual issues of comic art; often they are Soft-bound (Comics). See Pamphlet

Comics Strips – Short pieces of comic art to be published in a periodical (such as a newspaper or magazine), most often to be read horizontally

Comics with hand-sewn spines – Comics assembled like a scrapbook

Comics with tête-bêche binding  A rare format for comics wherein two different comics are bound together back to back, each reversed from the other so they share the same spine. Tête-bêche is French for, roughly translated, “head to tail.” These works are sometimes called double books or reversible books

Crossover – The placement of two or more otherwise discrete fictional characters, settings, or universes into the context of a single story. They can arise from legal agreements between the relevant copyright holders, or because of unauthorized efforts by fans. Most of these comics are not part of the canon of any of the original works

Digest-sized (Comics) – Comics which are roughly the size of paperback books

Digital Comics  Comics that are released digitally. They may be Motion Comics or Webcomics

Film Comics – Sometimes known as Cine-Manga or Ani-Manga. Manga works which use illustrations directly found in an Anime rather than original art, and which utilize dialog from that anime

Flipbooks – Comics where each page’s art varies slightly and when flipped creates the illusion of motion

Floppies – See Soft-bound (Comics)

Foldable Comics  Comics that are shaped in some manner (like a work of origami) and are to be read as the shape is unfolded

Fumetti – Italian term for comic books as a whole.  Some use this term to designate a specific format using photographs and word balloons (which was very popular in Italy during the 1940’s and 1950’s). In the English speaking world, this specific format is known as the Photonovel

Graphic Adaptations – These are works that use a story from another medium (poetry, movies, or novels are most common) but translate them into a comic format. They may also be called Tie-Ins with relation to a particular current popular work (where they act primarily as advertising for that work)

Graphic Novels – In the purest form, a stand-alone comic of book length with a clear beginning, middle, and end to its story. However, the term is often used interchangeably with Trade Paperback

Hard-bound (Comics) – Publications with a stiff cover (like a book or graphic novel)

Hybrid Comics  Printed comics that are read in tandem with digital content

Illustrated Book – A book with words and pictures but where the story is coherent without the pictures. Contrast with Wordless Comics

Infinite Canvas – A format for comics on a computer wherein the monitor does not replicate the printed page. The screen is seen as a window to a story told in any direction, theoretically ever-expanding. Hyperlinking and touch options may add interactive elements to works

Japanimation – A non-Japanese term for Anime. For more info, see our Manga and Anime FAQ

Light Novel – A Japanese publishing format of short stories, liberally interspersed with manga illustrations. Typically, story length is approximately that of a novella in the U.S.

Magazines  Serial pamphlets of a larger size than the average comic book in the U.S., often printed on higher quality paper. See Pamphlet

Manga – Comics made in Japan for the Japanese market. In Japan, titles are published first in magazine format as part of a larger anthology. If successful, an individual manga will be reprinted in a collected edition. There are many genres of manga, catering to a wide variety of audiences. For more info, see our Manga and Anime FAQ

Metacomic –  In brief, a metacomic is a comic about a comic. The characters are able to take advantage of the comic’s structure to progress in the storyline. Or – if the characters remain unaware of their fictional status, the story itself comments on those structures, conventions of genre, or fan expectations

Mini-comics  Comics which are not professionally published, often having an unusual size. See Zines 

Motion Comics – Digital Comics that combine motion, sound, or interactive elements with pictures and words to tell a story. Some feel that Motion Comics are really just a kind of Animation

Pamphlet – A complete publication of generally less than 80 pages stitched or stapled together and usually having a paper cover. There is no particular size requirement, thus Albums or Comic Books or Magazines fit the category of pamphlet if they are not Hard-bound

Phonebook (Comics) – A term for a certain type of collection of previously published comics that is printed on pulp paper and is very thick (like old-fashioned phonebooks). The style was made popular in the 1980’s by Dave Sim when he collected story arcs of his comic, Cerebus

Photonovels – Comics which use photographs rather than drawings. See Fumetti

Picture Book – A book where words and pictures are used to tell a story but where the pictures are of equal value (or are more dominant) in doing so. Most often picture books are for children

