790 – Week 14 – The Eltingville Club

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For my last blog post I decided to focus on a comic collection I picked up at NYCC 2017.

The Eltingville Club is a series of comics created by Evan Dorkin that follows four teenage boys (Bill, Josh, Pete, and Jerry) from Eltingville, Staten Island who are fans of various elements of Geek culture from comic books to role playing. What makes these boys so interesting is that they are deplorable human beings who represent the problems that fandom often creates. Dorkin’s artwork perfectly portrays how ugly they can be through their insane Twilight Zone Marathon, the ridiculous trivia match over an action figure, and their over the top insults to one another and other people. The Eltingville Club is both a love letter and warning about fandom that hits the nail on the head whether you’re a fan or professional.

a/b) What happened to me as I read and which features of this book caused my responses?

As I read this comic I couldn’t help but feel familiar with the characters and plots of the stories. I have frequented many comic book shops and have been apart of some geeky clubs back in the day and I can tell you that I have met the Eltingville club. Some were rude, others socially-inept, and many were arrogant who would argue with others they felt weren’t a true fan just like the characters in the comic. Admittedly at my worst moments I have been the Eltingville club too but my actions were never at the level of Bill or Josh (for example I never tore open over 40 loafs of bread to obtain a single Batman trading card). What really affected me was how Dorkin portrayed the lifestyle of the club. Whenever they did something awful Dorkin never glorified it nor did he excuse it, he just shows what an ugly mess it truly is.

g) Are there any other media that might complement or expand the reading experience?

What I find complements this comic pretty well is the animated television pilot based on the first two Eltingville stories. It premiered on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim in the early 2000s but was not picked up for a full series. Compared to the comic the pilot is a little lighter with its offensive language, violence, and sexual references. If you are a fan of the comic and want to see what could have been then I highly suggest you give this a watch.

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790 – Week 13 – Drama

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This post follows no pre-set review format.

Following up on her award-winning graphic novel Smile is Raina Telgemeier with her latest graphic novel, Drama. Callie is a seventh grade girl who loves the theater but rather than try out for a part in the middle school production of Moon Over Mississippi, she would rather work for the stage crew instead. Her excitement and determination over set design is only matched by the problems of the production process from getting the prop cannon to work to the tension between the stage crew and actors. Adding to the mix is Callie’s love life which only leads to trouble and surprises whether it is Craig, the handsome jock, or twins Justin and Jessie, where one happens to be gay and the other is not so sure. There is much drama to be had both on and off-stage making for an entertaining and engaging look at the confusing world of middle school.

f + g) What do I know of the background of this book that might interest the reader and stimulate their desire to read? Are there other books by the same author which relate to this one?

Although Drama is a work of fiction, Raina Telgemeier drew from personal experiences to create the story. As she stated in the author’s note, “Callie’s experiences are different from my own, but many of the characters and events in this story are inspired by things I was apart of.” I feel that the characters, emotions, and situations in this story are very relatable for any person whether they are a young reader in middle school or an older reader looking back on nostalgia. The same reasoning can be applied to Telgemeier’s other works that are listed below which I highly recommend.

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Smile is a semi-autobiographical graphic novel that tells the story of Raina Telgemeier’s history of tooth trauma. In sixth grade Telgemeier trips while running resulting in her losing her two front teeth and any chance of having a normal school life. As the years pass Telgemeier has to deal with the struggles of dental care and the confusing world of adolescence.

Sisters is another semi-autobiographical graphic novel that tells the story of Raina Telgemeier’s relationship with her sister Amara. All Raina ever wanted was to have a little sister but from the moment Amara is brought home she begins to regret her wish. Over the years the two girls never seem to be on the same page until a cross-country road trip to a family reunion changes their perspective.


References

Telgemeier, R. (2012). Drama. S.l.: Scholastic.

Telgemeier, R. (2014). Sisters. S.l.: Scholastic.

Telgemeier, R. (2010). Smile. S.l.: Scholastic.

790 – Week 13 – Analysis of a Comic Page

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The comic page I chose to analyze is a double page spread from X-Men: Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont and John Byrne.

Construction of the Page: This double page spread appears at the beginning of Uncanny X-Men #137. The very top of the page includes the title of the issue with the bottom left corner containing the writer and artist credits. The foreground consists of the main cast of characters, the X-Men, while the mid ground consists of the secondary characters in the story, Lilandra and the Imperial Guard. The background consists of the inside of Lilandra’s spaceship and the remaining unnamed characters filling up the empty space. Compared to the other pages in the comic this is the first and only instance of a double page spread.

