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Archive for the ‘Graphic Novels’ Category

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, illus by Dawud Anyabwile.

July 19, 2020 Comments off

crossoverThe Crossover by Kwame Alexander, illus by Dawud Anyabwile. Pub. Anderson Press, 2020.

This is the most powerful graphic novel  for high school students that I have ever read and it deservedly won the Newbery Medal. It is about basketball and it is about families and all the characters in this novel are black.

JB and Jordan are twins, they are 13 years old and a very gifted basketball players. They live and breathe basketball and they are fans of rap music. Their father was a pro baller and won a championship ring as “da man”, but he is not a well man. Their mother is Principal of the High School the boys attend and both parents are highly involved with boys lives.

The boys compete, the father coaches them and the mother ensures that the boys education takes priority. Then a girl comes on the scene. She is beautiful, wears pink gym shoes and she makes a play for Jordan and they become an item. This upsets JB and the closeness the brothers once had starts to deteriorate to the point that it erupts into a violent act in the middle of a basketball game.

The family is wracked with problems, the boys become enemies and then tragedy. The ending is stunning.

There is lots of basketball talk most of it in rap verse. The book is divided into four quarters and there is a competition going on.

Easy to read with the illustrations superb. I read the book in about an hour and got emotionally involved with what was happening, you will too.

Reluctant boy readers and readers who like sports stories particularly basketball will love this novel. The rap prose is inspiring to as is the relationship between Jordan and the girl. Black Lives matter is also a strong theme of this novel.

The Inkberg Enigma by Jonathan King.

March 7, 2020 Comments off

InkbergThe Inkberg Enigma by Jonathan King. Pub. Gecko Press, 2020.

This is one of the best graphic novels for readers 8-14 years that i have ever read and it is by New Zealand film maker and comic book writer Jonathan King.

Miro  is a smart lad with a green hat and glasses who is a reader. He loves books. Zia his friend is a photographer and between them they unravel a mystery that affects all the people who live in the small fishing town of Aurora.

The origin of the mystery that enabled Aurora to become a wealthy fishing town is the Antarctic adventures akin to those of Shackleton of a man called Danforth who built a castle on the cliffs across the water from the town.

As his men hauled a lifeboat across the ice that crushed their ship they come across a dark ink coloured ice peak sticking up from the sea through the pack ice. They discover  an abundance of sea life beneath the black peak and have an encounter with a huge squid like creature. Danforth keeps a diary written in the ink from the dark peak and discovers it has a power that is very dark indeed. Read it and see what it is.

Comic book styled images and believable characters make this a sound reading gem for readers who are visual. It would make a wonderful film.

Don’t miss this you will kick yourself.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers, adapted by Guy A. Sims, illus. Dawud Anyabwile.

June 25, 2019 Comments off

MonsterMonster by Walter Dean Myers, adapted by Guy A. Sims, illus. Dawud Anyabwile. Pub. HarperCollins, 2015.

This is one of the most powerful graphic novels I have read and if I wanted to deter anybody from pursuing a criminal career that could lead to jail I would get them to read this novel.

It is the story a teenage boy, Steve, who is asked to be a lookout and to case a drugstore that two hardened criminals plan to rob. The robbery goes badly and the shop owner is killed. Steve and his two alleged partners in crime stand trial for the murder and face life in jail if convicted.

The story of the trial is powerful as Steve learns of the horrors of prison life and has to face his parents. He learns too that criminals do not tell the truth and will do anything to get off even if it means implicating others.

The graphic illustrations are outstanding and will live in your memory long after you finish the novel. Plus there is a filmic quality to the novel with Steve seeing everything as though he was making a film about it.

Stunning stuff for visual learners of high school age.

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.

June 25, 2019 Comments off

sistersSisters by Raina Telgemeier. Pub. Scholastic, NY,  2014.

This graphic novel for Intermediate and High school students is as the title suggests about the relationship between two sisters, Raina who is the eldest and Amara who is a feisty anatagonist.

