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Gripping graphic memoirs

Comics and graphic novels have proven to be a powerful medium for recounting true stories. The selections below are some excellent, sometimes harrowing memoirs, told through sequential art.

Syndetics book coverThe complete Persepolis / Marjane Satrapi.
Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlankets : a graphic novel / by Craig Thompson.
“Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and theorigins of faith. A profound and utterly beautiful work from Craig Thompson.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRelish : my life in the kitchen / by Lucy Knisley.
“Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by her obsession honestly. In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is bookended with an illustrated recipe–many of them treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy’s original inventions. A welcome read for anyone who ever felt more passion for a sandwich than is strictly speaking proper.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBecoming unbecoming / Una.
“A serial murderer, known as the Yorkshire Ripper, is at large in West Yorkshire and the police are struggling to solve the case. As this national news story unfolds around her, Una finds herself on the receiving end of a series of violent acts for which she feels she is to blame. Becoming Unbecoming explores sexual abuse, gender violence, blame, shame and social responsibility. In graphic novel format, Una asks what it means to grow up in a culture where male violence goes unpunished and unquestioned,challenging a global culture that demands the victims of violence pay” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHonor girl / Maggie Thrash.
“Maggie Thrash has spent basically every summer of her fifteen-year-old life at the one-hundred-year-old Camp Bellflower for Girls, set deep in the heart of Appalachia. Her long summer days are full of a pleasant, peaceful nothing . . . until one confounding moment. A split-second of innocent physical contact pulls Maggie into a gut-twisting love for an older, wiser, and most surprising of all (at least to Maggie), female counselor named Erin. When it seems as if Erin maybe feels the same way about Maggie, it’s too much for both Maggie and Camp Bellflower to handle, let alone to understand.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFun home : a family tragicomic / Alison Bechdel.
“Meet Alison’s father, a historic preservation expert and obsessive restorer of the family’s Victorian home, a third-generation funeral home director, a high school English teacher, an icily distant parent, and a closeted homosexual who, as it turns out, is involved with his male students and a family babysitter. Through narrative that is alternately heartbreaking and fiercely funny, we are drawn into a daughter’s complex yearning for her father. And yet, apart from assigned stints dusting caskets at the family-owned “fun home,” as Alison and her brothers call it, the relationship achieves its most intimate expression through the shared code of books. When Alison comes out as homosexual herself in late adolescense, the denouement is swift, graphic — and redemptive.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe infinite wait and other stories / by Julia Wertz.
The Infinite Wait and Other Stories is not a sustained narrative, but rather a collection of three short stories. The stories in this collection contain Julia Wertz’s signature acerbic wit, ribald humor, and keen eye for the everyday, but they also find the cartoonist delving more deeply into the personal.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMansfield and me : a graphic memoir / Sarah Laing.
“Katherine Mansfield is a literary giant in New Zealand-but she had to leave the country to become one. She wrote, ‘Oh to be a writer, a real writer.’ And a real writer she was, until she died at age 34 of tuberculosis. The only writer Virginia Woolf was jealous of, Mansfield hung out with the modernists, lost her brother in World War I, and spent her last days in a Fontainebleu commune with Olgivanna, Frank Lloyd Wright’s future wife. Sarah Laing wanted to be a real writer, too. A writer as famous as Katherine Mansfield, but not as tortured. Mansfield and Me charts her journey towards publication and parenthood against Mansfield’s dramatic story, set in London, Paris, New York and New Zealand. Part memoir, part biography, part fantasy, it examines how our lives connect to those of our personal heroes.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHyperbole and a half : unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happened / Allie Brosh.
“This full-color, beautifully illustrated edition features more than fifty percent new content, with ten never-before-seen essays and one wholly revised and expanded piece as well as classics from the website like, “The God of Cake,” “Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving,” and her astonishing, “Adventures in Depression,” and “Depression Part Two,” which have been hailed as some of the most insightful meditations on the disease ever written. Brosh’s debut marks the launch of a major new American humorist who will surely make even the biggest scrooge or snob laugh. We dare you not to.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVietnamerica : a family’s journey / written and illustrated by GB Tran.
“GB Tran is a young Vietnamese American artist who grew up distant from (and largely indifferent to) his family’s history. Born and raised in South Carolina as a son of immigrants, he knew that his parents had fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. But even as they struggled to adapt to life in America, they preferred to forget the past–and to focus on their children’s future. It was only in his late twenties that GB began to learn their extraordinary story. When his last surviving grandparents die within months of each other, GB visits Vietnam for the first time and begins to learn the tragic history of his family, and of the homeland they left behind.” (Syndetics summary)

ComicsPlus iOS app

Have you tried our new eLibrary service ComicsPlus yet? It has a vast collection of diverse comics and graphic novels for all ages which can be read on a computer, and there is an iOS app!
Read comics and graphic novels on your iOS device by downloading the iOS app (Alternatively, you can find help for desktop or laptop access here).

