Time's 2006 Book of the Year

This year, a comic book holds the number one place on Time Magazine’s 10 Best Books of the year—Alison Bechdel’s memoir in comics form, Fun Home.
Bechdel beautifully tells the story of her life, and her father’s life. After her father’s death (believed to be suicide), Bechdel retraces her formative years by contemplating the similarities and distance between two people living in the same house.

Grisly Grimm

If you are tired of the “Disneyfied” versions of your favorite fairy tales, but short on time, then Jonathan Vankin’s condensed versions are for you. Based on the original tales of the brothers Grimm, they have been converted to comic form by fifty-two artists for the book The Big Book of Grimm (released by Paradox Press, an imprint of DC Comics). You will find some familiar names among them—Keith Giffen (of Ambush Bug and Justice League fame), Sergio Argones (creater of Groo the Wanderer and marginals for MAD Magazine since 1963), Joe Staton (numerous DC titles including Justice Society of America, Green Lantern, and Scooby Doo), and James Kochalka (American Elf). My personal favorite was Kochalka’s “Dog and Sparrow”, which was as cute as it was gruesome.

Bone (in color!)

If you missed out on the first run of this great comic series (originally released from 1994-2004 by Cartoon Books) you won’t want to miss Scholastic’s re-release. The writer/illustrator, Jeff Smith, is currently working with colorist Steve Hamaker to color all nine volumes, which were previously released in black and white.

The story follows the adventures of three cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone as they are run out of their hometown of Boneville and find themselves in a mysterious valley. There they encounter giant rat creatures, swarms of locusts, dragons, princesses, and racing cows. It’s a fantasy saga that doesn’t take itself too seriously all the time. Take Smith's humor, throw in a little adventure, romance, and suspense, and you have a comic that appeals to all audiences.

Visit Jeff Smith's website to learn more about Bone.

You will find the new Scholastic color versions through volume four in our collection (volume 5 is due out next February):
1.Out from Boneville
2.The Great Cow Race
3.Eyes of the Storm
4.The Dragonslayer

AADL also has some of the black and white Cartoon Books releases:
1.Out from Boneville
3.Eyes of the Storm
4.The Dragonslayer
6.Old Man’s Cave
8.Treasure Hunters

Depths of Concrete

Paul Chadwick’s 1980s Concrete series has been recently re-released by Dark Horse Comics. The series follow the life of Ronald Lithgow after aliens transplant his brain into a massive body made of rock. Instead of having Concrete seek revenge on the aliens who put him into this predicament, or having him declare his intentions to rid the world of evil-doers, Chadwick explores how Mr. Lithgow (former senatorial speechwriter and average Joe) deals mentally, emotionally, and physically with suddenly having a "nigh invulnerable" body.

In the first book of the series, Depths, we get Concrete’s origin story, complete with aliens and woodland creatures. Also included are some of the early stories, never before collected, in which Concrete attends a birthday party, attempts to swim an ocean, and becomes bodyguard to a rock star. The page layout choices are well thought out and the illustrations are fantastic. Chadwick’s attention to detail throughout adds a lot to the story (especially the 150 panel swim sequence on page 54).

“Well, I’ll be an eight-ball’s uncle!”

Secret Wars #8Secret Wars #8

In Secret Wars #8, released in the mid eighties, an alien machine gave Spider-Man the now infamous black costume. It turned out to be an alien symbiote and soon became one of his greatest foes, Venom.
Since then we have not seen Spider-Man in the black costume. But, in the aftermath of Civil War, Marvel’s summer event, we once again see Spidey don the black threads. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Back in Black! series runs through next February.

Could this be a possible tie-in with the upcoming Spider-Man 3, where we see Toby Maguire also wearing the black costume?
Get reacquainted with your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man with books and movies from aadl’s collection.

November New and Noteworthy

Margherita Dolce Vita* by Stefano Benni.
“An elegant little piece of dark comedy” by a prolific Italian author (FFF in translation). Wise and charismatic 15 yr.-old Margherita and her odd-ball family are transformed by their new neighbors from hell.

