Graphic Novelty²


April 2016

Karoshi-Con 2016 (aka My Journey to Geekdom)


The clues were all there when I was younger: my love of the ElfQuest comics, reading The Magic of Xanth fantasy book series, idolizing Luke Skywalker and my not so secret obsession with Star Trek TNG. But I wasn’t a geek, was I? I was in a sorority for God’s sake!

But the lovely part of getting older is becoming more comfortable with yourself. Why hide my passions? I had worked in Youth Services at my library for a few years when I was approached to take over the teen department. I had already started a teen volunteer program that was  successful and I was the staff member that the teens spoke to when they came into the library. So I got to combine my love of crafts, reading, Star Wars & Star Trek into an awesome new job!

All of this led me into attending my first anime-con at NIU. The ironic thing is that I attended NIU, but as this is the sixth year having Karoshi-Con, it was not around when I was a student. To be truthful, had it been running when I was a student there, I would not have gone. But now I’m enlightened! A local friend, who is a kindred soul to me (WB!), suggested we go together with our kids.

I was impressed with the dedication of the students running this small convention. It had free admission, but hosted several panels including one led by a well regarded voice actor, Lucas Schuneman, who works in the anime and comics business. There were game rooms for board and card game enthusiasts, and a video game room with tournaments for Tekken 5, Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Brothers. Popular anime series were showing in the viewing room, and there was a Cosplay contest. Speaking of Cosplay, some of the costumes were fantastic! I was pleasantly surprised to see no overlap of costumes. Everyone’s outfits were unique, and there are so many characters out there in the anime world to choose from, enabling variety.

The Vendor Hall had a good selection of booths to stop at. Many artists were there selling wares that revolved around the anime world from paintings,  plush toys, to costume accessories. My two favorite booths were The Gaming Goat from DeKalb and Comic Wreck. I stopped to chat with TGG’s owner Philip Henrikson, and when it came up in conversation that I was a Teen Librarian he generously donated the game Codenames to my library to be used at our Teen Lounge or our new monthly Role Playing game event. His store hosts tournament nights regularly and is a popular location for gamers in this area. Building community is important, and he just scored a dedicated customer for my future gaming purchases! I also enjoyed the booth Comic Wreck that was selling posters of popular comics, movies and TV series (hello, Star Trek!) in addition to selling many Manga series.

When I enthusiastically told my library director about attending, she said the library could pay my admission for a future Comic-Con (I’m much more into comics than anime) like C2E2, I actually squealed aloud. My path to Geekdom lies ahead, but…I must admit, there are limits. You will never see me in a costume (unless Wil Wheaton asks me personally to do so)!



Prince of Persia

Mechner, Jordan, A.B. Sina, LeUyen Pham, and Alex Puvilland. Prince of Persia. 2010.

I’m a fan of the Prince of Persia game series (I love all things ancient Middle-Eastern and Byzantine thanks to my childhood obsession with Aladdin), so I was excited for this graphic. There are many different incarnations of the Prince, and this graphic is no different. It’s the story of two different Princes in different points in time and how their stories relate.

That’s pretty much all I can tell you. Other than that, I was sooo confused. It of course doesn’t resolve itself until the very end but I felt after finishing I had to go back and start over again to get everything straight. I didn’t, ‘cuz I was so frustrated with it. Who has time for that anyway?

The art is kind of cool, it’s really angular and there are lots of supernatural elements in it. There is no distinction between past and present, fantasy and reality, which kind of keeps you on your toes but that was probably why I was so freaking confused reading it. There are some bits that are shown in a more stylized manner, with pretty borders around the panels like the borders of Persian rugs. That was really the only part I liked.

There’s an afterward by Jordan Mechner, the author of the novel and the guy who wrote the original Prince of Persia computer game. He talks about how the Prince isn’t really a character, per say, but an idea. That’s why all the ports of the original game all looked different, and why there is such an overabundance of ambiguity in this graphic novel. I like ambiguity. I like things that make me think. But this one makes you work way too hard. Skip this graphic in favor of the games. Trust me. The games, challenging as they are, won’t give you nearly as big a headache.

– Kathleen

Alex + Ada: Volumes 2 & 3

Alex + Ada 2
Luna, Jonathan & Sarah Luna. Alex + Ada. 2015.

I tire of books going on endlessly, for I enjoy the series and anticipate the next volume, but then I eventually reach a point of lessening interest.  But  how can I stop when I’ve invested so much time in the series?! Here’s looking at you, TWD! This three volume series is a welcome change.

Volume 2: Definitely the bridge book of the series, it picks up where we left off in Volume 1– Ada is now sentient. So, what does it mean to be “human”? Ada experiments with her senses, tasting food and touching different textures to find out what she truly likes. Alex enjoys seeing how Ada experiences what he takes for granted. Alex courts her as he would a regular girlfriend, and later with Ada’s full consent, she participates in a full on sensory experience with him. Yeah, you know what I’m saying!  Unfortunately, all of this needs to remain hidden as turning androids into sentient beings is against the law. Alex and Ada try to hide Ada’s new intelligence from outsiders, but that turns out to be harder than expected. People’s scared, judgmental or deviant stereotypes of androids start to take their toll on them. Together in isolation they are happy, but that won’t work long term.

Volume 3: Living in seclusion is untenable, and Alex and Ada must go out in public more often. This leads to complications, as family and friends start to clue in about Ada’s abilities. Not only is their situation risky, there is growing danger in the larger world, as society struggles with what to do about sentient rights. Someone close to Alex betrays him and the FBI wants to make Alex an example to the community. Alex and Ada make a run for it, hoping to find sanctuary elsewhere. As not to spoil the ending, all I can say is- OMG the FEELS at the end!

The artwork is simple and clean, leaving the story to take center stage. As stated above, I was glad for the shortened arc and definite ending of the series, but the story could have been fleshed out a bit more. Maybe one more volume??  This thought provoking series made it onto my must buy list for the library!


Alex + Ada 3

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