Krampusnacht is coming up this weekend. It’s the night before St. Nick’s Day when people believe Krampus comes to punish children that misbehave. Krampus wasn’t always associated with the Christian holidays. As Smithsonian Magazine explains, “His name originates with the German krampen, which means “claw,” and tradition has it that he is the son of the Norse god of the underworld, Hel.” In Europe, every year for Krampusnacht, there will be parades and festivals where people dress up as Krampus. These festivities are spreading to America as well. There is a Krampusnacht that happens in Milwaukee. If you’re not able to go to a Krampusnacht or want to be cautious with the ongoing pandemic, I’ve made a list of items to get you in the holiday mood. One of the items in this blog is honestly one of my favorite Christmas movies. As with my other recent posts, I’ve included the summary from our catalog about each item.
“This darkly festive tale of a yuletide ghoul reveals an irreverently twisted side to the holiday. The horror-comedy tells the story of young Max, who turns his back on Christmas as his dysfunctional family comes together and comically clashes over the holidays. When they accidentally unleash the wrath of Krampus, an ancient entity from European folklore, all hell breaks loose and beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own.”
In the lastcouple of years, I wrote about some of my favorite horror movies. Instead of movies, to keep things fresh, I decided to talk about horror graphic novels. So get cozy in your favorite reading chair and grab one of these terrifying titles! Like my other posts, I’ve included the synopsis from our catalog.
“Kurôzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people’s bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi’s father and the voice from the cochlea in our inner ear. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurôzu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is no return!”
In a continuation of last week’s post centered on LGBTQI+ excellence in books and movies, please enjoy this list of graphic novels to celebrate Pride and the inherent talent and diversity within. Below, I highlight four graphic novels that are worth a look whether it’s Pride month or not. Book descriptions were sourced from publisher information.
This series is what it might look like if Nancy Drew liked girls and had non-white friends. 16-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives at a Florida resort with her dad, who manages the place. Her mom, who divorced her dad years ago, works as a live mermaid at a club downtown. Goldie has an insatiable curiosity, which explains her dream to one day become the hotel’s in-house detective. When Charles, the current detective, encounters a case he can’t crack, he agrees to mentor Goldie in exchange for her help solving the mystery utilizing her smarts, random skills, and connections with the hotel staff and various folks in town. Available on Hoopla.
James Tynion IV (Detective Comics, The Woods) teams up with artist Rian Sygh (Munchkin, Stolen Forest) for an incredibly earnest story that explores what it means to find a place to fit in when you’re kinda an outcast. When Jory transfers to an all-boys private high school, he’s taken in by the lowly stage crew known as the Backstagers. Hunter, Aziz, Sasha, and Beckett become his new best friends and introduce him to an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain that the rest of the school doesn’t know about, filled with strange creatures, changing hallways, and a decades-old legend of a backstage crew that went missing and was never found. Available on Hoopla. Ongoing series.
Pan’s life used to be very small. Work in her dad’s body shop, sneak out with her friend Tara to go dancing, and watch the skies for freighter ships. It didn’t even matter that Tara was a princess… until one day it very much did matter, and Pan had to say goodbye forever. Years later, when a charismatic pair of off-world gladiators show up on her doorstep, she finds that life might not be as small as she thought. On the run and off the galactic grid, Pan discovers the astonishing secrets of her neo-medieval world… and the intoxicating possibility of burning it all down. Available on Hoopla.
When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-’60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage. Available on Hoopla.
Additional LGBTQI+ graphic novels to celebrate Pride month with:
All of the above titles can be found in the Monarch catalog. Most of the titles are available on Hoopla. In fact, Hoopla is host to hundreds of comic book and graphic novel titles, so no matter one’s interest area there is bound to be something that appeals.
Please do not hesitate to reach out for help requesting material or troubleshooting tech stuff. As always, we are thrilled to pieces to give reader’s advisory book recommendations whether it’s for Pride month or any other occasion.
How has your Bookish Bingo Challenge been going? We’re approaching the halfway point of 2021, so it is by no means too late to finish up a row, or start completely from scratch to reach your bingo goal. Not sure what the Bookish Bingo Challenge is, or need a copy of the bingo sheet? Click HERE. Also, take a look at past installments of Bookish Bingo blog posts for inspiration HERE.
This week’s post focuses on the “read a graphic novel, graphic memoir, or manga” square. My public school experience happened to line up with the place in time when we stopped saying “comic books” and started saying “graphic novels”. Really high-falutin’ and academic types might even have uttered “sequential art” when trying to frame comic books as a serious literary and artistic medium. My seventh grade english teacher quickly did an about-face at my proposed book report on Art Spiegleman’s seminal Maus, when told that it had won a Pulitzer Prize that year; a first for any comic. Anyone familiar with this remarkable title will understand how Spiegleman’s work helped usher in a truly golden age of graphic novels, manga, comics, comix, funny pages, or however you know the medium. Take a look at the list below for some additional high-chroma recommendations.
Graphic novels: Black Panther: World of Wakanda (2017) written by Roxanne Gay and Ta-Nehisi Coates; gone are the days when comics were known for shoddy writing. Gay and Coates are some of the country’s greatest living authors, so we should all take a moment to appreciate the depth of talent at work in all aspects of contemporary graphic novels.
Check Please! (2018) by Ngozi Ukazu; there’s a trope in queer fiction in which gay protagonists are subjected to unceremonious deaths, overt gay-bashing, or some other violent consequence of homophobia. I’m begging you to read this book not only because it is an absolute delight, but gay characters are defined by their thoughts and actions, not by their trauma. Also: PIE!
A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories (1978) by Will Eisner; widely considered the first modern graphic novel. Eisner is so important to the medium they named the award for industry achievement and innovation after him. Take a look at the list of Eisner award-winning work HERE.
