apocalyptigirlA theme that seems to be present in most of the materials I have been reading recently is the apocalypse and the end of the world. ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times is no exception. Aria is stuck alone on the planet at the end of the world with only a cat named Jelly Beans as her companion. She discovered tunnels under this overgrown city and has transformed them into her living chambers. Although Aria is by herself, she has a mission to complete and one important part of this is to find working parts to transform Gus, a giant robot machine, back into working order.

Aria’s main mission? To find an ancient relic with immeasurable power called the Grand Photon. This gift from above is perfect energy because of its ability and power to transform an entire planet into a veritable Garden of Eden. History says, though, that the inhabitants of this planet had used the Grand Photon for evil, harnessing its power and weaponizing it, which eventually led to the scorching of the planet and the killing of almost every living thing. Aria was sent to this planet for what she thought would be three months, armed with a tracking device on her arm, to find the Grand Photon. Those three months turned into six years.

Andrew MacLean has put together a beautifully illustrated story about a young woman’s struggle in an action-packed adventure comic about the extremes of humanity and how even in a world that has been completely ravaged by war, we still long for a place to call our home. The artwork is bright and reminiscent of manga with woodblock art and a very-detailed, almost old American comic feel to it. Through the first few pages, it definitely becomes apparent that this story takes place not in this time period, but the art has you wanting to pay close attention to the vividness of each color and the different story lines. This graphic novel is not overly filled with back story; MacLean chooses instead to give us glimpses of history through Aria’s streaming consciousness, in essence she is talking to herself and through this talking, readers are privy to a much-needed-to-know history. With no one to talk to on this planet, Aria would naturally keep a running commentary in her head and also with her cat, Jelly Beans. This graphic novel was both serious and humorous; two things that if done right, work perfectly together.

izombiebook2What would you do if you couldn’t remember who you are? If when you tried to remember your past experiences, you froze and realized you couldn’t remember anything? This problem happens to Gwen on a daily basis, but luckily she’s found a way to sort of fix this problem: she eats the brains of the recently deceased. Did I forget to mention Gwen is a zombie? She is…

In iZombie: Dead to the World, readers are introduced to the undead life of Gwen Dylan, a zombie who works as a gravedigger at an eco-friendly cemetery and who also lives in one of the vaults at said cemetery. Gwen keeps company with a were-terrier that she’s nicknamed Spot and a ghost best friend who has been dead since the 1960s. If her life sounds weird already, Gwen has to eat a human brain about once a month, so she doesn’t turn full zombie and also so she can keep her memories intact. Interesting little tidbit about that brain eating: Gwen is flooded by the dead person’s memories and thoughts right after she eats their brains and as a result, she feels the urge to help them fill their last requests: be it through finding their killer or delivering a message to their mourning families. Gwen has a lot on her plate, but she soon discovers that there are visitors to her town who are there to kill any paranormal creature who is existing when they should really be dead. Throw in Halloween, a full moon, a pack of blood-thirsty female vampires, and a mysterious mummy man who wants Gwen to join him in his killing of not-so-innocent people, and Gwen soon realizes her peaceful life is about to go crazy.

If this first volume sounds interesting to you, keep your eyes on our shelves for the release of the next three volumes. You can also check out the television show, iZombie, whose first season is available for check out at all three Davenport Public Library locations.

worrier's guide to lifeI love webcomics, but I have a horrid problem with keeping up with them on a daily basis. I’ll go a few weeks giving them all of my attention and then completely get distracted by something else. This binge-and-ignore pattern is on a self-repeating cycle, so when I realize that there is a print BOOK of a webcomic or a comic that I can only find online, I get really excited! I’ll actually be able to read all of it!

The Worrier’s Guide to Life is my latest online-comic-to-print discovery that can be found in the nonfiction 800s section. Gemma Correll, the author and illustrator, has a website that highlights her sketches, lets us see into her studio where she creates all of her magic drawings, and my favorite part: she even illustrated whole days of her life and posted them! (If you’re looking to stay up-to-date with Correll’s life and drawings, she’s moved almost exclusively to her Tumblr page where she posts things she finds funny and also where she will be doing events! Yay!)