Poetry Comics – Comics that use poetic structure rather than the more typical prose style. The term may also be used for Graphic Adaptations of poetic works

Sequential Art – A term defined by Will Eisner as, “an art form that uses images deployed in sequence for graphic storytelling or to convey information”

Soft-bound (Comics) – Single issues of comics with a floppy spine, often stapled in the middle. They are also sometimes called Floppies

Square-bound (Comics) – Publications printed on flexible cardstock that are bound on the side like a book. Known in the publishing industry as a Trade Paperback

Tankōbon  A Japanese term for a book length, stand-alone comic (similar to how Trade Paperback or Graphic Novel are used in English)

Tebeos  Spanish-language term for comic books. In Spain the term is more specific, used to denote a magazine that contains comics

Tie-Ins  See Graphic Adaptations

Tijuana Bible – Sometimes known as Bluesies. Small-sized pornographic comics, often parodies of mainstream comics, that were published from the 1930’s to the 1950’s

Topper – A smaller comic that runs across and/or around the borders of another comic. This was once a popular technique used in comic strips when the size of comic strips and the space allotted to them in the newspaper was much larger than today

Trade Paperback – A book of previously published issues that originally appeared as individual comics. In common parlance, this is often referred to as a Graphic Novel

Treasury-sized (Comics) – Oversized comic books, approximately the size of an unfolded newspaper page

Typography Comics – Comics which play on the graphic element of words to tell a story.  They often have pictures to accompany the words

Webcomics  Comics created for and published on the Internet. They may be limited to what is immediately on the screen, hyperlinked to other information, or use the Infinite Canvas format

Webtoons – A style of Digital Comics that originated in South Korea which takes advantage of the Infinite Canvas and which may include animated or audio elements. They are designed to be best consumed on a phone or tablet

Wordless Comics – Stories told using only pictures. Contrast with Illustrated Book

Zines  D.I.Y. Magazines that combine any number of art styles, particularly self-created comics

 – Article by Tony, Main Library

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

Recently this character’s name was changed to Doctor Andromeda for legal reasons. The series has been republished as Doctor Andromeda and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows but the library’s copy still has the original title.

Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows, written by Jeff Lemire with art by Max Fiumara, is a spin-off of Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Black Hammer series. If you are not familiar with Black Hammer (one of my Top Ten Graphics of 2019), you seriously need to check it out. In that series, a group of superheroes saves the world from an alien threat only to disappear and then reappear in a small town somewhere in Middle America. A small town that they find themselves unable to leave! The mystery of why they cannot leave is slowly tearing them apart until…well, I don’t want to spoil it for you and it’s not what this review is about, other than as backstory.

Doctor Star takes a look at one of the other heroes of this world who finds his powers and starts adventuring during the World War II era. Dr. Jim Robinson is a brilliant astrophysicist whose research into the Para-Zone, a mysterious and dangerous dimension outside of the normal universe, is funded by the government looking for a way to weaponized it. Eventually, after throwing himself into the work, Dr. Robinson discovers a way to unlock the power of the Para-Zone. Using the tools that help him control it, Dr. Robinson creates his new superhero persona, Doctor Star.

This is how he connects to the rest of the Black Hammer universe, meeting Colonel Randall Weird, the only hero who can traverse the Para-Zone, as well as other heroes along the way. But don’t worry too much about those connections. This short spin-off is firmly anchored in its protagonist’s tragic journey.

Jeff Lemire is good telling at these kind of very human, painful stories. There are so many little character details he throws in that you very quickly feel for the characters. You feel for them even as you watch them damage or destroy what is precious to them.

Artist Max Fiumara is very capable of portraying these little details in a concise manner while still capturing the spirit of adventure the story beats demand. The line work alternates between sharp and quirky, almost fairy tale, style and a muted, grimmer style that feels like a fading memory. Fiumara is known mostly for artwork on Hellboy titles but here, it is more akin to classic pulp than urban horror.

Not only is this a loving tribute to comic author James Robinson’s classic Starman series (Doctor Star’s alter ego is named after him after all), it is also a meditation on how parents and children can become alienated from each other with no malice intended. Here we find a scientist turned superhero who sees the universe and has many adventures in his career but loses something irreplaceable. Something which he only realizes in the final, heartbreaking sequence.

