Reader’s Advisory: Graphic Novels

Rejoice dear UGLers – this blog post is sure to excite! Forget about all that humdrum required reading you had to do during the school year – it’s time for some positively pulsating tales from the house of wonder. Got summer blockbusters on the brain? All those heroes on the big screen got their start somewhere, and now’s your chance to catch up on the breathtaking back-stories behind your fabulous costumed favorites.

The following reader’s advisory is going to highlight some of the new graphic novels added to the UGL’s already impressive collection. Dive in and learn some of the scintillating secrets of this summer’s biggest stars!

Essential Astonishing Ant-Man. Vol. 1

Essential Astonishing Ant-Man. Vol. 1

Essential Astonishing Ant-Man. Vol. 1

If you have been paying attention to the commercials on television, you may have noticed that there is a tiny movie coming out later this summer. Marvel’s Ant-Man is being released in theaters on July 17th and what better way to prepare than read some of the character’s most iconic stories. Focusing on the first Ant-Man, Hank Pym, Essential Astonishing Ant-Man Vol. 1 contains the earliest adventures of the tiny scientist including his infamous origin story.

Marvel's Fear Itself

Marvel’s Fear Itself

Marvel’s Fear Itself

If ant-sized characters aren’t really your style, the UGL recently acquired Marvel’s Fear Itself series. The Fear Itself series is an example of Marvel’s recent history with sweeping, epic story-lines that include some of their most famous characters. This series depicts the likes of Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Thor, among many others, dealing with an otherworldly threat called the Serpent. With numerous characters highlighted in various tie-ins, this series is a must read for the die-hard Marvel fan.

Hulk: Season One

Hulk: Season One

Hulk: Season One

Did you see how awesome the Hulk was in Marvel’s smash hit Avengers: Age of Ultron? Well if you can’t get enough of the green goliath you should check out Tom Fowler and Fred Van Lente’s retelling of the origin of “the other guy” in Hulk: Season One. This acclaimed story brings together classic characters and some surprising new ones, all while modernizing everyone’s favorite green rage-monster.

The New 52: Justice League

The New 52: Justice League

The New 52: Justice League
If you are getting burnt out on the Marvel extravaganza of the last few years, DC comics has a few characters that are sure to delight. The New 52 Justice League series contains some of the company’s most iconic heroes including the Flash, Cyborg, and everyone’s favorite: Batman. With Warner Bros. releasing Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice next March, its a good time to read up on the slew of DC characters coming to the big screen.

Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Hot in the City

Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Hot in the City

Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Hot in the City

Sometimes heroes can be a little boring, so maybe reading a villain-centric graphic novel will entice you. Harley Quinn: Hot in the City is an outrageous story following Harley Quinn the infamous villain and anti-hero known to most Batman fans. While this graphic novel may lack in realism, it does not lack in hilarity or extravagance. And don’t forget, Harley will finally be making her big screen debut next fall in Warner Bros. Suicide Squad. So what better way to spend you summer than to mentally prepare for that villainous flick?

These selections are just a small portion of the new and exciting graphic novels added to our collection. If you aren’t familiar with our impressive assortment of graphic novels you should swing by the lower level of the UGL to see what we have to offer. Do you have any other suggestions for the comic book fan in us all? Send us your suggestions now! Excelsior!

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Women in Comics

Marvel Comics recently revealed that one of their superheroes, Ms. Marvel, would be getting a new spin. The newest character to don the name of Ms. Marvel is Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old Muslim teenager from New Jersey. If this news has you curious about other female comic book protagonists, the UGL has compiled a list for your reading pleasure.

Ms. Marvel original comic cover

Ms. Marvel
Various authors and artists

The character of Ms. Marvel has been around quite a while – since the first issue of the Ms. Marvel comic in 1977, in fact. If you want to find out where it all began for her and what kinds of adventures old-timey superheroes had, pick this one up!

 

 

 

Batwoman: Elegy cover

Batwoman: Elegy
Greg Rucka, J.H. Williams III, Dave Stewart, Todd Klein

Batwoman also made her debut as a character quite a long time ago – 1959! – but she disappeared for a while when she was deemed ‘non-essential’ to Batman storylines. This series has her re-envisioned as a central character, battling  a demented version of Alice from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. It also explains her tragic back story.

 

 

Batgirl cover image

 Batgirl
Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes, inker ; Ulises Arreola, Dave Sharpe

You can never have enough bat-themed superheroes. Out of all of them, the UGL might be a little bit biased in favor of Batgirl, aka Barbara Gordon, since her day job is being a librarian. We think librarians are pretty super, Batgirl especially so.