The Worrier’s Guide to Life is a collection of illustrations that Correll has put together highlighting the daily struggles of any and every over-thinker. They’re all so relatable! If you’re on social media a lot, like I am, you may even notice that some of her illustrations have been posted all over Facebook and Tumblr. She covers anything and everything you could possibly over-think about: health, fashion, food, love, traveling, holidays, modern problems, and there’s even an extra special section for all those grown-up worries we find ourselves obsessing about. One of my favorite parts of this book is that Gemma creates lists of advice and information about life to help us all feel better by showing us that things could always be worse. Lists of “Reward Stickers for Grown-Ups”, some non-committal Valentine’s cards if you’re just not sure about the relationship that you are in, and a new list of what the different kind of flowers you could be receiving or giving really mean! Check out this book to laugh about all the crazy advice Gemma has gathered for you in one tiny package.

batgirlIn 2011, DC relaunched their comic lines as the “New 52” after the “Flashpoint incident” when the Flash went back in time to try to alter the events of the present. This changed the storylines of other DC characters, resulting in DC discontinuing some titles, starting new ones, starting the old series over at #1, but also keeping the continuity of some of the more popular series. All in all, DC debuted 52 new titles, hence the name: the “New 52”. (A lot of other things have changed with DC since the New 52 was released, but that’s for another day and another blog post..)

Batgirl was one of these reboots. Before the Flashpoint event, Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl, had been shot and paralyzed by the Joker as revenge against Batman. She goes on to be the Oracle, becoming the information access queen for the entire DC superhero community, and further joins forces with the Huntress and Dinah to become the Birds of Prey. The important thing to remember about pre-New 52 Batgirl is that she remains paralyzed.

In Batgirl: Volume 1: Batgirl of Burnside, Barbara is no longer paralyzed. She has moved to Burnside, considered the trendiest neighborhood in Gotham City, to go to college and work on the algorithm she designed after she was horribly injured. Right after she moves in, her friend Dinah, aka the Black Canary, comes and lives with her after a fire destroys all of her belongings, PLUS all of Barbara’s Batgirl gear. This gives Barbara the opportunity to reinvent her costume, but also forces her to get creative to find new weapons sources.

What really hooked me into this graphic novel is that the content and the art style are made to hook into a newer generation. Barbara lives in the hip neighborhood, is going to college, has friends that are working with new computer tech, and is able to attend a wide variety of new concerts and events. Barbara and her friends are all over social media and the majority of the characters in this book are either all in college or in that young up-start community. With hashtags galore and an imposter Batgirl popping up all over various social media platforms, Barbara is forced to “re-brand” the Batgirl image in order to prove that Batgirl is not a nuisance, while also struggling to figure out where the lines are between what she should do as a super hero and what she should let the police handle. Barbara clearly struggles with a lot of the issues that young adults face when they are going away to college and the fact that she is a superhero doesn’t detract from her problems, it instead adds a necessary level of perspective and understanding that people of all ages can benefit from.

the tightly tangled webIf I sounded impressed with my review of the first volume of Nathan Edmondson’s Black Widow a few weeks ago, then I can firmly tell you that his second volume, Black Widow: The Tightly Tangled Web intrigued me even more. This volume shows you that Black Widow is indeed a human capable of feelings. (If that statement made you roll your eyes, let me explain.) In the first volume, and really throughout any of the Avengers movies, the Black Widow, aka Natasha, is shown as a cold,  yet ruthless, killing machine, one who will do whatever it takes to complete her mission, an M.O. that makes perfect sense since she used to be a KGB assassin. Edmondson expands upon Natasha’s past in this second volume, allowing readers a glimpse behind the dark curtain that hides Natasha’s true self.

Black Widow: The Tightly Tangled Web tackles the bigger idea of superheroes as a whole. In both volumes, readers see Natasha as part of the Avengers and SHIELD, going on missions for them, but also going on side jobs in order to atone for her past life as a KGB assassin. Once the Black Widow is seemingly outed through media footage splashed all over the news, other superheroes, SHIELD operatives, and the regular public are forced to question the idea of superheroes operating outside the reach of the law.

Another ongoing thread in this second volume focuses on the people who come and go in Natasha’s life. In San Francisco, Natasha runs into her ex Matt Murdock, also known as Daredevil, while hunting for cyber terrorists. On what she thinks is a simple mission in Prague, Natasha finds herself face to face with the Winter Soldier, who unbeknownst to her is there to stop the train from being robbed. Later, she runs into the Punisher, aka Frank Castle, a former Marine turned vigilante, while searching for information about a deadly criminal network that seems to be running communications off of the boat she is searching.