– Review by Tony, Main Library

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.

Femme Magnifique: A Comic Anthology Salute to 50 Magnificent Women Who Changed the World

This is the original cover from the Black Crown Kickstarter edition. Black Crown, overseen by Shelly Bond, is a former imprint of IDW that ended in 2019. Shelly Bond was an executive-editor and the VP of Vertigo Comics before starting the imprint.

In 2018, IDW published this amazing anthology of graphic stories that is perfect for anyone interested in the impact that women have had on modern society. Artists, astronauts, inventors, martial arts experts, musicians, politicians, skateboarders, writers, and more are all featured. They’ve claimed their own power and utterly changed the course of history.

The talent pool on this work is deep. Talents like Gail SimoneKelly Sue DeConnickMarguerite Bennett, Lucy Knisley, Ming Doyle, Bill SienkiewiczKieron GillenGilbert HernandezGerard Way, and Mike Carey (just to name a few) have crafted short narratives with love toward each and every profiled subject. There are so many individual subjects and so many different writers and artists that anyone with a genuine interest can find multiple stories to enjoy.

A potential criticism is that while the authors, writers, letters, colorists, and editorial team are very diverse in background, the anthology can be said to be light on women of color. Another criticism is that many stories do not get to breathe due the constraint of each having only three pages for the telling. Lastly, a good number of the stories are really more about the influence of the subject on the writer than a biographical sketch.

I don’t think that any of these are crippling criticisms. The anthology is not one geared to focus on any particular racial or ethnic group as a whole, though approximately a quarter of the vignettes feature minorities. Three pages is quite short but probably helped the writers with their scheduling time constraints, as well as allowing for more subjects to be included. And while biographies would have been more expected, the mix of approaches keeps the anthology from feeling like a text book, making it more engaging overall.

Lurking below the surface are somewhat related criticisms that I have not immediately addressed. Femme Magnifique is, to some folks, damaged by being an avowedly feminist work. And as feminism is a philosophy or political stance that many strongly disagree with on principle, they claim it will not only turn away readers for this work but many other projects (either by the creators or by the publisher).

Then there are others who just disagree on aesthetic grounds. They believe that having a clear politics inherently ruins it because good storytelling is sacrificed to communicate that stance. I think the hidden message is that stories are somehow separate from the world itself and should stay that way.

I’ll take the last one first, the aesthetic argument. It is true, directly communicated politics can ruin a story. Everyone has probably read some kind of work that wore its heart on its sleeve and bored them to tears, but I don’t think it’s necessarily always so. As to the hidden message, that fails to be other than the fervent wish of the aesthete because stories can only exist in the real world, coming and going based on both cultural reasons and on, particularly these days, marketing.

For example, Star Wars is clearly a political tale of a full-blown rebellion of the masses yearning for freedom from the oppressive yoke of an authoritarian empire (one so cruel that it literally creates a way to destroy whole planets at a time to retain its control). But it’s a rousing tale (especially if we skip certain Episodes) that resonates with many. And it is a gazillion dollar real world business that is (seemingly) guaranteed to survive forever.

Criticism of the anthology based on it being feminist is trickier to handle because the label itself can be many different things depending on who you ask. First one has to figure out what the person objecting to it really means. If they just don’t like women, for instance, then why are they reading a 224 page tome of nothing but stories about women? But what if they believe that the movement of women out of the home into the public sphere and out of the secretarial pool into the chambers of power is detrimental to eudaimonia? Further, that failed eudaimonia of an individual is injurious to society as a whole?

Geez, who wants to spend time unpacking that stack of nesting boxes?

But no fear, true believers (and hardcore atheists alike)! That is not a problem in this work. There are some profiles of politicians but the majority are from the fields of arts and other endeavors. There is no specific set of political goals that can be found throughout the book. If anything, Femme Magnifique is a set of aspirational tales for girls and boys alike.

No thrown together or low quality material here. So, who’s herding all these cats to make a satisfying whole out of the “cat-caphony”? (ha ha) We have to give it to the team of editors (Shelly Bond, Kristy Miller, and Brian Miller), colorists (Claudia Aguirre, Jordie Bellaire, Tamra Bonvillain, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Irma Kniivila, Lee Loughridge, Fabi Marques, Rick Taylor, and Hi-Fi), and sole letterer (Aditya Bidikar). This team took all the individual tales, sequenced them, got them to the finish line, and made them all pop.

