Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Middle School, Teen, Tween Reads

Happy Book Birthday to Goblin by Eric Grissom and Will Perkins!

Goblin, by Eric Grissom/Illustrated by Will Perkins, (June 2021, Dark Horse Books), $14.99, ISBN: 9781506724720

Ages 10-14

Rikt is a stubborn young goblin who argues with his parents and storms off to bed. He wakes to the smell of smoke, and discovers his home is under attack by a raiding party of humans. His parents are slain, and he’s forced to run into the woods to escape with his life. Angry, grieving, alone, Rikt vows revenge, but where does he begin? A benevolent deity intervenes and sets him on a path to what he thinks will give him the tools to exact vengeance – but along the way, he meets friends and learns a great deal about himself.

Goblin is a gorgeously illustrated fantasy graphic novel. The colors are as incredible as they are horrible at points: the insidious curling of the smoke around Rikt when he awakens; the firelight as his home burns; the colors dance across the page, looking almost real. Will Perkins brings Rikt’s grief and terror to the page, using color and shadow, to hit readers in the feelings. The majesty of the Goddess as she appears to Rikt is one of the best panels I’ve read so far this year.

Let’s talk about Eric Grissom’s writing: his dialogue is wonderful, with humor, pathos, and wisdom throughout the book. He expertly addresses negative stereotypes, and the damage it wreaks, in a fantastic setting. Think of your own literary biases: when you think of a goblin, do you think of a loving family? A sweet, typical kid? Probably not: and that’s the point of the story. Rikt often hears that goblins are “filthy monsters”, or “dirty filthy thieves”. Grissom touches on the cycles of violence that cause generation after generation to kill (see Jason Reynolds’s Long Way Down for a brilliant, meditation on this cycle) and even hints at the violence against indigenous populations, with the murder of Rikt’s family. There is an incredible amount of wisdom waiting in this book. Perfect for fantasy fans and middle schoolers. A must-add to your shelves.

 

Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

#BooksfromQuarantine: Graphic Novels You May Have Missed

The graphic novel devouring continues as I raid my laptop hard drive and rediscover books I downloaded with the intention of getting to, but apparently needed a pandemic lockdown to provide the time. If you’ve missed out on these, revisit them. There’s good stuff here.

 

The Last Dragon, by Jane Yolen/Illustrated by Rebecca Guay (Sept. 2011, Dark Horse Comics), $12.99, ISBN: 9781595827982

Ages 12+

Kids who grew up with Jane Yolen’s picture books, like the How Do Dinosaurs…? series, will be thrilled to read her fantasy graphic novel, The Last Dragon, illustrated by Rebecca Guay (who also does gorgeous Star Wars art). Two hundred years after dragons were driven out of the islands of May, a lone dragon hatches and grows, and dreams of blood. As the dragon starts a reign of terror, a group of boys from the village seeks out a hero. Someone who can save them. Who they find is a man who looks the part, but his heroic acts like mostly in his gift for exaggeration. When he arrives on the scene and realizes what he’s up against, he realizes he’s bitten off far more than he can chew. He’ll join forces with Tansy, a healer’s daughter, and discover that the most unconventional of ways may be the only way to survival and victory.

Beautifully illustrated in a dreamlike, fairy-tale style, and written with a combination of dialogue balloons and narrative storytelling, The Last Dragon is a good choice for fairy tale fans who like their fairy tales a little grittier, a little darker.

 

Kaijumax Season 1: Terror and Respect, by Zander Cannnon, (Sept. 2016, Oni Press), $9.99, ISBN: 9781620102701

Ages 16+

This book has been going strong for a few years now; the collected trades for Season 4 published in late 2019, so I expect we’ll see a Book 5 sometime this year? Maybe? Anyway, the series is written by two-time Eisner Award winner Zander Cannon, and it centers of the lives of Kaiju – giant monsters, a la Godzilla and Friends – in lockdown on a prison island. Think Pacific Rim meets Oz. In Season One, Electrogor is a loving Kaiju single dad who goes out to get some radioactive waste for his kids to eat, gets nabbed, and sent off to Kaijumax, where he experiences all the prison horror: he gets shanked, meets corrupt guards, and has run-ins with gangs that run the prison.

I’ll be honest, I was expecting a lighter-hearted co@lionforgemic. The artwork is bright, the monsters and guards’ Ultraman-inspired uniforms are amazing to look at, and, come on: it’s monsters! On a prison island! I didn’t expect things to be so heavy, so if that’s not your jam, watch Pacific Rim one more time. It was entertaining for me, and I know older teens who will love this, but I just felt so bad for poor Eletrogor and his kids while I read this. So if you’re a mush like me, you’ve been given notice. Kaijumax was a Best New Series nominee in the 2016 Eisners. When I finally get back to my library, I’ll order the first four trades, because I am confident that these will move.

