Graphic Novels Read in September 2015 Part I

We’ve still got one week left in September, but if I don’t get started now, I’ll never finish. I had a big weekend at SPX last weekend and you’ll see some of those books here and many more next time. Let’s get started…


Baba Yaga’s Assistant (J 2015) Marika McCoola, Emily Carroll (Candlewick Press)

You don’t have to know anything about Baba Yaga – the supernatural creature from Slavic folklore – to enjoy this book. When Baba Yaga puts an ad in the paper looking for a new assistant, Masha jumps at the chance to get away from her dad and his new wife and especially her brat daughter. But being Baba Yaga’s assistant is no picnic. Nicely told with excellent art from Carroll. Gwen and I covered this book on our first Young Readers episode of The Comics Alternative Podcast. (hardcover, color; ages 10 and up)



Gronk: A Monster’s Story, Volume 1 (J 2015) Katie Cook (Diamond Book Distributors)

Gronk is a monster who has left the world of monsters to live among humans, which is really just a pretense for Cook to explore some familiar themes such as being different, a stranger-in-a-strange-land, etc. Adapted from a webcomic, Gronk is often humorous featuring lots of little in-jokes with each page a self-contained story, similar to a comic strip. Even at only 60 pages, the jokes grew a bit old rather quickly, but younger readers may be clamoring for more. (thin, stapled paperback, color; ages 8 and up)



Sunny Side Up (J 2015) Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm (GRAPHIX)

In addition to her prose novels for young readers, Jennifer Holm has collaborated with her brother Matthew Holm on two graphic novel series, Babymouse and Squish. Although there’s plenty of humor in Sunny Side Up, the Holm siblings have created a book that’s far more than just a light comedy.

Sunny Side Up tells the story a young girl named Sunny visiting her grandfather in Florida in the summer of 1976. This is not a typical summertime vacation for Sunny. Something has happened at home that’s caused Sunny to be with her grandfather, which I won’t get into, but I will tell you that you’ll have a great time with this fun, touching graphic novel. This is another book that Gwen and I discussed on our first Young Readers episode of The Comics Alternative. (trade paperback, color; ages 8 and up)



Nanjing: The Burning City (2015) Ethan Young (Dark Horse)

Extraordinarily powerful story of a handful of people during the 1937 Nanjing massacre. The characterization is excellent and the storytelling contains a level of suspense that’s effective without ever feeling cheap or manipulated. There’s one dialogue exchange that goes on a little too long and runs the risk of pontificating, but that’s really a minor quibble. I hope this gets a large readership. Derek and I discussed this book on a recent episode of The Comics Alternative Podcast. (hardcover, black-and-white; teens and up)



SuperMutant Magic Academy (2014) Jillian Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)

Tamaki’s comic (originally a webcomic) format works well with short, mostly self-contained strips chronicling the ups and downs of teenage life, angst, and occasional joy at said magic academy. The humor is irreverent, snarky, sophisticated, and often hilarious. In the last portion of the book, the characters’ stories converge into a larger, longer story, moving away from the page-at-a-time strip method of storytelling. Although some of the jokes seem overused at times, I enjoyed the book and look forward to see how it does at the upcoming Ignatz Awards. (trade paperback, black-and-white with occasional red; mature teens and up)



Heathentown (2009) Corinna Sara Bechko, Gabriel Hardman (Image)

Anna journeys to the Florida Everglades to attend the funeral of her best friend, but finds strange goings-on in that small town. Effective horror comic from the creative team of Bechko and Hardman, both of whom Derek and I recently interviewed. (trade paperback; black-and-white; adults)



Lady Killer (2015) Joëlle Jones (Dark Horse)

Lady Killer is a very stylish story of a homemaker, wife, mother, and assassin, a comic that owes much – perhaps too much – to Mad Men. Although some of the book held my interest (particularly the art), Lady Killer comes across for me as too much style and not enough substance. (trade paperback; color; adults)



RAV 1st Collection (2014) Mickey Zacchilli (Youth in Decline)

Upon first look, RAV seems experimental, hurried, frenzied, and just plain sloppy. Words fall out of hastily-drawn speech bubbles. Some words are even scratched out then started again. To be honest, on many pages it’s hard to tell what’s going on. Yet there is something going on. Zacchilli’s story stuck with me, long after I finished it. Think of it as David Lynch meets Dante’s Inferno. I plan on reading it again in a few months. Give it a shot, see what you think. Ignatz nominee. (trade paperback; black-and-yellow; adults)



Wendy (2014) Walter Scott (Koyama Press)

Initially I read about the first 30 pages of Wendy and didn’t think much of it. A couple of weeks later, I read the entire book and changed my mind. Wendy has a lot to say about the art world, finding yourself, and much more. Plus it’s quite funny… I don’t see how you could read this book and not like a character named Screamo. Ignatz nominee. (trade paperback; black-and-white; adults)


There’s more on the way…

2 thoughts on “Graphic Novels Read in September 2015 Part I

  1. Pingback: Graphic Novels Read in September 2015 Part II | Journeys in Darkness and Light

  2. Pingback: Podcasts, Librarians, and Reading Everything In Sight | Journeys in Darkness and Light

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