Category: Graphic Novels (Page 1 of 2)

Newberry-winner Victoria Jamieson offers a delightful book

Navigating middle school is tricky terrain, even under normal circumstances.

Imogene, who goes by Impy, is entering middle school for the first time after growing up living in the Florida Renaissance Faire with her annoying little brother and her parents as cast members at the faire.

Now that she is old enough to train as a squire, she can’t wait to participate in the jousting, human chess match, and other knightly duties. But first, she has to enter a place more dangerous than a dragon’s lair: middle school.

It is not the idyllic pace she imagines it to be. It’s filled with mean older kids, locker combinations that are hard to remember, and the ordeal of making new friends. As Impy balances her “at home” identity as a squire in the Florida Renaissance Faire, filled with period costumes and speaking Olde English, she is embarrassed to share this part of her life with her new friends from school.

Where does she belong?

This graphic novel is filled with a great cast of characters, familiar middle school anxiety, and, of course, all the merry fun of a Renaissance Faire!

victoria jamiesonSo, lords and ladies of the land, we welcometh you to a night with the creator of All’s Faire in Middle School, Victoria Jamieson. Jamieson won a Newberry Honor in 2016 for her first graphic novel, Roller Girl.

For fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile and The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels, All’s Faire in Middle School will be a delight.

The Tuesday event starts at 5 p.m. with a reading in Lemuria’s DotCom building in Jackson. A ticketed signing will follow.

Civil Rights Superheroes: ‘March’ by John Lewis

The graphic novel is a strange beast. Though I’m not as well versed in them as our beloved Hunter is, I still enjoy reading them. Most of the graphic-format books I’ve read have been about superheroes:  Batman, the Green Lantern Corps, Daredevil. And, in a way, March fits that bill, too, though both the hero and enemies are too real.

March is the three-part memoir of civil rights icon Senator John Lewis, co-written with his communications aide Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell.  The narrative begins on the inauguration day of President Barack Obama, but quickly jumps back in time, beginning with Lewis’ childhood in rural Alabama, where he witnessed racial inequality but was ordered (by his parents, for his safety) to stay quiet about it.  march book twoWith the occasional jump back into the narrative present, March follows Lewis’ life using major civil rights events (the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, the Freedom Rides, and the event alluded to in the title, the march on the Edmund Pettus Bridge).

I won’t bore you with a summary of Lewis’ life—it’s well known in general, and well-told in March. I will, however, encourage you to buy the all three volumes for several reasons. Primarily, the story is important. Having this narrative focus on one man’s experience in a movement that affected so many is brilliant, both rhetorically and craft-wise. It takes an idea that for so many of us is an abstract notion and turns it into a story. Lewis’ story is simultaneously his own and part of something much larger than himself, and March tells both sides of this well.

march book threeIt’s also compellingly told. Lewis’ tone is conversational: it balances seriousness and grief with levity and honesty. Anyone who’s heard Senator Lewis speak knows he does so with conviction but without false airs, and March is written the same way.

The quality of Lewis’ storytelling is augmented by Powell’s artwork. The black-and-white drawings are at times austere, others foreboding, but always evocative. When I tell people about the book, I often describe it as visually “gorgeous,” a term I seldom use but which is the only one that fits. Here.

march art

March is for anyone:  a reluctant reader, a fan of history, a consumer of comics, a member of the human race who wants to know more about heroism in the face of hatred. Some heroes fly; others march–over, and over, and over again.

March comes into two forms: a collected slipcase edition, and separately in volumes onetwo, and three.

Graphic Novel Guidance, Vol. 2: Tom King & Wolverine

Graphic novels. We’ve still got them. All kinds, I promise. Here’s a few more recommendations that you’ll find on our shelves, this time from big publishers Marvel and DC:

DC Comics

omega menWhat happens when you give one of the top comic book writers around a super-obscure team of charactersfrom DC Comics’ vault? You get one of the best series to come out of DC in the last few years: The Omega Men. The book was originally marketed as a Green Lantern spin-off, but the appeal is much broader than a simple superhero story. King takes a story about a group of space outlaws and produces a surprisingly deep story that explores elements like faith, war, and justice. Barnaby Bagenda’s art in the book has a painting-like quality that further accentuates the cinematic style that the book uses. The series was nearly cancelled until fan outcry brought it back, and it was well worth it. Omega Men is a modern classic, in my opinion.

