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18 posts from February 2011

February 28, 2011

Lost (but very neat) Things


I know that this is a train I should have caught months and months ago, but at least I have caught up appropriately now!

Shaun Tan's The Lost Thing.  Go and watch it now; it has the cutest steampunk teapot/cthulhu you will ever see. 

Also it won an Oscar last night!  A surprising example of something good and original and lovely actually winning a major media award!

February 25, 2011

Space Limericks


There once was a boy who retired

From a superhero gig that backfired

So he went off to school

And was mostly uncool

But still his old enemies conspired.

(This book is also not out in stores; you cannot go to try to read it to see how much more awesome it is than this limerick.  Believe me, the amount by which it is more awesome is LOTS.)

February 24, 2011

Lewis & Clark Give-Away


Hey guys!

We're doing a give-away of the newly in-stores Lewis & Clark over at GoodReads.  In honor of our fifth anniversary, I'm going to put together an :01 give-away every month at their site, so check back for more enter-to-win free things!

Not sure about the awesomeness that is Lewis & Clark?  Here's what some other people have said about it -- and if these quotes don't convince you to pick this book up, theny ou are very difficult to convince.

A wonderful introduction to one of the most important expeditions and one of the most dramatic stories in American history. -- Ken Burns
Nick Bertozzi's comics do more than bring history to life: they reanimate these long dead souls and make them human again. I would buy this book just to see Thomas Jefferson tending the roses. But it's dark-locked Meriwether Lewis whom we truly see for the first time through Bertozzi's pen: brave, fallible, ambitious, funny, brilliant, crude, transcendently ambitious, tragically mad all at once. Bertozzi captures in pictures the epic grandeur and quiet desperation of the Lewis and Clark expedition as no dumb book of prose ever could. -- John Hodgman

February 23, 2011

A Brief Mediation on Books and Comics for Kids

"People ask me if I ever thought of writing a children's book.  I say, 'If I had a serious brain injury I might well write a children's book' . . . I would never write about someone that forced me to write at a lower register than what I can write." -- Martin Amis (from this article; Amis, if you don't know him, was named by The Times as one of the 50 best British authors since 1945)



(picture of small child from the University of Washington Digital Collection)

As emblemified this past week by Martin Amis, there's a general perception that writing books for kids takes less skill, talent, sensitivity, reach, [insert any additional positive attributes you can think of here], than writing books for adults. 

Whenever I hear this argument (and I hear it pretty frequently), I think about the books I read in middle school about the Holocaust, about child abuse, about assisted suicide, about parental abandonment, about homophobia and other kinds of prejudice

You probably read all those books in middle school, too.

Take a minute to think about them.

While you're thinking, consider the following: no matter how distasteful and uncomfortable and not-good we all find things like the Holocaust and suicide and all kinds of prejudice, they do exist.  People have to find out about them at some point.  If kids are lucky in their friends and family and community, perhaps the first time they'll discover the existance of something like child abuse is through a book.  And if kids are unlucky in their friends and family and community, perhaps a book is the first time that they'll discover there's a name for what they're going through, that they're not alone, and that it's not okay. 

Wouldn't you want that book to be the best book possible?  Wouldn't you want that book to be well-written and sensitive and thought-provoking and transcendant? 

If you don't think that pulling all of that off takes all the time and energy and care and dedication and skill that writing adult fiction does, then you are wrong. 

Working in comics, we get an even shorter end of the stick here, because traditionally, comics for kids: full of superheroes or funny animals!  Policed by the now-defunct Comics Code Authority! Produced for reluctant readers: no serious content allowed!

So there's a continually lingering conception of comics for kids that rides the coattails of Martin Amis' assumption about kids books: they're simplistic, infantile works not fit to be read by the Common Man (or Woman). 

Of course, most of these people are not the ones on the internet, who are engaged in the discussion and actively reading the books.  But if you went to your local middle school and surveyed the parents, I wonder how many of them would agree with the statement, 'Comics are quality literature; my kid needs to read Smile just as much as he or she needs to read A Wrinkle in Time." 

Not as many as I'd like. 


