New and Now! New-ish Graphic Novels for Librarians

For Children:

BabyMouse Burns Rubber by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm. Random House Children’s Books, 2010. 978-0-375-85713-3, $5.99. When Babymouse’s best friend Winston tells her of an upcoming soap box derby, she’s convinced it’ll fulfill her dreams of race-car-driving fame…but she can’t build the car herself. Will Winston help her at the expense of his own derby dreams? Babymouse is a funny and charming character and she, plus the black, white and pink art makes this series very appealing to 2nd – 5th girls. (KLB)

Resistance, bk.1 by Carla Jablonski. First Second, 2010. 978-1596432918. Paul and Marie, two French children living in the countryside during WWII, hide their Jewish friend, Henri, after his parents dissappear. When they hear that Henri's parents are in Paris, older sister Sylvie decides they all should travel there so Henri can be reunited. No comparrison: get this over Magneto: Testament. While Magneto portrays events with an obvious message on every page; Resistance portrays the progression of fear, uncertainty, and shock through the characters. (HC)

Smile by Raina Telgemeier. Scholastic Graphix 2010. 978-0545132060. In 6th Grade Raina lost her two front teeth, over the next few years she had to undergo various dental proceedures including false teeth, braces, surgeries, and of course headgear! As her teeth give her a roller coaster of experiences so does Middle and High School. This autobiography excellently uses Raina's teeth drama as a reflection of her life drama. (HC)

Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework by Nadja Spiegelman & Trade Loeffler. Toon Books, 2010. 978-1-935179-02-3. Zig and Wikki travel to Earth to look for a pet for Zig’s homework. While there, they learn a bit about nature’s food chain and nearly become part of the chain themselves! Facts about flies, dragonflies, frogs and raccoons are mixed into the story (along with photographs), making this a fun and informative adventure for 2nd and 3rd graders. (KLB)

For Teens:

Black Butler by Yana Toboso. Yen Press, 2010. 978-0-316-08084-2. Popular at my library, this manga is set in Victorian London. The Phantomhive earldom is headed by a 12-year old boy who has the good fortune to have the services of too-good-to-be- true loyal butler, Sebastian. Sebastian has never lost a fight and repeatedly saves the day. Volume 1 of a new series. (JP)

Blackest Night by Geoff Johns. DC Comics. 2010. 978-1401226930. Throughout the decades, death has plagued the DC Universe and taken the lives of heroes and villains alike. But to what end? As the War between the different colored Lantern Corps rages on, the prophecy of the Blackest Night descends and it's up to Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps to lead DC's greatest champions in a battle to save the Universe from an army of undead Black Lanterns made up of fallen Green Lanterns and DC's deceased heroes and villains. Also see the companion title, Blackest Night: Green Lantern by Geoff Johns. DC Comics 2010, 978-1401227869. (HC)

Copper by Kazu Kibuishi. Scholastic Graphix, 2010, 978-0545098939. Ever-optimistic Copper and his eternally pragmatic dog, Fred, are so different. During their whimsical, frightening, and thoughtful adventures through colorful fantasy worlds their differences never hinder their relationship and love for exploration. This is one of the best examples of art and story working together to create a better experience. (HC)

Ctrl-Alt-Del, v.1: This is a Great Idea by Tim Buckley. Blind Ferret Ent, 2009. 978-0973694673. Ethan and Lucas are two young adults who just want to survive their lives so they can go home and play video games. This hilarious collection of the webcomic strips involving employers, neighbors, a new roommate, and of course video game characters will keep you laughing even if you're not a gamer. For older teens due to language (but it really personifies the targeted age group). (HC)

Girl Genius Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne and The Heirs of the Storm by Phil and Kara Foglio. Studio Foglio, 2010. ISBN-13: 978-1890856519. I’ve gotten hooked on this series as Agatha continues to uncover the clues to her past, discovers more family secrets, and becomes embroiled ever more in the power struggles of her enemies. Liken to the Perils of Pauline, except Agatha does as much rescuing as being rescued. (JP)

Final Crisis by Grant Morrison , J.G. Jones, Carlos Pacheco, Doug Mahnke. DC Comics, 2010. It’s not perfect, but this sprawling, messy and complicated tale of good and evil in the DC Universe is one of the most ambitious and fascinating comics of the modern era. Those not well versed in the DC mythology may be bewildered, but beautiful art and clever wordplay will appeal to all superhero fans. (MJB)

Foiled by Jane Yolen and Mike Cavallaro. First Second, 2010. 978-1596432796. Fencer Aliera is happy with her outsider status, but her world is shaken by the arrival of Avery, a beautiful but strange new boy. What makes this book magical is how the typical teen tropes – outsider girl, beautiful boy with a secret, mystical foreboding – are used in fresh and unexpected ways.(MJB)

Invincible Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1 by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca. Marvel, 2010. 978-0785142959. This massive hardback collects the first 19 issues of Faction and Larroca’s award winning run on Invincible Iron Man. Featuring sharp plotting, well rounded characters and beautifully colored photorealistic art, this is a must for any superhero collection. (MJB)

Otomen, v.1 by Aya Kanno. Viz, 2009. 978-1421521862, "Do girly things make you any less manly?" This is the question Asuka asks himself every day. Usually he can resist and be the extremely masculine man his mother feels he should be, but after making new friends that praise his cooking, sewing, and craft skills can he reveal more of his true self! (HC)

