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Cameron Stewart

Where We Live: A Benefit for the Survivors in Las Vegas

Where We Live is a riveting comics anthology to benefit survivors from the horrific shooting in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017, that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more.

As with any anthology, this collection will not suit everyone’s tastes and pair that with a graphic novel format, and there are some illustration styles that will not appeal to everyone. However, this anthology included some big names such as Brian Michael Bendis, Neil Gaiman, Kurt Busiek, Jeff Lemire, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Gail Simone, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Mike Mignola and they all brought their A-game.

My Favorites:

Whoa, You’re From Vegas? What’s That Like? by Warren Wucinich

This opening story was a great choice to kick off the anthology- for it showed that Las Vegas isn’t just a tourist mecca, it’s a vibrant city that people live in, hence the title of the book.

All The Possibilities of Paper by W. Haden Blackman & JH Williams III

A powerful essay is shown on a splash page that hits you in the gut, especially if you are a parent and worried about school shootings.

Everything After by Justin Jordan & Tom Fowler

A poignant look at how everyday workers in the city, in this case, a female bus driver, can get sucked into a tragedy.

A Simple Twist of Fate by Jeff Boison & Tyler Boss

An almost wordless story about how careless remarks can be regretted especially when tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Ghost by W. Haden Blackman & Richard Pace

Can one parent’s anguish be enough of a voice for change? What if it’s many?

Biography of a Bullet by Scott Bryan Wilson & Cliff Chiang

This two-page story hit home with the message of bullets having their target’s invisible names written on them. I was already affected by it when I saw the word DeKalb at the bottom- one of the many locations of a mass shooting- which is a nearby town and the location of Northern Illinois University, my alma mater, which was the site of a shooting in 2008.  I teared up at this story due to the personal connection.

The Watershed by Gary Spencer Millidge

A ghostly girl starts to speak to a movie hero about the danger of glamorizing guns and how the Second Amendment was written at a very different time and thus shouldn’t be compared to today.

The Deadliest Man by James Robinson, Dean Kotz & Stefano Gaudiano

Two men from different eras, 1781 and 2018, are both hunting in the woods with guns of their time when they inexplicitly meet with deadly results.

Daddy’s Little Girl by Erica Schultz & Liana Kangas

This sad story details how mental illness can tie into gun violence and the role that concerned family might need to take if they suspect the potential for escalating violence.

Stains by Cameron Stewart

A comics artist is shown drawing ultra-violent scenes that are read by many. In the end, his hands are not just stained with ink but blood.

Stopping Power by Alex Paknadel & Chris Wildgoose

When school violence has become a norm, a parent takes extreme precautions to safeguard their child.

Several stories recounted survivor’s stories which gave it added authenticity and weight. There were also many stories about gun control that offered different viewpoints. Many of the stories include statistics and share the many factors that play into gun violence in the US. Many of the comics were powerful and made me tear up, or even better, made me think about the issues beyond that page.

I have read several excellent graphic novel anthologies that benefit different causes- Love is Love to benefit the Orlando Pulse shooting survivors and Puerto Rico Strong to benefit the island after the devastating back to back hurricanes in 2017- but this one is the best. Its varied artists and authors came together to create a nuanced anthology about a tragedy that was entirely preventable if only there were tougher gun laws.  While this is a strong collection, I hope there is not a need to create this type of graphic novel again.

-Nancy

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Guest Post on 2018 YASF Tournament of Books

As the Teen Services Coordinator at my library, I attend a networking group with other librarians who work with teens in the Chicagoland suburb area. For several years the YASF (Young Adult Services Forum) group has had a yearly Tournament of Books for YA novels, and this is my third year participating.

This year I was assigned sci-fi novel Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson and graphic novel Motor Crush by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr. Which book do you think I pushed onto the next bracket? Click here and find out which one (you might be surprised!).

-Nancy

Motor Crush

I’m crushing on Motor Crush!