Marvel Comics

vision 1That’s right, two by Tom King. In this title for Marvel comics, King takes Vision, the lesser-known robotic member of the Avengers, and sends him to suburbia. Vision takes a job with the US government and builds himself a robotic wife and two kids, modeled after himself. What starts out as a quirky fish-out-of-water sorry about a super-powered family of robots getting along with the neighbors quickly becomes dark when things take a deadly turn. Accompanied by Gabriel Walta’s art, this unexpected hit delivers a captivating story.

Marvel Comics

This is an older book, from way back in 2010, but because of the blockbuster film Logan, which is inspired by it, I’m including it here.

old man loganAn elderly Logan, formerly the X-Man Wolverine, is living in a dystopian U.S., controlled by a group of villains that have divided the country up between themselves. Unlike the film, the book can pull from any Marvel properties it wishes, meaning that this book features characters and concepts from throughout the Marvel universe, including, but not limited to, a band of hillbilly Hulks, a Venom dinosaur, and an elderly Hawkeye. The book differs from the film vastly in plot, but shares its tone and themes: legacy and mortality. It’s a favorite of X-Men fans, and if you enjoyed the film, it’s definitely worth picking up.

Graphic Novel Guidance: ‘Huck,’ ‘Paper Girls,’ and ‘Sex Criminals’

Graphic novels. Lemuria has them. Don’t believe me? Come by the store and find out. Don’t know what to read? Here are some recommendations for a couple of really great graphic novels from that last few years.

Huck Book 1: All-American

HuckMark Millar, a Marvel Comics veteran, has since said that his inspiration when writing Huck was the film Man of Steel, which he felt portrayed a very depressing, serious version of the superhero-archetype. The eponymous character of Huck is his response; a simple small-town handyman with Superman-esque powers, an optimistic attitude, and a desire to help people. The result is a heartwarming adventure drawn by Eisner-nominated artist Rafael Albuquerque that is most certainly one of my absolute favorites of the last few years.

Paper Girls 1

Paper Girls 1For those of you who don’t know, the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, or “the Eisners”, are awards given every year for achievements in comic books. The 2016 Eisner for “Best New Series” went to Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan (also the writer ofSaga, another great series.) and it doesn’t take an expert to see why. Paper Girls is a fast-paced adventure story with the backdrop of ‘80s suburbia, and a plot filled with elements of science-fiction, mystery, and nostalgia that pairs well with the art of co-creator Cliff Chiang. The story calls to mind movies and TV like E.T. or the recent Stranger Things, but there’s a slight twist in there that gives the story a bit of depth and relevance to today. I highly recommend picking up Paper Girls 1 and giving it a read, it’s a lot of fun.

Sex Criminals Volume One: One Weird Trick

Sex CriminalsOkay, so this one is certainly a GRAPHIC novel; it is most definitely not for the modest reader, but if you can put aside your shame, you can enjoy what is one of the most inventive and clever stories I have ever seen in this form. Despite the negative fuss it caused in its original release (getting itself temporarily banned from Apple platforms, for one), this series also received high acclaim, winning itself an Eisner in 2014, with some lauding it as a work of comedic genius. I am one of those people. The premise of Sex Criminals is simple: two individuals discover that they have the ability to stop time, but they can only do so when they…become intimate…with themselves or each other. Hilarity ensues (sorry for the cliché, but it really does) when they decide to use these powers in a big way. The best comedy here isn’t the physical, but the subtle everyday things that writer Matt Fraction has his characters (drawn by the unflinching artistic hand of Chip Zdarsky) say and do on top of his absurd premise. It is gross, funny, brilliant, and I think that its first volume is worth reading.

Good Girl, Plummie!

Okay. If you like illustrations and you like dogs….man, oh man, have I got a book for you!

As some of you may know, before I started working at Lemuria I was an adoption coordinator for a humane society. With that being said, I’m pretty into animals. Cats, dogs, rabbits, ferrets, whatever…I like them all.

