Get Fuzzy this spring

Darby Conley has been working on "Get Fuzzy" for 16 years now with the comic being syndicated in daily newspapers. Every once in a while Conley takes some of his best strips and combines them into a wonderful collection of his wit (and occasional wisdom). Two of these collections are I'm Ready for my Movie Contract and You Can't fight crazy.
For those of you who are not familiar with the strip Get Fuzzy is about a Boston Ad Executive (think Mad Men but less cool) Rob Wilco and his two anthropomorphic pets Satchel Pooch and Bucky Katt. The comic plays on a lot of cat/dog stereotypes and readers will soon get to know that Bucky is mean and conniving and Satchel is sweet and innocent (and very very gullible) while Rob tries to keep the peace in his home.

The comic plays well with the strip format, with one or two strips making up an entire story-line and thus it makes these collections perfect for anyone who wants a book that they can pick up and put down without having to find the end of the chapter etc.

If you've never read any of the strips then these collections are a wonderful way in which to get introduced to them and if you are a fan of the series then these collections will let you enjoy some of the more classic of the strips along with ones you've probably never seen before.
So if you're looking for a quick to read book with lots of witticisms (such as eating dog food doesn't give you super powers) then pick up I'm Ready for my Movie Contract or You Can't fight crazy.

Is the grass greener on the other side of the wall?

I'm not normally a fan of graphic memoirs, often I find them to be only of interest if you are a fan of the artist already but there are several graphic memoirs that despite having never heard of the author prior to picking up the graphic novel that have endeared themselves enough that I've read them multiple times. One of those graphic memoirs is The Other Side of the Wall by Simon Schwartz. The novel is set in the 1980's in Germany and follows the Schwartz family as they move across the wall from East Germany to West Germany in search of freedoms that they could not have in East Germany. This period of time is incredibly interesting and Schwartz manages to capture a lot of the emotions that his family went through, as well as documenting their personal history.
This graphic novel is wonderful and will open up a world that might otherwise be impossible to see. Germany in the 80's was on the brink of change, and it is in this precipice that Schwartz sets his graphic memoir.
The artwork is simple but at the same time conveys a huge amount of information about that period in time.
So if you're looking for a fantastic graphic memoir, or to learn about post war Germany, then The Other Side of the Wall is for you!

Take a Walk with "The Walking Man"

Every so often a book comes along that defies labeling. A book so different from others that are being published that it's hard to exactly put your finger on what it is. The Walking Man by Jiro Taniguchi is one of those books.

At first glance, this manga graphic novel appears to be your standard fare for Japanese slice of life manga, but to list it merely as slice of life would be doing it a great disservice. The book is a series of short stories about a man who walks, but again, to say it's just a book about walking is to belittle the masterful art that has gone into its creation. So it's a slice of life manga about a man who takes walks, and on those walks, it could be argued that he explores the Japanese concept of "ikigai" or the reason for being.

The stories are almost meditative in their simple complexity (I know this is an oxymoron but somehow it works) and after reading them, it is entirely possible for you to walk away with a little more understanding of life and humanity, as the stories will resonate with different people in different ways.

So if you are looking for something different, something new and unusual check out The Walking Man.

Make a Minicomic Workshop with Matt Feazell @ UMMA Fridays After Five

Friday April 8, 2016: 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm -- University of Michigan Museum of Art

This event is intended for grade 6 - adult

During Fridays After Five, the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) remains open until 8:00pm to allow the community to explore the Museum’s galleries and special exhibitions. Stop by UMMA after work, before dinner with the family, or as part of an evening out on the town. Join cartoonist Matt Feazell for an AADL sponsored Minicomic Workshop while you’re there!

An interest in cartooning and a willingness to draw is all that is required. Participants will learn how to make an 8-page book out of one sheet of paper AND the secrets to telling a comic book story to fill those pages in 90 minutes or less. Supplies will be provided and all ages are welcome.

As always, admission to UMMA is FREE.

Crossover Graphic Novels- February Adventure Edition

We’re well into the month of February and there are some amazing graphic novels that are great for all ages coming to the library (or are already available and ready to be checked out). There’s a little bit of a theme to this month’s crossover (great reads for all ages) graphic novels, each one has an adventure of some kind, whether that be dragons, or pirates, or even strange cats.

The first crossover graphic novel is Windmill Dragon: A Leah and Allen Adventure by David Nytra. This book is breathtaking. From the very first pages, you are hit with the amount of detail that has been put into each and every page of it. It’s very easy to find yourself lost in the detail as you take in everything that makes this book so beautiful. If it was just the artwork that was wonderful then this book would still be worth your time, but the story itself is equally unique and captivating. I don’t want to give too much away, but imagine how you might react if the windmills were suddenly not windmills.

The next is Apocalypse Bow Wow and Apocalypse Meow Meow by James Proimos. These two graphic novels look at the apocalypse from an animal's point of view. In Apocalypse Bow Wow two dogs go in search of food and water unaware that the apocalypse is occurring. In Apocalypse Meow Meow those same two dogs try to break into a factory to secure all the food that they could ever want, but are bested at first by a large and strange “cat”. Both stories are well written and entertaining and Proimos’ art choices will make reading this a joy.

