The covers alone say so much about the diversity of imagination you can find in graphic novels. A selection from our latest April new titles. If you haven’t explored this genre before I’d encourage you to give it go.
28 April 2013
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23 January 2013
It’s no secret that comic memoirs are one of my favest thing: See Draw your life – graphic novel memoirs and this one on Tangles. Fabby Flavorwire has just made my morning by coming up with a tasty list for us graphic novel memoir lovers: 8 Worthy Successors to Alison Bechdel. I’ve read Unterzakhn and Tangles already, and have Dotter of her father’s eyes at home on my to-read pile.
I’m happy to report we have them right here at Christchurch City Libraries for your delectation:
- Unterzakhn Leela Corman
- Dotter of her father’s eyes Mary Talbot
- Tangles Sarah Leavitt
- The Impostor’s daughter Laurie Sandell
- The Voyeurs Gabrielle Bell
- Calling Dr Laura Nicole Georges
- Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir Ellen Forney
29 December 2012
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I’ve just been reading (and looking at) a book which I feel like recommending to everyone. It’s the story of a hunting, shooting, fishing Kiwi bloke called Stag which might not sound like it has appeal to many women. But… this book, Stag Spooner; wild man from the bush by Chris Maclean, has everything.
First its a great story – as well as being a hunter, Stag was a talented artist who created what could be New Zealand’s first graphic novel. This is included in the book and will seem immediately familiar to people today. Stag went off to fight in World War II and made a bit of money designing envelopes and Christmas cards for his fellow soldiers to send home to their families. Examples of these also fill the book. Check the family archives – there might be one of these among your grandparent’s World War II memorabilia. Stag’s story also harks back to a time when hunting and fishing opportunities were far richer and many families supplemented their diet and their income by what they could shoot in the hills or catch in rivers and the sea.
Stag was very much an individual as photographs in the book show and also a man for whom his family was very important. The rest of his life story makes compelling reading, as does the story of how this book came to be.
Stag Spooner is also a beautifully produced book. All the elements – the cover, the layout, the quality of illustrations and paper are just as a good book should be.
18 September 2012
I found this graphic novel yesterday at Shirley Library quite by accident. It’s called Aotearoa Whispers, The Awakening. I think it’s awesome, so decided to blog it as maybe other people might enjoy it too. The story is set in Christchurch. Be warned there were a couple of illustrations of the Cathedral, the Chalice and the chess set from the square – this gave me a bit of an unexpected whiplash of nostalgia ( a reaction I wasn’t expecting from a graphic novel) and the author Gonzalo Navarro wrote his foreword in the city in February 2011, in the aftermath of the earthquakes.
The Awakening tells the story of of Kahi Moana, a young teenager who has a potentially life-changing exchange with his grandmother after tripping over his own shoelace.
The conversation that ensues with his kuia introduces the reader to Te Rauparaha, touches on aspects of local history (it mentions the naming and history of Cathedral Square), the battles at Kaiapoi Pa, Ōnawe and Akaroa before moving on to share a retelling of the traditional kōrero of Māui and Mahuika from the perspective of the author. Ultimately the conversation with his Nan impacts on his perspective of how he sees the world and views his own identity.
I loved the style of the art work and the fact that I could read the story in Te Reo (the translation has been provided by Charisma Rangipunga) or English. The fact that the story was set locally and that the storyline included events and happenings that occurred in our area. It made me feel like I had an instant connection with the story and the characters. I also liked the fact that it was sharing story in a graphic novel type format, I haven’t come across many New Zealand stories told in this way.
If you try this one and like it, you might also like to have a look at Ngārimu Te Tohu Toa (Te Reo) which tells the story of Te Moana nui a Kiwa Ngarimu VC or Victory at Point 209 if you want to read the English version. Both of these were written by Andrew Burdan who has also written Hautipua rererangi (Te Reo) or Born to Fly (English version) which tells the story of NZRAF Flying Officer Porokoru Patapu (John) Pohe of Ngati Rangi,who served 22 missions in his first tour of duty during the Second World War. I have added both of these to my for later shelf.
As an aside, If you do read Aotearoa Whispers and it whets your appetite in terms of learning a little more about local history then you might like to check out our website Tī Kōuka Whenua. This resource is a great source of local history and Ngāi Tahu information- and if you’re interested you can read more about the battles mentioned in Aotearoa Whispers, the history of Kaiapoi and the battle at Ōnawe Pa as well.
14 August 2012
At the beginning of the year, I was checking out the graphic novel section at Central Library Peterborough, when a young bloke approached me. “Have you read this one?” he said, and thrust Blankets by Craig Thompson at me.
I’m glad he did. I was totally sucked in to this autobiographical story. It’s a beautifully drawn (in both senses) tale of first love, religious doubts, growing up, and family relationships. It has a raw and tender honesty.