JacketWhile I was working at the humane society, I was around about 150 animals every day. I currently have one dog, two cats, and one foster dog. So, right now I’m only around four a day. When I’m with my dog or cats, I’ll find myself wondering what they’re thinking about or trying to tell me (if that sounds weird….oh, well). BUT, don’t you fret; with Clark’s new book, Plumdog, I have the best look into a dog’s mind I could ever ask for.

Emma Chichester Clark is an illustrator and author located in London, England and has written and illustrated several children’s books. Clark has also created a blog (which has now been published in book form) that is all about her dog, Plum, who is a Whoosell (whippet, Jack Russell and poodle). Clark writes about Plum’s daily doings and illustrates them with her beautiful paintings. Basically, it is the most adorable, funny, and sweetest dog diary I’ve ever seen (or maybe even ever heard of).

Emma and Plum

Emma and Plum

If you’re wondering why your dog is rolling around in fox poop, Plum lets you know that it’s probably because it’s the best smelling perfume out there. Maybe you’re trying to figure out why your dog doesn’t give you back the ball you just threw for them. Again, Plum lets you know that once the ball is hers, it’s hers….no matter how 7744ecdc-6ab3-486a-85d4-75d04a7a5d11nicely you may ask for it back. That’s just how it is. Also, Plum would like for any and every dog owner to quit blaming their dogs for any rude noise or smell that occurs. It’s just simply not the dog….most of the time.

This book is perfectly illustrated and I laughed so many times while reading it. If you’re a lover of a good looking book and dogs, this book belongs to you. Come find me in Lemuria and we’ll just sneek into a nook in the store, sit on the floor and flip through this little gem.

Speaking of dogs, this is my foster pup “Audrey”. She is available for adoption with Jackson Friends of the Animal Shelter. She is spayed, up to date on shots, crate trained, and good with other dogs and cats.  Please let me know if you are interested in adopting!

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Gene Luen Yang Named the National Ambassador for Children’s Literature

Original to TwentybyJenny.com. By Clara Martin.

Gene Luen YangEarlier this week, Gene Luen Yang was appointed the National Ambassador for Children’s Literature. Having heard Yang speak at the Children’s Book Festival in Hattiesburg in April of 2015, this news comes as a delight. His presentation was engaging, made everyone laugh, and I’ve never seen so many librarians queue up to buy a graphic novel. They were sold out minutes after his speech. With his friendly demeanor and an innate ability to teach, whether it is about the history of superheroes in comics—Superman was also an alien immigrant—or teaching history (the Boxer Rebellion) or coding, Yang’s range and appeal is wide and varied. There is one constant, though. Gene uses illustrations, comic-strips, in fact, to tell his stories.

He is the first graphic novelist to be chosen for the position of National Ambassador (which has been around since 2008), and it is perfect timing. The graphic novel is having a moment. Raina Telgemeier’s ever popular SmileSisters, and Drama books are always in high demand. My only regret with Victoria Jamieson’s Rollergirl is that I didn’t get to read it when I was eleven. The list goes on and on.

For those of you who don’t know what a graphic novel is, it is a term for a novel told through comic-strip drawings. Reading Without Walls, a platform Yang developed with his publisher that he will promote as the new National Ambassador, is about “being open to new kinds of stories.”

JacketAmerican Born Chinese (First Second, 2006) was the first graphic novel to both win the Michael L. Printz Award for young adult literature and the first graphic novel to be a finalist for the National Book Award. Yang drew on his own experience of being a first-generation Chinese boy growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. A coding teacher for 17 years, Yang only stopped when the demands of traveling to promote his books, but even though he’s not in the classroom, he continues to teach computer programming in his new book, Secret Coders. In just reading the first installment in this series, I now know the basics of coding, and this book will be an awesome introduction to computer programming for kids.

A graphic novel is a complex story, often more so because of its format. Children are innately open to new kinds of stories. In reading graphic novels, they make connections to their own lives, and they are constantly processing context clues both in the text and drawings.

As children’s literature continues to evolve, it is exciting that Gene Luen Yang will be leading the way for the next two years.

