Category Archives: Graphic Novels

January 21, 2009

Ultimate Male Superheroes

Posted by at 6:58 am in Dav Pilkey, Graphic Novels, Reads | Permalink

Last week I gave you my top five female superheroes, so now for all you boys out there who like to read about the “man” saving the day, here are my top five favorite male superheroes.

5. Captain Planet: Captain Planet and the Planeteers created by Ted Turner
He is strong, smart, and is the ultimate “green” superhero of all time. Captain Planet first arrived on the scene in the early 1990s on the television show Captain Planet and the Planeteers, way before the creation of hybrid cars or celebrity environment initiatives. It was up to Captain Planet to save Earth from those villains and companies trying to destroy the rainforests, contaminate the water, pollute the air, and harm the planet with hazardous contaminates and dangerous poisons.

Captain Underpants_7076687 4. Captain Underpants: Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey
This superhero makes the #4 spot not only because his alias is the school principle, but also because he is the only hero on this list with the most basic but yet the best outfit. In addition, Captain Underpants has defeated some of the world’s most disgusting and vile villains: Dr. Diaper, The Turbo Toilet 2000, Professor Pippy Pee-Pee Poopypants, Wedgie Woman, and the Bionic Booger Boy, just to name a few.

3. Cypher: Marvel Comics
Imagine having the ability to go anywhere in the world and still to be able to communicate. Or envision having the capability to decipher any computer program out there. This is why Cypher makes it onto the list in the #3 spot. This mutant character from Marvel comics also goes by the name of Doug Ramsey, his human alias. As a member of the X-Men team, Cypher can translate, understand, decipher, and speak all languages ranging from human to alien to digital. Cool, huh?

2. Multiple Man: Marvel Comics
Ever feel like you need to be in two or even three places at once? Well, if you were James Arthur Madrox of Marvel’s X-Men, then you’d be in luck. Not only can he create up to 40 duplicates of himself, but since all the dupes are telepathically and emphatically linked to the “real” Madrox, any information or actions that they absorb, he will as well. You know what that means? You could finish your math, science, history, and writing homework all in just a couple of hours!

1. Superman: DC Comics
This American icon has been around since the late 1930s. Superman — also referred to as “the Man of Steel,” “the Man of Tomorrow,” and “the Last Son of Krypton” in the comic book world — has set the standard for all superheroes we see today. From his patriotic outfit and symbolic emblem to his unbeatable powers (he’s “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”), Superman — though known as Clark Kent to regular everyday people — has been pronounced as a cultural icon in America as well as throughout the world.

These are just five of the hundreds of superheroes created by comic books, television shows, movies, books, and other media sources. So who would you have added to the list and why?

— Carly M., STACKS Staffer

January 13, 2009

THE FIVE: Best Female Superheroes

Posted by at 12:42 pm in Graphic Novels, Reads | Permalink

THE FIVE: Best Female SuperheroesEver since there have been novels, articles, comic books, and other writings, there have been superheroes of some sort — whether it be Odysseus from Homer's The Odyssey or Huckleberry Finn from Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or the comic book character, Superman, as written by Jerry Siegel. However, what do you notice from those examples? They are all male.

Starting in the mid-20th century the idea of a superhero having to be male began to change, and the female heroine — or superheroine — was set in motion. Here are my favorite female superheroes of all time.

5. She Ra, The Princess of Power
She Ra makes my list at number five because she is one of the very first female superheroes I was introduced to as a child. While fighting alongside her companion, He-Man, she possessed superhuman strength, amazing speed and agility, a healing touch, the ability to speak with animals telepathically, and a super awesome outfit as well.

4. Susan Richards, a.k.a. the Invisible Woman
If you saw the 2005 blockbuster hit, the Fantastic Four or are familiar with Marvel Comics, then you know Susan Storm Richards, aka the Invisible Woman (played in the movie by Jessica Alba). This superhero ranks number four on the list because who wouldn't want the ability to become invisible every once in a while?

