Celebrate the Winter Season with Comics

By Jason Larsen

Cover of Mouse Guard: Winter 1152

December is upon us and the Fall semester is winding down! The International and Area Studies Library is looking forward to the various activities of the upcoming season and has some comic recommendations in that spirit. As many of us observe different holidays or can find this time of year to be challenging mentally and/or emotionally, we wanted to focus on materials that everyone could enjoy. The below comic selections focus on the themes of seasonal weather, the love of food, and mental health/well-being. Our selections on mental health and well-being are meant to help readers understand that they are not alone in their struggles and may offer some additional coping mechanisms or inspiration. We hope you find a new favorite that provides some additional comfort as the weather gets colder.

Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 (David Petersen)

When looking for a comic that captures how Winter can sometimes feel in the Midwest, look no further than David Peterson’s Mouse Guard. This volume shows the impact a harsh winter has on the mice of the forest, and the need to keep their various communities connected. While the protagonists are mice, the series is rooted strongly in fantasy and adventure. The perfect thing to read while keeping warm as the season starts to roll in!

Snow Angels (Jeff Lemire and Jock)

In a desolate, icy world, two young girls are being taught the three fundamental rules to survive. However, when they push beyond the boundaries of what is known, they awaken something ancient. What began as a coming-of-age trip for the girls turns into a saga of survival, coping with loss, and finding triumph in redemption.

Get Jiro! (Anthony Bourdain, Joel Rose, and Langdon Foss)

Chef Anthony Bourdain was known for many things during his life, but one of his lesser know titles was comic writer. The story is set in a near future L.A. that takes food culture to a new extreme. Master chefs rule the food scene like crime lords, and people are willing to do whatever it takes to get a dining spot at the premiere restaurants. Follow sushi chef Jiro as he strikes out to forge a new way that food engages with people, even if he has to kill all the other chefs to do it.

Cover of Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen (Lucy Knisley)

Lucy Knisley grew up with her mother being a gourmet chef. Through their relationship, she learned how food connects us all. In this unique part memoir and part recipe book (foodoir??), Lucy takes us through key moments in her life, what food was present during these moments, and life lessons she has learned through food and cooking in the kitchen.

Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes (Robin Ha)

While Relish examines the creator’s relationship with food, Robin Ha went in a different direction with her graphic novel. The book is an actual cookbook with Korean recipes and uses the comic medium as a way to illustrate the ingredients needed, provide information, and the steps to prepare the meals. The book covers 60 dishes and provides a great entry point for those who either are looking to make something new, or learn more about Korean cuisine.

Flavor (Joe Keatinge, Ali Bouzari, and Wook Jin Clark)

Food scientist and award-winning author Ali Bouzari consulted with writer Joe Keatinge to cook up something truly unique. This series takes us to a world where chefs are celebrated as rockstars…if they survive cooking school. A unique blend of fantasy adventure and culinary arts, this series takes readers along on a quest for the perfect ingredients to make a dish truly legendary.

Cover of Eat, and Love Yourself by Sweeney Boo

Eat, and Love Yourself (Sweeny Boo)

This comic is a story about a young woman who is searching for the perfect body. Upon buying a candy bar that is the title of this book, she finds herself transported back in time to a specific moment of her past with each square she eats. Creator Sweeny Boo takes the reader on an honest and unflinching look at how we create our self-image, the eating disorders that impact many, and examines how to love ourselves for who we are.  

Psychiatric Tales: Eleven Graphic Stories About Mental Illness (Darryl Cunningham)

This work examines 11 different mental health disorders that impact the lives of 26.2% of the American population daily. The stories are grounded through the creator’s time working in a psychiatric ward and provide the point of view of not just those experiencing the illness but also of their friends and family. The creator made this book as a way to try and destigmatize the common misconceptions around these mental illnesses.

This is How I Disappear (Mirion Malle, Aleshia Jensen, and Bronwyn Haslem)

Creator Mirion Malle examines how young adults cope with mental health. The story centers on the stress and trauma experienced by a young woman after a sexual assault. The comic explores how the young woman can find self-love and relief in light of the effects that depression, isolation, and thoughts of self-harm have on her life in the wake of her traumatic event. With the help of her friends, sisterhood, and therapy she begins the process of healing and discovering ways to survive and thrive.

