Webcomics – From screen to page

Long ago and far away, I was unaware of the rise of the webcomic. That was until, a coworker (two, actually) began sending me links to blogs and Tumblrs they thought might fit my odd reading preference. And boy, did they create a monster!

For the uninitiated, a webcomic is exactly what you think it is – a comic on the web. Some are ongoing, newspaper-like strips, others tell a story that may or may not have a ending, some are even interactive! What is great about webcomics is that by their online nature, they are not limited to the printed page, nor must they conform to traditional storytelling standards.

Some webcomics, having been successful online, have published their webcomics as books. Some, like Noelle Stevenson’s “Nimona” or Kate Beaton’s “Hark! A Vagrant!” were picked up by major publishers. Others are printed using funds raised from Kickstarter, like “Derelict” by Ben Fleuter or “Ava’s Demon” by Michelle Czajkowski. Either way, it’s a fantastic trend and exposes webcomics to an even larger audience.

Here are some of my favorite web-to-print collections:

aumokd6pfdtuhq4dvfax_0Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – Set in a futuristic medieval world, Nimona, a young and impulsive shape-shifter joins up (well, forces her way in) with the supervillian Lord Ballister Blackheart. Blackheart, who was once a knight and lost his arm in a joust with Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, the kingdom’s champion. As Nimona and Blackheart pit themselves against the Director of the evil Institution, it becomes clear that no one and nothing is at it seems, especially Nimona.

You can check out the full comic from DPL (which I highly recommend) and see Stevenson’s other work on her blog and Tumblr. It’s especially worth it for the occasional non-canon “Nimona” mini stories she draws, and her obsession with “Hulkeye.”

 

 

Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks –  Canadian cartoonist Hicks’ “The shgcoverAdventures of Superhero Girl” follows our young superhero as she leaps tall buildings and clashes with the ninjas that seem to infest her otherwise boring city. She also faces the very ordinary challenges of being young and broke, social awkwardness and unfortunate cape-shrinkage.  The blending of superhero and the mundane creates a very funny and relatable story, winning Hicks an Eisner Award for Best Publication for Kids. You can check out the print book from DPL here, or read the whole comic online here (in black and white). Hicks creates several other webcomics, which you can check out on her blog here and on her Tumblr.

 

51tccYo6VVL__SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Hark! A Vagrant! by Kate Beaton – History nerds unite! Hark! A Vagrant is a collection of strips previously published on Beaton’s website, plus author commentary and a handful of previously unseen strips. Mixing both the historical and the contemporary, Beaton’s deceptively simple illustrations cast an erudite and witty eye on history, literature and pop culture. I will admit to needing to look up more than a few of the historical characters and events that appear in this collection ( especially those that had to do with Canadian history), but one needn’t be a history expert to enjoy the sheer silliness of the characters’ expressions and one-liners. Beaton also lampoons Nancy Drew, Aquaman, 1980s business women and her younger self, to name a few more modern targets, and the collection includes some singularly hilarious non sequitur strips to boot.

Beaton as two new collections coming out soon, “Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection” and “The Princess and the Pony.” Check out her website here, and her Tumblr, too.

Here are some more webcomics  that I enjoy, some in print and some only online:

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosch – Brosch has a deceptively simple illustration style and a talent for hilarious story telling. Her stories are taken, more or less, from real life and some, especially those about her Simple Dog, will give you stomach cramps from laughter. Brosh has also illustrated her own battle with depression with her signature style. Very much worth reading.

Ava’s Demon by Michelle Czajkowski – A young girl is possessed by a vengeful demon. To free herself, Ava must make a pact with her demon and carry out her plan for revenge and restoration. The art is absolutely stunning, especially when displayed digitally.

Derelict by Ben Fleuter – In a far future, the Earth is flooded and overcome with an alien fog which hides the “Miasmic Races.” Scavenger Dang Thu Mai is simply trying to get by, but her past, and the Miasma, continue to haunt her.

