Nevinsbuzz

Engaging Methuen Readers

Gender, Sexuality and Identity in Non-Fiction

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The Library, Comic Books, and Punk Rock

 

Punk. Comics. Punk and comics. Punk and comics and angsty teens who are now well-balanced adults who write comics about being angsty punk teens. It’s all kind of a perfect fit. What more needs to be said? Nothing. Go read.

Image of itemPunk Rock Jesus by Sean Murphy

It’s a rocket-fueled ride, an allegory that seems entirely plausible in our hyped-up reality TV world. A huge media corporation clones Jesus from the Shroud of Turin and proceeds to run a live reality TV show around his life. As you might expect, teenaged J2 develops a little bit of an anger issue. Luckily, there are musical ways to take care of anger, and they have been known, on occasion, to change the world.

 

 

Punk Rock and Trailer Parks by Derf Backderf

From the auteur behind My Friend Dahmer comes a nostalgic look at growing up punk. Otto is a Loser. Not just a loser, but a capital-L Loser high school band dork who nobody wants to be around, despite his growth spurt. He lives in a trailer park and gets beaten up by bullies half his size. But that’s all about to change! When he’s exposed to Wendy O., Klaus Nomi, and the Ramones firsthand, Otto will transform from weird kid to punk adult living on the edge of the 1970s music scene.

 

Image of itemBumperhead by Gilbert Hernandez

Coming on the heels of Gilbert Hernandez’s Marble Season, this book follows Bobby as he navigates through – or, rather, floats through – his teenage years. Friendships, relationships, musical styles, and life itself flows on with Bobby riding the current, never plotting his own course or noticing as opportunity passes him by.

 

 

Cut My Hair by Jamie S. Rich

If Catcher in the Rye took place in history, then Holden Caulfield would have been a punk. Mason is another blank slate, but unlike Beto Hernandez’s Bobby, Rich’s protagonist may have a chance to capture something more meaningful: a vision of who he really wants to be. That may involve a sepcial girl, a raucous band, and a punk rock coming of age story.

 

 

Image of itemHopeless Savages by Jen Van Meter

What happens when punks grow up? They move to the suburbs and have kids, of course! But they never, ever abandon their identity. The children of Dirk Hopeless and Nikki Strange grow up, and remain, resolutely punk. (Except Rat, who betrays his family by going corporate. Where did they go wrong?) As they navigate the globe, getting into trouble and living life to the hilt, you’ll know that punk isn’t dead: it’s just grown up!


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I Hate Fairyland

AKA “F**k Fairyland,” this obscenity-laced (well, fake obscenity-laced) gorefest is a shoo-in for fans of Deadpool and Tank Girl.

First of all, we have Gertrude. When Gert was six, she made a thoughtless wish and was instantly (and traumatically) transported to Fairyland, where the colors are brighter, the queen is made of clouds, and the only way out is an unfindable key. Which, of course, Gert is supposed to find. After 27 years of this nonsense, Gert has had enough. Maybe she never developed anger management skills. Maybe the diet of constant sugar has worn her personality down to a blackened nub. Maybe 27 years of being a six-year-old would drive anyone crazy. Regardless of the reason, Gert has become an unchecked homicidal terror who slaughters the fair folk with gleeful abandon. The queen is desperate to be rid of her…by any means necessary.

This book is a simple joy. It is also critically important to the safety of every living human. Every American should be given a copy on the day of their birth. It should be required reading in elementary, middle and high schools. College courses should be taught. Degrees should be given. This book is the blueprint for surviving a trip to a magical land. Not The Chronicles of Narnia. Not Harry Potter. This.

Allow me to explain.

Since time out of memory, fairies, which are amoral, shapeshifting beings made of pure magic, have been tricking humans. Sometimes, they have done this for fun, as you’ll see in the case of a sprite like Puck of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Other times, they settle for profit or political gain, as you’ll see in the case of Morgana le Fey of the Arthurian legends. But to a fairy, they’re fickle and easily distracted.

Except when they really, really want to get something done.

Remember, these are beings of 100% magic we’re talking about. They have no reason to care about cash because they can magic it up out of thin air. Human lifespans are blinks to them. When they’re even remotely interested in something that happens in the mortal world, that means there’s something up. Since we humans aren’t beings of pure magic, odds are decent that we have no idea what the hell is really going on. In the case of I Hate Fairyland, everyone in the magical kingdom wants Gert to find the key and return to the human world…but why?

Why bring a little human girl to Fairyland in the first place? To open the door to Earth, of course! Why can’t a fairy find the key and open the door themselves? Because they are magically inhibited from doing so, obvs. Why is that?