There’s no limit to the number of titles you can take out through ComicsPlus, and comics are made available for 7 days. Now’s your chance to read any number of series from beginning to end!

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Some Children’s and YA authors not to miss at Writers Week

Writers Week is a very exciting week for book lovers! This year, children and young adult readers are spoiled with great authors to meet.
Watch these videos of authors who are taking part in this year’s festival and check out a selection of their titles you can borrow from our shelves:

Paul Beavis:

Paul Beavis, author of Mrs Mo’s Monster is leading live reading (and drawing!) of his raucous tale of a little monster … dress ups for this event are encouraged (come as Mr Mo, Mrs Mo, or the Monster. Prizes for best dressed!).

Syndetics book coverHello World!
“In this sequel to Mrs. Mo’s Monster, the fuzzy blue monster from that book-one part toddler, one part gremlin-sets out to see the world since his elderly caretakers are too busy to do anything fun. With a backpack overstuffed with sporting equipment, toys, cookware, and more, the monster tromps off into the mountains before getting lost. Ages 3-up.” (Syndetics)

Mariko Tamaki:

Mariko Tamaki is an award-winning writer of graphic novels – her worlds can be dark and full of surprises. Mariko is a must-see for all readers – she is a powerful storyteller, and her books are especially important for teenage readers and adults remembering what coming-of-age really is.  See her in conversation with Kate De Goldi, and again with Sarah Laing, Kerry Ann Lee and Courtney Sina Meredith.

Syndetics book coverThis one summer
“Rose and her parents have been going to Awago Beach since she was a little girl. It’s her summer getaway, her refuge. Her friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had, completing her summer family. But this summer is different. It’s a summer of secrets and heartache, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.” (Syndetics)

Sally Gardner:

Sally Gardner never did things by the usual route. Her books are full of magic, mischief and overcoming the odds – bring your young readers for an hour with this extraordinary author (Maggot Moon, I, Coriander and so many more…)

Syndetics book coverMaggot moon
“The year is 1956. In an unnamed country of obvious allegorical weight, the totalitarian government of the Motherland keeps the impure in ghettos where they live off scraps and hope not to be dragged away to camps. Standish, 15, lives in Zone 7, a nasty place from which school is no respite there cruel teachers beat students and, on this particular day, kill one. Standish is expelled in the aftermath, and the next step for him may be the camps. Standish, however, knows a secret…” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverI, Coriander
“It is night, and I have lit the first of seven candles to write my story by. My name is Coriander Hobie, and I have a great many things to tell-of silver shoes that tempted me and an alligator most rare; of London, the home of my childhood, and another, stranger land, one that I thought only existed in dreams; and of an ebony box whose treasure only now am I beginning to understand. The box was once my mother’s, but its secrets were meant for me. This being my story and a fairy tale besides, I will start once upon a time…” (Syndetics)

Cornelia Funke:

Cornelia Funke is a champion for young readers – her books are enthralling adventures that have delighted children for years. And Cornelia herself is no ordinary person – she’s going to talk with comedian, writer and actor Jo Randerson about her stories and what inspires them.

Syndetics book coverInkheart 
“One dark night, a mysterious man called Dustfinger appears at the house where Meggie lives with her father, a bookbinder. Dustfinger’s arrival sets in motion a long, complicated chain of events involving a journey, fictional characters brought to life, dangerous secrets revealed, threats of evil deeds, actual evil deeds, a long-lost relative found, and the triumph of creativity and courage.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverFearless : a Mirrorworld novel
“After saving his younger brother Will’s life in Reckless, Jacob Reckless now has to save his own. With only months to live after being cursed, he searches for the Witch Slayer’s crossbow, rumored to give life instead of death when it’s used out of love. He is competing for the crossbow against ruthless fellow treasure hunter Nerron; a stone onyx, Goyl, who’s saddled with a spoiled prince; and other unwelcome companions on his quest. A map helps readers track Jacob and Fox, the lovely shape-shifting human/vixen who loves him, as they desperately search all around Mirrorworld while encountering such familiar fairy-tale characters as Bluebeard.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverYoung werewolf
“Matt is returning home from the cinema when a yellow-eyed monster bites his hand and his whole world – and body – changes. Helped by his best friend Lisa and teacher Mrs Ruskin, they have just two days to find a cure before the curse takes hold forever!” (Syndetics)

Joy Cowley:

Last, but not least, Joy Cowley is one of New Zealand’s best-loved writers – she is a delightful person and a brilliant writer. Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate Joy and her amazing work!