The final crossover is not just one (or two) graphic novels but an entire series of 6 (so far) graphic novels. The Princeless series . This series is truly awesome. The art is bright and cheerful and the story is one of a princess finding her power and freeing herself (rather than waiting for Prince So-and-So to come and rescue her). Each of the graphic novels can be read independently, and so it really doesn’t matter where in the series you start reading (though I always recommend people starting with the first volume, as it helps you get to know the characters better). This series really rocks and if you like stories about strong independent characters who defy the normal conventions of the world they live in, then this series is most definitely for you.

Giant Days brings Giant Entertainment

I'm a big fan of Boom! comics and their various imprints. They are the company who brought us Lumberjanes, and Mr. Stuffins (the best comic you'll ever read about a James Bond-like teddy bear). Now with Giant Days by John Allison, they have made a wonderful slice-of-life comic for the teen reader.

The comic follows three freshers (this is the British term for new university students) as they go about their lives during the first year of university. The stories are not grand and epic like Lumberjanes but rather they are small and meaningful. You really get to know the characters and there are opportunities throughout the comic to connect with what's going on with them, whether that's boyfriends, toxic friendships, or rescuing a friend from a trashy nightclub (and many many other such real life adventures).

The artwork is superb, with each of the characters and the locations really having a strong sense of individuality. So if you're looking for a comic that really connects you with wonderful characters, then Giant Days is a must read!

There's a party going on in Palisade and everyone's invited.

If you love fantasy graphic novels aimed surely at adults then Rat Queens will not let you down. Everything about this graphic novel is well done, from the (slightly crazy) storyline to the superb artwork. The story follows one of a few gangs of adventurers who call themselves the Rat Queens (one of the other gangs is eloquently called the four Daves and consists of four men named, unsurprisingly Dave). In the first volume the Rat Queens and the other gangs of adventurers are sent on missions that turn out to be much deadlier than they might have imagined.
The graphic novels balance humor, story and action in a wonderfully entertaining way. The series has gotten much attention for its content, especially as several of the Rat Queens fall into the LGBT spectrum.

So if you're looking for action, adventure and some scenes that will have you laughing far too loudly in a public place then check out Rat Queens!

It's Hard to be evil on a part time wage.

It sure is hard being the devil and a lord of a vast demon host when you only get part time hours at the local McRonald's restaurant. But Sadao Mao (as the Devil now call himself) is doing just that. Originally from another world called Ente Isla the Devil and his arch nemesis the Hero Emelia are thrust through a magic portal into our world. Left without their magic they are stuck and the Devil and his demon companion have to live in a tiny apartment and work part time jobs just to pay the bills.
This Manga based on a Light Novel and Anime of the same name is fantastic. It will keep you guessing as to what the real motivations behind the demon lord of Ente Isla truly is. The series has everything, action, adventure (and possible a little love) so if you're looking for a light hearted look at the Devil and his companions you can't go wrong with The Devil is a Part-Timer and the library is getting volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3!

Crossover Graphic Novels January Edition

Another year another wonderful selection of graphic novels that are great for young and old alike. This month brings some awesome graphic novels from some supremely talented artists and authors!

First up is Baba Yaga's Assistant by Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll. This book takes the slavic folktale character Baba Yaga and reimagines a world in which she might live, and indeed do well enough to need an assistant. Whoever chose Emily Carroll to do the artwork for this book deserves to be applauded for their forward thinking. The artwork is a wonderful mix of simple and complex. Everything “ordinary” is drawn simply and really gives a sense of the “normalness” of them while Baba Yaga and other such extraordinary things are clearly drawn as different from the normal. The story itself really benefits from this style of art. As for the content of the story, it is more than just another reimagining of a folktale that are so popular at the moment. It truly strives to use the folktale as a frame for the story and not the other way around.
So if you like the weird, the extraordinary and people outthinking the “bad guys” then this book is for you!

The second graphic novel(s) in this month's crossover blog is the wonderful “Chronicle of Claudette” series which include the volumes Giants Beware and Dragons Beware. The first volume follows young Claudette as she goes in search of a local giant to slay and make her mark on the world. The Second follows as she attempts to get the famous sword Breaker that her father lost when trying to slay a dragon. The dragon took the sword along with her father's legs and one arm! The artwork is cute at times, but don’t let that distract you. The story is engrossing and will keep you reading.
So if you like giants and dragons, and awesome young protagonists who do what no one thinks they can, then this graphic novel is for you!

Lastly (and I’ll hope you’ll forgive me for this) I’m not going to point out a new series, but rather highlight that we will be getting volumes 2 and 3 of Lumberjanes!!! So if you’ve read the first volume Beware the Kitten Holy and loved it half as much as I did you should request to be added to the hold list for the new volumes because they are awesome, and if you haven't read the first volume you should go read it as soon as possible! It won lots of awards last year and for good reasons!

Artist Focus: Gene Yang

There are artists who you never knew you loved, you read works that they have worked on and don't even realize that all of them have something in common. Gene Yang is one of those artists for a lot of people.
He's worked on comicalization of the vastly popular animated series Avatar the last Airbender.
He's won multiple awards for American Born Chinese.
He wrote a wonderful and contrasting series set during the Boxer Revolution in Boxer and Saints.
He won an Eisner (along with Derek Kim Kirk) for his work on The Eternal Smile.
He brought a much needed resurrection of the first Asian-American hero the Green Turtle in The Shadow Hero.

These are not all of the books he's worked on just 5 of the most popular of his works!

If you are looking for a new graphic novel to read then you should check out one of Gene Yang's many amazing works.

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