Raina always wanted a sister and she pestered her parents to get one. There is an old saying that goes “don’t wish too hard for something or you might get it”.

Raina is delighted when Amara is born but her delight is short lived. Amara is not a shrinking violet and the two clash over everything until Raina is a teenager and Amara is knocking on the door. They have different tastes, behaviours, sense of humour and aspirations.

Then an incident happens that you will have to find out for yourself and it is always there between them. Then father loses his job and things become strained in the family. He finally gets a job and the family set off in the car to a family reunion in Colorado and everything changes.

Good family relationship stuff which the graphic illustrations highlight beautifully.

Visual readers and reluctant girl readers will find this easy to read. I read it in half an hour but you can take your time, if you want.

Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas by Ant Sang and Michael Bennett.

June 27, 2018 Comments off

go go ninjasHelen and the Go-Go Ninjas by Ant Sang and Michael Bennett. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018

There is a filmic quality about this excellent graphic novel for readers as wide as intermediate to young adult. It has a lot of depth to it.

It is set around a city like Auckland and is in two time zones. In the present Helen is a protester of environmental issues while her prig of a boyfriend is a PhD student working on sound vibrations emanating from plants called paramecia. The two have all but reached the end of their relationship.

The boyfriend scientist, named Marion after John Wayne, has found that by stimulating the queen paramecia he can create sound vibrations that eliminate the need for anaesthetics and create endless possibilities for humankind.

Meanwhile Helen has been arrested for hanging a protest banner off the SkyTower and confronts Marion in his laboratory. Suddenly they are invaded by GoGo Ninjas from the year 2355 who mistakenly kidnap Helen because they felt Marion was a girls name and take her back to the future.

In the future Marion’s invention has created social chaos and the Ninjas want him to reverse the process. But  all is not as it seems. Read it and find out what happens. There is even a Stockholm Syndrome romantic relationship

Very clever, very imaginative and full on action. I was amazed how much philosophical , scientific and emotional argument can be communicated in Ant Sang’s brilliant comic illustrations. Combine this with Michael Bennett’s tight script and you have a film classic in the making. There is even a copy of a Planet of the Apes scene involving the SkyTower in the future, just as Charlton Heston finds the Statue of liberty on the Beach.

I read this very quickly in like 30 minutes, then sat down and read it again. You will two. I am off to read it again. If you miss this you will kick yourself. Very cool indeed

Moa by James Davidson

April 4, 2017 Comments off

moaMoa by James Davidson. Pub. Earths End, 2017.

A comic book story in 5 parts concerning two Moa Rangers Possum von Tempsky and Kiwi Pukupuku. Both ride Moas and are sort of watchdogs cum cultural police cum super heroes who wander round NZ’s bush and seashore sorting out the bad dudes including tough looking pigs, stags and lizards. All the local population are kiwis.

Their adventures fringe onto Maori legends including Hatupatu and the Birdwoman and of course Maui. There is a story of the largest Kauri tree that bushmen want to cut down. Everytime they try it is restored again as it is protected by a Mauri stone.

The last story which is not finished is a serial story concerning the theft of Maui’s magic jaw bone by Otto who wants to use it to fish for his own land and conquer the World. You will need to get the next part to find out how it ends.

Comic book illustrations with speech bubbles from the characters. Lots of action and tongue in cheek humour without offending the cultural aspects.

Another example of the changing way Maori legends and culture are proceeding to appeal to modern kids. I like the movement.

 

The Heading Dog Who Split in Half: legends and Tall Tales From New Zealand by Michael Brown and Mat Tait

December 8, 2015 Comments off

heading dogThe Heading Dog Who Split in Half: legends and Tall Tales From New Zealand by Michael Brown and Mat Tait. Pub. Potton & Burton, 2015.

Given New Zealand’s wild past where Maori and European cultures mixed, where men spent hours on their own in inhospitable country, where fortunes were won and lost and where pub talk gave birth to the tall story, it is about time someone put down these stories for us all to share.

