• Amphigorey • Approximate Continuum Comics • The Best American
Comics, 2010 • The Eternal Smile • Isadora Duncan
A Graphic Biography • The Night Bookmobile • How I Made It to Eighteen A Mostly True Story • Radioactive Marie and Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout
Comics? Graphic novels? What’s the difference?
Wikipedia, the online collaborative encyclopedia, defines comic as a hybrid communication medium that most often has a verbal side tightly tied to a visual side in order to convey a narrative. While some comics are picture only, many seek to use the synergy of the visual/verbal to create a unique storytelling approach.
Wikipedia describes a graphic novel as a narrative work in which the story is conveyed to the reader using sequential art in either an experimental design or in a traditional comics format. The term is used to cover non-fiction works, thematically linked short stories, as well as fictional stories. Graphic novels are typically bound in longer and more durable formats than familiar comic magazines.
The definitions may be clear as mud but whatever you call them graphic novels are a burgeoning creative media and worth exploration.
Check your neighborhood public library for the latest and greatest, or look for a title from this week’s Book Buzz list, a sampler of new comics and graphic novels at Lihu‘e Library.
By Edward Gorey
The title of this deliciously creepy collection of Gorey’s work stems from the word amphigory, meaning a nonsense verse or composition. As always, Gorey’s painstakingly cross-hatched pen and ink drawings are perfectly suited to his oddball verse and prose. The first in the book of 15, “The Unstrung Harp,” describes the writing process of novelist Mr. Clavius Frederick Earbrass: “He must be mad to go on enduring the unexquisite agony of writing when it all turns out drivel.” In “The Listing Attic,” you’ll find a set of quirky limericks. Many of Gorey’s tales involve untimely deaths and dreadful mishaps, but much like tragic Irish ballads with their perky rhythms and melodies, they come off as strangely lighthearted. Also look for Amphigorey Too and Amphigorey Again.
Approximate Continuum Comics
By Lewis Trondheim
Originally published as a series of six American-style comic books in 1993 and 1996, this autobiographical graphic novel is the author’s chronicle of two pivotal years stepping from struggling independent cartoonist to worldwide comics star, from recent bachelor to paterfamilias and from beleaguered Parisian to contented country dweller.
The Best American
Edited by Neil Gaiman
“The power of comics,” says Gaiman, “is that it is a democracy, the most level of playing fields. You just need something to draw with, something to draw on and anything to draw about.” The anthology of excerpts or entirety of graphic stories published in North America in the previous year is culled from a large selection of submissions. Also look for the comprehensive oversize volume The Comics: The Complete Collection edited by Brian Walker, a history of cartoonists and an anthology of the comic characters from American newspapers organized by decade.
The Eternal Smile
By Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim
YA Fiction Yang
Yang, author of American Born Chinese and Kim, author of Same Difference and Other Stories join forces to produce a wonderful cast of characters in three very different stories that pit fantasy against reality. The stories look at dreams and the unexpected places they lead us.
A Graphic Biography
By Sabrina Jones
YA 792.8028 Duncan Jo
Myth and controversy still swirl around the dramatic figure of Duncan, the pioneering modern dancer who emerged from provincial America to captivate the cultural capitals of Europe, reinvent dance as a fine art and leave a trail of scandal in her wake. This hand-drawn biography captures Duncan’s story in an artistic style as passionate as the subject. For another graphic biography try Thoreau at Walden by John Porcellino.
The Night Bookmobile
By Audrey Niffenegger
Adult Fiction Niffenegger
A haunting graphic short story by the bestselling novelist, The Night Bookmobile is an elegiac and heartbreaking love letter to the things we have read and the readers that we are. It says that what we read makes us who we are.
How I Made It to Eighteen A Mostly True Story
By Tracy White
YA Fiction White
This funny, moving, and honest autobiographical story about depression and a mental breakdown is transformed as a graphic novel into a book full of wit, courage and grace. For another teen tale try Refresh Refresh by Percy Benjamin, the story of three sons of Marine Reservists who have shipped off to fight in the Iraq war. As the boys struggle to take on new responsibilities at home and endlessly refresh their email to hear that their dads are still alive, they create a backyard boxing ring and fight each other to make themselves stronger, make themselves men and to make their absent fathers proud.
Radioactive Marie and Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout
By Lauren Redniss
Sabotage. Temptation. Duels. Mystery. Revelation. All these in radioactive colors. This wholly original book about passion and discovery is both a history book and a work of art. Like the scientists it illustrates, the author is full of imaginative genius.
• Carolyn Larson, head librarian at Lihu‘e Public Library, brings you the buzz on new, popular and good books available at your neighborhood library. Book annotations are culled from online publishers’ descriptions and published reviews.