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graphic novels

Mar 31 2010

Rapunzel’s Revenge & Calamity Jack

by Nancy M

Rapunzel’s Revenge takes the well-known Brothers Grimm tale and re-imagines it into an exciting western whose main damsel is anything but distressed. Yes, this redheaded Rapunzel too gets locked away, but instead of waiting around for prince charming to save her, she passes the time training herself to use her excessively long locks as weapons. Her first order of business? Using her braids to repel herself to freedom. Once free, she pairs up with outlaw Jack and his Golden Goose, who help her battle it out with villains and ferocious creatures all while seeking revenge on Mother Gothel, the evil woman who stole Rapunzel from her mother, locked her up and is now wreaking magical havoc in the land.  This completely engrossing and exciting graphic novel brought to you by Shannon Hale and her husband Dean, is complete with bright illustrations and a fantastic cast of characters.

Recently published and available at the Library is Calamity Jack, another graphic novel adventure brought to you by the Hales. This second book again pairs Rapunzel and Jack, this time with the focus on the scheming Jack and just how he got mixed up with that beanstalk and Giant in the first place.

These wonderfully imaginative books are perfect for middle readers who like adventure, fantasy and fairytales and they would also be great for reluctant readers.

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Oct 29 2009

Manga Library

by Jesse M

astro-boy-number-one Tokyo based Meiji University has announced plans to open the world’s first manga library, in order to help promote serious study of the style. Upon its inception (“hopefully” by early 2015) the proposed institution will house over two million comic books, animation drawings, and other related industry items. For those that aren’t familiar with the word, manga is simply the Japanese word for comics. In the US and elsewhere it is often used as a catch-all term to refer to any comic created or originally published in Japan, though it is also considered to be a distinct artistic style and format and therefore other works may be referred to as manga despite not originating in Japan (such as “Amerimanga” or “Manwha“). Whereas in the US, comic books are more typically associated with costumed superheroes, manga is published in every genre, from horror to romance to science fiction to sports, just to name a few. Despite its broad range, manga can generally be divided into two categories based on target demographic, with shonen manga designed to appeal to boys and shojo manga aimed at girls. Due to its Japanese origins, most manga is printed front to back, so that the book is read from right to left (some manga series published for the US market are printed in the traditional manner, however, such as Astro Boy). Another distinguishing feature of manga are the artistic quirks; characters are often drawn with large eyes and small mouths and noses, and internal emotional states are naruto-number-1-coverdisplayed by using iconography such as beads of sweat on the forehead to indicate embarrassment or bulging, pulsing veins in the same area to express anger. For more extensive information, recommendations, and more eloquent explanations about the different types of manga, take a look at these posts by a former DCPL blogger on the subject (Manga Mania part 1, part 2, and part 3) To conclude, here are a few of my favorite manga. Some of the titles have been adapted into anime series that the DCPL catalog stocks on DVD, and I have linked them in parentheses. Enjoy!

Naruto (DVD): The quintessential ninja manga (though some might argue the seminal Dragonball series of comics are more deserving of that appellation).

one-piece-number-one-coverOne Piece: If pirate adventures are more your style, this is the series for you. ranma-1-half-number-oneAnd last but certainly not least, Ranma 1/2: An excellent example of the eclectic and varied nature of manga, Ranma 1/2 tells the tale of martial artists who fall into cursed springs and as a result upon contact with cold water take the form of whoever, or whatever, died in the spring they fell into (they revert back to normal when exposed to warm water). The martial arts action is tempered with a healthy dose of romantic comedy which makes for rousing entertainment for teenagers and adults alike.


Sep 18 2009

Neil Gaiman’s Bookshelves

by Jesse M

dcpl-blog-image-neil-gaimanWhatever your taste in books, if you’ve spent much time in a library or bookstore over the past 20 years it’s likely you’ve at least heard of Neil Gaiman. A successful author in a variety of different genres (including science fiction, fantasy, and horror, as well as graphic novels, books for children, and screenplays for television and film), he has been the recipient of numerous awards, most notably the Nebula, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy Awards, as well as the 2009 Newbery Medal for The Graveyard Book (which also won the Hugo for best book and Locus award for best YA novel). He is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers, and two of his books (Stardust and Coraline) have been adapted into major motion pictures (we carry both adaptations in the DCPL catalog, and they can be located here, and here, respectively).