Style and Esthetics: The use of color in this double page spread leaves much to be desired. This is due to the limited color palette of the CMYK coloring system used in comic book production in the early 80s. The color combinations used in the costumes of the X-Men which normally helps them stand out doesn’t work quite as well on this page. I feel that is impart due to the greenish-yellow background they are standing against which doesn’t help them pop out too much. The other reason is how certain characters are grouped together on the page. It doesn’t help that Cyclop’s blue suit, Jean’s light blue coat, Beast, and Nightcrawler are all in close proximity to one another. The uniform nature of the coloring makes the image itself look flat particularly because of the lack of shadows. None are present below the characters which is needed to give depth to the image and establish a light source. On the other hand shading is used spectacularly well on the clothes and muscles of the characters helping to define their physique. Personally I feel the black and white version of this page looks more appealing than the colorized version. John Byrne was the penciler for this comic and he was responsible for the realistic drawings and backgrounds. His art style was influenced by artists like Jack Kirby and Neal Adams which can be seen clearly here and in his run on the Fantastic Four. This realistic style was seen prominently during this era in Marvel Comics with titles like Iron Man and The Punisher.

Theme: The double page spread is used to convey the feeling of the “out of the frying pan and into the fire” idiom. Throughout the story the X-Men are constantly in a difficult situation and when it looks like they are finally safe they are placed into a more difficult one. In the case of this image, the X-Men are reacting to an unfamiliar place filled with alien warriors after managing to save Jean from the Dark Phoenix powers.

Affect: As a reader, what I found most interesting about this page was how the dialogue flowed from one side of the page to the other. The X-Men are unaware of their surroundings so seeing how each character slowly piece together what is going on from Cyclops knowing the least to Professor Xavier knowing the most was pretty cool. As a librarian, I would use this page to promote the work by printing out a poster size copy and placing it near the graphic novel collection. Seeing the assortment of X-Men characters would hopefully attract enough attention for a potential reader to pick up a copy of this comic or any other comic in the collection.

Personal Reflection: I choose this double page spread because of how effective it is on two different levels. When reading the individual issue this page comes from it helps establish the characters and the setting as well as draw the reader’s attention. When reading it in a collection it employs a dramatic climax to the story because it is the only instance of a double spread in the comic making it mean something to the reader.


References

Claremont, C., & Byrne, J. (2012). The uncanny X-Men: The Dark Phoenix saga. New York: Marvel.

790 – Week 12 – Graphic Novels and Academic Libraries

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As patrons we take for granted how easy it is to locate certain material in public and school libraries. Graphic novels are a perfect example because they normally are all placed in the same area either being shelved alphabetically by the author or by the title of the series. As simple as this may be the same cannot be said for how they are shelved in academic libraries. ‘Whaddaya Got?’ Finding Graphic Novels in an Academic Library by Karen Green illustrates how difficult this is because of the system used by the Library of Congress to classify materials.

Traditionally when classifying literature under this system it is based on the discipline, sub-disciplines, and subjects within that sub-discipline. I don’t have much experience with cataloging but I do have a basic enough understanding to know where material would be shelved based on the classification outline. Shelving them under general literature makes the most sense but I see no reason why they are also shelved under fine arts. Unless the books are about how to draw graphic novels there really is no reason for them to be classified like this. What I find most baffling is the approach to classify them based on subject which may separate volumes in the stacks if lets say the third volume is completely different from the previous one. Without any consistency to these classifications browsing the collection online and in the stacks becomes another challenge.

I understand why the Library of Congress approaches graphic novels the way that they do because back when the classification system was formed there was no need to include this kind of material into their collection. In this day and age graphic novels are becoming more accepted as a valuable teaching and research tool finding a space within more and more libraries. I feel as though a new system should be implemented to better accommodate graphic novels because the old system isn’t doing them any justice.


References

Green, K. (2010, November 09). ‘Whaddaya Got?’ Finding Graphic Novels in an Academic Library. Retrieved April 25, 2018, from https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/comics/article/45109-whaddaya-got-finding-graphic-novels-in-an-academic-library.html

790 – Week 11 – The Hero, Book One

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This post follows no pre-set review format.

The tale of Heracles, better known to the west as Hercules, has been interpreted in many forms over the years and now this time it is David Rubin’s turn. The first volume of this graphic novel follows the story of Heracles, the bastard son of Zeus, who was born to be a great hero of ancient Greece. However fate had other things in store as Hera, Zeus’ wife, sought to get rid of Heracles for what her husband did. To enact her revenge she recruits Eursystheus, Heracles’ tyrannical older brother who is obsessed with power, to do the job for her. Forced to do whatever his brother says, Heracles embarks on incredible adventures using strength, charm, and willpower to overcome the Twelve Labors.

