Banned… comic roundup?

I’ve spent a lot of time reading comics lately… and not as much time reviewing them as I should. Clearly, as I have a funk ton of reviews I’m about to drop in your lap.

You know… in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day?

I don’t know… just go with it.

(Please note, all reviews will be in an abbreviated style because *sings* I am laaaazy)

(Please also note that titles are appearing sort of in the order I ranked them, lowest to highest, but the middle gets somewhat jumbled and I spent hours reorganizing them…)


Motro Volume One by Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas

Synopsis: A reclusive young boy with superhuman strength tries to live up to the expectations of his dead father in a fantastic world of mechs and monsters. What will it take to fulfill his destiny? From illustrator and intricate world-builder Ulises Farinas (IDW’s Judge Dredd), comes the first chronicle of the life and legend of a fantasy hero for the ages.

Meta details and rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 112 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Content Level: YA I guess
Rating: Meh

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: I feel like they were trying to go for an Adventure Time feel here, what with the future dystopian world and the emotionally stunted hero that’s trying to live up to some legacy. Weird monsters and tech and just… listen, it’s Adventure Time. Just, you know, without the whimsy. And it just didn’t do it for me. At all.

*shrug* happens sometimes.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan

Synopsis: The scene: New York City, 1928. The dazzling lights cast shadows that grow ever darker as the glitzy prosperity of the Roaring Twenties screeches to a halt. Enter a cast of familiar characters: a young girl, Samantha White, returning after being sent away by her cruel stepmother, the Queen of the Follies, years earlier; her father, the King of Wall Street, who survives the stock market crash only to suffer a strange and sudden death; seven street urchins, brave protectors for a girl as pure as snow; and a mysterious stock ticker that holds the stepmother in its thrall, churning out ticker tape imprinted with the wicked words “Another . . . More Beautiful . . . KILL.” In a moody, cinematic new telling of a beloved fairy tale, extraordinary graphic novelist Matt Phelan captures the essence of classic film noir on the page—and draws a striking distinction between good and evil.

Meta details and rating:
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 216 pages
Genre: Historical fiction, fairy tale
Content Level: Young Adult
Rating: Meh

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: I should have liked this. It was a fairy tale told in the 20s. I should… have… liked… this…

Didn’t though. Not that it was bad, it just didn’t sing to me. Except for the ticker tape. The images with the ticker tape will stick with me for years.


How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman, Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá

Synopsis: Enn is a fifteen-year-old boy who just doesn’t understand girls, while his friend Vic seems to have them all figured out. Both teenagers are in for the shock of their young lives, however, when they crash a local party only to discover that the girls there are far, far more than they appear!

From the Locus Award-winning short story by Neil Gaiman–one of the most celebrated authors of our time– and adapted in vibrant ink-and-watercolor illustrations by the Daytripper duo of Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon, this original hardcover graphic novel is absolutely not to be missed!”

Meta details and rating:
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 64 pages
Genre: Science Fiction
Content Level: Young Adult
Rating: Meh

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: I’m pretty sure the only thing saving this one for me was that I’ve listened to so many audiobooks narrated by Neil Gaiman. So, you know, I read it and heard his voice in my head. Sort of…

It is my belief that if you’re going to make something into a comic, the art has to bolster the story. Here it seemed to detract from it, making the story feel jumbled and confused. I didn’t even realize how badly until I went and read the original short story and found that it lost the unique cadence that is Neil Gaiman.

So while I appreciated the use of watercolors in a graphic novel, and I appreciate the original story, I don’t think they were paired well here.

(You can read the original story here)


Smile (Smile #1) by Raina Telgemeier

Synopsis: Raina Telgemeier’s #1 New York Times bestselling, Eisner Award-winning graphic memoir based on her childhood!

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.

Meta details and rating:
Source: Library
Format: Paperback
Length: 224 pages
Genre: Memoir
Content Level: Middle grade
Rating: This was okay, not great but okay

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: Everyone freaking loves Raina Telgemeier, so I figured this was a safe bet.

Instead, it proves why I don’t read books that have a lot of hype.

The story was good (not great) and the artwork was exactly the style I adore, but I just couldn’t get into it. I couldn’t get around that hype in my head and get to a place where I really enjoyed the story. I kept waiting for the page where I would go “AH! This is what everyone was talking about!”