This new series comes from the talented team that did Batgirl of Burnside, for which Kathleen reviewed Volumes One and Two. I was assigned this graphic novel to read for the Tournament of Books that I participate in yearly with other teen librarians in my area, and I’m glad, as this action adventure/ sci-fi book wasn’t on my radar yet.

Domino Swift is a beautiful young woman who races motorcycles for a living as did her famous father years ago. In a world similar to ours, but set in the indeterminate future, the World Grand Prix dominates social media and the economy. Domino is one of the top racers on the circuit, but at night she participates secretly in bike races with gang members to illegally obtain a machine stimulant called Crush. There is an undercurrent of crime and addiction that run through the narrative, with an out of left field twist about Domino’s origins. Many unanswered questions start to build at the end, with story lines set up for future volumes.

An appealing romance is established between Domino and pink haired Lola, who is an ace mechanic. While currently not dating, the two are still connected and their relationship is accepted by everyone around them. That their relationship is natural and easy is a plus, it’s part of the narrative, no more or no less than any other characters. Kudos for the representation!

The art is top notch with bold anime-inspired illustrations in Babs Tarr’s distinctive style. The team give Domino and Lola a fresh look, and the panels and splash pages have some nice variety.

That the volume ends on an intriguing cliff hanger will bring me back for more!

-Nancy

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Flecther, Brenden, Cameron Stewart & Babs Tarr. Motor Crush. 2017.

Batgirl of Burnside, Vol. 2: Family Business

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Stewart, Cameron, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr. Batgirl, Vol 2: Family Business. 2016.

Since it was such a beautiful day yesterday, I decided to walk to the comic book store near me. I went in for ONE THING (Bombshells #4, which is on backorder and not being delivered for another 2 weeks) and ended up spending $35. Why do I do this.

But this is where most of my money went XD I was so excited! I didn’t even know it was out!!! I absolutely had to get it and I devoured it as soon as I got home.

While rescuing people from a real life, very deadly, video game, Batgirl uncovers a cult devoted to Hooq, the social media site she took down in the last volume. They are worshipping a vessel that, as it turns out, contains Livewire. As she goes in for the takedown, Batman shows up – or, at least, a giant robot that looks like Batman, and who wants to arrest Batgirl! She manages to get away, but how long can she evade him? Gladius’ gang are kidnapping diplomats, and someone is releasing tigers into Luke Fox’s (Lucius’ son) new company to kill the employees, and on top of it all, Barbara is the maid of honor in her best friend’s wedding! How can she possibly do it all?

A bunch of characters show up here, so be prepared to say hello to some of your favorites! This volume kind of deviates from Barbara’s college experience, so there isn’t as much of it here as there was in the last. There was a single issue in the middle that changed art styles three times, which was super annoying. But overall, it had the same fun and light-hearted feel as the first volume.

This volume was just released on February 23, so no word yet on when the third volume is coming. I’m definitely keeping an eye out for it, though!

– Kathleen

Batgirl of Burnside

Stewart, Cameron. Batgirl, Vol. 1: The Batgirl of Burnside. DC Comics, 2015. 

This comic is a part of the New 52, the big reboot DC started a couple years ago. Barbara Gordon, college student, moves into a new apartment in the hip college district of Burnside during her senior year. When her laptop is stolen and a fire burns down her friend Dinah’s warehouse, where she kept all her Batgirl gear, Barbara seizes on this chance to reinvent Batgirl. The new Batgirl’s adventures take place not only on the streets and rooftops of Burnside, but on social media as hundreds of Barbara’s peers follow and like her every move and picture. But what happens when Batgirl’s adoring fan base turns against her?

In contrast to a lot of the darker superhero stories of today, this one is a breath of fresh air. It recalls the Barbara of the Batman animated series of the ’90s. Here we get a chance to see Barbara during her college years, balancing her schoolwork, social life, and vigilante life, while still being her smart, snarky, and kick-butt self. The art is clean, cute, and dynamic. If you like your graphic novels light-hearted, this is the one for you! Check out our copy today!

-Kathleen

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