This was the first in a run of brilliant autobiographical comics / graphic novel memoirs. The comic author/artist draws (and draws on) part of their own life as a story.
The next discovery was Are you my mother? A comic drama by Alison Bechdel. It is the follow-up to Fun home, an autobiographical tragi-comic about her relationship with her high-school English teacher and funeral home director (and gay) Dad.
Are you my mother? has Alison exploring her difficult relationship with her mother – she can’t find in her Mom the motherly support she wants. It is a layered, complex and touching story that any son or daughter will recognise. She explores her own motivations and drives, and draws you in.
I love how she also delves into the life and work of psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott and embeds him into her own story. Art and literature is there, in abundance. As Laura Miller’s review in The Guardian points out:
Like all of Bechdel’s work, Are You My Mother? is furiously literary, full of citations and quotations, and crafty symbolic parallels to the books its author is so often depicted reading with furrowed brow. The presiding genii of this particular work include Adrienne Rich, Sigmund Freud, Alice Miller and, above all, Virginia Woolf and the British psychoanalyst DW Winnicott. (“I want him to be my mother,” cartoon Alison says.) The concepts Winnicott contributed to object relations theory (the “good enough” mother, transitional objects, the true and false self, etc) provide themes for each of the book’s seven chapters, but its swirling, circular structure derives from Woolf.
My next autobiographical comic was Paying for it: a comic strip memoir about being a john by Chester Brown. It was a challenge. It’s an unblinkingly honest and compelling account of prostitution, from the rare perspective of the “john”. Chester’s tone is dry as a bone, and his pictures have a similar precision.
His friends mentioned in the book are allowed to have their say via footnotes included in the book. They serve as a kind of chorus or commentary, and let you know a little bit more about Chester than what he has revealed. It really is something to behold.
Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City by Guy Delisle was recommended to me by Auckland librarian Sean M (big tip of the hat!). Guy comes across as a reasonable, thoughtful bloke. He documents the difficulties and oddities of life in Jerusalem on both sides of the wall. Stephen Carlick’s review in The National Post says:
… it’s his juxtaposition of the various points of view — Israeli, Palestinian, Christian, that of Médecins Sans Frontières, and his own — that makes it his best. The tension in the Holy City between what is how sacred to whom is central to the success of Jerusalem, largely because of the clear-eyed way Delisle depicts the struggles of daily life in a city where so many strongly opposed factions coexist.
The success of this book is how it simply presents the everyday details of life.
These comic autobiographies explore the micro and the macro. They manage to show both an individual’s life in prosaic detail and the big picture of human experience. A local comic memoirist is doing just that in the excellent blog Let me be frank. New Zealand author/artist New Zealander Sarah Laing presents past and present episodes of her life in comic format. It’s brilliant, and well worth signing up to.
2 July 2012
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The other night I went to the movies, to see The Avengers. Not being an aficionado of comics and their associated movie franchises, I thought I was going to see something involving Emma Peel… so I found myself in the theatre under somewhat false pretences.
False start aside, I had a jolly good time. Reviews of Marvel’s latest movie offering have been mixed (the Guardian‘s Damien Walter suggested that ”the sci-fi blockbuster transcends cultural boundaries by doing away with the whole problem of meaning and replacing it with CGI spectacle.” ) but if you like your rip-snorting super-heroes-save-the-day kind of movies – or even if you’re not sure you do – this certainly fits the bill. An enjoyable “popcorn” movie, it romps along with just the right number of laugh-out-loud lines and yes, a good dollop of CGI spectacle. (Fancy some giant skeletal space-faring turtle-things of Doom? Of course you do!)
If, like me, you feel like everyone in the theatre but you knows this cast of heroes personally, never fear! You can swot up at your library, where you’ll find both The Ultimate Guide and The Ultimate Character Guide to set you right. You can also use our catalogue to explore the wider Marvel world, or check out our collection of superhero movies.
So, super hero fans, a whole new world has opened before me! What should I look at next to expand my comic book horizons? Who are your favourite super heroes?
24 August 2011
I’m sneakily inserting a kind of advertorial into the blog here, and purely for personal reasons, too.
See, it’s like this: I’m currently working at the new Central South City, and while there’s a few gaps in the shelves, there’s ONE area that is a smidgeon overstocked. Oddly, it’s an area that at old Central was full-on and flat-out all the time, and we couldn’t keep stuff ON the shelf, and all I can think is that you guys don’t realise it’s HERE now …
It’s the graphic novel section (see what I did with the title?).
To be frank, I need some space. Also, my poor old knees aren’t what they used to be, and all that kneeling down to shelve things is making me creaky.
And the payoff for you guys is that you get to come to a cool new library, see all the shiny shiny new titles we’ve got, and all of this before anyone else realises that there’s a bunch of graphic novels sitting here that no-one else knows about …