Mouse Guard

Mouse GuardMouse Guard

The mice struggle to live safely and prosper among all of the world’s harsh conditions and predators. Thus the Mouse Guard was formed…

Mouse Guard tells the tales of mice surviving in the Middle Ages. In the spirit of books such as Watership Down, this comic is far from “cute.” It is a tale of survival – because the life of a mouse can be short and brutal. So it is the aim of the Mouse Guard to protect their fellow mice, traveling from town to town and facing dangers such as crabs, snakes and weasels.

Beautifully illustrated and written by Michigan native David Petersen, Mouse Guard is targeted toward younger children, but can also be enjoyed by readers of all ages. The comic received two 2008 Eisner Awards in the category of “Best Publication for Kids.” There are currently two volumes, each containing six issues: Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 and Winter 1152, the latter of which has been on the NY Times Best Selling Graphic Books list for the past six weeks.

Alison Bechdel's Bittersweet Biography

Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel, is one of the most poignant and touching memoirs I have ever read. Her autobiographical graphic novel centers on her relationship to her father, the discovery of his homosexuality (and her own), and his death. The name of the book refers to the family home, a funeral home run by Bechdel’s father, Bruce. Bechdel spent seven years writing and illustrating Fun Home and it's packed with detail, allusions, and pop culture references. The novel pulls off the difficult feat of being simultaneously a quick and easy read and a complexly layered piece of literature. Fun Home was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award, in the Autobiography/Memoir category, and won the 2007 Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work.

Alison Bechdel is also the author of the popular comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For.

Craving Comics

For the first twenty-five years of my life I never bothered much with comic books. Sure, I read a few obligatory graphic novels such as Box Office Poison, Ghost World, and Blue Monday. Then there was that year long phase in college where I read web comics almost every day (i.e. Penny Arcade, Scary Go Round, etc.). Really, at that point I had no excuse to shun graphic novels after seeing how much they had to offer. But the literary curmudgeon inside ignored comics in all its forms for the past six years until picking up a copy of Alan Moore's The Watchmen this past winter. It's an amazing story and it revived my interest in the genre. Now I've reached a full turnaround after finishing Absolute Batman: The Long Halloween. After reading these two fantastic graphic novels the trend makes sense. Luckily AADL lends many, many graphic novels to explore what has been published so far. Have any favorites of your own to suggest?

Le Photographe (The Photographer)

The French graphic novel Le Photographe (The Photographer) by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefevre, and Frederic Lemercier has finally been published in the U.S. by First Second with translation by Alexis Siegel. It is the late photographer, Didier Lefevre's, story of his travels with Medecines Sans Frontieres (MSF or Doctors Without Borders) to Afghanistan in 1986. Guibert incorporates Lefevre's photos (he went through some 4000 taken in the 2 months he was there) as well as his own artwork to tell the harrowing story of which Lefevre barely survived. More importantly the novel is about the daily life of the people of Afghanistan who face disease, famine, brutal weather and of course the brutality of war. The courage of the MSF when going into war ravaged areas to perform major surgery or having to ask the Russian doctors for assistance for instance is a big part of this story. All in all an incredibly gripping story with the photos and artwork only adding to the intensity of each scene. Guibert is a well-known French artist. His Alan's War (also just recently published in the U.S.) is an Eisner nominee for best new graphic novel and yet another excellent biography.

The X-Men Stories

"X-Men Origins: Wolverine" hit theaters today, expanding on the story of that fan-favorite, pointy-haired, claw-waving, Canadian superhero Wolverine. This continuation of the popular X-Men movie franchise promises to lift the fog that covers the hero's past. If this movie appeals to you, you may also enjoy exploring the in-depth universe of the X-Men available at our library. We have the X-men comics, collected in graphic novel form, as well as the popular X-Men movies. Be forewarned, reading of X-Men can be highly addictive!

Jerzy Drozd Presents: Why Superheroes Communicate to Us

On Saturday, April 25th at 4pm in the Downtown library, Cartoonist Jerzy Drozd, author of The Front: Rebirth and other graphic novels, will deliver a dynamic presentation aimed at adult audiences on the greater significance that superheroes have in our world.

From the author: Superheroes have been an integral part of American culture since the late 1930s. Almost everyone knows what effect Kryptonite has on Superman, why Batman has a disdain for guns, or how Spider-Man learned "with great power comes great responsibility". But are these cultural icons merely a power fantasy for young people, or do they speak to wider human experiences and struggles? And why have they until only recently been a genre exclusive to comic books?

Join cartoonist and teaching artist Jerzy Drozd for an interactive discussion about the role of superheroes in fiction as well as the parallels that can be found when one compares them to characters found in mythology and fables.

The D Word: Comic Collections to Watch Out For.

Dykes to Watch Out ForDykes to Watch Out For

My latest preferred form of episodic entertainment has been found in reading our collections of Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For, a comics series about a diverse group of lesbian women and their many adventures. It's just good, fun reading, with characters that you really come to care about. But it's also one of the few pieces of current, popular storytelling that I know of which actually focuses on women, LGBTQ people, people of color, and progressive issues. I didn't even realize what I was missing until I started immersing myself into these great stories. We have many of the compilations here at the library.

And of course, I would highly recommend Bechdel's Fun Home: her graphic memoir about her early life and experience of coming out. It's a really special book.

February Books to Films

Sophie Kinsella's bestseller Confessions of a Shopaholic is now a chick flick that would appeal to retail-therapy addicts who won't mind a bit of humor at our expense. Shopping on Madison Avenue is almost as much fun as the original London setting.

Fresh from winning the ultimate Newbery Award, one of Neil Gaiman's earlier novels comes to the silver screen as a delightful animated feature Coraline. While looking for excitement, young Coraline ventures through a mysterious door into a strange world where she must challenge a gruesome entity in order to save herself, her parents, and the souls of three others. The novel was a New York Times Bestseller, Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2002 and School Library Journal Best Book of 2002.

Based on the wildly popular He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt, this potential blockbuster tells the stories of a group of interconnected, Baltimore-based twenty- and thirtysomethings as they navigate their various relationships "from the shallow end of the dating pool through the deep, murky waters of married life", trying to read the signs of the opposite sex. With a star-studded cast, it is sure to please the movie-date crowd.

The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde

19th century poet and playwright Oscar Wilde is best known for his plays, such as Salomé and The Importance of Being Earnest, and his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Although he mainly wrote for an adult audience, he also wrote several very popular children’s fairy tales. Written with Wilde’s trademark wit, these stories serve as social commentaries as well as entertainment. Award winning comic artist P. Craig Russell illustrates these fairy tales in a series of graphic novels called Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde. If the comic book style isn’t your thing, you can also find Wilde’s fairy tales in picture book form in Stories for Children, illustrated by P.J. Lynch.

A Graphic Novel Recomendation: Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

I have long been a fan of the comic book work of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. Their many story collaborations about iconic DC and Marvel comic superheroes have always represented especially poignant and reflective tellings of familiar stories. In our AADL collection, we have The Long Halloween and Dark Victory: Batman stories that formed some of the basis for Christopher Nolan's movie Batman Begins.

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