Apothecia by Taz Muir and Shelby Cragg – Eleven-year-old Jessie finds something horrific in the woods. What she does next will change her, and the world.

Red’s Planet by Eddie Pittman – From the animator of “Phineas and Ferb,” the comic begins with ten-year-old “Red” (because she has red hair, you see) as she runs away from yet another foster family. This time, though, it isn’t the police so find her, but aliens! Abducted and taken across the galaxy, she soon finds herself stranded with other abductees – a veritable menageries of strange (and grumpy) aliens.

One Way by Christopher Baldwin – What if the crew of a starship was, instead of being like “Star Trek,” a little bit more like “The Real World”? Sent on a first contact mission from which there may not be a return trip, Captain Francisco tries to keep his crew from killing one another (when you book a one-way trip, you don’t waste your A-team on it). The comic is mostly an on-going gag, but you can’t help but like this crew of total jerks.

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

Accidental TouristIf you’re waiting for the new Anne Tyler, A Spool of Blue Thread, why not dip into the Tyler archive? Old friends like the charmingly odd Leary family are the center of The Accidental Tourist.

Macon, the travel writer who hates to leave home, moves in with his siblings when he breaks his leg. Macon, along with Rose, Charles and Porter resume their comfortable routines, including a card game so intricate only the three brothers and sister can master it.

Written in 1985, the absence of cell phones and answering machines allow Macon to leave his marital home and go off the grid. The Learys often ignore the ringing landline, so those looking for Macon are forced to show up at the door.

Air travel prior to 9/11 is also charmingly free of TSA regulations. Macon writes a series of books for the business traveler, and the chief goal is to replicate one’s home environment. His desire for order and quiet set him up for a collision with Muriel, who is a dog trainer, among other things.  She’s Macon’s equal in eccentricity – but on the other end of the spectrum. She’s outgoing and confessional, with considerably fewer boundaries than the Learys.

Though the tone is sometimes comic, there’s an undertone of sadness and complexity. In the recent past, Macon’s son was killed in a shoot-out at a fast food restaurant. Muriel has had to struggle all her adult life to patch together a life for herself and her young son.

Tyler’s gift is to create fascinating characters and then let them bounce off each other in unpredictable ways.

Breaking News: Library Collections Threatened by Insect Invasion

A newly discovered insect genus, liber vermis, is threatening library collections across the globe. This pest, which comes in various shapes and sizes, voraciously consumes books in large quantities, devastating carefully managed collections within a matter of days. Difficult to identify and nearly impossible to stop once it has begun attacking, the library world has been forced to take drastic action, beginning immediately.

Interim Library Director Amy Groskopf assures the public that Davenport Library will not give up without a fight. “Libraries have long been the repository of human thought. The potential loss could change the course of history. We must remain calm and united”.

Sadly, liber vermis has been detected near the Davenport Public Library and we are asking you, our loyal patrons, for your support during this difficult and potentially catastrophic crisis. Everyone will now be required to walk through a bleach spray bath (fairly low health risk) before entering the library. All patrons will be required to wear a face mask and disposable gloves (available for a small fee at the Customer Service desk)

Books and magazines can no longer leave the facility. Glass viewing boxes have been installed at all three Davenport libraries; the 12 most popular titles (as determined by our librarians) will be shown each month, with the pages turned once every hour. There will be no “turn backs” for slow readers or missed pages – you will need to wait for the next time the book is shown.

If you think that ebooks will save you, think again. Although it is still not clear exactly how the liber vermis destroys books, scientists believe they attack the actual word, not the material of the book. In fact, ebook words are far more vulnerable, and one infected book can wipe out an entire ebook collection within minutes!

The best way for you to fight this invasion is to memorize your favorite books. Then you can read and review them in the privacy of your own head as frequently as you wish, safe from invading liber vermis. Good luck.

