Category Archives: Graphic Novel

Blankets by Craig Thompson

blankets$29.95, 592 pages, Non-Fiction Graphic Novel/ Biographies & Memoirs

The story of two brothers growing up in a conservative home discovering life and love.

Author’s Blog

Reviews:

Grovel Graphic Novel Blog

NY Times

This book is an autobiographical story from author Craig Thompson.  Growing up in rural and snowy Wisconsin, Craig and his brother Phil are raised with in a Christian home.  When Craig meets Raina at a church camp, they develop a relationship and begin to question their beliefs and a future life together.  Eventually, Craig begins to question his Christian beliefs and challenges many of the truths he was taught growing up.  This graphic novel ultimately serves as a means for Craig to express to his family his truth beliefs and choices.

This graphic novel was well illustrated and rather enjoyable.  Somewhat overwhelmed by its size and length, I was skeptical when I first began reading it.  I thought the story and characters were very well developed.  I would be curious to learn about Craig’s relationship with his parents today…after he made his choices and turned away from the faith in which he was raised.

Appeal Factors: Character-Driven, Spiritual, Homespun

According to Novelist, read-alikes for this book include:  Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, I Never Liked You by Chester Brown and Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man by John Porcellino (accessed May 4, 2013).

Awards: Named #1 on Time Magazine’s 2003 Best Comics List and #8 to list of Best Comics of the Decade list and Three
Harvey Awards for Best Artist, Best Graphic Album of Original Work, and Best Cartoonist; and Two Eisner Awards for Best Graphic Album and Best Writer/Artist

Discussion Questions

After visiting several of the graphic novel websites recommended through readers’ advisory websites, I saw this book featured multiple times.

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My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

images$17.95, 224 pages, Non-Fiction Graphic Novel

Jeffrey Dahmer’s high school classmate recalls shared experiences with the infamous serial killer.

Author’s Website

Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews

The Comic Journal Review

Do you ever wonder about someone’s everyday life before they decide to commit unthinkable murders?  Derf Backderf was a high-school classmate of Jeffrey Dahmer and created a graphic novel depicting their life during high school.  From classes shared to car rides given and a few odd exchanges, the story reveals glimpses into what may have contributed to Dahmer’s choices.

This graphic novel turned out to be quite a fascinating read.  While I will never understand the motives behind Dahmer’s gruesome actions, the book did shed some light on his family situation and the role of his parents played (or more aptly, did not play) in his rearing.

Appeal Factors: Fast-Paced, Gruesome, Thought-Provoking

Read-alikes for this book include:  Black Hole by Charles Burns and Green River Killer: A True Detective Story by Jeff Jensen

Selected as a 2013 Alex Award winner by American Library Association

School Library Journal Blog

I saw this book featured on the 2013 Alex Award Winners list and was interested.  When Dr. Bodart mentioned she was reading it during one of our online class sessions, I decided to read it, as well.

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The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

jacket $19.99, 240 pages, Graphic Novel

Author’s Website

Reviews:

Grovel

Book Drum

The goal of this graphic novel involves the attempt of a wizard to capture Death.  And yet, in the process, it is actually Dream (or Morpheus), who is captured.  Dream is the younger brother of Death.  The graphic novel is divided into a series of shorter chapters and stories in which characters often represent much more.  Morpheus travels throughout the graphic novel in an attempt to retrieve the items lost to him while he was away for some 70 years.  Multiple characters are introduced which will eventually create the need for additional volumes of the Sandman series.  Gaiman’s writing introduces elements of life and death, mythology and Biblical references, as well.

This graphic novel was very dark and disturbing to me.  I found the vignettes or short stories hard to follow and often filled with multiple meanings.  When not struggling with the text, I often turned to the visuals for guidance.  Perhaps if I read more of the volumes of the Sandman series, I would understand the storylines a bit more.

Appeal Factors: Character-driven, Gruesome, Moody

According to Novelist, read-alikes for this book include:  Y, the Last Man by Brian Vaughan, Black Hole by Charles Burns and Finder by Carla Speed McNeil (accessed May 4, 2013).

Sandman Series Summary

I read this book after it was selected as required reading and discussion for our Readers’ Advisory class.

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Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

jacket $14.95, 232 pages, Graphic Novel-Autobiography-Nonfiction

A nonfiction graphic novel in the form of a memoir in which the author recounts her childhood and the role of her father throughout.