Congratulations, Gene!

2015, I’d like to kiss you on the mouth.

dbdb37f2-a00d-4114-b5d6-1e42a0bc65cfThis year was a doozy. I consumed everything from nonfiction about animal consciousness to the modern classic Fates and Furies by Lemuria’s new best friend, Lauren Groff. I can’t even get into the second paragraph without telling you that The Godfather was hands down my favorite read of the year. You can read my blog about it here. I had the chance to sit down and talk to Garth Risk Hallberg about his meteoric rise in the literary world. Jon Meacham made me cry.

I personally made the move from the hub that is Lemuria’s front desk to the quieter fiction room, where I now am elbows deep in the mechanics of our First Editions Club; and am coincidentally even more in love with fiction than I was before. My TBR pile has skyrocketed from about 10 books to roughly 30 on my bedside table. It’s getting out of control and I love it.

[Sidebar: This year, I fell even more in love with graphic novelsNimona surprised us all by making one of the short-lists for the National Book Award, and we were so pleased to see it get the recognition that it deserves. Go Noelle Stevenson! You rule!]

As a bookstore, we were able to be on the forefront of some of the most influential books of 2015 (see: Between the World and Me– when we passed that advance reader copy around, the rumblings were already beginning). Literary giants Salman Rushdie, John Irving, and Harper Lee put out new/very, very old works to (mostly) thunderous applause, and debut novelists absolutely stunned and shook up the book world. (My Sunshine Away, anyone? I have never seen the entire staff band behind a book like that before. We were/are obsessed.) Kent Haruf’s last book was published; it was perfect, and our hearts ache in his absence.

We marched through another Christmas, wrapping and reading and recommending and eating enough cookies to make us sick. We hired fresh new faces, we said goodbye to old friends, we cleaned up scraggly, hairy sections of the store and made them shiny and new. We had the privilege of having a hand in Mississippi’s first ever book festival. We heaved in the GIANT new Annie Leibovitz book, and spent a few days putting off work so that we could all flip through it. In short, this year has been anything but uneventful; it’s been an adventure. So here’s to 2016 absolutely knocking 2015 out of the park.

Read on, guys.

 

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Alex + Ada = ?

alex-and-ada-image-comics-2013

If you’ve missed it, comic books have grown up over the last decade. It’s no longer the world of caped crusaders and villains with daddy issues. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good arch nemesis like the next guy, but more and more I find myself turning to comic books for the same thing I find in a novel. But with pictures.

Alex+Ada_1_1-525x364The landscape of Alex + Ada is a familiar trope. It’s the future and artificial intelligence has been achieved but with disastrous results. The robots rebelled (eg iRobot, Bladerunner, Battlestar Galactica etc.) and are now, for safety’s sake, reduced to the I.Q.s of a fancy toaster.

Alex, a single man in his late-twenties/early thirties faces everything we all do when single at that age–nervous family members. In order to assuage his loneliness, Alex’s grandmother buys him a companion-bot for his birthday–a woman with Prime Intelligence who can keep him company. Ada is a few crayons short of a box; she looks human enough, but is unable to make any original decisions.

But Prime Intelligence robots can be jailbroken.

Alex+Ada_1_3-525x335The story jack-knifes into a world of hackers and government officials. Of unlikely romance. Of insatiable sci-fi drama. What at first seems to be a predictable story is anything but.

Alex + Ada is a wonderful romp into a not-too-distant future that is uncannily familiar and questions what makes us human.

 

[Vol. 2 is now a available!] 

 

 

 

In Defense of Graphic Novels

First, read this article.

Now, read this.