Witchy, by Ariel Slamet Ries, (Sept. 2019, Lion Forge), $14.99, ISBN: 9781549304811

Ages 11+

Witchy is a webcomic that just got its first print run last year. Perfect for middle school and up, it’s glorious fantasy storytelling that smashes gender stereotypes. Nyneve is a young witch living in the kingdom of Hyalin, where the length of your hair determines your magic power. Witches deemed too powerful are taken away and killed – it’s called a “witch burning”, and this is what happened to Nyneve’s father. Keeping her hair pinned up so no one can tell its true length, she withstands the laughs and bullying of her classmates, until conscription time rolls around and she makes the choice to run away rather than serve or risk being on the kingdom’s hit list. Nominated for the 2015 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Online Comic, Witchy is just great storytelling. It moves along at a good pace, letting readers enjoy the worldbuilding and meet the characters; there’s always something happening, so there’s no lag time. The colorwork is beautiful, and the magic arts really stand out in the book with sweeping magical gestures and bursts of color and movement. This one was a hit, and it was one of the last books I ordered, just on what I’ve read about it; I’m so glad this turned out to be everything I hoped it would be.

Witchy by Ariel Ries was nominated for the 2015 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Online Comic, and it still ongoing at Witchycomic.com. It’s also part of the Library of Congress’s Small Press Expo Comic and Comic Art Web Archive, and the Queer Comics Database has a great entry on Witchy. You can find a Witchy Discussion Guide here, courtesy of the publisher.

There’s more to come! Enjoy and keep reading!

Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Science Fiction, Teen

Dark Horse to publish YA original graphic novel!

Great news out of Dark Horse today! Writer and artist Ethan Young (Nanjing: The Burning City) is creating an original graphic novel to be published by Dark Horse this fall.

From Dark Horse: The Battles of Bridget Lee will take readers on a multivolume journey through space as it follows the world’s next heroine to great heights.

There is no longer a generation that remembers a time before the Marauders invaded Earth. The remaining human outposts have been quiet since they fought back the alien aggressors, but there are stirrings of another attack. Bridget Lee, an ex–combat medic now residing at the outpost Farfall, may be the world’s last hope. But Bridget will need to overcome her own fears before she can save her people. Her legend begins here.

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This is great news! Young is an award-winning writer and artist (2007 Independent Publisher Book Award for Tails), and The Battles of Bridget Lee gives us a strong, ethnic female character. Get this on your pre-order and watch lists; this book is going to move.

The Battles of Bridget Lee Volume 1: Invasion of Farfall (978-1-50670-012-0) is in stores September 21, 2016.

Posted in geek culture, Graphic Novels, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

YALSA releases their 2016 list of great graphic novels!

Great news! Last week, YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) published their 2016 Great Graphic Novels for Teens list. There are some brilliant titles on the list, making gift purchases and library collection updates a lot easier, by the way. I was really excited to see so many great books on the list, from a diverse mix of major publishers and smaller independents.

Some highlights:

Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War. By Michel Chikwanine & Jessica Dee Humphreys/Illus. by Claudia Davila. Kids Can Press, $18.95, (9781771381260). A young man tells the story of his kidnapping by rebel militants and his time as a child soldier in the Congo.

Doomboy. By Tony Sandoval. Illustrated by the author. Magnetic Press, $24.99, (9780991332472). A teen with an active imagination and a love of heavy metal mourns his girlfriend the best way he can: through his music.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1952. By Mike Mignola and John Arcudi. Illustrated by Alex Maleev. Dark Horse Books, paper, $19.99 (9781616556600). Hellboy goes on his first mission.

Human Body Theatre. By Maris Wicks. Illustrated by the author. First Second, $14.99, (9781596439290). A skeleton teaches the reader about the human body and its functions.

Last of the Sandwalkers. By Jay Hosler. Illustrated by the author. First Second, $16.99, (9781626720244). A tribe of insects goes on a voyage of discovery to explore the land beyond their borders.

Princess Ugg, vol. 1. By Ted Naifeh. Illus by the author. Oni Press, paper, $15.99, (9781620101780). Warrior Princess Ulga attends the prestigious Princess Academy at her dead mother’s request.

Roller Girl. By Victoria Jamieson. Illustrated by the author. Dial Books for Young Readers, $12.99, (9780803740167). A tween signs up for roller derby camp and learns about herself, friendship, and sacrifice.

The Scarlet Letter. By Nathaniel Hawthorne, Crystal Chan, and Stacy King. Illus by SunNeko Lee. Udon Entertainment, hardcover, $24.99, (9781927925348). A manga retelling of the classic story of a Puritan woman caught in adultery and forced to publicly bear her shame.

The Suspended Castle: A Philemon Adventure. By Fred. Illus by the author. TOON Graphics, hardcover, $16.95, (9781935179863). Bartholomew has been rescued from an alternate dimension but now misses it and wants to go back, little suspecting the adventure in store for him and Philemon.

Now, go forth and read graphic novels, and check out the rest of YALSA’s list!