Cover of How to be ACE: A Memoir of Growing up Asexual by Rebecca Burgess

How to be ACE (Rebecca Burgess)

Creator Rebecca Burgess’s memoir explores her life as she learned to navigate being ACE in a world that is sex focused. Whether it is discussing discovering her asexual identity during her early years, or exploring the impact on her work and her relationships, the creator provides the reader with an unflinching look at the life struggles and men

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New and Noteworthy Books on Globalization

The International and Area Studies Library is always working on expanding its collections and keeping students in touch with the most important and influential works in the field of Global Studies.  New books can be found in the IAS Library on the third floor of the Main Library, so feel free to stop by and browse our newest additions! Here are some highlights of our newest titles, handpicked by Global Studies librarian, Steven Witt. The global studies collections, aim to support interdisciplinary teaching and research on globalization and the resolution of what are commonly called global grand challenges. The collections are supported by a a US Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center grant to the Center for Global Studies at the University of Illinois. 

This handbook focuses on the global realities of moving out of our current ‘interregnum’ – or a period of uncertainty where the old hegemony is fading and the new ones have not yet been fully realized. The theories of transition, current examples of transformation in the fields of socio-politics, socio-ecology and socio-economics, and hypotheses of the future past this transition are covered in the selected articles from a diverse cohort of researchers. These researchers tackle the seemingly ingrained systems of capitalism, colonialism, neoliberalism, patriarchy, war and violence that have marked our current realities and explore what the foundations of a post-capitalist, feminist, decolonial and unoppressive world would look like. Specific topics of education, development, worker’s rights, migration, austerity, climate change etc. are explored within the framework of transition and globalization

The Dark Side of Globalisation

Talani, Leila Simona, and Roberto Roccu. 2019. The Dark Side of Globalisation. International Political Economy Series. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

Globalization is often lauded as a mark of the progressive nature of the world, with more globalization equating to better societies. But beneath its shiny veneer, the behemoth Globalization leaves a dark shadow on the globe. With technology, not humans, in the driver seat, Globalization fails at meeting the hopes of equalizing the world, and instead intensifies the existing divides and issues of communities around the world. This volume looks specifically at the dark side of globalization from the economic viewpoint with close examinations into food markets, production, migration, organized crime, austerity, and conflict.

Contemporary Issues on Globalization and Sustainable Development

Sengupta, Partha Pratim. 2018. Contemporary Issues on Globalization and Sustainable Development. New Delhi, India: Serials Publications Pvt. Ltd.

How much more can our globalized world grow in the face of our fixed ecological budget? The “sustainable” aspect of development is far too often ignored due to beliefs that advancements in technology, socio-economics, politics, and other fields will compensate for the deficits in the ecological budget. This two volume publication moves this deficit into the forefront and highlights scholarship that takes an informative stance on the issue of sustainable development. Specific topics include Informal inequality Measures, financial deregulation, taxation, debt, food expenditure, intellectual property, growth unemployment nexus, and woman empowerment.  

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These books and thousands more are available to you! Stop by the International and Area Studies Library today to find all the resources you need to add a global perspective to your research.

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Ten Great Comics to Celebrate Black History Month

By Jason Larsen 

A screen capture of the Comics Plus app featuring their Black History Month selections.

The Comics Plus app is a great way to read comics online. This month they are also featuring comics by Black creators in honor of Black History month.

The University of Illinois Library maintains a diverse offering of comics not only in our main stacks but also through our Comics Plus application. A couple of the wonderful features about the Comics Plus Application is that you can view it on any computer or mobile device and the content is free to all university faculty, staff, and students.

In celebration of Black History Month, we wanted to share some of our comic recommendations that we feel highlight Black creators or history in comics. We encourage you to check on the works below in the application and/or explore to find your own new favorites.

Anthology – Black Comix Returns (Damien Duffy, John Jennings, Various)

This offering is the second in the series and not only highlights work from various independent Black creators in different genres but also has a direct connection to the University of Illinois. The series is in part compiled by our own alumnus, Dr. Damien Duffy. If you are looking to get a sampling of the types of comic materials out there then look no further than this series.

