Divertingly different November’s Graphic Novel selection

November brings an influx of series and some unusual comics that bring words to life. Poets and musicians from Rimbaud to the Smiths have inspired creators to produce a rich experience in a diverse range of styles. Nick Hayes uses Rimbaud’s own words to wash through the entire graphic novel, The Drunken Sailor taking the reader on a journey through the poet’s life. The Tales of the Smiths was a daily strip now bound in a single volume documenting the early years of Morrissey and forming the band The Smiths. Con Chrisoulis has illustrated the lives of David Bowie and is now focusing on Jack ‘King’ Kirby, an architect of Marvel and DC comics who’s iconic graphic style formed the way we see superheroes.

All of these and more are available from your library. Lucky ain’t we?

Syndetics book coverThe drunken sailor : the life of the poet Arthur Rimbaud in his own words / by Nick Hayes.
The Drunken Sailor traces the life of Arthur Rimbaud- poet, surrealist, libertine and gun runner. In dazzling artwork, Nick Hayes follows Rimbaud from his youth in Ardennes to the poetry salons of Paris, from the absinthe-glazed passion of his relationship with Verlaine to his flight into the jungles of Indonesia and the deserts of Yemen and Egypt. Told entirely in Rimbaud’s own words, The Drunken Sailor confirms Nick Hayes’ place as one of the most talented graphic novelists at work today.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTales of The Smiths : a graphic biography / Con Chrisoulis.
Tales of The Smiths is a comic book retelling of the band members’ teenage years, before the group was famous, and includes fascinating digressions about their influences (the New York Dolls, Nico, Sex Pistols, NY punk, Patti Smith, etc) and the times in which they were growing up. The story reaches its climax with the meeting of Morrissey and Marr, the formation of the band in 1982 and their first gig as The Smiths.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Hchom book / by Marian Churchland.
“If you were a goblin, what would your treasure hoard contain? Gems and minerals, biscuits and pastries, fine-tailored jackets, or perhaps all of the above. This mischievous collection of particular delights gathers posts from Churchland’s sketch blog, Hchom, wherein she envisions herself as a wry-eyed goblin and counts her possessions, real and desired, as her “hoard”. The volume is divided into four chapters on larder, closet, hoard, and house, each representing a key element of her cozy, nerdy, bookish lifestyle.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPassing for human : a graphic memoir / Liana Finck.
Part magical odyssey, part feminist creation myth, Passing for Human is most of all an extraordinary, moving meditation on what it means to be an artist and a woman. On a quest for self-understanding and self-acceptance, along the way, she seeks to answer some eternal questions- What makes us whole? What parts of ourselves do we hide or ignore or chase away – because they’re embarrassing, or inconvenient – and at what cost?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMysteries of the quantum universe / by Thibault Damour & Mathieu Burniat ; translated by Sarah-Louise Raillard.
“Famous explorer Bob and his dog Rick have been around the world and even to the Moon, but their travels through the quantum universe show them the greatest wonders they’ve ever seen. As they follow their tour guide, the giddy letter h (also known as the Planck constant), Bob and Rick have crepes with Max Planck, talk to Einstein about atoms, visit Louis de Broglie in his castle, and hang out with Heisenberg on Heligoland. On the way, we find out that a dog – much like a cat – can be both dead and alive, the gaze of a mouse can change the universe, and a comic book can actually make quantum physics fun, easy to understand and downright enchanting.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTokyo Ghoul : re. Volume 1 / story and art by Sui Ishida ; translation, Joe Yamazaki.
“The Commission of Counter Ghoul is the only organization fighting the Ghoul menace, and they will use every tool at their disposal to protect humanity from its ultimate predator. Their newest weapon in this hidden war is an experimental procedure that implants human investigators with a Ghoul’s Kagune, giving them Ghoul powers and abilities. But both the procedure and the newly formed Qs Squad are untested. Will they become heroes…or monsters?!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInvincible : ultimate collection, Volume 1 / Robert Kirkman, writer ; Cory Walker, penciler, inker ; Ryan Ottley, penciler, inker ; created by Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker.
“Get in on the ground floor! This massive hardcover collects the first 13 issues of Robert Kirkman’s Eisner-Nominated super-hero, along with all the extras from the first three trade paperback volumes and even more on top of that! Invincible: The Ultimate Collection, Volume 1 is a can’t-miss for anyone who’s wanted to start reading Invincible , but needed an easier way to start from the beginning.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOur story : a memoir of love and life in China / Rao Pingru ; translated from the Chinese by Nicky Harman.Our Story: A Memoir of Love and Life in China
“A graphic memoir like no other- the true story of a marriage in China that spanned the twentieth century, told in vibrant, original paintings and prose. Rao Pingru was a twenty-six-year-old soldier when he first saw the beautiful Mao Meitang. One glimpse of her through a window as she put on lipstick was enough to capture Pingru’s heart. It was a moment that sparked a union that would last almost sixty years. But when Meitang passed away in 2008, Pingru realised that their marriage and all the small moments and memories of a life together, would be lost to history. And so at the age of eighty-eight, in an outpouring of love and grief, Pingru began to paint.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMonstress. Volume three, Haven / Marjorie Liu, writer ; Sana Takeda, artist.
“Maika Halfwolf has begun to unlock the mysteries of her past – but the challenges of the present are only growing. Maika’s journey takes her to the neutral city of Pontus, where she hopes to find temporary refuge from her pursuers. Unfortunately, Pontus may not be as safe as Maika and her allies had hoped. As the impending war between humans and Arcanics creeps ever closer, and powerful players fight for the chance to control her future, Maika finds she must work with Zinn, the Monstrum that lives inside her, in order to ensure their mutual survival. But even that alliance might not be enough to prepare Maika for the horrors to come.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKick-Ass : the new girl. Book one / Mark Millar, writer ; John Romita Jr., pencils.
“Kick-Ass is back–ready to wipe out the city’s criminal low lives, destroy its gangs, and save its communities from decay. But there’s a new face beneath the old mask, a new figure wearing that famous green and yellow spandex. Who is this new vigilante superhero? Who can fill Dave Lizewski’s shoes? Who is the new Kick-Ass? Find out in the first collection of Kick-Ass: the new girl.” (Syndetics summary)

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)