3. Buffy Summers (The Vampire Slayer)
This super kick-butt girl always knows the right clothes to wear and the best witty comebacks to say while taking on her opponents. Buffy slays the number three spot because this girly girl can also pack a pretty mean punch. She proves girls can be beautiful and tough.

2. Matilda Wormwood
As the main character in Roald Dahl's book, Matilda, Matilda Wormwood comes in at number two not only due to her psychokinetic powers, but also because of her extreme intelligence. This 5-year-old not only knows how to read at a college level, but her powers help out those in the path of the evil Miss Trunchbull.

1. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman is one of the first female superheroes to take the comic book industry by storm. Created by DC Comics in 1944, Wonder Woman was initially depicted as fighting the Axis military forces in WWII. Wonder Woman has the following powers: super strength and hearing, lightning-fast speed, flight, superior combat skills, animal empathy, regeneration, resistance to magic, immunity to illusions, hypnosis and mind control, and the ability to discern truth. With her cunning ability to fight the forces of evil and save the world from harm's way, Wonder Woman has risen high above to take her spot as the number one greatest female superhero of all time.

Who makes your list of favorite superheroines?

— Carly M., STACKS Staffer

November 19, 2008

Raina Telgemeier

Posted by at 6:00 am in Graphic Novels, Reads | Permalink

Raina Telgemeier

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who loved The Baby-sitters Club series. Then she grew up and became an artist, creating graphic novels and comic books, winning award after award. Meanwhile, a publishing company was in the midst of creating a new line of graphic novels, called Graphix. They had heard a lot about this artist, and they invited her in to see what kinds of ideas she could contribute. They asked her what books she read as a kid, and of course, she mentioned the BSC (that’s the acronym for The Baby-sitters Club, for all you newbies!). And the rest is history!

Raina Telgemeier is the artist behind the awesome graphic novel versions of Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-sitters Club books: so far, she’s done Kristy’s Great Idea, The Truth About Stacey, Mary Anne Saves the Day, and Claudia and Mean Janine. Instead of just reading the words on the page, fans of the BSC now get to see them and watch all the baby-sitting, middle-school-ing adventures of the BSC members rendered in Telgemeier’s charming, detailed drawings.

As a big BSC fan myself, I re-discovered the books in new ways once I saw what Telgemeier did with them. In the just-released graphic novel edition of Claudia and Mean Janine, Telgemeier’s drawings are playful and captivating. The depictions of the BSC members are true to character, and the super-expressive, totally energetic illustrations practically leap off the page. Whether you’re a BSC fan or not, Telgemeier’s graphic versions are just plain fun to read.

What’s even cooler is that Telgemeier’s BSC versions have now gotten me interested in her other graphic novels, particularly Smile: A Dental Drama. Until then, I’ll just occupy myself with discovering other graphic artists! Any suggestions?

— Morgan, Scholastic Staffer

November 18, 2008

A Sneak Peek into Suburbia

Posted by at 2:25 pm in Graphic Novels, Reads, Sneak Peek | Permalink

Talesofoutersuburbia
If you haven’t checked out The Arrival,
then you are missing out. It is a beautiful wordless book by Shaun Tan
about the arrival of an immigrant man to a bizarre new world. Well,
Shaun Tan has created another masterpiece called Tales from Outer Suburbia
that publishes in February 2009. This collection of (sub)urban legends
for ages 12 and up is a random walk through a strange and fantastical
world. Tan’s idiosyncratic drawings take mundane suburban life and give
it an unconventional makeover. There are all kinds of stories: 
some of them with clearly defined outcomes, and others that, in my
opinion, are meant to be enjoyed for what they are, with no requisite
moral lesson.

There is the story of Eric, for example, an unusual foreign exchange
student. Eric had a tendency to sleep and study in the kitchen pantry.
He kept to himself, and rarely had questions for his hosts. When he did
ask something, it would be about an object or subject that his hosts
took for granted. There is a picture of Eric looking curiously at the
underside of a postage stamp, and pointing out the serial number on an
electrical plug. His hosts would dismiss his strange demeanor as being
a “cultural thing.” Then, one day, Eric left with just a wave and a
good-bye. His hosts didn’t even know that he was leaving for good. He
did leave them something though . . .