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APRIL FOOL! Haha! There is no such insect called liber vermis (very badly translated Latin for book worm!) and, at least at this writing, there is no need for bleach baths or disposable gloves. Also, you are still free to touch and choose any book you would like to take home (provided you have a valid library card of course!).

This fake story was beginning to sound a little bit of a cross between George Orwell’s 1984 and Jasper Ford’s Thursday Next series wasn’t it?! It does help make you appreciate the great freedom we enjoy, to read what we want, when we want and to maintain free thought. That’s what libraries have always done best – open doors for everyone, no matter your education, interests or beliefs, there is a place for you at the library (again, so long as you are polite to all and bring back your library books!)

Happy April Fool’s Day!

I Could Pee on This

i could pee on thisI have a dilemma. I think cats are adorable, but I’m allergic, so I can never own one. I get my cat fix by visiting my friends who own cats, where I’m forced to admire them from afar and not get too close. Let me tell you something that I’ve noticed: cats are WEIRD. Don’t get me wrong, I admit cats are significantly smarter than my dogs, but I can never be 100% sure what exactly is going on in any cat’s head.

Enter in I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats. This book has become my go-to manual for figuring out what that tabby cat is thinking as it stares me down from the corner of the room. Ever wondered how they feel about catnip, laser pointers, traveling, or even that new fuzzy kitten you brought home? Let the cats tell you all about it. The next time you decide to try to sleep in, are wondering what happened to your curtains or couch, or are even curious about why your cat seems to change his mind so quickly, turn to this book to gain a humorous understanding of why cats behave the way they do(and then maybe swing by the pet store on your way home and pick up some catnip and a brand new toy – they’re not opposed to bribery).

Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures

Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures is a book put together by Amber Dusick. The idea for this book came about when she was looking for a way to vent about her frustrations and joys of being a parent. As a result, her blog, Illustrated with Crappy Pictures, was born and morphed to include anything and everything that she needed to vent about in her life, not just parenting. It became so popular that she decided to turn her blog posts into a book. She just came out with one about marriage as well. Go Amber!

Dusick describes her family throughout her book as Crappy Baby, Crappy Boy, and Crappy Husband, though she stresses multiple times that none of them are in fact crappy, JUST her drawings! Since she wanted to tell people about the things that happened in her day-to-day life, she figured drawing crappy pictures, the only kind that she can draw, to go along with her stories would help illustrate her frustration.

Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures is broken up into ten different chapters, each detailing one major part of parenting that Dusick and other parents can completely relate to, from the difference in your life before and after kids, how to deal with sickness in your house, remembering the good stuff about being a parent, and also what she calls the “50 Crappy Laws of Parenting”.

Follow Dusick as she regales you with stories about how you just can’t get your kids to BE QUIET while on a road trip especially on a plane, how family dinner time is never actually family dinner since that would require everyone to sit at the table at the same time, and just how much you should treasure sleep because babies, for some reason, do not sleep at all!

The Bro Code

bro codeAre you a fan of the hit CBS show, How I Met Your Mother, which ended last March? If so, you might be familiar with The Bro Code that Barney Stinson lives by. The Bro Code has a deep and righteous place of holiness within Barney’s life. Some people live by a code of morals, some by a guardian angel, some by religion or the Constitution, but Barney instead runs his life by a code of awesome.

Lucky for fans of the show, Barney Stinson and Matt Kuhn came out with a book version of The Bro Code. Barney is very clear, both on the television show and in the introduction to this book, that these are “rules for social decorum” that determine how bros should live their lives. For those confused about the show, who Barney is, and what exactly is a bro, Barney has you covered. He breaks down all the necessary details in the introduction, the origin story of the bro code, his section on just what is “the bro” and the subsequent glossary in the back of the book. The articles of the bro code range from the simple (Article 1: Bros before hos) to the complex (how to pick a good wingman and how to maneuver the Hot/Crazy scale).

People looking for a good laugh and fans of the show will enjoy this book.