Biography – Fame: Lil Nas X (Darren G. Davis and Victor Moura)

Lil Nas X is an award-winning rapper whose rise to fame in the last several years has earned the notice of national magazines like Time and Forbes who note he has become an influential force in today’s music scene. This recent release is the story of Lil Nas X’s early years in Atlanta to his breakout hit “Old Town Road”.

Comic Strips – The Boondocks: Because I Know You Don’t Read the Newspaper (Aaron McGruder)

This groundbreaking strip took newspapers by storm with its unique art style and no holds barred take on social topics we are still struggling with today. It also spawned a successful, if not equally controversial, animated cartoon that ran for four seasons on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. While there has been no new Boondocks material for some time, you can still enjoy it from the beginning with this first collected volume of the newspaper strips.

Comic Studies – Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books (Ken Quattro, Alvin Hollingsworth, E.C. Stoner, and Matt Baker)

The tapestry of American comic books is composed of stories created by a multitude of creators. However, much like other fields, the early contributions of Black creators were omitted from the narrative in favor of names we are all familiar with today. This book is the culmination of 20 years of research that explores the Black pioneers of early American comics that should not be missed.

The cover of "Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books" by Ken Quattro, Alvin Hollingsworth, E.C. Stoner, and Matt Baker

Fantasy – Djeliya (Juni Ba)

A fantasy graphic novel set in a world inspired by West African folklore and cultural stories going back centuries. Creator Juni Ba takes us on a wild and winding quest that not only touches on trying to save a dying world but also learning the deeper secrets to myths and traditions that make up a culture along the way.

Historical Fiction/Mystery – Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery (Mat Johnson)

A unique and chilling suspense mystery set in the early 20th Century American South era of public lynching. African American men who could “pass” as white and attempt to expose these atrocities were known as going “incognegro”. A New York reporter goes to the South to investigate the arrest of a black man for the murder of white woman before they become the next victim of a lynch mob. Can this reporter successfully expose the truth about the murder and the secrets he uncovers while “incognegro” when the accused is his own brother?

History/Biography – Billie Holliday (Carlos Sampayo and Jose Muñoz)

Billie Holliday’s song “Strange Fruit” brought the lynchings in the South to the forefront of US culture in 1939. Yet despite her career being tied to this powerful protest song, her life was marred by controversy and addiction. This biography explores her life and seeks the truth in an attempt to correct the record about the singer’s life and legacy.

LGBTQ +/Romance – The Sacrifice of Darkness (Roxane Gay, Tracy Lynne Oliver, James Fenner, and Rebecca Kirby)

Bestselling author Roxane Gay takes her short story and expands it into a full-length graphic novel. Set in a dystopian world forever covered by darkness there is little light to be found. Follow one woman’s journey that explores the boundaries of family, identity, love, and survival while discovering if light can exist when the world is nothing but darkness.

Cover of "The Sacrifice of Darkness" by Roxane Gay, Tracy Lynne Oliver, James Fenner, and Rebecca Kirby.

Nonfiction/Comic Reference – The Access Guide to the Black Comic Book Community (2020-2021) (Dimitrios Fragiskatos, George Carmona 3rd, Joseph Illidge, and Various)

A guide that will serve all readers and fans who are new to comics, those who are experienced comic readers, and everyone in between. The guide is a collection of publishers, stores, and other similar resources that provide the reader with a plethora of information to help them navigate and further explore of the Black comic book community.

Cover of "The Access Guide to the Black Comic Book Community (2020-2021)" by Dimitrios Fragiskatos, George Carmona 3rd, Joseph Illidge, and Various.

Science Fiction – LaGuardia (Nnedi Okorafor and Tana Ford)

Set on an Earth that has become a destination hub for aliens this story explores themes of immigration, refugees, and equal rights through the lens of science fiction. Follow Nigerian-American doctor Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka and her illegal plant alien as they flee to New York. They will not only find themselves navigating the worlds of activism but also of impending parenthood in a country that is historically anything but welcoming to those who are different.

While the above are our favorite picks, there are many more to choose from on the Comics Plus application. We encourage you to not only try out our selections but also to explore the application and find your next new favorite comic. If you are unfamiliar with the Comics Plus application, the service provides our patrons with access to over 20,000 comics from 86 different publishers in a digital format. Check out the video links below as they provide additional details on the application.