Alison Bechdel’s website

Reviews:
The Simon

Powell’s

NY Times

Bechdel’s memoir of growing up is unique in its graphic novel format.  Her family runs a funeral home,  father struggles with his sexuality and she begins to question her feelings and role through it all.  When Bechdel’s father faces criminal charges stemming from his encounters with young men, the tone changes considerably.  While Bechdel attempts to maintain a relationship with her father through a love for prose, his suicide alters everything.  Bechdel explores her sexuality while away at college and eventually comes out when bringing her partner home to meet the family.

This graphic novel is quite unique.  Overall, I enjoyed the memoir portion and appreciated Bechdel’s observations and commentary.  I loved the glimpses of shared experiences through reading that smattered the book.  I did discover that for me personally, some images are best left to the written word.

Novelist recommends the following as read-alikes in the nonfiction graphic novel genre: Blankets: An Illustrated Novel by Craig Thompson, Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi and Little Things: a Memoir in Slices by Jeffrey Brown. (accessed March 5, 2013)

Some of the Awards for Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic from Bechdel’s website, www.dykestowatchoutfor.com:

Fun Home won the 2006 Publishing Triangle’s Judy Grahn Nonfiction Award, a Lambda Book Award, an Eisner award, and the Stonewall Book Award-Israel Fishman Nonfiction Award from the American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table. It was also nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award.

Time, 12/25/06, #1 Best Book of the Year New York Times, 12/3/06, 100 Notable Books of 2006 Entertainment Weekly, 12/22/06, Best Books of the Year, #1 Nonfiction People, 12/25/06, Top 10 Books of the Year USA Today, 12/21/06, Best Graphic Title of 2006 Los Angeles Times, 12/10/06, Favorite Books of 2006, Fiction and Poetry San Francisco Chronicle, 12/17/06, The Year’s Best Books New York Magazine, 12/18/06, Best Books of the Year, #7 Time Out New York, 12/06, Favorite Books of the Year Minneapolis Star Tribune, 11/24/06, Best Books of 2006 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 12/3/06, Best Books of 2006 The Plain Dealer, 12/10/06, Outstanding Books of 2006 Salon, 12/12/06, Best Debuts of 2006, Nonfiction The Capital Times, 12/12/06, 2006 Favorites Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12/15/06, Best of Year Out, 12/2006, 100 Most Intriguing People of 2006 Amazon.com, Editor’s Choice, Top 50 Books of 2006, Top 10 Memoirs of 2006 Oregonian, 12/31/06, Best Books of 2006, #2 The Advocate, 1/07, Best Book of the Year The Guardian (UK), 11/26/06, Pick of 2006 New York Blade, 12/29/06, Literary Stand Outs of 2006 PW Comics Week, Critic’s Poll, Best Comic Book of 2006 Publishers Weekly, Best Books of the Year 2006 Times (UK), 12/16/06, Best Books of 2006, #10 Newsday, 1/2/07, Favorite Books of 2006 The Village Voice, 25 Favorite Books of 2006

Appeal Factors: Bittersweet, Fast-Paced, Nostalgic, Somber

Discussion Questions were developed for this book: Study Guide Questions

I chose this book as my first foray into the graphic novel genre.  I thought that by choosing a nonfiction selection, it might help me associate the visual images with the storyline.

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Troublemaker Book 1 by Janet Evanovich & Alex Evanovich

jacket $17.99, 112 pages, Graphic Novel

Evanovich’s first foray into graphic novels brings Barney and Sam into a mystery involving voodoo!

Author’s Website

Reviews:

Barnes and Noble Customer Reviews

Mysterious Reviews

Take a voodoo doll that resembles a friend and later discover that same friend missing, you have a mystery!  Barnaby and Sam race to determine the origin of the voodoo doll in an attempt to locate their friend.  Clues appear and a confrontation occurs.  While happy to find their friend alive, the story is to be continued…

A very quick read, this first graphic novel by Evanovich and her daughter is most enjoyable.  While I was familiar with her main characters, Barnaby and Sam, the mystery was new and exciting.

Appeal factors: Fast-paced, Suspenseful, Witty

Read-alikes: Troublemaker 2: a Barnaby and Hooker Graphic Novel by Janet and Alex Evanovich, Motor Mouth by Janet Evanovich

I chose this graphic novel because I was familiar with Evanovich’s novels and enjoyed the humor and mystery combination.  I wondered how that would translate into a graphic novel and decided to sample this first by Evanovich and her daughter, Alex.

It is not necessary for a reader of the graphic novels to be familiar with Evanovich’s earlier works.  The graphic novels are stand-alone and present a unique mystery, all their own.

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