David Rubin’s unique retelling of Heracles’ Twelve Labors places the hero in a modern setting not seen in previous versions. While it does include popular technology like cellphones and references to popular superheroes like Superman and Wonder Woman, it doesn’t detract from the story. Rubin’s unique and clean art style brings life to the many creatures Heracles has to face thanks to his use of bold lines and solid colors. The first volume ends with Heracles only completing 8 labors leaving the reader with something to look forward to in the next one. The Hero, Book One is suitable for both teens and adults who want to enjoy a story of action and adventure with a character they are familiar with.

e) What would be the most appropriate way of introducing this book to the reader I have in mind?

The way I would introduce this book to a potential reader is if they are interested in reading more about Greek mythology. All of the labors that Heracles is tasked to do in the graphic novel is based on the original story from slaying the Hydra to cleaning the stables in one day, all of which are drawn in exciting and creative ways. The reader would enjoy seeing this in action rather than reading about it with no pictures. Because the book uses modern references I feel that the reader would enjoy it because they are things that appeal to their generation. Given the graphic nature of the book I want to make sure that the reader is comfortable with some of the things they will have to see before I give them the book.

 

790 – Week 10 – Comic Book Publisher Profile

BOOM! Studios

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Home Page | Catalog

Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram |Tumblr

BOOM! Studios was founded in 2005 by Ross Richie and Andrew Cosby after failing as producers in Hollywood to develop comic book projects into movies. To ease their frustrations they founded BOOM! Studios with the focus of “creating world-class comic book and graphic novel storytelling for all audiences.” Starting with their first publication of Zombie Tales #1, Richie and Cosby created comics in the horror and sci-fi genres before eventually branching out to superheroes and established licenses. Four distinct imprints were developed to produce all of these titles which includes BOOM! Studios, BOOM! Box, KaBOOM!, and Archaia—BOOM!

In June of 2017 20th Century Fox bought a stake in Boom! Studios acquiring some ownership. When Disney bought out 20th Century Fox in Decemeber of the same year the stake moved into Disney’s ownership. It is rumored that a number of the comic series held by Boom Studios may make the jump to television.

A recognizable work out of their catalog is Lumberjanes by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooklyn A. Allen and Noelle Stevenson. The story centers around a group of five girls who spend the Summer at a camp where they encounter strange animals and other paranormal activity. In order to solve the mysteries surrounding the camp the girls have to rely on their friendship and individual skills. Reviews for the first volume can be found at Booklist and School Library Journal.

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A second recognizable work is their comic, Adventure Time, based on the popular cartoon network television show. The series follows Finn (the human) and Jake (the dog) in their adventures through the fantastical Land of Ooo. Along the way they encounter they encounter evil kings, sweet princesses, rock n’ roll vampires, and a large cast of even stranger characters. The series is popular for its off-the-wall humor and has charmed children and adults alike. Reviews for the first portion of the series can be found on School Library Journal and Multiversity Comics.

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790 – Week 10 – Bakuman

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Bakuman was a shonen manga published in Weekly Shonen Jump from 2008-2012 where it was written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata, the creators of Death Note. It is a slice-of-life series that follows the shonen style of hard work and determination to overcome the challenges the main characters face. However unlike other shonen manga that focuses on high paced action and fighting, Bakuman focuses on kids who have dreams of being manga artists. The first two volumes does an excellent job in establishing this premise through Mashiro and Takagi, the talented artist and the creative writer. The driving force of this series is the relationship between them, their love interests, and their endless struggle in the manga business. We get a small taste of this in the beginning as we learn more of Mashiro’s Uncle, a former manga artist who died doing what he loved. As the story continues to unfold we learn the ups and downs of what it means to create manga and following your dreams.

e) Why is this book worth my own and the reader’s attention?

For any artist and storyteller, Bakuman is a series that makes the manga making process appealing and engaging in an honest and realistic fashion. As an artist myself it certainly appealed to me when I first read it all the way back in high school and it still does today. For that matter I think readers who enjoy manga would be attracted to this kind of story. Not only does it include passing references to famous titles (like One Piece and Dragon Ball) but as the series goes on we are introduced to a great number of original manga that could honestly be made into a real life series.

f) What do I know of the background of this book that might interest the reader and stimulate their desire to read?

I remember reading an interview in Shonen Jump Alpha conducted with Tsugumi Ohba in 2012 where he talked about Bakuman which ended around that time. According to Ohba, the reason why he created the series was because he thought about how many people want to become manga creators and how he could create this story since he’s in the industry. I feel like readers who want to create their own manga would enjoy this series knowing that the author had their ambitions in mind.


References

Ōhba, T., & Obata, T. (August 2010). Bakuman (Vol. 1). San Francisco, CA: Viz Media.

Ōhba, T., & Obata, T. (November 2010). Bakuman (Vol. 2). San Francisco, CA: Viz Media.

VIZ Blog / INTERVIEW: Tsugumi Ohba. (n.d.). Retrieved April 05, 2018, from https://www.viz.com/blog/posts/interview-tsugumi-ohba-691