This is My FAVORITE Book

I Remember NothingA key to good readers advisory is to be able to remember titles and authors.  One of my favorite audiobooks is I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron. The problem is that I can never remember this title. Not only do I keep checking it out, thinking I haven’t listened to it before,  I also fail to remember the title when I’m telling staff and patrons what a great Book-on-CD it is.

And it really is. Ephron read the book herself and she has a marvelous voice and impeccable timing.  Particularly interesting, I thought, were the stories about her early career in newspaper and magazine journalism. She isn’t shy about dishing about the legendary writers and publishers she worked with, whose names I can’t recall (except for Katie and Phil Graham of the Washington Post).

She also has some handy tricks for social situations in which names (or whether you, in fact, really know a person) escape you.

Recommendation:  check the box marked “Reading History” in your library account, and you’ll always have a record of what you’ve checked out.

 

You Don’t Sweat Much for a Fat Girl: Observations on Life from the Shallow End of the Pool

you don't sweat muchYou Don’t Sweat Much for a Fat Girl: Observations on Life from the Shallow End of the Pool is a collection of essays by author Celia Rivenbark in which she talks about everyday situations that she either finds charming or have succeeded in getting her all riled up.

Rivenbark has written books previous to this one, all applying her signature Southern style and wit. Read along as she writes witty, humorous, and sometimes sarcastic essays talking about how she read a study that people with twiggy legs are at twice the risk for heart disease compared to *normal* women(she swears it’s true, people!), how yoga is supposedly good for you(beware the farting..), and that she never really understands why and how people get so excited for elementary school science fairs(it shouldn’t be called a FAIR since there aren’t any RIDES). Heavily employing satire, Rivenbark discusses Snuggies, how she’s not opposed to TSA profiling at airports, the explosion of social media, her dreaded friend: Menopause, and many other relatable topics.

Enjoyed this book? The library owns other titles by Rivenbark: We’re Just Like You, Only Prettier, Stop Dressing Your Six-Year Old Like a Skank, Rude Bitches Make Me Tired, Belle Weather, Bless Your Heart, Tramp, and You Can’t Drink All Day if You Don’t Start in the Morning (which is only available in an audiobook).

Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

food a love storyI, for one, love to eat and my friends know it. Our discussions usually go: “What are you eating?” “Where did you get that? I want one…” “You went WHERE to eat without me?!” The typical food-fest. Imagine my joy when I stumbled upon Food: A Love Story by comedian Jim Gaffigan. I had listened to Gaffigan’s standup before and discovered that he LOVES to eat, comes from a very large family, and was raised in the Midwest. I knew I must read it and was not disappointed.

In this book, Gaffigan draws upon his family history, his deep love of ALMOST anything food, and how sometimes you just have to hide your food from others to completely enjoy it and that there is nothing wrong with doing so. Pictures of Gaffigan, his family, and HIS food break up discussions about vegetarians, how he mistakenly overanalyzed and did not realize the worthiness of steak growing up, “adult” junk food, how he decided to eat healthy, and his description of the perceived differences between hot dogs and sausages(and how you must know the correct way to order them in different cities). Make sure to have food nearby as you devour this book and discover the importance difference between many cheeses and it’s okay not to like seafood or fruit.

If you are looking for more Gaffigan, you’re in luck! Food: A Love Story is a follow-up to Gaffigan’s other book, Dad is Fat, which is also available through the Davenport Public Library.

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

rosie effectDon Tillman and Rosie Jarman are back. The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge because – surprise! – Rosie is pregnant. Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie. As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia to reconcile, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business, and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him the most.

Graeme Simsion first introduced these unforgettable characters in The Rosie Project , which NPR called “sparkling entertainment along the lines of Where’d You Go Bernadette and When Harry Met Sally .” The San Francisco Chronicle said, “sometimes you just need a smart love story that will make anyone, man or woman, laugh out loud.” If you were swept away by the book that’s captivated a million readers worldwide, you will love The Rosie Effect . (description from publisher)