Back to the past

Think you know everything there is to know about Fullmetal Alchemist after watching the anime? Think again. The manga’s and anime’s plots diverge after a certain point, and the most recent events in the manga will be a big surprise to anime-only fans. Fans of the state military characters will especially like volume 15, which takes readers back to the Ishbal Conflict that Colonel Mustang, Lieutenant Hawkeye, and others fought in seven years earlier. Catch up with the story today!

The Arrival

In the universal language of images, Shaun Tan perfectly conveys the displacement and confusion of the immigrant experience. A lone man leaves his family behind, in a dark world filled with oppressive shadows, and enters a surreal new world full of fantastical beasts, bizarre vegetables, and friendly people. Tan pulls from every culture and multiple time periods while also making the new land completely foreign to everyone--thus setting the reader up to share in the protagonist's struggle to understand his new surroundings. The Arrival is masterfully told with beautiful realistic illustrations. A superlative example of the genre.

Graphic novel depicts one way to save the earth...


As the world burns: 50 Simple things you can do to stay in denial, a new book by Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan is a satirical take on the well known book 50 Simple things you can do to save the earth. It goes further to point out that there is more to “saving the earth” than recycling, riding your bike to work and buying compact fluorescent light bulbs. In a quirky and fun way (I know, scandalous!) gold carrying robots, bunny plotists, two smart young girls, corporate bigwigs, and the president demonstrate that there is a bigger picture that many of us are in “denial” about. It’s typical Derrick Jensen, but in comic form! Perhaps you’ll laugh, perhaps you’ll cry.


The premise of Kaoru Mori’s manga series Emma might have come straight out of your favorite nineteenth century novel. Emma is a young maid working for a retired governess in Victorian London; Mr. Jones is her employer’s former charge. When they meet, he’s instantly drawn to her kindness and quiet intelligence. But Mr. Jones’ family has different plans for his future; will the difference in their social status keep them apart? Emma was honored by the Young Adult Library Services Association’s as one of 2007’s great graphic novels for teens. If you appreciate the quiet heroines of Jane Austen novels (though Emma is more like Fanny Price than Emma Woodhouse), you should definitely check it out!

Discovering More Heroes

Unfortunately, Heroes won’t start airing new episodes until next fall, but luckily, fans have materials to keep them busy. First, catch up on season one and the first five episodes of season two online. Then, read the “back story” of Charlie and Hiro’s relationship in Heroes: Saving Charlie. Finally, enjoy the extra details found in Heroes: Volume One. This is a collection of short comics originally published on NBC’s website. One can find out more on characters such as Wireless and Eden. While fans may enjoy them, those not familiar with the television series best catch up on that first and see what they are missing.

Madame Bovery

In Gemma Bovery, British cartoonist Posy Simmonds brilliantly tells a story that is only possible in graphic novel form. Gemma is a British Francophile who is always dreaming of a better life. The story is structured around Flaubert's Madame Bovary and is narrated by Gemma's neighbor. The narration appears as printed text on the same page as handwritten excerpts from Gemma's diary, juxtaposed with objective comics sequences of what actually took place on the day in question. All of these elements are occurring simultaneously, letting the reader in on different points of view. Genius! Gemma Bovery first ran as a 100-episode serial for The Guardian. Simmonds' latest book, Tamara Drewe, was released in the UK last November. If you've never read one of her children's books you're missing out. Fred is my absolute favorite. Interested in knowing every conceivable detail of Posy Simmonds life? Check out the voluminous interview in the November 2007 issue of The Comics Journal.

Meet Mat in Malaysia, in Lat's Graphic Novel, Kampung Boy

Kampung Boy by one of the most beloved cartoonists of Southeast Asia, Lat tell the story of Mat, a Muslim boy growing up on a rubber plantation in rural 1950s Malaysia. The sequel, Town Boy follows Mat as he attends boarding school, moves to the city and experiences budding romance and a growing passion for art. Recently available in the US Lat's autobiographical stories will take you to a time and a place that barely exists in Malaysia anymore. The warm and expressive pen-and-ink drawings will draw you into Mat's world.

Girl Got Game

Tired of sports stories being all about the guys? Check out Girl Got Game, a manga series by Shizuru Seino. It’s the story of Kyo, a girl who’s excited about attending her new high school until she learns her father has registered her as a boy so she can pursue his dream to play in the NBA. Unwilling to disappoint him, she goes along with the ploy. But as Kyo’s about to find out, masquerading as a guy isn’t going to be easy. If you enjoyed the sports action of Crimson Hero and the gender comedy Ouran High School Host Club, you won’t want to miss this one.


Journey to the extreme with Sanzo, Hakkai, Gojyo, and Goku in Kazuya Minekura’s manga series Saiyuki. Sanzo, a Buddhist priest, has to travel to India to reclaim the sutras stolen from his murdered master. This retelling of the traditional Chinese novel Journey to the West (also known as Monkey) updates the epic for modern readers with lots of action, slang-filled dialogue, and cheerful anachronisms (such as a dragon that transforms into a jeep).

Vampire Knight

Looking for something to read after Twilight? Try the manga series Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino. Yuki is one of the guardians of Cross Academy, an elite private high school with a night class full of vampires and a day class that has to be shielded from them. Can Yuki protect her classmates while managing her own fascination with the darkly handsome vampire who saved her life so many years ago? And what will happen when the other school guardian begins to discover his dark side?

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