Love and Rockets (1981-1996) by Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez; I, personally, cannot talk about American comic history without mentioning the Hernandez brothers. They gave voice to minorities and women in an industry that still isn’t always welcoming to these populations, as well as define the post-underground generation of comic artists.
Usagi Yojimbo (1987-present) by Stan Sakai; follow masterless bunny samurai Miyamoto Usagi around a 17th century Japan populated with anthropomorphic animals. This long-running series is packed full of awesome action, Japanese mythology, folklore, and humor. Does Usagi seem familiar? It might be because he has been known to join the Ninja Turtles on adventures, as well.
El Deafo (2014) by Cece Bell; perennial favorite of middle-grade readers, and rightly so. Full of heart, humanity, and humor.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2007) by Alison Bechdel; you may also recognize Bechdel’s name from the eponymous “Bechdel Test” which is a simple if imperfect way to evaluate female representation in fiction. Read more about it HERE, because honestly it’s fascinating.
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (1991) by Art Spiegelman; aforementioned as perhaps THE book that helped comics reach mainstream notoriety.
Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood (2004) by Marjane Satrapi; I learned more about the 1979 Iranian Revolution from this book than the entirety of my formal education. See also: the animated movie adaptation.
Need even MORE excellent graphic memoir recommendations? Take a look at the list assembled over at Bookriot.
Akira (1984) by Katsuhiro Otomo; the manga that launched a thousand obsessions. As with many middle-Americans, Akira was my first encounter with anime which then extrapolated into my first encounter with manga. The influence of both film and book on modern media cannot be overstated. Watch the movie and marvel at its late 80s technical excellence and totally badass soundtrack.
High School Debut (2004-2013) by Kazune Kawahara; beloved romance series known for its straightforward charm.
O Maidens in Your Savage Season (2017-present) by Mari Okada; this one comes highly recommended by fellow librarian Carol, and if one can trust anyone’s opinion, it’s hers. This is a great title for women and girls who are tired of seeing themselves objectified from hell to breakfast in manga (and plenty of American media as well, to be fair).
One Piece (1997-present) by Eiichiro Oda; this long-running, best-selling adventure series will publish its 100th volume later this year.
Uzumaki: Spiral Into Horror (1998) by Junji Ito; horror manga tends to be filled with super gross, intense depictions of gore and violence. This three-volume series goes easier on the reader without scaling back the genuine creep-factor.
I will admit manga is a personal blind spot for me, so please take a look at THIS list from Bookriot for further recommendations. One thing I love about manga is that many tend to be published as long-running series, so if one book is appealing there are likely to be dozens more (looking at you, One Piece).
For a great introduction to the main genres of manga, take a look at THIS excellent guide published by the New York Public Library.
At one time the word “comics” might have conjured the blurry, three-color lithography of Sunday papers, superhero rags made famous by DC and Marvel, and not a lot else. Superheroes and newspaper funnies are still valid and important, but the form has come a long way over the years, which benefits us all. Framed as a gateway to broader reading, many reluctant readers morphed into avid book lovers after connecting with a graphic novel they loved. My gateway comics were Archie Comics and Herge’s Tintin; these were the first books I ever read on my own & cemented my positive relationship with reading. Hopefully, the books and lists above will provide Bookish Bingo players ample inspiration of their own. All titles listed above are available via the Monarch catalog. For help requesting materials or additional book recommendations including but not limited to bingo square challenges, we would love to hear from you via phone (920-459-3400), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), chat, or in-person.
The 2020 Hugo Awards were officially announced last week. 17 Hugo Awards are distributed (plus some extras) but one of my favorite categories is the Award for Best Graphic Story or Comic. Here are the 6 shortlisted titles for this year’s award.
With Comic-Con@Home starting today, I thought I would share some of my favorite movies based on comics. As with my other list posts, I’ve included the description from the catalog of each film under their listing.
“A wealthy industrialist is held captive in enemy territory and escapes by building a high-tech suit made of armor. When he returns home, he decides to use his money, talents, and suit to save the world.”
My social life has taken a pretty sharp decline since I’ve gone into quarantine. Being home more has given me a bit of a push to reevaluate my reading pile. I’ve sifted through the books that have piled up around my home to find some that I thought others might be interested in as well.
Carl Zimmer was one of the authors that I read for a few classes at university. He’s a writer that can take relatively dry science topics, like evolution, and make them engaging for every degree of reader. Near the end of my undergraduate education, I found an interest in virus-host coevolution and tried to find books on viruses. I stupidly didn’t take a microbiology class due to initially thinking microbes were boring. I need to note that this particular book has been in my pile for a few years, but it has taken on new relevance.
Sick of spaceships? Toured pseudo-medieval Europe too often? Try these 6 science fiction & fantasy stories from black authors. You’ll find yourself anywhere from a magical version of modern Nigeria to a post-apocalyptic Brazil. With expansive worlds and fresh perspectives, these books can freshen up any sci-fi or fantasy reader’s bookshelf.
If N.K. Jemisin’s deluge of accolades and unprecedented three consecutive Hugos aren’t enough to persuade you to pick up The Fifth Season, perhaps a violent world of regular nigh-apocalyptic cataclysms and a earth-shattering mage on a far-ranging quest of vengeance to save her kidnapped daughter will entice you.
The last few weeks have been good for gaming, but even I can get burned out after a few days. Sometimes, you get caught up in the story or world you were playing in, though. This week I found a few books that are set in some favorite videogame worlds.
This novel is set after the Oblivion Crisis. Though I feel like to fully enjoy it, you need to have played The Elder Scrolls III, or at least The Elder Scrolls Online. The novel visits places in Morrowind like Vivec City and mentions the fall of the Ministry of Truth. That may not be as much of an issue for other people as it would be for me, though.