Michael Brown and Mat Tait have built on research into strange stories, myths, urban legends,Maori legends and sailors sea shanties to produce seven stories in graphic novel format that bring them alive.

The dog that split in half is a clear shaggy dog story, the sailor and the Maori maiden must have happened countless tiimes, Ranzo Boys Ranzo is a sailors sea shanty, Cargill’s castle is riddled with rumour and gossip, Tale of old Waihi gets bigger by the day, the Phantom canoe at Tarawera is folk lore and the Day the pub burnt down was a settlers fear.

Explanations of all stories are given at the end of the book.

Mat Tait’s black and white illustrations are world class and worth studying for the art alone.

There is something for everyone in this publication.

The Dharma Punks by Ant Sang.

October 13, 2015 Comments off

dharma punksThe Dharma Punks by Ant Sang. Pub. Earths End, 2014.

This graphic novel for high school students and young adults is possibly the best graphic novel I have read by any author since Dylan Horrocks’ Hicksville.

I normally have difficulty reading graphic novels but not with this one. I finished it in two sittings, put it down and said WOW!

The novel evolved from the Dharma Punks comic series of the early 1990’s which were set around a punk band named Filth. It’s about rebellion, about the meaning of life on a higher plane, about existing in a hostile world, about the awkwardness of relationships and about the naivity of youth. It’s also about violence and exploitation but the innocence of it all shines through like a beacon.

Chopstick is the main character. He hasn’t gotten over the death of a female band member who jumped off Grafton bridge into the cemetery below. The others haven’t got over it either and are drifting aimlessly in life. Somethings gotta give and it does.

Lured into placing an allegedly harmless bomb at the opening of a fast food outlet by a large conglomerate, Chopstick and his mates have a night of wonder and violence. They are attacked by skinheads, Chopstick has a religious experience and all hell breaks loose.

In between chapters there are philosophical quotations from Bhuddism that talk about some of the deep things in life and are relevant to the action.

The graphics are superb and enhance the mood and character of the participants and the action. The ending is positive and the interaction and dialogue between the characters is real.

Set in Central Auckland, you will not read a better graphic novel than this.

Duncans and PrePocalypse by Geradts, Fairgray and Martinez.

December 23, 2014 Comments off

duncansDuncans by Geradts, Fairgray and Martinez. Pub. Beyond Reality Media NZ Ltd, 2014.

Patrick works for a company that uses humans as laboratory rats. While testing  an experimental laxative he has an electric shock which completely changes what he sees in life. He sees that attached to every human being is a daemon like creature called a Duncan.

These Duncans have been with humans since they were cavemen and have been responsible for the evolution of man to what he is in this book. I will let you judge for yourself.

Patrick has his own Duncan who seems to be the top banana but has a desire to rid the World of all the Duncans and establish his own power.  D1 as the Duncan is known gets Patrick to make a machine which gets rid of all the Duncans but turns humans into cavemen again except for some Super Humans whose body and mind have merged with the Duncans. Confused yet?

Read the rest and find out. Graphic novel style illustrations that are everything you think they are. Illustrative, surreal, horror and comedy. You are either into these novels or your not.

prepocalypsePrePocalypse by Geradts, Fairgray and Martinez. Pub. Beyond Reality Media NZ, 2014.

This the sequel to the above graphic novel. Patrick has now a caveman friend and he and his girlfriend Danes are trying to save the World and the human race. They are helped by a time traveling tourist called Beethoven Jones who travels to historically important situations and takes a selfie.

In this episode the demise of Rasputin is the historical or is it hysterical moment that beethoven takes and it is a riot.

You will either love it or hate it. I found it amusing.

The authors have a cynical view of Mankind and take the water out of science and evolution. Einstein, Freud and Darwin appear in these novels.

The graphic illustrations again are a huge part of the appeal of these novels and they are for a certain type of visual reader usually male and reluctant to read the usual style of novel. They have a place in reading are entertaining and would appeal at High school age.