Syndetics book coverRoad to Ratenburg
“A family of rats is forced to leave their home, so sets out to find the fabled city of Ratenburg. Along the way they outwit vicious dogs, tricky rat traps, and sharp-beaked hawks, and make some very dangerous crossings. The rat family’s adventures test their character and grow bonds between sisters and brothers, father and uncle, mum and dad. Narrating the tale is Spinnaker Rat, a classic Edwardian father, full of wisdom about the ways of the world, who finds himself learning more than he expected.” (Gecko Press)

Syndetics book coverDunger
“William and Melissa have been roped into helping their old hippie grandparents fix up their holiday home in the middle of the Sounds. They’ll have no electricity, no cellphone reception and only each other for company. As far as they are concerned this is not a holiday.” (Back cover)

ComicsPlus mobile access now available!

Comics-Plus-Library-Edition-Logo-720x440Have you tried our new eLibrary service ComicsPlus yet? It has a vast collection of diverse comics and graphic novels for all ages which can be read on a computer. And now we have mobile access! Read comics and graphic novels on your smartphone or tablet by accessing ComicsPlus through the WCL mini app on your device.

There’s no limit to the number of titles you can take out through ComicsPlus, and comics are made available for 7 days. Now’s your chance to read any number of series from beginning to end!

Follow the steps below for how to get started on ComicsPlus on a mobile device. (Alternatively, you can find help for desktop or laptop access here.)

  1. Select the ‘ComicsPlus’ link and once ComicsPlus is open click on ‘Register’.
  2. Select Wellington City Libraries from the drop-down list and then register with your email and password.
  3. To sign-in enter your registered email and password, then choose Wellington City Libraries from the drop down menu – Sign In!

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ComicsPlus adds thousands of comics to our eLibrary!

Comics-Plus-Library-Edition-Logo-720x440We’ve added new streaming eLibrary service ComicsPlus, with over 80 comics publishers making available thousands of digital super hero, manga, children and indie comics across all audiences.

Major adult publishers include Archaia, Boom! Studios, Dynamite and Viz, whilst cool kids presses like Papercut, Andrews McMeel and Graphic Classics feature original children’s comics, as well as nonfiction versions of classic literature and funny cartoons like Garfield and Charlie Brown.

Also included are exciting, well known series like Adventure Time, Bone, Archie, Lumberjanes, Naruto, One Piece, Big Nate, Red Sonja and more. Browse by fantasy, crime, romance, movie and TV, horror and more, and then choose any comic you want.

There’s no limit to the number of titles you can take out through ComicsPlus, and comics are made available for 7 days. Now’s your chance to read any number of series from beginning to end! At the moment, enjoyment of ComicsPlus is limited to desktop only but mobile usage should be on its way soon.

Here’s how to get started on your computer or laptop:

Please note: New registrations are currently unavailable, we are working on fixing this as soon as possible.

  1. Click on the ‘ComicsPlus’ link through our eLibrary and enter your library card number and your last name .
  2. Once ComicsPlus is open click on ‘Register’
  3. After registering for the first time with email and password, click ‘Sign in’
  4. Enter your registered email and password, then choose Wellington City Libraries from the drop down menu – Sign In!
  5. You can now browse by publisher, new material and popular titles or search by author and title.
  6. When you’ve found your comic, click on the cover and choose ‘Check out’ Check out button
  7. From here, go to ‘My Comics’ and click on ‘Read Now’ from your book shelf of waiting comics. Read as many comics as you like!

Comicsplus book shelf (Note: downloading is not available at the moment with ComicsPlus. Usage is only through online streaming.)

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Comicfest 2015 roundup – the podcasts!

Sadly Comicfest is over for another year, but you can relive it right here! We mentioned in our last post that you could listen to podcasts of the panel discussions on Mixcloud, but we thought it would be good to have them all here on the blog too, for your convenience. We had a great turnout to the panels, and some exciting discussion came out of them, thanks to the input of our fantastic Comicfest guests. Have a listen below!