The website Shelfari (a literary oriented social networking site which allows members to build a virtual bookshelf to display books they’ve read) recently posted an article on Neil Gaiman and his personal library. The idea was, as stated by the author of the piece, “you can learn a lot about someone by seeing what’s on his or her bookshelf…[so] we thought it would be fun to take a look at what’s on the bookshelves of some of our favorite authors.”

Mr. Gaiman’s home library is impressive, both in terms of quantity and quality. A perusal of his bookshelves reveals a man with an eclectic and varied taste, exactly what one would expect from such a talented and wide-ranging author.

If you are interested in learning more about Neil Gaiman, his website offers a wealth of information about his life, work, and current activities. You can also check out his author profile on Shelfari or follow him on Twitter. And for those who have never read anything by him but are looking for a good place to start, allow me to recommend a couple of my favorites:

dcpl-blog-image-sandman-thumbnailThe Sandman graphic novel series is, in a word, brilliant. It has been critically acclaimed, being one of very few comics to ever make it onto the NY Times bestseller list as well as have been selected as one of Entertainment Weekly’s “100 best reads from 1983 to 2008“.  Although DCPL doesn’t carry the entire series, we do carry the first collection of issues I read, entitled The Doll’s House, which is a fine place to start exploring the series, as well as its  follow up installments: Dream Country and Season of Mists.

dcpl-blog-image-american-gods-thumbnailAmerican Gods was awarded the Hugo and Nebula awards (among others) and tells the story of Shadow, an ex-con who learns upon his release from prison that both his wife and best friend died the previous day in a car accident, leaving him with no one to come home to. Offered a job as a bodyguard by a mysterious man named Wednesday, Shadow travels with him around the country, slowly learning of a weird and dangerous world he never knew existed, and the Gods, old and new, that inhabit it.

Check them both out. You won’t be disappointed.

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For this post I wanted to examine a collection that is perhaps the most likely to be misunderstood, overlooked, or dismissed as just “kid stuff”: the graphic novel.  The label encompasses a wide variety of material, but most simply, a graphic novel is “any extended form of comics, including non-fiction and short story collections.” (a definition borrowed from Grossman and Lacayo of TIME magazine).

maus-cover2While some graphic novels in the DCPL catalog do resemble the comics you read as a kid (such as the 7 volume Essential X-men series, each of which compiles 20-30 issues of the comic book), it would be a mistake to think that costumed superheroes are the extent of what graphic novels have to offer. In fact, there are graphic novels appropriate for all tastes and age categories. Adults interested in serious nonfiction should check out Maus, a Pulitzer Prize winning Holocaust narrative wherein all the people are portrayed as anthropomorphic animals (for example, the Jews are mice, while the Germans are cats). For something the whole family can enjoy, try Bone, a tale of adventure with heavy doses of humor and fantasy which TIME magazine called “the best all-ages novel yet published in this medium“. And no description of the category would be complete without mentioning what many consider the best of the genre, the seminal Watchmen. This masterpiece was hailed by Entertainment Weekly as “The greatest superhero story ever told and proof that comics are capable of smart, emotionally resonant narratives worthy of the label literature,” and was recently adapted into a major motion picture.watchmen-cover

Speaking of graphic novels which have been adapted into films, there are several others available in the DCPL catalog, notably Sin City and V For Vendetta (the latter is also available in graphic novel format).

So give graphic novels a try and check one out. Just look for GN on the spine label. You’ll never think of them as just “kid stuff” again.


Feb 27 2008

Shonen Manga: Not just Ninjas

by Heather O

Marketed for boys and young men; the less flowery looking shonen (shounen) manga has lots ofNaruto_2
action and sometimes humorous plots with the spotlight being on the boys. You can see similarities in many shonen: ninja/samurai, jokes, hot girls with tiny outfits, monsters/mecha/magic- but they really can be quite different and some tackle mature themes and have inner conflict. The girls in shonen are sometimes more than the typical exaggerated proportions damsel-in-distress, but the action and the plot is ulitmately
about guys and can also have lots of male camaraderie: teams, gangs, ninjas, samurai, etc. Goddess_3
The older the audience for the shonen- the more blood, nudity, or serious themes the manga can have. Seinen manga, written for older guys, is often just grouped in with shonen especially outside of Japan. Shonen runs the gamut from the toilet humor of Naruto to the no action or humor suspense thriller Death Note.