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Then there’s a story about a discontented family who always
complained about their lives, until they found a secret inner courtyard
in their house! The family started having picnics in their inner
courtyard, and they enjoyed the privacy and the special secret that
only their family knew about . . . or so they thought.

6a00e55007a3148834010535fa0ce0970b-800wi
Click to view larger

Another great story is about a place where every household has their
own missile. They were just sitting there, in the backyard, waiting for
the time when the government may need to use them. Eventually they
became so commonplace that people started decorating their missiles.
Soon everyone was painting their missile, or using it to grow plants,
or store things.

6a00e55007a31488340105360181e1970c-800wi

Click to view larger

The artwork in this book is stunning. Tan’s style is such an
eclectic mix of the real and surreal. Some illustrations are with
color, some without, and some juxtapose vibrant hues against a shaded
backdrop. The illustration about the inner courtyard looks like a
painting that you might see at the Metropolitan Museum of Art! Shaun
Tan has let his imagination run wild once again, and I love it! I hope
you’ll love this book as much as I do. What’s the story that your
imagination would tell about your neighborhood?

— Nick, STACKS Staffer

October 23, 2008

Character Confidential: 3 Questions for Wayne from The Knights of the Lunch Table

Posted by at 9:55 am in Graphic Novels, Reads | Permalink

In the graphic novel series, Knights of the Lunch Table, when Artie King starts at Camelot Middle School, he’s able to open a broken old locker. According to rumor, this makes him ruler of the school. But Joe, the dodge-ball champion and bully of the school, isn’t about to let Artie wear the crown . . .

Luckily, like King Arthur has his Knights of the Round Table to go into battle with him, Artie has his friends Percy and Wayne, who join him in the epic dodge-ball battle for locker control. (There are a ton of parallels between the stories! What others can you find between King Arthur and Artie King?)

Artie first meets Wayne sitting in the principal’s office. Wayne’s Game Boy had been confiscated, and there a few questions that I have for Wayne that never get answered in the book:

1.  What are you always playing on that Game Boy?

2.  You’re the person that tells Artie the legend of the locker. Where did you first hear it?

3.  Why don’t you want Gwen to play on your dodgeball team?

And speaking of dodgeball, you can try your hand at the game on The Knights of the Lunch Table site.

Let me know how you do. And, of course, I always want to know what YOU would ask Wayne, Artie, and all his Knights.

— Carly H., STACKS Staffer

Illustration copyright 2008 Frank Cammuso

October 19, 2008

The Good Neighbors by Holly Black

Posted by at 8:55 am in Graphic Novels | Permalink

Which graphic novel has the potential to be produced into a blockbuster film? Well, since talks have already been made for Kazu Kibushi’s graphic adventure series, Amulet, I vote that next up should be The Good Neighbors, a graphic novel series for teens written by Holly Black and illustrated by Ted Naifeh. Holly Black’s best-selling series The Spiderwick Chronicles proved to be a hit on the big screen, so I say . . . make The Good Neighbors into a movie!

Here’s who I would cast as the Good Neighbors characters:

Rue Silver
1st choice:
Natalie Portman – She is a well-established actress with the ability to perform great dramatic scenes.

2nd choice:
Alexis Bledel – I loved her in Gilmore Girls, and she has the right look, but may be too innocent to play Rue.

Thaddeus Silver
Harrison Ford – He’s a legendary actor and the original Han Solo. Oh yeah, not to mention perfect for the role of Rue’s father.

Nia Silver
1st choice:
Cate Blanchet – Not only is she beautiful, but she’s already played a mystical being in Lord of the Rings.

2nd choice:
Michelle Pfeiffer – She has barely aged throughout the years! That suits a faerie quite well in my book.

Amanda Valia
Angela Bassett – Winner of multiple awards, including one Oscar nomination . . . The Good Neighbors would be lucky to have Ms. Bassett in its film version.

Aubrey
Johnny Depp – Do I even need a reason to cast him?