Now it’s your turn to pop…on over to the library and pick up this fantastic collection!


Review by Tony, Main Library

Top Ten Graphics of 2019

Here are some of my favorite comics read in 2019. They may or may not have been published this year. Also, a few have more than one volume and I have not designated a particular volume if I would recommend the whole series.

My picks are listed in alphabetical (rather than rank) order.

The American Way by John Ridley and Georges Jeanty

Superheroes working for the government, a government that helps script their battles and other appearances in order to stoke patriotic pride, have been doing this for years. But now it’s the early 1960’s and change is in the air. What the country needs is a new hero, dubbed the New American by his government handlers, but little do they anticipate the chaos he will bring in his wake.

Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts by Anthony Bourdain & Joel Rose

The blurb on the cover says it all, “Tales of Fear and Food from Around the World.” Bourdain, Rose, and a host of guest artists gather to bring us Japanese folk-inflected ghost stories, all told on an eerie night at the table of an eccentric nobleman.

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew

A deeply-moving meta-narrative about a singular artistic talent from Singapore. The tale begins in the aftermath of World War II and follows the titular artist to his later years in the 1980’s. If you are a lifelong fan of comics, you’ll be astounded by the homages to comic history, and if you are not, it’s still a great look at the life of an artist in his times. History buffs and political nerds will especially enjoy his exposition on the rise of modern Malaysia.

Black Hammer by Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston

A tale of the other side of some great cosmic event involving superheroes. What happens to these characters if they are whisked away in the blink of an eye? Where do they go? What if it’s to a seemingly perfect example of small-town America and they can’t escape?

Eternity Girl by Magdalene Visaggio and Sonny Liew

Caroline Sharp – spy and superheroine – finds herself reincarnated as Eternity Girl but all she longs for is meaning in a meaningless world. Or death. Which will she choose? How will it affect the world at large?

Mister Miracle by Tom King and Mitch Gerads

Abused son of a god turned escape artist has to face his greatest trick, escaping death itself. But can he live with himself while he tries? Poignant domestic drama highlights the emotional impact that constant abuse can have on a person, their work, and their family.

Monk!: Thelonious, Pannonica, and the Friendship Behind a Musical Revolution by Youssef Daoudi

The title says it all…but doesn’t tell you how great the art and the pacing are in this tale for die-hard music-lovers and acolytes alike. You will be able to almost hear the music as you turn pages. Better yet, check out some Thelonious Monk from the library so you can listen along!

Petrograd by Philip Gelatt and Tyler Crook

A historical drama centering on the British S.I.S. office in Russia during the First World War. In this tale, the station participates (imagined? real?) in the murder of Rasputin, called the “Mad Monk,” a powerful adviser to Tsarina Alexandra. The art is brisk as befits a spy story.

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker

A heartbreaking autobiography from George Takei about his family’s experience in the American prison camps of WWII. Thousands of Japanese-Americans and legal immigrants of Japanese descent were torn from their homes and sent far away from their livelihoods and their communities for years. It also looks at how those experiences colored Mr. Takei’s youth and his life-long commitment to civil rights.

Young Frances by Hartley Lin

This is the collected edition of Mr. Lin’s irregularly published indie comic, Pope Hats, issues 1-5. It centers on a brilliant young law clerk with low self-esteem and her wacky, successful actor friend. The art is of the ligne claire style (think Tintin) so there’s no confusion as to how the story unfolds. However, you will be surprised how much emotion can be wrung from such simplicity.

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.

After taking a look, if your selection is not available at the branch you wish to go to, you may have the item shipped there 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 discussing these titles or other works of sequential art, please join LFPL’s Graphic Novel Discussion Group. Meetings are held at the Main Library on the second Monday of every month, starting at 7:00 PM.

The next meeting is Monday, January 13, 2020. In honor of Korean-American Day (held every year on January 13th), we will be taking a look at Korean-American Comic Creators.

For more information, contact Tony at (502) 574-1611.

— Article by Tony, Main Library