The magazine where most shonen makes a debut is Shonen Jump: DCPL has it at the Brookhaven, Chamblee,
Clarkston, Covington, Decatur, Dunwoody, Flat Shoals, Northlake, Salem-Panola,
Stone Mountain, and Tucker branches.

What DCPL has:

Death Note: A god of death drops a notebook into the human world giving a human the power to kill just by writing in a name. The series then follows the very detailed cat and mouse game between the owner of the death note and the people who are trying to figure it all out, and stop it. A rare manga that has almost no action, romance, or humor; it is driven by an eerie psychological and well-paced plot.

Dragon Eye: Only one volume in DCPL so far, but this futuristic vampires-viruses-action tale looks pretty cool so far.

Full Metal Alchemist:
A very cool manga (and anime of course) set in an alternate world full of alchemy, magic, early 20th century era technology and fashion with a bit of a Japanese flavor to it all. This manga has humor, very cool magical fights, and a good deal of horror- both monsters and the monstrous things within humanity.

Modern day girl falls into a feudal Japan complete with demons and
other cool or scary creatures. A lot of action, a little romance and angst, and
a good deal of humor make this a very popular manga and long-running

Naruto: Teen ninjas! Humorous (younger kids will find this really funny), and for boys who want to see fighting and camaraderie.

Samurai Deeper Kyo: A fairly bloody manga about a legendary samurai who must fight demons, gods, and lots of other fighters to get his real body back- which he happens to be sharing with the powerful character who can beat him. With plenty of blood and some nudity, this manga does have a 16+ notice on it.

Ranma 1/2: Cute manga that will appeal to girls too with its romantic aspects. Ranma is cursed to become Ranma
a girl when hit with cold water, but luckily he/she can still fight in any form. Plenty of humor also in this cute series- Ranma’s father is cursed to turn into a panda and for some reason the scenes with him really make me giggle.

——I know less about these shonen below, but we do have them in our libraries.

Set in a magic medieval world, demons who feed on humans are fought and hunted by supernatural female warriors known as Claymores- but for a price. But in this dark fantasy, who and what are the Claymores? I’ve heard good things about this one.

Oh my Goddess!: Seriously, it *is* shonen! An average-Joe college guy accidentally gets his very own goddess- hijinks ensue.

One Piece: This manga is the 3rd highest selling in the history of Shonen Jump, humorous plot about aOnepiece
group of pirates always searching and fighting for the world’s ultimate treasure that will make the captain the pirate king. How can a manga about pirates NOT do well?

Yu-Gi-oh!: Anime, card game, video game; the manga that started it all is about a boy and his friends fighting monsters.


Feb 13 2008

Manga Mania Part 2: Girls Rule!

by Heather O

Absobf Petshop Shugo_2 Dna Card Marm Girl

Since I plan on doing multiple posts on manga; I’ll start with the manga for the girls- Shojo. Shojo manga is intended for a vast audience of girls as young as 10 up to 18, the term for manga for older girls and women is Josei but girls and women of all ages read Shojo. Artistically, Shojo is full of very, very, pretty girls and boys (which leads to the gender slapstick that is a hallmark of many manga),  and plenty of romance. Shojo is also drawn with lots of hearts, stars, flowers, bubbles, etc around the characters when they have pretty much any emotion. The older Shojo mangas had female protagonists who were often ‘magical’- they were special in some way- princesses or like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Different mangas have different Nana_3
plots, and many Shojo manga have very adult themes and are aimed at older teens or young Hero
adults. For
example Nana is a fun Shojo manga about rock stars and young adults living in Tokyo, and much like “Friends” the series does contain sexuality, smoking, alcohol, and  references to drug use. Crimson Hero is obviously aimed at athletic grrls; its cast focuses on middle-school age volleyball players and the drama of team rivalries and friendships, but is light on the romance.

Shojo throughout DCPL-

Absolute Boyfriend
Romantic triangle between a girl, her new boyfriend who happens to not be a real person, and the boy next door who has always liked her.

Cardcaptor SakuraThe very ideal of a Shojo manga in many ways. A young girl accidentally opens a magical book that releases magical creatures which she, now being magical herself, must get back. Not very romantic, but this manga spawned a long-lived anime series and lots of games related to it. Kind of a girly Pokeman.

DN AngelLegendary thief inhabits the body of a teen boy when he thinks about his girl crush; romance, strange magics, and normal teen angst make for a fun action manga.