Thursday 30th April 2015: Cartoons to comics: Sharon Murdoch, Toby Morris, Cory Mathis, Tim Bollinger & Melinda Johnston

Friday 1st May 2015: Panel: On NZ comics with Jonathan King, Tim Gibson, Matt Emery and Tim Bollinger

Saturday 2nd May 2015: New Zealand Women’s Comics with the editors of Three Words – Rae Joyce, Indira Neville and Sarah Laing, with Matt Emery

ComicFest 2015 is over. Thanks everyone!

2015 was our second year hosting a ComicFest extravaganza at the Central Library to coincide with Free Comic Book Day on Saturday the 2nd of May. Building on our previous year’s success, there was an impressive line-up of high calibre guests for our comics workshops, discussion panels and presentations. Thank you to all who came to take part in our drawing workshops, cosplay and manga competitions, and came to listen to comic artists, curators and historians.

A big thank you for the wonderful help and sponsorship from the NZ Book Council, Alexander Turnbull Library, NZ ComicCon, Pikitia Press, Unity Books and Weta Cave; and to GRAPHIC Comics who sponsored over 1000 comics on Free Comic Book Day.

To revisit these three great days, have a browse through our ComicFest 2015 photo galleries on our Flickr page. You can also listen or re-listen to the discussions that are now available as podcasts on Mixcloud.

Here is a small selection of images from the events :

5 minutes with Tim Gibson – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is almost here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

Tim GibsonToday we’re talking to Tim Gibson about his comic work, and what we can look forward to at his Comicfest panel and workshop. Tim Gibson has produced illustrations for clients as diverse as Garage Project to the School Journal, Peter Jackson to Steven Spielberg. In 2012 he was awarded Creative New Zealand funding to write and illustrate his debut comic series ‘Moth City’ which has since gained a substantial digital readership, the support of leading American creators and was named as one of Comixology’s Top Comics for 2013. This year he took part in the Le Monde’s COMICS ZUR LAGE DER WELT exhibition in Berlin, and visited Taiwan as part of a comic residency exchange.

What is the first significant comic related job or project you remember working on?
I did some comic book colouring (painting under someone else’s pencils) for Christian Gossett’s Red Star comic series when I worked at Weta Workshop. It was my first professional taste of making comics, and it was a long time between drinks before I got another one.

Tim GibsonCan you tell us about your current, or most recent project?
I completed the art for a small comic project for the School Journal last year which told the story of front-line Kiwi miners in WWI. It was interesting not being responsible for the story as a whole, but artists still have to make very ‘directorial’ decisions with regard to placing the viewpoint, the expressions (or acting) of the characters and the general pace and flow of things.

It was great to be included in a piece of NZ reading history like the School Journal, so a bit of a milestone there.

What is your favourite part of your working process?
Playing with the characters in my head, having them interact with one another or their world. The further the story gets to being readable by others, the less avenues and options the characters and I have, so there’s always a bit of a bittersweet conclusion to finishing something. There’s nothing better than having an idea that changes the entire world that exists in your head.

What are you excited to share with ComicFest attendees? Just a taster!
I’m hoping to share my passion for digital comics and animation during my Digital Comics Workshop. It should give people a few tools to tell comic stories differently now that creators don’t have to default to paper. That said, there’ll still be tree-flesh at the workshop, so bring pens.

Do you have another job outside of comic creation, or any significant hobbies you enjoy?
I subsidise my modest life-style with freelance illustration and design work, and the two worlds play very well together and often influence each other. It probably means that my commercial work is more vibrant and experimental, and my experimental comic work is more polished and commercial looking than it might be otherwise.

You can catch Tim at his Comicfest workshop and panel at these times:
Friday 1st of May 5 – 6.30pm – Digital comics workshop with Tim Gibson
Friday 1st of May 7 – 8.00pm – Panel: The current and future state of New Zealand comics
Tim Gibson

5 minutes with Toby Morris – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is almost here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

Toby Morris self portraitToday we’re talking to Toby Morris about his comic work, and what we can look forward to at his Comicfest panel. Toby Morris is an illustrator, designer and comic artist who currently draws a monthly non-fiction comic series called The Pencilsword for The Wireless. He has drawn and published his own comics since the age of 13 and now juggles comics, illustration work and parenting two young sons. He has written and illustrated two books and created concert posters for many of New Zealand’s top bands.

What is the first significant comic related job or project you remember working on?
My first comic was terrible – it was called The Amazing Adventures of Okapi and was a really corny story about a superhero crime fighter set at a grunge concert. I was 13, and made a few copies for my friends at school, but really I didn’t know anything about superheroes or grunge concerts. Or comics really, apart from Tintin or Asterix. I think i was just trying to emulate what I assumed a ‘cool comic’ might be like.