I should have had that moment… I had shitty friends in high school who treated me poorly. I didn’t fit into my own skin. I failed at romance. I should have loved this book…

But I just… didn’t…

I mean, I liked it… it was an enjoyable read and a good way to pass a dreary Sunday afternoon, but in the end, I was left feeling a little like the copy I read. It had gotten wet, previously, and the edges were all wrinkled and it didn’t sit right anymore…


The Backstagers #1 by James Tynion IV, Rian Sygh

Synopsis: James Tynion IV (Batman Eternal, The Woods) teams up with artist Rian Sygh (Munchkin, Stolen Forest) for an incredible yet earnest story about finding a place to fit in when you’re kinda an outcast.

When Jory transfers to the private, all-boys school St. Genesius, he figures joining the stage crew would involve a lot of just fetching props and getting splinters. To his pleasant surprise, he discovers there’s a door backstage that leads to different worlds, and all of the stagehands know about it! All the world’s a stage…but what happens behind the curtain is pure magic!

Meta details and rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 25 pages (not enough)
Genre: LGBT teenager (seriously, is teenager a genre or not?)
Content Level: Young adult
Pearl Clutching Content: In this volume? There was nothing… you’re clean
Featuring: a diverse cast of backstage weirdos
Recommended for: fans of diversity, queerness, and backstage weirdos
Rating: Super cute, I need more

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: Twenty-five pages is not enough for me. Not because I couldn’t get a feel for what the author was trying to accomplish… Oh no, I need more because they were able to get their point across and I desperately need more.

This weird, ensemble cast works together with the new guy to battle demon rat… things in a magical land that exists beneath the stage.

Sometimes.

As needed.

My god, do you even understand? How wild and weird and wonderful that is? And how much it harkens back to my time in high school where hiding in that strange backstage area was a refuge from the shitty ass kids who always tormented me.

So, y’all, I’m gonna need more Backstagers, and I’m gonna need you to sew those new pages together to make me a blanket out of queer, diverse, backstage weirdos.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill

Synopsis: When the heroic princess Amira rescues the kind-hearted princess Sadie from her tower prison, neither expects to find a true friend in the bargain. Yet as they adventure across the kingdom, they discover that they bring out the very best in the other person. They’ll need to join forces and use all the know-how, kindness, and bravery they have in order to defeat their greatest foe yet: a jealous sorceress, who wants to get rid of Sadie once and for all.

Join Sadie and Amira, two very different princesses with very different strengths, on their journey to figure out what happily ever after really means — and how they can find it with each other.

Meta details and rating:
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 56 pages
Genre: Fantasy, LGBT
Content Level: Middle grade
Featuring: Balking at gender norms!
Recommended for: Everyone
Rating: This was great

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: The story feels a tad rushed in the beginning (like two more pages and I would’ve been fine with the pacing) but after that it was…

It was…

IT WAS EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED IN A GRAPHIC NOVEL.

Queer characters balking at societal pressure and gender norms and running from the expectations of their family to forge a new life and a new family and fuck, is that a chubby dragon?

There’s a chubby dragon.

*swoon*

The only reason this doesn’t rate higher is because I wanted more.


Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Synopsis: The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it “a deadpan epic.”

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

Meta details and rating:
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 272 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Content Level: Young Adult
Rating: Must read

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: Oh my goodness, I adored this story. Blackheart is basically everything I’ve ever wanted in a main character. A villain who isn’t actually a villain trying to overthrow the corrupt academy and with gay subtext (that remains subtext I picked up on despite it being overt in the epilogue, thank you very much)

Nimona is everything I ever wished I was as a tormented teenager. Uber powerful and seeking to cause chaos…

Listen, I’m not proud of who I was…

And I wanted to write more here, but this was the one I read the longest ago and it’s the review I’m writing last. So just know that I read this book back in November, months before reading the rest of these titles, and it still sings to me. It still warrants being right up there near the top.

It was fun, clever, well told and the art was on point.

And, bonus, it was a webcomic to start with so you can check it all out here


The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo by Drew Weing

Synopsis: Charles just moved to Echo City, and some of his new neighbors give him the creeps. They sneak into his room, steal his toys, and occasionally, they try to eat him.

The place is teeming with monsters!