They lost a war. To us.

Look around you. Notice the lack of talking flies and capering fauns. Yet they feature prominently in our literature and, according to this invaluable tome, know nearly everything about Earth. Once, they were familiar with human society, enough to adopt sartorial traditions, lingustic foibles, and a taste for refined sugar. Now, they are gone without a trace. So is all their mischief: very little magically-enhanced gold-hiding, boot-switching or baby-stealing happens these days. As the world became increasingly wealthy, shod and conscious of child safety, even small mischiefs would have become a hitch in the system. That is why humanity defeated fairykind and locked them up in the disgustingly, ironically, maddeningly cute and harmless Fairyland. Fierce fairy warriors? Reduced to a stoner punchline. Their noble queen? Going stir-crazy. Their denizens? Confined. Jailed. Limited…to muffin-chomping Fairyland. And only a human can free them.

Free them to wreak their sweet, sweet revenge on the species that trapped them in Hell.

Gertie may seem awful. She may seem out of control. But by dramatically failing in her quest time and time again, she has saved humanity from a neon rainbow nightmare. By causing the doom of hundreds of fairies, Gert has cut down on the army that waits for a single gullible child to open the way. By distracting the queen with sheer hatred, she has once again saved us all. Gert is a hero.

Let’s treat her as such.

Also Read:

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Tank Girl, Book One by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin

She drives a tank and does not care about your pain. She’s Tank Girl! From terrorizing her kangaroo boyfriend to blowing up your mom, she’s the best action the Outback has seen since the Apocalypse.

 

 

 

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Deadpool v. 1 by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn

The Merc with a Mouth is back again…and again…and again! Let’s amend that: the unkillable Merc with a Mouth is back to drive you crazy, win your heart, and make the chimichangas.

 

 


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Reading in a Non-Material World

Is this the real life? Is it just fantasy? These books call into question all that we know and experience, from the things we care about to the very air we breathe. These aren’t tales of parallel universes – instead, they deal with minds trapped in worlds within the world, embedded in realities that are as real as we believe them to be.

Image of itemReady Player One by Ernest Cline

The Earth is a wreck. The cities are miserable places. Being alive in general isn’t a great experience. Luckily, there’s virtual reality! Plug into OASIS, where knowledge of pop culture and classic video games can earn you vast wealth and save you from your bleak life…or put you directly in the cross hairs of ruthless enemies.

 

 

 

 

Image of itemSophie’s World by Jostein Gaardner

Part philosophy primer and part coming-of-age novel, this unique book is not to be missed. Young Sophie tries to catch herself blinking in the mirror, but she’s never fast enough…until one day. As she learns about philosophy from her mysterious tutor, she begins to question the reality of the world she sees.

 

 

 

 

Animal Man by Grant Morrison

To make a long story short, comic book hero Animal Man, who can borrow the abilities of any animal, realizes that his life is an elaborate fiction engineered for maximum drama by an
unscrupulous comic book writer. When he does, he needs to come to terms with his existence. Does he reconcile himself to being fictional? Or does he confront his creator and demand justice for the death of his family?

 

 

 

Image of itemThe Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

In a world where literary authors have the same social status as rock stars, Jane Eyre is a literary enforcer. Her job is routine: stop militant Baconians from bombing performances of Shakespeare plays, detect criminal forgeries of Byronic verse, and things like that. But when someone starts kidnapping literary characters from within the pages of their own books, she’ll need to go deeper into her books than ever before!

 

 

Image of itemSnow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Any one of a number of cyberpunk novels could qualify for world-within-a-world status, but Snow Crash is one of the most famous. Hiro is a pizza boy and hacker, skilled with swords and code alike. But there’s an ancient, deadly neurolinguistic virus moving through the virtual world, and it threatens to end the fun…permanently. Only Hiro can uncover the plan of the dangerous religious fanatic behind it all.

 


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Review: Hidden

Hidden by Loic Dauvillier, Marc Lizano, Greg Salsedo

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Dounia’s granddaughter awakens one night to find her in the sorrow of memories. Elsa wants to make her grandmother feel better by talking about the “nightmare,” but the nightmare is 1942 Paris. Dounia decides to talk about her experience as a girl for the first time. She tells her granddaughter about being Jewish in a French school during Nazi occupation, her parents being taken from her, and being taken in by the neighbors and forced into hiding. Beautifully worded and illustrated, Dauvillier’s Hidden is poignant and subtle.

