Courtney Crumrin

Not sure what to read now that you've finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (or while you wait for your copy)? Still haven't had your fill of magical creatures and spells? Then Courtney Crumrin might be for you. Courtney's family moves to Hillsborough to care for her eccentric Great Uncle Aloysius and she soon finds that things are not what they seem. Uncle Aloysius is far from decrepit and mysterious creatures are lurking in the nearby forest. Courtney learns that knowledge of witchcraft runs in her family and Uncle Aloysius has plans for her education. Courtney is a bit more pessimistic than Harry, but Ted Naifeh has done a wonderful job of taking the edge off of darker moments by mixing stylized characters (such as cute and noseless Courtney) with some more realistically rendered designs--reminiscent of Arthur Rackham.

Justice League: A New Beginning

Back in 1987, following the DC Comics LEGENDS crossover event, a new Justice League was born. Not only was it under the creative team of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis (with new artist Kevin Maguire), but it featured a cast of "second stringer" heroes such as Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Black Canary, Captain Marvel, and the macho-jerk Green Lantern known as Guy Gardner. What's more, this particular league's stories focused a lot on the humor found in the down-time between their inter-dimensional monster fighting adventures. Some have even compared the Giffen/DeMatteis run on Justice League to how a sit-com is structured. The biggest surprise of all was when it became the top-selling comic in the late '80s and early '90s. Issues 1-6 of Justice League and Justice League International 7 have been collected in A New Beginning,which is now available at aadl.

The humor and humanity of this title is further emphasized by the artwork of Kevin Maguire, master of the expressive face. Maguire's art takes comics character acting to new heights. Though they're wearing costumes and calling each other by code-names, the characters register as real people and the comedy speaks to all ages.

Road Trip Reads: The Doom Patrol Archives, Vol. 2

A cover to one of the issues in this collection features a French-speaking gorilla who is piloting a giant purple robot that is swinging a submarine at a 50-foot tall woman wearing SCUBA gear. This is the madness that was the Silver Age of comics, and it's never been more fun than in The Doom Patrol. Join Robot Man, Elasti-Girl, Negative Man, and The Chief as they struggle against evil adversaries such as Monsieur Mallah (the aforementioned French-speaking gorilla), The Brain (literally a talking brain in a jar), and Madame Rouge (a woman who can mold her face like putty to look like anyone she wants). Adventure has never been weirder, nor more thrilling. Best of all, it can be enjoyed by the whole family.

A good sketch is better than a long speech

I've been in to picture books, comics, manga, graphic novels or what ever you prefer to call the medium of artistic story telling for a long time. I remember trying to explain my appreciation for graphic novels to my parents. They looked at me with slightly puzzled, slightly worried looks...

"...so are they called graphic novels because they are violent?"

"Some are some aren't, but thats not important"

"... so are they called graphic novels because they have naughty pictures?"

"Some do some don't, but that's not important"

".. so is it the foul language that makes them graphic?"

" NO!, they are called graphic because of the art work."

Road Trip Reads: Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 1

20 issues of the series that launched the Silver Age, plus the first annual are collected in this volume. In 1961, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby changed the world's perception of what a super-hero was by creating the Fantastic Four, a family of heroes with real human problems. Meet the monstrous yet lovable Thing, the hot-headed and impetuous Human Torch, the compassionate Invisible Woman, and the dashing scientist known as Mister Fantastic. While their inter-personal conflicts reflect real world problems and concerns, their rouges gallery is a cast of wonderfully overstated characters.

Road Trip Reads: Showcase Presents Superman

With the current comics industry rushing for mainstream acceptance and critical acclaim, one could almost forget that there was once a time when comics was mostly entertainment for entertainment's sake.

Thankfully, DC Comics has begun releasing their Showcase Presents Library of Classics. In the first volume of Showcase Presents Superman, we're reintroduced to the box-chested Man of Steel as envisioned by Silver Age artists Curt Swan and Stan Kaye. It's unpretentious, over-the-top adventure, featuring villains such as the green-skinned, pink leotard-wearing Braniac, the imperfect duplicate of Superman known as Bizarro, Titano the super-ape, and even Mr. Mxyzptlk (pronounced mix-yes-pit-lick).

At a whopping 500 pages, this volume is perfect for that long road trip and fun for the whole family.

Persepolis animated film premieres at Cannes

Fans of Marjane Satrapi and her popular and acclaimed graphic novels, Persepolis and Persepolis 2 may be interested to see this french trailer for an animated film based on the books which is premiering this week at Cannes. It includes voice acting from Catherine Deneuve and Chiara Mastroianni, and will surely see a US release. While you wait, you might try Satrapi's lesser-known Embroideries or Chicken with Plums, or view this video of the author's visit to the Seattle Public Library when Persepolis was the subject of their 2006 community read.

Stardust

Stardust was quite a good read. It’s a fairy tale but for mature teens and older readers. Be advised that there is some graphic language. And Yes they do ultimately live happily ever after. Gaiman is a central figure in the emergence of the "graphic novel," a genre that combines novelistic storylines with comic-book graphics and is well known for his many other works such as the graphic serial novel "Sandman" : and other works.
It’s exciting to learn that Stardust has been made into a movie that is coming out this summer with a star-studded cast including Robert De Niro, Peter O'Toole and narrated by Ian McKellen. Hopefully the movie will remain faithful to the story line. There is also a graphic novel version of this book illustrated by Charles Vess.
The Ann Arbor District library has a great collection of graphic novels with collections for youth, teens and adults.

Babymouse!

Jennifer L. Holm has teamed up with her brother Matthew to create Babymouse, an adorable and imaginative comic starring a school-aged mouse and her best friend Wilson the Weasel (who both happen to love monster movies and cupcakes). Anyone who has been through grade school can relate to Babymouse and her problems with meatloaf lunches, lockers, and the incredibly mean Felicia Furrypaws. She gets through it all with the help of her friends and her favorite books. Drawn very simply in black and white with some pink thrown in for flair (and I could have sworn I saw some Ed Emberley animals roaming the school halls).

RARRARG!*

* Patrick the Wolf Boy

Patrick is a young boy who likes to do all the things that young boys do, only with his own flair—Patrick is a werewolf. He communicates by growling, but his parents and friends understand him just fine. Artist Art Baltazar and writer Franco Aurelian have created a cute and amusing character drawn in a style that pays tribute to 1950s Charles Schulz (Patrick’s shirt is even an invert of Charlie Brown’s).
If you would like to meet the artist, Art Baltazar will be making an appearance at the Motor City Comic Con May 18-20.

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