Tam
1st choice:
Zac Effron – He’s one of the “IT” boys at the moment! Tam may be a little out of character for this normally pretty boy, but I think he’d be up for the challenge.

2nd choice:
Shia LaBeouf – Transformers, Eagle Eye, and the latest Indiana Jones film . . . Nope, not tired of him yet.

Dale Rice
1st choice:
Taylor Lautner – He’s in the upcoming highly anticipated movie Twilight as Jacob Black, so better snatch up this up-and-coming actor before his schedule is too busy.

2nd choice:
Drake Bell – This guy already has the cool factor down, and I’m betting he can pull off dark and mysterious too.

Justin Smythe
Jonah Hill – One of the funniest young actors to make me laugh in a while . . . He’s got the part! Plus, who wouldn’t want to be his best friend?

Lucy Chan
This one’s a tie:

Zhang Ziyi – In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, she wowed audiences with her amazing martial arts and acting skills, and I’m betting she’d make an awesome friend. Not only does she have the look, but she can kick butt too.

Jamie Chung – Speaking of another girl who can kick butt, how about Jamie Chung of Samurai Girl? Casting this part will be difficult!

— Carly M., STACKS Staffer

September 11, 2008

Character Confidential: 3 Questions for Thorn

Posted by at 7:39 am in Graphic Novels, Reads | Permalink

Bone_thorn_4 I would love to interview Thorn from Jeff Smith’s Bone series, mostly because I have a huge crush on her. If I ever got the opportunity, I would probably ask these three questions:

1. How’d you get so be so pretty?
2. Is it hard being awesome?

OK, no, seriously . . . Bone is a great series, and Thorn is a very strong, very complex character.

1. Life has gotten pretty complicated for you recently. You went from being a simple, happy-go-lucky farm girl to heir to the throne of a powerful kingdom. Do you miss your old life? Or is being a princess fun?

2. Who do you think would win in a fight: Gran’ma Ben or the Great Red Dragon?

3. How did you keep from strangling Phoney Bone? He was so greedy and mean, and he never cared about anyone but himself — even when the fate of the entire world was on the line.

What do you guys think she’d say? And what would you ask her if you got the chance?

— Jack, STACKS Intern

Illustration copyright 2004 Jeff Smith. BONE is a registered trademark of Jeff Smith.

August 14, 2008

Book Review: BONE

Posted by at 10:08 am in Graphic Novels, Reads | Permalink

“Hello, small mammal. Could you step in here for a moment? I’ve got something to show you.”
The Rat Creatures

I’m usually not into comic books. I mean, I’ve read my share of Superman, like every other kid, but it was never really a big thing for me. So when I tell you that I loved BONE by Jeff Smith and you need to read it, realize that I’m not making my recommendation lightly. It takes a really well-written, carefully plotted, extremely ambitious graphic novel to get me excited about the genre at all, and BONE is all of those things.

I couldn’t get into the plot without spoiling some of its great surprises, and I’m afraid if I start talking I wouldn’t be able to stop anyway. So . . . lucky you: SPOILER-FREE BLOG POST! Just know that the story ends up as epic and huge (complete with massive battles, dragon fights, feats of bravery, and so on) without ever getting dry or boring. In fact, BONE is one of the funniest books I’ve read in a while. I’m pretty sure the other riders in my subway cars hated me for the constant chuckling, guffawing, and poorly stifled bursts of laughter, but whatever. Plus it’s got great characters. You’ll love Fone Bone for his courage and his good sense of humor, you’ll die laughing at Smiley Bone’s antics, and you will really, really hate Phoney Bone.

And then there’s the art. In addition to being a great writer, it turns out Jeff Smith is an awesome artist. The drawings are lush and rich, and Jeff somehow manages to give the little 2-foot-tall bones just as much personality in their faces and body language as his human characters have. As the scale of the plot gets bigger and bigger, his drawings start to cover huge landscapes, exotic towns, and raging battles, and he proves that his talent isn’t limited to small, intimate details.

So now that I’ve had a graphic novel epiphany . . . is there another one I should read? Let me know in the comments!

— Jack, STACKS Intern