 

 

Pride and Prejudice comic cover
Pride and Prejudice
Nancy Butler, Hugo Petrus, Alejandro Torres, and Dave Shapre; adapted from the novel by Jane Austen

There are comic books that aren’t about superheroes, and they have cool female protagonists, too! Jane Austen’s classic novel is now a graphic novel – we have Sense and Sensibility in comic form, too, if you’re up for a double whammy of Regency romance.

 

Gunnerkrigg Court comic cover
Gunnerkrigg Court
Tom Siddell

Schoolgirl BFFs taking on supernatural phenomenon in a spooky boarding school setting – what’s not to like? Gunnerkrigg Court originally started as a webcomic – this volumes collects the strips that follow Antimony, the main character, through her first year at the school.

 

 

Eye of the Majestic Creature cover
Eye of the Majestic Creature
Leslie Stein

For more slice-of-life type stories (but still with a dash of whimsy), you can try this collection of semi-autobiographical comics about a young woman dealing with her family, strangers, anthropomorphic friends, and life in general.

 

 

For more comics featuring girls and women as characters, try searching in the library catalog for “Young women – Comic books, strips, etc.” or ” Women – Comic books, strips, etc.” and selecting “Subject” from the drop-down menu. To browse a more general selection of comics, try the UGL’s graphic novel Pinterest board. If you have a favorite female comic book character that we haven’t mentioned, tell us about her in the comments, or on Twitter or Facebook! And if we don’t already have any comics that feature her, please recommend them to us!

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Study Break? Grab a comic!

We know you’re hard at work this time of year—as if you weren’t busy enough already, midterms are coming, and papers and projects are mounting up left and right. We see you studying hard in the UGL, and we’re here to support you in all your research needs. In the midst of all that academic frenzy, though, it’s important to do some fun things for yourself, and we can help you with that, too! You might already know about the movies and video games we have available for you to use—but did you know that we also have a huge collection of comics and graphic novels for you to check out? Well, it’s true!

Our librarians love you so much that we work tirelessly to bring you books that we think you’ll enjoy. Last year, this meant bringing in almost 200 new graphic novels to our collection. Not just your average, run-of-the-mill comics, either—we have works from many different countries, in many different languages, as part of our goal of diversity. Many of them are available in English as well as in their original language, be it French, Spanish, Norwegian, Japanese, Chinese, or another. Some of them are pretty rare or obscure and hard to find—but we rounded them up, just for you! Here are a few volumes we think you should have a look at:

 

book cover: black and white illustration of pointy-faced figurebook cover: comic illustration of figure looking isolated at a social gatheringbook cover: high-contrast illustration of figure in sailing costumebook cover: illustration of young person juxtaposed with skeletonbook cover: small illustration of seated figure in ancient warrior costumeLoco by Pedro Espinosa
This “silent” work (meaning it has no words or dialog) from Spanish artist Pedro Espinosa was originally published serially in the 1980s; now it’s all collected together in one volume. The main character, Loco, silently expresses his concerns about societal, political, and familial issues.

 

 

 

Conventum by Pascal Girard
The horror, the agony, the trials and tribulations of attending a class reunion, and the self-reflection it can cause—in French with simple, charming illustrations by Québécois artist Pascal Girard.

 

 

 

Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea by Hugo Pratt
Originally published in 1967-1969, this was the first story featuring the rogue sailor-adventurer character of Corto Maltese. Though the stories are fictional, the historic periods and places featured were exhaustively researched by creator Hugo Pratt, and Maltese meets fascinating characters from all over the world, real and imagined. Available in English as well as the original Italian.

 

 

 

7 Billion Needles by Nobuaki Tadano
This reimagining of the 1950s science fiction novel Needle tells of a teenage girl in Japan who suddenly finds her body possessed by a extra-terrestrial being, and embroiled in a manhunt for yet another extra-terrestrial being intent on destroying the human race. Exciting stuff!

 

 

 

 

 

Goliath by Tom Gauld
The Biblical story of David and Goliath gets retold, this time from the point of view of the giant Goliath. He may actually be more a lover than a fighter, but bureaucracy and politics conspire to push him into his fabled role of antagonist.

 

 

 

 

If you read all these and you’re still not sated—or if there’s a graphic novel or comic series you’d really love to see on our shelves—you can always suggest a purchase. We’re working on getting more new additions soon, this time focusing on the Middle East, South Asia, and Eastern Europe. If you have any suggestions for graphic novels in that realm, or even outside of it, drop a line to Chris Diaz (cdiaz25@illinois.edu). We look forward to hearing from you and giving you lots of good stuff to read!

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