Lucky for Charles, Echo City has Margo Maloo, monster mediator. No matter who’s causing trouble, Margo knows exactly what to do—the neighborhood kids say monsters are afraid of her. It’s a good thing, because Echo City’s trolls, ogres, and ghosts all have one thing in common: they don’t like Charles very much.

Meta details and rating:
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 128 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Content Level: Middle Grade
Recommended for: My daughter, for one…
Rating: I’m buying the fuck outta this

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: This story was impossibly adorable… and featured small children interacting with monsters. I’m not a terrible mother for telling my daughter that witches live in the woods, after all! (I am) See! (You don’t…) There’s a whole webcomic and printed book about children interacting with monsters (that’s not what you did…)

…well, it seems like the voice in my paranthesis is trying to ruin this moment for me… Fine, I’ll just skip ahead.

I loved the art style and the story telling, which is both accessible to kids while still being enjoyable for adults. The monsters are sweet, the backdrop is great, and Margo Maloo is a fucking icon.

Highly recommend checking this series out, even if it’s just browsing the webcomic here


Manga Classics: Pride & Prejudice by Stacy King , Po Tse , Jane Austen

Synopsis: Beloved by millions the world over, Pride & Prejudice is delightfully transformed in this bold new manga adaptation. All of the joy, heartache, and romance of Jane Austen’s original, perfectly illuminated by the sumptuous art of manga-ka Po Tse, and faithfully adapted by Stacy E. King.

Meta details and rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 377 pages
Genre: Romance
Content Level: Young Adult
Pearl Clutching Content: Everything from Pride and Prejudice. (Basically Wickham)
Featuring: Everything from Pride and Prejudice. (Basically Darcy and Elizabeth)
Recommended for: fans of Pride and Prejudice, fans of manga, and anyone looking to get into Pride and Prejudice
Rating: I went out and bought a copy, it was that good.

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: I came into Pride and Prejudice late, and all because of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. So it should be no shock that I enjoy a twist on a classic.

I have gone back and read the original work, but I will be the first to admit it took me three times as long to read as it would a comparable book from this century. Language has changed since this was written, that’s an unavoidable fact, and it makes it harder for these stories to be accessible to everyone.

(Yes, obviously, it is possible to read it and understand it… but books should be available to everyone. Not just history and language nerds like myself who thrive on obsolete terminology)

Where the Manga Classics series excels is staying true to the source material for long time fans, but also engaging a new audience who may have been scared off by the language barrier, the length, etc. Plus who doesn’t want to see Darcy wince when he makes a misstep.

Oh god, his and Elizabeth’s reactions were priceless. They made me feel the same way I do biting into really good chocolate.

So if you enjoy the classic, want to get into the classic, or are looking for a way to share your fave with someone new, check this volume out. Don’t let your pride or your prejudice scare you off…

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


Archie (2015)

Synopsis: America’s Favorite Teenager, Archie Andrews, is reborn in the pages of this must-have graphic novel collecting the first six issues of the comic book series that everyone is talking about. Meet Riverdale High teen Archie, his oddball, food-loving best friend Jughead, girl-next-door Betty and well-to-do snob Veronica Lodge as they embark on a modern reimagining of the beloved Archie world. It’s all here: the love triangle, friendship, humor, charm and lots of fun – but with a decidedly modern twist.

Meta details and rating:
Source: Purchase
Format: eBook
Length: I dunno… I got all of them. To date. And consumed it all in one sitting. I have a comic hangover
Genre: Is teenager a genre?
Content Level: YA
Pearl Clutching Content: I suspect the folks who want to hold Archie up as the shining example of what was right with America would be displeased with all the diversity involved… but I don’t think any of it is pearl clutching.
Featuring: Feminist Betty and Aroace Jughead
Recommended for: Pretty much everyone, especially aroace folks who want to see themselves represented in media
Rating: If you’re not reading this, I don’t even know what you’re doing with your life.

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: I’ve read all the Archies released so far because I’m in love with Jughead. I’m not even ashamed to admit that. Where Scooby Apocalypse tried (and failed) to put a modern twist on a beloved classic, Archie succeeded.

Actually, that’s not even strong enough wording for what happened.

Archie knocked it the fuck out of the park. While Archie and Veronica have a pretty fascinating relationship to watch, it’s Betty and Jughead that really steal the show here. They came, they slayed, the conquered.


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