At 15 I started a new series called Span that was more personal. I had actually gone to the comics shop by then and discovered some New Zealand comics like Pickle and Absolute Heroes that set me on a better path.

Toby MorrisCan you tell us about your current, or most recent project?
These days my big project is the ongoing non-fiction comics series The Pencilsword which appears monthly on thewireless.co.nz. I’m trying a few new things (for me at least) with it – I’m trying to walk a line between personal and political, and then technically the comics have a little animation on them which has been interesting to experiment with also. It’s the first comic I’ve done that is designed from the start to be read and shared online rather than in print, which is new and exciting for me.

What is your favourite part of your working process?
There is a great daydreamy state you can get into sometimes with drawing that I love where it’s almost unconscious. Time just goes by in a blur, you get really swept up and lost in it. You can’t try to do it – it’s trying but not trying and you can totally tell the difference between drawings where you’ve done it and not. I think of it as ‘the joyous line’. I think the closest description I’ve found to it is the way that Phillip Pullman describes how the Subtle Knife works in the book of the same name. Drawing is like dancing maybe.

What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
So many! Dylan Horrocks was very inspirational for me, still is. His series Pickle was one of the first things I read that really made me want to write in my own voice. Tim Bollinger was another one I read early on that lit a fire for me. Barry Linton was and is the king. I loved the Wellington anthology Pistake in the 90s – Emond, Morse, Dayglo etc – so much attitude. These days there is so much going on, it’s incredible. Hard to start naming people because there are so many. Mat Tait, Robyn Keneally, Sarah Laing, Ned Wenlock, Lauren Marriott/Ralphi, Mary Tamblyn and Alex McCrone, Tim Kidd, Ross Murray, Sam Orchard are a few current favourites that spring to mind. I’ll be forgetting people I bet. I loved Jem Yoshioka’s recent one about the Kimono. I really enjoyed Sarah Lund’s Snap. It’s a great time for NZ comics. There is so much great stuff coming out, more than there ever has been.

Do you have another job outside of comic creation, or any significant hobbies you enjoy?
These days I work as an advertising designer and art director for my day job. It’s a funny thing to balance those two very different worlds. My comics and my job started off as two very different paths – what I love doing on one hand and what I get paid to do on another – but over the years those two paths are slowly getting closer to each other and starting to cross over.

You can catch Toby at his Comicfest panel at the following time:
Thursday 30th of April 6 – 7.00pm – Panel: From cartoons to comics
Toby Morris

5 minutes with Indira Neville – Comicfest feature

Comicfest 2015 is almost here! Head over to the Facebook event for all the details and to receive event updates. There are panels and workshops for comic-lovers of all ages, and don’t forget to come along to the Central Library on Saturday 2nd May to pick up a free comic book on Free Comic Book Day, courtesy of GRAPHIC!

IndiraNeville_selfportrait_smallToday we’re talking to Indira Neville about her comic work, and what we can look forward to at her Comicfest panel. Indira Neville has been making comics for over twenty years. Throughout this time she has used many photocopiers. She remembers fondly the Minolta at the copy centre in Hamilton even though it used to cut off the edges and only worked in black-and-white. A less happy memory is the Xerox in central Whangarei which left big streaks over all of her pages. She very much enjoys the modern colour copier, particularly the way you can print directly to it from your computer.

What is the first significant comic related job or project you remember working on?
When I was about nine, my dad showed my brother and I how a diagonal line can make an eye look grumpy. This was a revelation! And I promptly drew a comic where something happened and a character reacted grumpily. My grandparents thought it was ace and showed it to everyone who came to their house.

Indira NevilleWhat is your favourite part of your working process?
Finishing the comic – it’s cool when something that was in your head is suddenly physically in the world. Often I make myself laugh too which is nice.

What or who are your favourite NZ comics or creators?
I really like my dad’s, brother’s and husband’s comics. Also the work of Sugar Jon Arcus, Soft Keith, Wretch 13 and Witcyst. And there’s a bunch of comics in Three Words which I REALLY love.

Do you have another job outside of comic creation, or any significant hobbies you enjoy?
I am a mother, policy analyst and I play guitar in a catchy noisy band.

If you were to enter our cosplay contest, who/what would you dress up as?
Lumpy Space Princess.

You can catch Indira at her Comicfest panels at the following time:
Saturday 2nd of May 1 – 2.00pm – Panel: New Zealand Women’s Comics with the editors of Three Words
IndiraNeville05


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