Ages 18+.

Fantastic Fantasy Comic and Graphic Novel Series

As the weather starts to cool down, I start looking for books to curl up with on cool evenings - Especially long-running series that will keep me engaged! Here's five of my favorite fantasy graphic novel series to start your fall with a touch of magic.

Sandman Chronicles by Neil Gaiman
10 books in the series, several stand-alone volumes
Start with: Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes
Neil Gaiman has become almost a household name in the world of fantasy fiction for film adaptations of his works Stardust and American Gods. But before either of those books were published, Gaiman wrote the Sandman series. First published in 1989, it tells the story of the personification of dreams, named Morpheus, and of his adventures with humans, gods, spirits and denizens of worlds unknown. Gaiman weaves a rich tapestry of figures from every major mythology into an intensely exciting and thought-provoking reading experience. In this first adventure, Morpheus has been trapped by the magician Aleister Crowley for 60 years, but Crowley's waning power has made it possible for the Dream King to make his escape.
See Also: Death: The High Cost of Living, The Sandman: Dream Hunters, The Sandman: Endless Nights

Lucifer by Mike Carey
11 books in the series
Start with: Lucifer Vol. 1, Devil in the Gateway
We meet this series titular protagonist in Gaiman's Sandman chronicles – Lucifer Morningstar, fallen angel and lord of Hell. This serial begins with Lucifer holding court at his nightclub Lux, in Los Angeles. Why is Lucifer on Earth, and not ruling Hell? Well, he's quit. This act of rebellion has some serious consequences – and has left Hell prey to power struggles between heaven and the multiverses. But now that he's free, Lucifer has decided to enjoy life as much as he can, until Heaven comes to him with an offer he can't refuse. Thus begins an epic 11-volume adventure on par with Gaiman's Sandman.

The Wicked + the Divine by Kieron Gillen
5 books in the series
Start with: The Wicked + the Divine, Vol 1: The Faust Act
In Wicked+Divine, the gods our our mythology are reborn in the bodies of 13 teenagers every 90 years. They are loved by many, hated by some, but will be dead in two years. This short life-span, combined with the power of gods, makes these teenagers international superstars. They perform around the world for sold-out shows, sharing their powers with their adoring fans. But in the 21st century, being a teenager is hard enough – a teenage god is even worse. This story follows their mortal fan, Laura, as she tries to befriend the gods. But Laura is not what she appears...

Constantine: The Hellblazer by Ming Doyle
2 books in the current series, 39 total published
Start with: Vol 1: Going Down
John Constantine holds the record for longest graphic novel character in print - he's been featured since the 1980's. Whether you're a long-time fan of the Hellblazer, or the film version portrayed by Keanu Reeves, Doyle's retelling is a great introduction to this trenchcoated anti-hero. Constantine is a chain-smoking narcissist with more than one personality disorder, a sorcerer who is just as likely to get the people he's agreed to help killed as he is to save their lives. And when you're dealing with demons and ghosts, he'll probably get your soul damned in the process. He's a great guy - as long as you aren't his friend. But what makes Constantine such an enduring character is his deeply flawed nature and his true desire to do some good in the world – even if he really just ends up bungling it all up in the end.
See Also: Hellblazer: Original Sins, Hellblazer: India

Fables by Bill Willingham
22 books in the series, 3 tie-in series
Start with: Fables Vol 1: Legends in Exile
A lot of fantasy is in supposition, and Fable is no exception. In Willingham's series, the characters from the fairy tales we grew up with are real people, alive and well, living in our world. Think about the TV show Once Upon a Time (which also has a graphic novel tie-in), but restricted to New York City. Our fairy tale characters are from "The Homelands" of Europe, but were forced to the new world by a mysterious Adversary. Their luxury high rise in New York City has become a peaceful and secret society, until proper politician Snow White's partygirl sister Rose Red is apparently murdered. Snow hires Bigby Wolf (formerly the Big Bad Wolf - reformed, pardoned and made sheriff) to find Rose. It's a "grim" whodunnit mystery; was it Blackbeard, Rose's notorious ex-lover, or Jack (of beanstalk fame) her current live-in boyfriend?

