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Graphic Novelty²

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May 2018

The Secret Loves of Geek Girls

I put this book on hold at work thinking it was a collection of fictional stories in graphic novel format. What I got was an interesting mix of mini memoirs, both written and in comic format, written and illustrated by many different female creators. I was surprised, but didn’t enjoy it any less 😉

The central theme of the stories is love, which is interpreted many different ways. The majority of the stories, of course, deal with romantic love. From dating mishaps to long-distance relationships to exploring sexuality, it’s all covered here. The love of friends, comics, nerd culture, video games, and fictional characters are all covered here as well, though of course the most impactful are those that deal with real relationships. That the creators are all sharing their own experiences makes it all the more emotional and resonating.

The format varies from story to story. Some are all written word. Some are strictly comics. Still more are a mix of both: written word with one or two illustrations or a few short comic panels that emphasize a point. No two stories are alike, because no creator worked on more than one story.

As ever with anthologies, there are some great stories and some not-so-great stories. I personally found more on the “great” end of the spectrum. There were a couple I finished by skimming and only one or two I skipped entirely after the first few paragraphs. Hope Nicholson, the editor, did a very good job of making sure the quality of the content was top-notch! A few that stood out to me especially were:

  • “Minas Tirith” by Marguerite Bennett
  • “Waxing Moon” by Meags Fizgerald
  • “Yes, No, Maybe” by Meagan Kearney
  • “How Fanfic from an American Girl Captured an English Boy” by Megan Lavey-Heaton
  • “Love in the time of Ethernet: Geeks & LDR” by Natalie Zina Walschots

The love of fandom and for significant people in the authors’ lives permeates all, along with self-love and acceptance. These girls are geeks and proud of it! The confidence and vulnerability in all these memoirs are at once inspiring, comforting, and heart-warming. Some of the stories have a little more mature content, but not enough to where I wouldn’t give it to an older middle-schooler. If you’ve got any younger geek girls in your life who need a confidence boost, hand them this. It’ll be just what the doctor ordered.

– Kathleen

Nicholson, Hope (editor). The Secret Loves of Geek Girls. 2016.

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Superman: Grounded (Vol. 1)

Superman can fly through space. He can move planets. He can do incredible feats. He’s a symbol of hope to many, but… how much saving people does Superman actually do? Humbled after the events of the 100 Minute War, Superman comes back to Earth – literally. He sets off walking across the United States, helping out when needed with normal things. Fixing cars. Organizing storerooms in small-town diners. People don’t understand. They think he’s crazy – the League especially. But Superman knows that even though he can do incredible things, the most incredible thing he can do of all is just to lend a helping hand when it’s needed.

This one was a suggestion from Walt over at comicreviewsbywalt on the last Superman comic I read, and boy am I glad I read it. I was laughing on one page, then ugly crying on the next. This one sure gave my heartstrings a workout. This one is another one you might need a hot drink handy for 😉 Seeing Superman, freakin’ Superman, walking across the U.S. just to help out ordinary people – well, it’s humbling and inspiring. Of course, there are a few action scenes to break up the otherwise leisurely pace. The art is good, but it’s the writing and solid characterization that keeps you going.

– Kathleen

Straczynski, J. Michael, Eddy Barrows, and G. Willow Wilson. Superman: Grounded (Vol. 1). 2011.

Satania

Macabre. Unsettling. Gruesome.
I loved it.

My introduction when I reviewed Beautiful Darkness, also by Vehlmann and Kerascoët, had the above words and they prove true in this unique graphic novel too. At first glance, the story line seems to be simply a dark fairy tale- yet, it goes deeper than that.

The story begins with a cave exploration gone wrong. Spelunker Christopher has gone missing, and experienced guide and priest Father Monsore can not find him. Another recovery team sets out to find him that include’s Christopher’s younger sister Charlotte. Monsure tries to save this group too when poor planning on smug team leader Lavergne’s part traps them in the cave and a spring flood pushes them deeper into the caverns.