Add in a run-in with Hawkeye and this second volume reads less like a stand-alone Black Widow volume and more like a combination superhero graphic novel, which I found to be equally disappointing and riveting. I did enjoy the interactions she had with each person because it added an extra layer of depth to Natasha as a human being and highlighted important aspects of her past and her personality that would have been missed if readers were only privy to the conversations between her and her attorney, Isaiah. (Isaiah seems to be her closest friend and confidante and the doozy of a mess that Natasha finds herself in in this second volume comes back to harm Isaiah.) I just wish this volume had been more of a focus on Black Widow, more of a true stand-alone comic. I personally can’t wait for Edmondson’s new issues of Black Widow because it sounds like they will show more about her background.

step aside popsStep Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection is Kate Beaton’s third published book of comics, but fourth overall. (Other ones by Beaton that the library owns are Hark! A Vagrant and The Princess and the Pony.) This new graphic novel is a collection of strips from her webcomic, Hark! A Vagrant. Webcomics are generally self-published online and are sometimes even published into books or as single strips in magazines or newspapers depending upon their popularity.

In Step Aside, Pops, Beaton takes a turn at digging into the lives of various literary, historical, and contemporary figures and characters. Think of this graphic novel as a collection of Beaton’s musings and ideas about different people throughout history. Her obvious love of all things literature, historical, and pop culture related flow through this graphic novel as she dissects the lives of Wonder Woman, what it was really like to be a peasant in a time of no medicine or deodorant, and how different famous Alexanders handled rough situations throughout time. Crack open this graphic novel and you’ll see how Beaton reimagines the lives of Achilles, the founding fathers when they find themselves in a shopping mall, and even how Cinderella would have played out if she had been a bodybuilder.

killjoysIn The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, Better Living Industries, a megacorporation with a ruthless and tyrannical leader, is working to take over more of the world and to cut off the freedoms and emotions of everyone living on the planet. This has been going on for years with revolutionaries and groups popping up every now and then trying to save what they can of the life they used to live and the people that they used to know. A group of four said revolutionaries became THE group of revolutionaries in this world with their likenesses splattered all over the news. Sadly over ten years ago, they were all killed while trying to save the life of a mysterious young girl that Better Living Industries, aka BLI, was trying to kill. This young girl becomes one of the main subject lines of The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Follow along as the Girl works to figure out why BLI tried to kill her, what BLI is doing to all the defunct robots around the world, how these rogue groups are surviving and getting their news, and how the system BLI has set up is really affecting the civilized people in the world and how BLI is able to control the world and its employees.

The writers, Gerard Way and Shaun Simon, along with artist Becky Cloonan, have crafted a very strange, mysterious, and science fiction heavy graphic novel that is rich in details and colors that pop into your subconscious as you follow along with the characters. This graphic novel does not have a traditional linear structure, in the sense that readers will have to pay attention to context and art clues to figure out the difference between the past and the present, but the ideas presented are so intriguing and seemingly plausible that the quick transitions between past and present and also between different characters’ storylines only serve to add to the complex and supremely creative nature of this graphic novel. I highly recommend reading through this graphic novel more than once.

girl in diorI love reading fiction that I can tell has roots in nonfiction. Girl in Dior, a graphic novel by Annie Goetzinger, falls into this category. Girl in Dior tells the fictionalized story of Clara Nohant, a fashion-journalist-turned-model who ends up working and forming a friendship with Christian Dior in the last ten years of his life. In this graphic novel, readers get to see the stunning colors and designs that went into forming the House of Dior, as well as the behind the scenes work that Dior, his seamstresses, and models did in order to launch his New Look in 1947. By presenting this as a graphic novel, Goetzinger is able to showcase the different types of collections Dior put together, as well as the historical changes in fashion that the world was going through as Dior prepared to rock the world with his New Look.

Goetzinger takes great care to include the likenesses and back stories of influential people that would have been in the fashion and movie industry around the time when Dior was designing. She also includes back matter in the book along the lines of chronological reference points, a list of Christian Dior’s 22 collections, what the author calls “Christian Dior’s entourage”, as well as definitions of the different careers you can have in the fashion world and the different types of fabrics and accessories that were used. Goetzinger also includes a bibliography of works. The additional material she provided enhanced the book for me, giving me something to turn to besides an outside source when I wasn’t sure of what a certain term meant. Flip to this book if you’re interested in learning more about the creation of the Dior house, if you’re curious about how Clara went from a fashion chronicler to a model, or if you’re looking to learn more about how Christian Dior was able to change the world of fashion in the short ten years that he ran the house of Dior.

rocket raccoonThe release of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie brought about a slam of new materials about the characters to libraries and bookstores everywhere. One Guardians rendition that the library just purchased is Rocket Raccoon: A Chasing Tale. In this graphic novel, writer and artist Skottie Young, along with the help of many other artists, have created the world of Rocket Raccoon, one of the stars of Guardians of the Galaxy, and his friend, Groot.