To most of us, college is a time to broaden horizons, mentally stretch, and to find out where to draw our lines. For Tara Shultz, the line was immovable from the beginning with no hope of being re-drawn. The problem of her protest is twofold: trying to force the books out of curriculum for all students instead of personally removing herself from the class is ultimately a selfish and bullying tactic; and by claiming that she was “expecting batman and robin, not pornography” is patronizing and belittles an entire genre of literature (and its authors) that can have the emotional depth and breadth of the written novel.
Jacket (1)We at Lemuria have been striving to carve room in the store to build up our stock of graphic novels that we believe are fulfilling, fun, and thought-provoking. We encourage all of our readers, young and old, to explore this medium of literature and remain open-minded as they read. Ultimately, a graphic novel on any subject can be challenging because instead of being the commander of your imagination and creating your own version of the world being described to you, an illustrator takes that power away from the reader. It can be hard to un-clench our fists and relinquish that control. However, handing over the power of imagination to the artist does not make this mode of literature any less powerful or interactive. I believe that reading a graphic novel is in no way a passive act like watching television, but that it works different muscles in your brain, much like switching from jogging to swimming; both are cardio, both are effective exercises, but you can get sore in different places.

JacketOn several occasions when reading a graphic novel that was particularly weighty in its subject matter, having the wheel of imagination taken out of my hands was a relief. I can’t speak for all readers, but being able to take my mind off of the architecture of the world in the story and focus my attention on the characters themselves- it was transformative. So many brilliant artists use the illustrations in a graphic novel like a highlighter, underlining important ideas or phrases. In David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp, as the protagonist ages and changes, so does the style of art on the pages; and, peeling back even more layers of the title character, the style evolves even more as his opinions of the people around him change. It’s like looking through a pair of binoculars into a microscope; ultimately tricky and hard to wrap your mind around at times, but as the images come sharply into focus, the headache goes away and the wonder begins.
Jacket (2)In a turn of events that would probably surprise one miss Tara Schultz, the first time I experienced the moment when the rug of low expectations was pulled from beneath me was- you guessed it- when I picked up Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. Poetic justice is a glittering and sharp sword. Miller weaves a story of regret and a scabby old identity crisis instead of simple vigilante justice and a good old fashioned political spanking for the corrupt. The Bruce Wayne of Miller’s Gotham City is older, tireder, and angrier than we are used to, and his self-conscious antics are equally compelling and embarrassing to see. The feeling of intense, growling reality that came from watching a man transform in such raw and painful way was shocking. I went in expecting witty one-liners and came out at the end shocked and emotional; feeling as if I had had a cold bucket of water sloshed over my head.

Jacket (3)This new age of literature isn’t so new- Miller’s Dark Knight was released in 1986- but it feels as if it’s just had a fresh bath. More literary readers are turning to the medium for consumption, and authors are skillfully doing away with the “Batman and Robin” stereotype that people like Tara Shultz are trying to paste over the whole genre. Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home waltzed into the spotlight when it was rewritten for the stage and recently won a Tony for Best Musical. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (one of the books that Shultz is protesting) became so widely known and influential that it has become required reading for many high school social studies classes. We are lucky enough to be living in a time where art, literature, and music are being appreciated and consumed in ways we never could have foreseen, but that won’t stop naysayers from trying to do away with anything they deem inappropriate or different. Educate yourselves. Read new things, stretch those unused muscles, and help us to encourage the growth of a generation of forward-thinking, open minded individuals.

I’m not a kid. I’m a shark!

So, I wandered into our graphic novels section (again). Guess what I found. Go on, guess. That’s right I found…nimonabanner

A quirky little comic book about a shape shifter, a knight, and a villain; Nimona is a really sweet and funny read. From bank robbing to little hijinks, this book provides it all. (I mean, who doesn’t love it when someone turns into a shark out of nowhere?)Nimona-Shark

Certainly not I. Ballister Blackheart is clearly one lucky villain to have Nimona for a sidekick, even if she causes more trouble than she helps. Together, they could destroy the world and the Institution that rules them all. Not that they do, I’m just saying they could despite any minor setbacks they may face.scieeeeence

Because they’ve got science AND magic on their side; who would dare try to take them on? (You know, other than the corrupt Institution and its leading knight, Goldenloin…)


I’d really recommend taking a look at this book. It’s simple and sweet, with just enough suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat. Who doesn’t need that in their life, especially now, right after finals? Even if you’re out of college, this makes for a great summer read. It’s quick and fun, trust me, you won’t regret it.

(Side note: our three main characters in a nutshell, ladies and gentlemen.)ypgb9g1

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