Harlem Girl Lost* by Treasure E. Blue.
A bright young woman fights her way out of the mean streets of New York, only to be drawn back in to save her man. A lurid, gripping debut and a self-publishing sensation.

Last Seen Leaving* by Kelly Braffet.
New Age spiritualist searches for her estranged daughter who has not been seen after being picked up by a stranger on a deserted highway, while a serial killer is on the loose. Gripping.

Love in a Fallen City* by Eileen Chang (Ailing Zhang).
Six vibrant stories depict life in post WWII China and bristle with equal parts passion and resentment.

Eifelheim* by Michael Flynn.
Young modern historian obsesses with the mysterious disappearance of a German village from all maps during the Black Death. The story intersects with the heartbreaking saga of stranded aliens from a distant star.

Vince and Joy* by Lisa Jewell.
Tired of all the heavy stuff around? Try this deliciously addictive read filled with London oddballs. First loves reunite after 17 years of miscommunication, disappointments and all the things life throw at you. Romantic.

The Sky People* by S.M. Stirling.
First of a new alternate history series with "broad-brush pulp sensibility". Space colonization and a classic love triangle.

The Orphan's Tales : In the night garden* by Catherynne Valente.
“A beautiful relayed, interlinked fairy tales” of magic, adventure, quests and murder, told by a mysterious young woman with tattoos around her eyelids. Think Sheherezade and the Arabian Nights.

Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall* by Bill Willingham.
Re-imagined new lives and backstories for fairyland citizens , the likes of Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf, now living as secret refugees in New York - probably the “smartest mainstream comics going”.

*= Starred Review(s)

Comics Art Digital Coloring 101, Sunday, November 12

Enjoy drawing your own comics and working on computers? This teens only program is for you. You’ll learn how to use Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 on Mac computers to clean up your art, fill in line work with colors and halftones, create cool lettering, prep the finished page for printing, and more.

Choose one of two sessions to attend [12:30-2:30 p.m. OR 3-5 p.m.]. Register by calling 327-8301 or stop by any information desk.

Chicken With Plums

Marjane Satrapi’s newest graphic novel, Chicken With Plums, was released this month. In her earlier Persepolis books, she tells her story of growing up in Iran during (and after) the 1979 revolution. This time it is 1958 and we witness the last eight days in the life of her great-uncle, Nassar Ali Khan, a revered tar player.
Satrapi’s personal and sometimes humorous look into her great-uncle’s life is wonderfully enhanced by her simple black and white drawings. She has a gift for illustrating complex human issues and making them universally understandable.
Be on the lookout for Persepolis in animated movie form, to be released sometime in 2007 by Sony Pictures Classics.

Ever wonder what happened to your favorite fairy tale characters?

What if all of your favorite nursery rhyme, storybook and fable characters turned out to be real and were secretly living in present day New York? What happened to Snow White after she married Prince Charming? Did the Big Bad Wolf have any further pursuits after his run in with the Three Pigs? Bill Willingham answers these questions and more in his Eisner award winning comics series, Fables.

Writer Bill Willingham goes back to the original dark and sinister versions of the fairy tales, before they were ‘Disneyfied’. He has also added modern sensibilities to the stories, giving them a soap opera feel. This series is definitely not for children!

Look for other influences throughout the story-line, including Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies and Seven Days in May. Also, be sure to check out the latest in this series, 1001 Nights of Snowfall, (released this week) to explore character backstories as told by Snow White.

Cowboy Robots

Daisy KutterDaisy Kutter

Kazu Kibuishi (of Flight fame) released his debut graphic novel, Daisy Kutter: The Last Train, in 2005. It has been receiving praise ever since, including being selected by the American Library Association as one of the Best Books for Young Adults for 2006.
The story is simple. Daisy Kutter is a retired gunslinger who takes on one last job. The setting has an old west feel with robots. Kibuishi’s mastery of comics timing adds dimension to the story and characters. Hints of his influences, such as Hayao Miyazaki, can be seen in his work, but his loose and fluid style is unique.
Be on the lookout for Kibuishi’s lastest work, Amulet, due out in fall of 2007 from Scholastic’s Graphix imprint.

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