This story open up many avenues for the child reader to question and learn about what happened during the Holocaust without being graphic. The time period is difficult to portray for children’s authors and illustrators because of how terrible the atrocities were. The fact that Dauvillier managed to show just how dire Dounia’s situation was without violence is impressive. It ends on a happy note, with family connecting further through the pain of the story which needed to be told.

Age Range: 6-10 years


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Comics with Pride

This June has proven to be a hard one for the LGBT community. We expected to be celebrating a year of marriage equality, but instead, we mourn the deaths of fifty young LGBT people.

Even as we do, our straight friends and family stand with us. One gunman destroyed many lives, but how many have been saved by supportive family and friends? How many lost people have accepted the rope thrown to them by thousands of brave others who dared to come out of the closet, or to break social convention and accept their loved ones, and show the world that we could live together peacefully?

We need to mourn this atrocity. But as we do, let’s also remember the hordes of blood donors, the piles of sympathy flowers and the vigils, not to mention the hundreds asking when and where they can donate to a victim support fund. When bad things happen, focus on the good people who turn up. They’re the ones who count.

And now for some books.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (also Dykes to Watch Out For)

Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, Alison Bechdel’s world is tiny, and it is ruled absolutely by her tyrannical father. When she grows up, goes to college and comes out, she discovers a shocking family secret: her father has been quietly dating his male high school students for years.

 

Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse (also Wendel)

Toland Polk and Ginger are great together, except for one thing: Toland is gay. As he supports his African-American friends in the midst of the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s, Toland also wrestles with his own identity.

 

Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh

The day Clementine catches sight of Emma by chance is a fateful one that touches off a powerful, tempestuous romance. As their relationship grows, the two women struggle with Clementine’s family’s rejection of their lesbian daughter.

 

Pregnant Butch by A.K. Summers

Ever heard that lesbians are do-it-yourselfers? Teek and Vee prove that there’s a kernel of truth to every stereotype! When the stars align, the couple decide that Teek, a masculine-presenting woman, will be the one to have their son. Through the identity dust-up that follows, Teek learns that being pregnant and being butch aren’t exclusive.

 

Kaptara by Chip Zdarsky and Kagan McLeod

Absurd and funny, this book follows the adventures of Keith, gay Earth-man scientist who isn’t terrific at his job. When he crash-lands on the barbarian planet Kaptara, he immediately proclaims himself Keith, Prince of the Dance Floor and chickens out of a quest. Which he ends up going on anyway. Hilarity ensues.

 

Infinite Loop by Pierrick Colinet and Else Charri

Teddy’s job is to fix time anomolies. Unfortunately, one of those anomolies is a beautiful woman named Ano. Will Teddy defy the laws of time and space to be with the girl of her dreams?

 

 

The Wicked + the Divine by Kieren Gillan

The gods are among us, and they’re ready to rock. When the deities of old are reborn as pop stars, the world falls in love with them even as they fall into bed with one another. But in a short while, it’ll all end in flames…sooner for some than others. As tensions heat up, gender outlaw Lucifer may be the first god to be tried for murder.

 

Wuvable Oaf by Ed Luce

Oaf’s a big, strong guy. You’d better not mess with his kittens. (He loves those kittens.) Don’t get in the way of his search for love in San Francisco’s alt rock scene either. But do read this book, because whatever else Oaf is, he’s inherently wuvable.

 

Flutter, v. 1: Hell can wait by Jennie Wood

Lily wants the girl, but the girl’s hard to get. Using her shapeshifting powers, she becomes a boy…but learns that pretending to be someone she’s not doesn’t solve her problems.

 


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Review: A Wrinkle in Time (Graphic Novel)

Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson

Madeleine L’Engle’s classic, A Wrinkle in Time, was originally published in 1962. Although we can now marvel at the fact that a juvenile science fiction novel with a female protagonist was written at that point in time, L’Engle had a lot of difficulty getting it published. The countless rejections she faced finally gave way to its publication though, and it proceeded to win the Newbery Medal. This modern adaptation of the work by Hope Larson sheds new light on the story.

Meg Murray’s father disappeared mysteriously while working for the government. Everyone in town talks about him leaving his family, but the Murrays still hold out hope that he will return. When strange new ladies move into an abandoned house nearby, Meg, her little brother, and an eager friend are shown the way to find him and rescue him. On a planet called Camazotz their father is trapped by IT, a dark, evil thing. Can they save him?

Done entirely in monochromatic blue, this graphic novel adaptation by Hope Larson has the feel of an old-school comic book. It looks like the time period during which the novel was originally written. I thought I would get bored with the images, but the limited color scheme works well here and the verbage was well done.

Age Range: 10-12 years