Fruits BasketOne of the girliest mangas I have ever read: the Sohma family has an odd curse- they change into different animals of the Chinese zodiac (yes, manga is Japanese) when someone of the opposite gender hugs them. The drama follows when the family has to reconcile with a super-girlie outsider who wants to help break the curse.

Girl Got GameClassic girl dressed up like a guy for the basketball team- then falls in love with her guy roommate and high school drama follows.

Kamikaze GirlsSingle volume manga and movie based on a novel, a motorcycle riding bad-girl and a frilly fashionable girl have adventures and learn to become best friends in spite of their differences.

Marmalade BoyOne of the few non-supernatural Shojo manga in the library. This one is all about the romantic relationship pitfalls of teens.

Pet Shop of Horrors– No romance in this older teen/adult manga (Josei); the pet shop is home to wondrous  supernatural creatures with each episode having a message within the horror and humour.

Shugo Chara!Cute manga about young teens with magical eggs that become guardian spirits; who then struggle against a shadowy organization. And there are ‘bad eggs’ of course in the manga with bad guardian spirits.

Shojo Beat Magazine– Subscriptions in the Chamblee, Clarkston, Covington, Decatur, Dunwoody, Flat Shoals, Northlake, Salem-Panola, Stone Mountain, Tucker branches.

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Jan 24 2008

Persepolis Comes to the Big Screen

by Jimmy L

Two of the best books I checked out of the library last year were the graphic novels/memoirs Persepolis and its sequel Persepolis 2: the story of a return by Marjane Satrapi, so when I found out recently that the books have been made into a movie, I was thrilled! Marjane is 9 years old in the story, and we see her grow up in war torn Iran. She goes through many of the same trials that people all over the world go through when growing up, including rebelliousness and finding an identity. But she has the added challenge of trying to lead a normal life while living through the Islamic Revolution. Marjane has a unique visual style, and both graphic novels are a pleasure to read and flip through. Instead of using actors, the movie is in the style of the novels, with more original drawings and animations by Marjane.

With all the things happening over in the Middle East these days, it’s nice to see something from the perspective of someone who is from that area. I was attracted to the many hardships and differences she had growing up, but even more so by how similar our experiences were, even though we grew up worlds apart! It’s a very moving and personal story that I would recommend wholeheartedly to everyone.

The movie will open at the Landmark Theater this Friday, January 25th. You can also find out more information about the movie at the official Persepolis page.

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Bone_cover While I vaguely remember reading some Archie comics as a child, it wasn’t until the late eighties that I really started reading comics.  Not being a huge fan of the superheroes, I began reading comics after discovering titles like Sandman, Bone, Maus, and Swamp ThingAt the time, comics were still pretty much thought of as “just for kids,” but in 1993, DC Comics launched their Vertigo imprint, described as a more mature line of “serious, innovative fiction told in compelling visuals.” Moving away from mainstream family-friendly fare, these titles became a cult success and began to attract a whole new audience to comics, including women and those who had never really read comics before–readers just like myself.

As that generation of readers has grown older (and perhaps moved into jobs in the entertainment and comics industries), comics in general have become more mainstream.  Movies based on comics have become more numerous in recent years, and comics are now widely available in many bookstores and even–you guessed it–libraries. 

Libraries have slowly but surely started to collect comics and graphic novels.  DeKalb County Public Library began adding titles to the collection a few years ago, originally in the Young Adult collection. More recently, titles have been added to the children’s and adult collections.  In DCPL’s catalog, you will find various types of books (including graphic novels, manga, and comic trade paperbacks) listed under the subject heading of “graphic novels.”  To make it easier to find them in the catalog and on the shelf, many of these titles are now labeled “GN” for graphic novel.  GN titles include fiction, non-fiction, and biography, and are available for a wide range of reading levels for children, teens, and adults.  Graphic novels are also labeled according to their collection: J (juvenile), Y (young Adult), or B (biography).  Each library may shelve these books differently, so ask at your local branch for where the graphic novel collection is located.  Remember that these items are designated as  J, Y, or adult to reflect age-appropriateness, so use these guidelines and your own judgement when selecting titles for children!

To find graphic novel titles in the DCPL catalog for teens and adults, click HERE.

For more information on comics and graphic novels, check out these links:

ALA Resources for Comics and Graphic Novels

Recommended Graphic Novels for Public Libraries

Great Graphic Novels for Teens from the American Library Association

Comic Books for Young Adults

Kid-safe Graphic Novels from Brodart

TIME Top Ten Graphic Novels

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