In A Chasing Tale, Rocket spends his time away from the other Guardians of the Galaxy by going on a series of extra money-making adventures. His time rescuing princesses and saving the world may come to a screeching halt though when he is arrested for committing multiple murders on planets all over the galaxy and is thrown into jail! Rocket does what any other upstanding superhero would do in a situation like this: turns to the nasty underbelly of criminals that he knows exist to buy their help in figuring out who is setting him up and how it’s possible that someone could be framing him when he is the ONLY existing one of his kind left! It’s a mystery! With multiple groups chasing after him and wanting him dead, Rocket and Groot have to take matters into their own hands(or maybe ummm… paws and branches…) to figure out who or what is behind this frame job, what Rocket possibly could have done to make them so angry, and most importantly, if there actually are other creatures like him from Halfworld left.

Young has crafted a graphic novel that dabbles in Star Lord and other Guardians of the Galaxy knowledge, but mostly draws upon the character of Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Don’t be worried that you will be overwhelmed or need to have background knowledge about Rocket Raccoon in order to understand this graphic novel. Some references to previous adventures happen, but most are quickly explained by subsequent dialogue. The colors are vivid, characters and their stories well-developed, and some side storylines are introduced to help liven the main story arc up and to also introduce a look into why some characters are behaving the way that they do. The second volume, Rocket Raccoon: Storytailer, was just released and is on my list of things to order, so check the catalog soon to check out this next volume of Rocket’s crazy adventures!

bomb2July 16, 2015 marks the 70th Anniversary of the Trinity Test. What’s the Trinity Test? This was the first successful test of the atom bomb at the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range in New Mexico. This site was flat and located relatively close to Los Alamos where the bombs were designed and produced. This section of land was given the code-name “Trinity” and thus July 16, 1945 was known as the Trinity Test. (Interesting fact: The Trinity Test Site is open twice a year for visitors, once in April and once in October. This is the article discussing this year’s visits. )

The Manhattan Project was a top-secret research and development project during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. President Roosevelt signed the order for the initial research committee in 1942 which eventually went through many iterations to become the core Manhattan Project group. Major General Leslie Groves was put in charge of the project from 1942 to 1946 and was the person who brought on Robert Oppenheimer, a physicist who was the director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the site that designed the actual bombs.

Secret facilities were popping up all over the country with the express purpose of manufacturing different parts of the bombs, for researching different aspects, and for trying out different methods. Everything was top-secret. Oppenheimer recruited the top scientists in their fields without being able to tell them what exactly they would be working on, except that it had a possibility of helping them end the war.

With so little information to go off of, many scientists packed up their families to move to Los Alamos, where they lived and worked in isolation, not even able to discuss their work within their own families. Everything was kept secret and compartmentalized.


This blog is just an introduction to the Trinity Test and the Manhattan Project. If the description above interested you, check out the resources below.

trinityTrinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm gives a detailed history, not just on the Manhattan Project and the Trinity Test, but the very beginning of atom research, in laboratories of nineteenth-century Europe all the way to the Trinity Test.

This graphic novel goes into incredible detail about all the people involved in the history of the atom and its discovery. While most histories of the atomic bomb tend to focus on and use more scientific terms, Fetter-Vorm is able to include pictures and drawings through the graphic novel format that allow for a better conceptual understanding of a nuclear reaction and how atoms split. Readers are transported into the labs and lives of Major General Leslie Groves, Enrico Fermi, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and the other brilliant scientists who brought to life atomic bombs and ushered in a new era of warfare.

After the successful test of the atomic bomb, Fetter-Vorm then goes on to illustrate the decisions behind the dropping of the bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. This graphic novel is an excellent depiction of what life was like for those directly and indirectly involved in the making of the first atomic bomb.


manhattan season1What initially reminded me of the Trinity Test’s anniversary was when I started watching season one of Manhattan. This television series follows the many scientists as they work to build the world’s first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico and the struggles that their families go through moving to the middle of nowhere, being cut off from everyone outside the community, and being kept in the dark about what their family members are doing.

This show really hooked me because in addition to all the science and descriptions of the different models they were building, it also deals with the bureaucracy of this governmental entity, how they have to finagle getting supplies since where they are is only a P.O. Box and not an actual address, and how secrets and gossip run rampant through the entire community, fueling the suspicions that multiple people are spies and that others are committing treason. Tensions run high, both between the individual families and the two different science camps, each competing against the other to have the first successful atomic bomb design and then test.

Check out this television show to gain a better understanding of the complex secrecy of the Manhattan Project and how the segmentation of their lives, in addition to bringing immense tension, in the end allowed work to secretly flourish and bring together an explosive ending.