Tag Archives: GraphicNovels

The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Guay

The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Guay

Dark Horse Books, Milwaukie, OR, 2011

Borrowed from my local library.

A fantasy in graphic novel form by one of my favorite authors.  I have been a fan of Jane Yolen for many years, ever since I read Sister Light, Sister Dark.  She has written so many books I haven’t been able to keep up.  I stumbled upon The Last Dragon while looking through the graphic/comic shelf at my local library and had to bring it home.

This is a dark and wonderful tale of an herbalist’s daughter, Tansy,  who finds out that dragons did not, in fact, die out two hundred years ago.  One has risen from the earth and is terrorizing her village.  With the help of a reluctant hero, she manages to find and slay this last dragon and save her town.

The artwork by Rebecca Guay is stunning, pen and ink drawings with rich, deep water color.  This book is worth looking at for the art alone but the story, woven with herbal lore and a bit of romance, is lovely.


Filed under Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Once Upon A Time VI

The Sandman: Volume One by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

D.C. Comics, New York, 1995

Borrowed from my library.  I have the first 30 issues of this series tucked away in my basement.

I decided I had to review something in graphic format for R.I.P. VI.   What better than The Sandman?  I first discovered Neil Gaiman’s work when someone gave me a copy of Black Orchid.  I was hooked.

Gaiman started The Sandman project as a monthly comic in 1989.  The original idea of the Sandman character coming from a 1976-1978 DC series,  Gaiman made it his own.  The Vertigo imprint as released the series in trade paperbacks that group individual comics into complete novels.

With the help of many artist and inkers, The Sandman series grew from an awkward beginning into a complex classic tale of horror, myth and magic.   Preludes and Nocturnes introduces the Dream King, Morpheus,  held captive for nearly a century.  During his icarseration many humans have suffered horrible continuing nightmares. Finally free and seeking revenge along with his stolen magical tools, Dream finds himself weakened, almost dead.   To regain his power he must visit a ghastly hell filled with demons and flesh-eating monsters, a combination of Dante’s Inferno and The Garden of Earthly Delights.  There are several scenes in Arkham Asylum, a madhouse orginally appearing in Batman comics.   I imagine Arkham  is  based on Bethlam Royal Hospital.

My love of The Sandman is based on the mix of horror, magic, and ancient stories to tell tales of very human dilemmas.   Dream and his siblings, including Death and Delirium, are wonderful characters.  Neil Gaiman and all of the artist and others involved in this series have created a classic.  The Sandman is  perfect for reading on dark, stormy nights.

R.I.P. VI is organized by Carl V. of Stainless Steel Droppings.  Visit the review site is here.  I made full use of Wikipedia for some of the background on this series.


Filed under Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Horror, Review, RIP VI Challenge

Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson

Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson

Dark Horse Comics, Milwaukie, OR 2010

Borrowed from the library.

I love animals.  I love graphic novels.  What is not to like about Beasts of Burden?

The stories take place in Burden Hill, a peaceful place with lovely homes, picket fences and a group of dogs (and one cat) who are best buddies.  Then strange things begin to happen.  Frogs fall from the sky, evil kitties abound and Jack and Rex discover zombie roadkill.  The crew call on the Wise Dog to help them and eventually become a team of paranormal detectives.

Sometimes bloody, often beautiful, these are horror stories filled with good guys and bad guys, ghosts and witches.  Atmospheric artwork and animals with distinct personalities and quirky friendships that remind us of ourselves make this a dark and often humorous read. Dark Horse offers some of the Beast of Burden stories on their website.  You are welcome to check them out.

Other Reviews:

Mama Librarian


Filed under Animals, Graphic Novels, Review

Mercury by Hope Larson

Mercury by Hope Larson

Antheneum Books, New York, 2010

Borrowed from the library.

An interesting mix of fantasy,  history and contemporary fiction, this is a graphic novel about two young women in a small town in Nova Scotia.  Switching  between the 1850’s and 2009, we find that Josey and Tara are connected through family and that each as been given a strange locket, a locket that seems to be attracted to gold.

Both girls struggle with familiar issues that include familial tensions, relationships and the struggle for independence.

Larson, an Eisner Award winner, has inked Mercury in black on white and white on black.  It is a book dense and rich in story and artwork.

Other reviews:

Buried In Print

Regular Rumination

Stuff As Dreams Are Made On

The Boston Bibliophile


Filed under Graphic Novels, Review, Young Adult

Trickster: Native American Tales A Graphic Collection by Matt Dembicki

Trickster: Native American Tales A Graphic Collection

Edited by Matt Dembicki

Fulcrum Publishing, Golden CO, 2010

Borrowed from the library.

Trickster is a character that shows up in mythologies and folklore all over the planet.  The Monkey-King in China, Reynard in France and, of course, Raven in the Pacific Northwest.   This anthropomorphic animal plays tricks, disobeys rules and goes against conventional behavior.  We find him or her everywhere.

This beautiful collection of Native Americans tales pairs native story-tellers with graphic artist in a book that celebrates North American indigenous cultures.  There is history, moral dilemmas and wonderful teaching in these stories.  The various voices and artistic styles bring great variety to these pages and some of my favorite graphic artists are represented, including Micah Farritor and editor Matt Dembicki.


Filed under Graphic Novel Challenge 2010, Graphic Novels, Review

Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation

Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation

by Michael Keller, Illustrated by Nicolle Rager Fuller

Rodale, New York, 2009

Borrowed from the library.