Romeo and Juliet : the graphic novel : original text version by John McDonald. Classical Comics, Ltd., 2009. 978-1-906332-61-7. There are several GN adaptations of the Shakespeare’s plays. This one features full color and full-text, plus historical information about the play and the author. Sadly, no commentary or explanation of the text is given. Contrast with Barron’s 1999 version in their Picture This! Shakespeare series (ISBN 0-7641-31443) which provides a full explanation of literary terms, a list of characters, description of each scene, and translation of some of the text, but does not include all the original text (and is in black and white). (JP)

Spy vs Spy : missions of madness by Antonio Prohias. Watson-Guptill Publications ed. 2009. 978-0823050505. This is a nostalgic addition and not really a graphic novel. I read Mad magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy” comic throughout my high school years, which occurred during height of the Cold War. These reprints (one of three volumes), drawn by Cuban refugee Prohias from 1960 until his retirement in the 1980s are classic and epitomize the endless and futile conflicts of the Cold War. To paraphrase Dave Mason: “There are no good guys. There are no bad guys. There’s just you and me and we just disagree”. (JP)

The Color of Earth by Dong Hwa Kim. First Second, 2009. 978-1596434585. This coming of age story is set in nineteenth century rural Korea. Young Ehwa lives with her widowed mother, an object of some gossip by the villagers. Their relationship is lovingly depicted as Ehwa enters puberty and her mother begins an affair with a traveling salesman. The first in a trilogy, their story continues in The Color of Water and concludes in The Color of Heaven. (JP)

The eternal smile : three stories by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim. First Second, 2009. 1596431563. Three very different and unexpected stories whose common theme is that a fantasy life can strengthen a person’s ability to deal with real life. My favorite is the riff on the Nigerian scam involving a shy computer technician who ultimately turns the situation around to her benefit. (JP)

Twilight : the graphic novel, vol. 1 by Stephanie Meyer. Yen Press, 2010. 978-0-7595-2943-4. Do we need to say anything more about the Twilight phenom other than that the author considers this graphic novel very close to her vision of the book? Volume 1 covers the first half of the novel. (JP)

Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai by Stan Sakai. Dark Horse, 2009. This slim GN celebrates the 25th anniversary of Usagi Yojimbo. The full color is gorgeous, the tones are soft and color washed; the story follows an Usagi standard: the Samurai meets a stranger in distress and offers to help, not realizing until much later the truly dangerous situation he faces. Sakai normally doesn’t work in color as it doesn’t allow the level of detail he likes to give to his inking, so a color story is an exception and this one will be of interest to young readers as well as his many teen and adult fans. (JP)

For Adults:

Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka , J.H. Williams, J.G. Jones. DC Comics, 2010. 978-1401226923. Kat Kane, a Marine forced to resign due to her sexual orientation, takes up the mantle of Batwoman in order to fight for justice. Kat’s fight is personal and deeply meaningful, and this title is given depth and resonance by inventive panel layouts and beautiful art. (MJB)

Bunny Drop, v.1 by Yumi Unita. Yen Press, 2010. 978-0759531222. Salary man bachelor Daikichi is shocked to learn at his grandfather's funeral that the old man has a very young illegitimate child, and is even more shocked that the rest of the family wants nothing to do with her. Disgusted with his relatives he decides to care for the girl himself, but Daikichi may need some growing up himself after becoming an instant single-parent. The story is great! Daikichi is an intelligent man who knows he has to figure out a lot very quickly and it is his failures and victories that make this real. (HC)

Dark Entries by Ian Rankin and Werther Dell'Edera .Vertigo, 2009. 978-1401213862. One of the first entries in the Vertigo Crime series of graphic novels, Dark Entries isn’t really crime fiction. It does, however, make use of a lot of conventional noir elements, including a monster twist midway through. Dell’Edera’s jagged, black and white style takes full advantage of the plot’s ambiguities, with the shading slowly getting darker as the plot does the same. (MJB)

Kingyo Used Books, v.1 by Seimu Yoshizaki. Viz, 2010. 978-1421533629. Various stories about how a small used manga store helps its customers find happiness through reading. Ranging from nostalgic to silly to inspirational the characters discover to every manga its reader. Each story mentions a real manga title generating a built in Recommended Reading List. Very self serving, but also done very well proving you don't have to be an otaku to enjoy manga. (HC)

Prime Baby by Gene Luen Yang. First Second, 2010. 978-1596436121. Eight-year-old Thaddeus Fong can't understand why no one else sees that his baby sister is an alien. Can Thaddeus himself handle the truth when his quest for proof takes an odd turn? Even though this won't mentally damage young children, adults will ultimately enjoy this book the most. The witty sibling jealousy, deliberately overbearing main character, and very satisfying conclusion make this an essential read. (HC)

Unwritten Vol. 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. Vertigo, 2010. 978-1401225650. Tommy Taylor, the real-life inspiration for an epic 13 book fantasy series, ekes out a living though “celebrity appearances”. He’s tired of constantly being compared to his fictional doppelganger, and answering questions about his missing author dad. However when it’s revealed that the magical world dad created might not be fictional after all, Tommy’s life gets a lot more interesting. With sly literary allusions and a gut punch of an ending, this book will appeal to grown up fans of children’s fantasy. (MJB)

Prepared for Graphic Novels 101, Comic-Con San Diego, 2010.

HC = Hilary Chang, McCully-Moiliili, HI Public Library
JP = Jill Patterson, La Habra, CA Branch Library
KLB = Kearsten LaBrozzi, Glendale, AZ Public Library
MJB= Merideth Jenson-Benjamin, Glendale, AZ Public Library