Once the six characters are established, we find out the real reason for Christopher’s exploration- he was writing a book to prove the existence of Hell by using Darwin’s theory of evolution. Lavergne, a believer of Christopher’s theories, expounds further by explaining that perhaps Neanderthals moved into the cave’s depths and evolved to combat the heat, over thousands of years, to resemble demons of folklore.

Soon time begins to bend, and hallucinations occur for some of the team, so it’s hard to know if what they are experiencing or seeing is true. Some of the team disappear or go crazy and only three remain- Father Monsore, Charlotte and Lavergne. The three find some clues that Christopher might still be alive and they push deeper finding grotesque creatures and other-worldly landscapes. They encounter some demon looking beasts, and one seems to take a liking to Charlotte. I will not spoil the end of what happens to everyone in the land of Satania, but the last few pages were perfectly disturbing.

The illustrations are lush and detailed with special attention to the subterranean landscapes.  The world created is strange and lovely, with vivid coloring to help bring each part of Satania to life.  The art is credited to Kerascoët, which is actually a pseudonym for the husband and wife team of Marie Pommepuy and Sébastien Cosset. These two have also worked with the writer Hubert to create the book Beauty, that Kathleen reviewed. While their illustrations may seem suited for children’s tales, read further in and you will see why all their books are only meant for mature audiences.

If you like your fairy tales dark, pick up this book and the others by Kerascoët, to experience thought provoking, haunting and allegorical tales.

-Nancy

Vehlmann, Fabien & Kerascoët. Satania. 2017.

Secret Life of a Book Blogger Tag

Recently I ran across this tag on the site Book Bastion and I thought it looked worthwhile. Bentley credits it to The Bibliophile Girl UK because that’s the blog he found it on, but as he says “it looks like its origins are lost to the ether.” So prepare to learn some deets about one half of the dynamic blogging duo of Graphic Novelty²!

Me & my hubby hiking at Starved Rock last month
How Long Have You Been a Blogger?

Kathleen and I have been blogging since January of 2016. We met in a graduate class at Dominican University, partnered up for a project in which we created a fake blog, and afterwards we decided to go live with it.

At What Point Do You Think You’ll Stop?

I love to blog! Kathleen and I are a good team so I hope to keep on keeping on.

What is the best part?

My IRL friends don’t read even a fraction of what I do, much less want to talk about the nerdy things I like. Although our blog is almost exclusively about graphic novels and geek life, if you follow me on Goodreads you’ll see I read many genres.  Now I can share my book musings and geek thoughts without shame!

What is the worst part?

Finding the time! I’m a married mom of three and a teen librarian, so my book blogging cuts into my precious little free time.

How long does it take you to find/create photos to use?

Depends- longer than I’d like since I overthink it.

Who’s your book crush?

That’s a tough one- I’m married and don’t develop crushes on book characters because I already have a real life prince ♥

What’s your favorite book, who is your favorite author?

Can’t pick just one!

Graphic Novels: Wendy & Richard Pini (ElfQuest), Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodríguez (Locke & Key) and Tim Seely & Mike Norton (Revival)

Fiction: Rainbow Rowell, Richard Peck, Silas House, Sheila Kay Adams, Kent Haruf & John Sandford

Non-Fiction: Dale Maharidge & Michael Williamson

The Revival series holds a special place in my heart since I was drawn in as a cameo character in the last issue. Yes, that’s really me!
Which author would you love to have on your blog?

Rainbow Rowell because we are secret soul sisters.

How long does it take you to prepare a post?

If it’s really short an hour- but some longer ones require several hours (usually not done all at once).

How do you feel about the book blog community/culture?

I love it! I’ve found genuine friends here and haven’t gotten mixed up in any drama.

Image result for pop art drama
State your opinion, but don’t get caught up in “gatekeepers” in certain fandoms.
What do you think one should do to have a successful blog?

Wish I knew! Seriously though- just be authentic, post as consistently as you can and engage with other bloggers in the comments section! If someone sends you a comment, reply! If they took time to comment, then I want to give them the courtesy of a reply. Friendships can develop through those comments, and that can lead to guest posting on other blogs, which is another way to grow followers.

So there you have it-  my secret life as a book blogger!

-Nancy

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