Published during the 150th anniversary year of the publication of On the Origin of Species, this book is a beautiful presentation of some of the strongest parts of Darwin’s argument for the evolution of species and his theory of natural selection. The beginning of the book gives some  historical and biographical information on Darwin’s background and his introduction to scientific observation. Text from Darwin’s work is woven through the stunning illustrations and Keller has made every effort to update Darwin’s ideas with our present understanding of how life evolves.

Fuller’s illustrations are beautiful and add to a basic understanding of a scientific theory that changed western science, culture and religious belief.  Having read parts of The Voyage of The Beagle and studied some of Origin in an evolutionary biology class,  I found this book a wonderful introduction to Darwin’s theory.


Filed under Graphic Novel Challenge 2010, Graphic Novels, Science, Science Books 2010

Clan Apis by Jay Hosler, Ph. D.

Clan Apis by Jay Hosler, Ph.D.

Active Synapse, Columbus, 2000

Borrowed from the library.

I first learned about this wonderful graphic novel at DogEar Diary.  Thanks, Jeane!

Jay Hosler is a professor of biology who is also a comic book artist!  Clan Apis, drawn in black and white, tells the story of a young bee and her hive mates.  It is packed with lots of information about hive structure, bee life cycles, behavior and the honey bee’s place in the world.

We first meet Nyuki in her larval stage and follow her through her changes as she matures.  Her conversations with older bees explain  the division of labor in a hive, hive social structure, pollen collection and honey production.  Leaving the hive she has many adventures, all containing interest information about honey bee ecology.

Clan Apis is beautifully illustrated, full of humor and adventure, a perfect introduction to bee biology.  I easily see it drawing in a reluctant reader and, just maybe, helping to create a budding life scientist. I plan on adding a copy of it to our school library.  I also plan on reading  Hosler’s The Sandwalk Adventures.


Filed under Animals, Graphic Novel Challenge 2010, Graphic Novels, Review, Science Books 2010

Children of the Sea: Volume 1 by Daisuke Igarashi

Children of the Sea: Volume 1 by Daisuke Igarashi

Translation by JN Productions

Viz Media, San Fransisco, 2009

Borrowed from the library.

The first manga I have managed to get through!  For some reason my brain has a hard time wrapping around the right to left format.

Ruka is having a hard time.  Shuttling between her parents is difficult, she is having trouble at school and feels out of place everywhere.  She dreams of a ghost she had seen in the aquarium where her father works, a ghost that turns into light.  Then she meets two brothers,  Umi and Sora.  While the adults around these children struggle with a mystery of disappearing fish, Ruka, Umi and Sora discover a connection and begin to find out things about their past and about their future.

What drew me in was the sea, what kept me there was Igarashi’s stunning artwork.  The library only has volume 1, I am going to have to fine or buy volume 2.

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Filed under Graphic Novel Challenge 2010, Graphic Novels, Manga, Review, Young Adult

Bone: The Series by Jeff Smith

Bone: The Series by Jeff Smith

Scholastic, New York, 2007-2009

Borrowed from the library.

For the past couple of years many older elementary students I know have told me “YOU HAVE TO READ BONE!”  I had no idea what they were talking about until I stumbled upon Rose: A Bone Prequel.

Bone is a wonder.  Full of characters with big noses, dragons, evil rat creatures, an undiscovered princess and a cranky old women, it is a series of stories filled with mystery, adventure and some terrifying battles.  Mostly it is about loyalty, friendship and following through on your promises.  There is now a master volume, some 1300 or so pages, but I found reading the books from Volume 1 to 9 to be just perfect.

I love Smith’s artwork, an interesting mix of detail and simplicity, the three comic Bone cousins running about in beautifully drawn and colored forest landscapes and village marketplaces.

There is a Boneville website and an school library controversy.   In Minnesota a parent attempted to have the series banned from all the elementary schools in their child’s district.  A review committee has heard both sides of the case and voted 10 to 1 against the ban.  To quote Melinda Martin, a media specialist from the school district:

“It’s important to understand selection from censorship,” she said. “I respect her right to object to the series, but not for her to censor it for the rest. I feel you would be doing a disservice to our district if you remove this book from our elementary schools.”

It is heartening to find a review committee with such sensibility!


Filed under Childrens, Graphic Novel Challenge, Graphic Novels

Sandman:The Dream Hunters by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell

Sandman: The Dream Hunters by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Hunter

Vertigo, DC Comics, New York, 2009

Borrowed from the library.

For the tenth anniversary of the Sandman series Neil Gaiman, with help from Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano,  wrote a tale combining  the mythology of Morpheus with elements of Japanese myth and folktales.  The story worked so well that readers and critics believed the story was ancient.

Now P. Craig Russell has used his artistry to produce the story in graphic form.

A young monk lives by himself in a small temple.  A fox and a badger make a wager.  Who ever can drive the monk from his home will call the place their own.  So begins this story of magic, demons and a love that was never meant to be.

Russell’s artwork is a perfect match for this story, beautifully drawn and inked.  I was brought back into the world of the Dream King in a way I never expected.  Now I really have to dig out my original Sandman comics and read through them again.  Highly recommended for adult readers.


Filed under Fantasy, Graphic Novel Challenge 2010, Graphic Novels, Once Upon Time IV, Review