Welcome to Comics Plus

How to Locate and Access Comics Plus

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Curing Academic Homesickness at UIUC

By: Vismaya Jayakumar, Master of Urban Planning 

Along with igniting tremendous trauma in millions of people around the world, COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted various inequities in access to health, education, food, mobility and more. The impact of the pandemic on vulnerable populations has brought to light several previously overlooked issues. One of the most vulnerable groups is international students, yet their issues are often overlooked by decision-makers.

Over the last several years, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has proudly housed thousands of international students (with an average growth rate of 4.6%). International students currently make up more than 22% of the student body at the university (more here), bringing new cultural ideas and prosperity. Amidst the chaos of the pandemic, travel bans, airport closures, rising unemployment rates, overseas money transfer struggles, ICE’s alarming notices, racism and xenophobia, and a feeling of isolation in a foreign country, one other issue the pandemic has underscored is the alienation of international students in academia resulting in, what I call, Academic Homesickness.

A photo of the COVID-19 walk in testing sites at Illinois

COVID-19 testing site at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Source: Chicago Tribune (https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-covid-19-fall-enrollment-illinois-colleges-20200909-goq66touoregdetibhwc5ikiha-story.html)

Coming from a particular educational context, having read a different set of scholarship all through our educational careers, in our initial semesters here, many of us sit and stare at an assigned reading for a class and wonder how different it is. While this variance in perspectives undoubtedly adds to our knowledge, it also reduces opportunities for us to effectively bring our own ideas with confidence. In parallel, we who travelled thousands of miles looking for better education, some for a better life, often find ourselves in a complex state of cultural and educational bereavement. We are either constantly thinking about ways of giving back to the people and place we come from, or feeling guilty about not thinking of home enough. Including familiar scholarship can open up avenues for us international students to chase our dreams in a foreign place while still feeling at home.

Many of us move to the United States after two to three decades of living and studying in our home countries. With that deep-rooted influence, often times we try to bring our global perspectives to classrooms, be it social sciences, business, engineering, public health or art. We ponder on the relevance of previously learned things, and failing to connect them to our work here, we give up and give in to merely meeting graduation requirements. As an Indian student studying Urban Planning here, I believe the COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted this disconnect in times of quarantine separation from our families, especially for us South Asians who may feel that they have little to no relevance in the academic setting.

With over 15% of the international student population being South Asian, and many of them being doctoral students and researchers, the Illinois Dissertations on South Asia at the International Area Studies library showcases the important past work of our fellow South Asians, and provides the rest of us with much needed inspiration. This collection of more than 140 dissertations and theses has been organized by country and topic for ease and convenience.

Beyond just the South Asian dissertation collection, the International and Area Studies (IAS) Library has an extensive focus on African Studies, East Asian Studies, European Studies, Global Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Middle East and North African Studies, Russian East European and Eurasian Studies. More broadly, IAS provides monographs, articles, research journals, and digital content in various languages to support research. Due to the pandemic, many library resources including popular materials and other e-books and digital content are available online. For materials not available electronically, hard copies can be made available upon request (more here). Apart from the wide-ranging collection, the IAS library offers personalized orientation sessions for International students, both in-person and online research consultations, bibliographic training sessions, citation verification requests, one-on-one instruction sessions with subject specialists, and. Click here for more information on research consultation services and to contact subject specialists.

The pandemic and current political crises have heightened a sense of dislocation and isolation for many international students. The university is a microcosm of the real-world and with such diverse collections at our fingertips through the Library’s collections, we have tools to bridge intellectual distances, and foster innovative global research. This access cannot only remedy this feeling of academic homesickness, but also give us the confidence to go out and make real change.

Here is the IAS’s Illinois Dissertations on South Asia – Remedy to Academic Homesickness at the U of I.

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IASL Receives the Survived Collection of the Rekidai Hoan from the Ryukyu Kingdom

By Laila Hussein Moustafa, Assistant Professor, Middle East and North Africa Studies

On March 5, 2019, the International and Area Studies Library (IASL) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign received a donation from Professor Koji Taira. This collection consisted of diplomatic documents of the Rekidai Hoan from the Ryukyu Kingdom. Professor Koji Taira is an emeritus professor in Economics at the University of Illinois.

This blog post was originally published on Global Currents, the blog for the Center for Global Studies. To continue reading, view the original blog post.

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