February 21, 2011

Here Is Our One President's Day-Related Comic


This may not really be the best comic to emblemify President's Day, because it is all about John Wilkes Booth, and how he killed Abraham Lincoln.  But it's what we've got!  For some reason the :01 list is not heavy on comics about US presidents (or any other kind of presidents, actually). 

Enjoy your state-mandated holiday!

February 19, 2011

Ben Hatke's First Bookstore Event

So cute!  Can we get recaps for everything that ever happens in comics format, please?

February 18, 2011

Ghostly Limerick


Anya just wanted a friend

She's got no one on whom to depend

But her new friend's a ghost

Is her whole world toast?

(Then it all works out in the end.)

(this is a book we haven't put out yet.  if this limerick makes you dubious about its charms, please try to overlook that; I'm sure the dubiousity has just been induced by my poor poetry.)

February 17, 2011

Aaron Renier's West Coast Wanderings

Aaron Renier is absolutely awesomesauce, and I dare anyone to disagree with me on this front.  I would offer to fight about it, but the above self-portrait Aaron sent me makes me think that he and his dog would do a much better job at it than I would.  So: if you disagree, you can fight him.  See how viciously he wields that pencil?  Clearly he's a professional at dog-riding authorial polo.

Aaron's going to be doing some events out on the west coast for the next week and a half, the first of which is in just a few hours!  If you're in the area, you should drop everything to go him.

Full schedule here.

(That link will lead you to Aaron's blog, which also contains some recounting of his time at the Sendak Fellowship!  So neat!  Go read!)

February 14, 2011

Comics in Love

This week is Valentine's Day!  You can tell because the flavor of hot chocolate at my local hot chocolate store turned into 'Love Potion.'  (It apparently has added fudge, so this turns out not to be a bad thing.)

This is a little bit of a strange list for me to put together, because my idea of a good romance tends to be books set in the regency period with hijinx and possible bodice-ripping.  It turns out that this is not a story type that's really been heavily explored in the comics form, especially in US comics.  And the cultural divide between us and Japan has me reading things like Paradise Kiss and being, 'yes, you ARE very pretty, but I am still uncomfortable with your the power structure in your relationship dynamic!'

So: love stories, an underappreciated comics genre.  Here are some. 


I love this book!  I also think it's one of the closest things you're going to get in the US to an actual romance comic -- there's a boy and a girl, they meet, they fall in love, circumstances and good sense keep them apart, but they are nonetheless hopelessly drawn to each other and figure things out.  Also the protagonist is adorable.  Yay!

Good-Bye Chunky Rice

And now for something completely different. . . .  I honestly think that Craig Thompson's art is gorgeous enough that he could illustrate stories about, I don't know, cabbages who proceed to fall in love and no one would blink an eye.  So a mouse and a turtle together are completely, absolutely convincing. 


This is one of the first manga I ever read, and it's still one of my favorites.  Schoolsgirls in love, but not in the ways you'd expect. 


This story of an Egyptologist's daughter and a mummy falling in love is the closest thing you're going to get in comics to something like Georgette Heyer (though I'm sure she'd disdain the paranormal bit).  It is watercolor!  And also there are hijinx!

Hopeless Savages

There's a new Hopeless Savages compilation!  This is one of the books that got me into reading comics, so I am always glad to recommend it to anyone.  And the middle story is such a great love story!  Interfering documentarians!  Guitar in the rain!  School not being useful!  Parents being parents!  Love!


Kevin Huizenga's love stories are different from anyone else's in comics because he pulls apart the meaning in everyday actions and manages to make things like going to sleep the most touching thing anyone's ever done.  And then he does it again with bringing home the groceries. 


If you haven't read Jess Fink's Chester 5000 series, you are clearly missing out, as it is a steampunk! robot! love story! 


I love pretty much everything Andi Watson writes and Simon Gane draws, and this book is no exception.  Girls!  Paris!  Heartbreak!  Class divisions!  It is all very lovely. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 11, 2011

American Born Haiku


Once there was a young boy named Jin

He only wanted to fit in

So he permed his hair

Discovered life was unfair

And learned a lesson that made his head spin. 

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