Five Must-Read Graphic Novels for Adults

It's hard to deny that adult graphic novels, as a genre, have come into their own. Here are some of my personal favorites. Together, they capture much of the diverse array of creative and narrative possibilities being explored by contemporary artists and authors.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters (book one) -by Emil Ferris-
This title likely requires no introduction. First time writer Emil Ferris made big waves when this book was released earlier this year. With lush, intricate artwork, and with a haunting murder-mystery at its core, 'My Favorite Thing is Monsters' makes for a deeply compelling read. For more, check out this review from NPR's 'Fresh Air'.

California Dreamin': Cass Elliot before the Mamas & the Papas -by Pénélope Bagieu-
Few artists have received as much praise for their talent, or been as much of a target for body-shaming as 'Mama' Cass Elliot. 'California Dreamin'' gets behind the fame and the ugliness of the stories surrounding her death, and shows her as both a talented vocalist and as a human being. Click the link for a review from Paste.

The Torture Report: a graphic adaptation -by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón-
Drawing from the accounts detailed in the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture conducted by agents of the US government, Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón bring the stark realities documented in the report to life in a way that mere words on a page never could. The brutality of these real-life events make 'The Torture Report' a tough read, but maybe that dose of reality makes it an essential read as well. Here's an exerpt at Slate, and a review from NPR.

The Museum Vaults -by Marc-Antoine Mathieu-
Mixing equal parts of fantasy and satire, 'The Museum Vaults' follows the adventures of an art expert as he delves ever deeper into an endless labyrinth underneath the Louvre in Paris. The illustrations are inventive, beautiful, and often downright eerie. Here's a review from The Guardian.

Lost Property -by Andy Poyiadgi-
While technically a part of our teen graphic novel collection, 'Lost Property' is a slim, stunningly beautiful work that will certainly speak to adults as well as it speaks to teens. When a man walks into a small shop, he is confronted with the realization that it is filled, exclusively, with every item he has ever owned and lost. Questions of why and how this has happened are quickly overridden by a more central one: what will he do with all the lost ephemera of his life, now that he's found it? Follow the link for a review from Broken Frontier.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #612

A Hundred Thousand Worlds * by Bob Proehl is a mother-son cross-country road trip through the world of comic-cons,

New York actress Valerie Torrey, who has a successful run playing Bethany Fraser in a syndicated X-Files-ish TV show called Anomaly is taking her 9 year-old son Alex on a road trip to LA where his father Andrew lives.

Along the way, Val agrees to make appearances at comic book conventions. From Pittsburgh to Cleveland, from Chicago to Las Vegas they are increasingly being drawn into the lives and drama of the other regulars - artists, writers, agents, publishers and a strange world of "cosplay" (costume play), mostly young women who dress up as comic book characters.

For Alex, this world is a magical place where fiction becomes reality, but as they get closer to their destination, he begins to realize that the story his mother is telling him about their journey might have a very different ending than he imagined.

Debut novelist "Proehl has done an excellent job of integrating all of the story lines and creating memorable characters to populate them. Though not without its melancholy moments, the story is deeply satisfying and will delight both comics fans and general readers." (Booklist)

* = starred review

Two Graphic Novels that May Cause you Trauma and One that won’t

Sometimes a comic or graphic novel will come around that will strike you so hard on a deep emotional level that you will walk away from it slightly traumatized (in a good way). In this blog I’m going to give you two amazing graphic novels that has the potential to do just that, and because I’m a nice guy I’ll give you a third one that is just amazing and hopefully not at all traumatizing!

The first graphic novel is The White Donkey: Terminal Lance by Maximilian Uriarte. This graphic novel has been garnering a lot of attention, and for good reasons. It is a fictionalized account of a second Gulf War soldier. For those of you who are familiar with the Terminal Lance online webcomic this graphic novel offers something different. It is darker than the comic, but it doesn’t lack those moments of humor that the comic is renown for. The art style is phenomenal and it encapsulates the essence of the story. This graphic novel is worth the time it will take to read, and worth reading over again.

The second graphic novel is Paper Girls Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughn. This story is seriously well written. The art is always interesting, and the traumatic events are… traumatic. This is one of the best comic series to come out in the past year and I fully expect it to win awards this award season.

The last and non-traumatising (I hope) graphic novel is volume 2 of the Giant Days series. This series is very similar in terms of style and humor to the Lumberjanes series but with more mature content. Giant Days is set in a UK university and follows a group of “freshers” (that’s British for freshmen) as they adjust to their new life. So if you need a break from heavy graphic novels then check out Giant Days!

Kaptara: Not your grandfather's sci-fi.

Imagine for a second that you are part of an interstellar crew, highly trained for the job that you've been chosen for. Except instead of landing on the planet you were expecting to, you crash-land on a world so different from everything you were expecting. A world teaming with life, some of which is trying to eat you.
This is where Kaptara begins, but don't take it too seriously for example one of the characters is a vegetarian, except when other people kill the animal. The creative mind behind this Chip Zdarsky is the same creative genius who brought Sex Criminals to the world last year.
The art is every bit as colorful and fascinating as you would expect from Zdarsky, and the content can be every bit as boundary pushing as his previous work.

If you love sci-fi, light on the science heavy on the fiction, and want characters who are not your typical sci-fi heroes then you should check our Kaptara.

Artist focus: Michael Deforge

Michael Deforge's art is "weird" in the original sense of the word, it is strange and otherworldly and often has a hint of the improper. It's beautiful and experimental and often you will find yourself drawn into the image as your mind races to make sense of everything that you are seeing. His books, often a collection of seemingly dissonent tales that somehow come together to create something beautiful. He is also an artist that is on the move, his work is steadily gaining popularity and as he leaves the shadow of his work with Cartoon Network and claims his own style and voice in his comics it can only bring great things.
This year his latest endevor is Dressing is a collection of some of his short stories which is sure to entertain.
His last work First Year Healthy, which came out late last year, is a story about a woman who having been recently released from hospital has to come to terms with her life.Deforges careful use of color along will draw you along and make you think about the choices that people are faced with. While it is a scant 45 pages long, you will not feel rushed in this story, nor will you leave feeling that it was too short. Rather Deforge manages in 45 pages to tell a complete and whole story.

If you are interested in Deforge's work and can't wait for his latest books to come out then check out the titles the library has ready and waiting to be checked out Very Season and A Body Beneath both of which are collections of his work.

Teen and Adult Crossover Graphic Novel: Special Batman vs Superman edition

With Batman vs. Superman just around the corner now is the perfect time to read up on both superheroes and maybe the Batman vs. Superman graphic novel.
Now this list is not everything that the library has of these two seminal heroes but rather some of the best graphic novels that we have of Batman and Superman (I'll put a link to a search for everything we have on them at the end of the post).

Let's start with Batman (because I think he's the best, feel free to tell me why I'm wrong or right in the comments).
Batman:Under the Hood is one of those graphic novels that has fans both loving and hating it. It takes one of the old supporting characters from Batman and re-imagines them as a violent anti-hero: The Red Hood. This graphic novel has everything that you could want from a Batman story and controversy aside it is a must read for any fans of the series.
Another Batman series that has fans conflicted is Batman & Robin: Batman Reborn which re-imagines the characters of Batman and Robin, almost reversing the dynamic between them with Robin being the scowling broody hero and Batman being more lighthearted and spontaneous hero that fans would often expect Robin to be. This series is definitely worth a read if you are willing to put preconceptions about what the various characters should act like. It makes a nice break from some of the darker Batman stories.
The last Batman story is Batman and the Mad Monk. This story is one of the first times that Batman has to fight a supernatural villain and it makes from a nice change from the run of the mill criminally insane that we so often see him fight.

The first Superman crossover graphic novel is Superman:Red Son This is one of my favorite Superman stories, it takes Superman's origins and asks the question, what would have happened if he had been raised in Soviet Russia instead of the United States. This change in origin makes for a wonderful story in which we get to see some of our favorite characters engaging with Superman in a way that they have never before (this is a must read for all fans and non-fans alike)!
The next Superman is The Death of Superman. This is one of the first times when the mortality of Superman was put to the question. Could Superman die, and how might this happen. This story is one of the most iconic ones in the history of Superman.
The final superman story is Superman: Exile this story takes place after Superman has broken his oath to never kill and he places himself into a self imposed exile from earth and learns that he cannot run from himself. This is a very different kind of Superman story with lots of introspection, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in action or that it’s boring in any way shape or form, instead what we end up with is a story that strives to bring deeper understanding to just who Superman is.

As promised here’s a link to a search for all the graphic novels the library has on
Batman and Superman

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.

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.

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!

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