Invisible Emmie

As long-time readers know, I’m not a big fan of the illustrated diary book format. There’s nothing wrong with kids reading them, but I don’t care for them being promoted as comics. Terri Libenson’s Invisible Emmie does something fun with the concept, though. It combines the illustrated diary format with comics to contrast different approaches to middle school. Emmie is a regular, everyday kid. She’s not popular, not an outcast, just quiet, and she likes to draw. Going to school […]

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The Cartoon Guide to Algebra

It amazes me that Larry Gonick is still turning out such interesting cartoon science guides. I remember reading my first one, The Cartoon Guide to (Non)Communication, back in the early 90s, and here, over 20 years later, I’m still learning things from him. The Cartoon Guide to Algebra covers a topic I should know, given that I passed high school math, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover how much was new to me. (Starting with an overview of […]

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Nimona

Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona debuted as a webcomic before being reworked into a graphic novel. I find that it reads better — or maybe I’m better able to keep up with it — as a collection. Pages have been revised and a new epilogue added for this edition. Although it’s set among knights and battles, it’s a very modern-feeling story, because Nimona is a very young and current character. She’s a shape-changing teenager with all the attitude and lack of respect […]

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Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991

Zot! changed my life. The 36-issue comic series by Scott McCloud ran from 1984 to 1991. It started as a manga-influenced light-hearted superhero series, but by the end, McCloud was telling powerful stories about everyday life as a teen. McCloud is better known today as the author of Understanding Comics, a non-fiction exploration of the format; its followup, Reinventing Comics, which examines technology; and a how-to book, Making Comics. But he originally started with this series, an homage to the […]

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Magic Trixie and the Dragon

The new Magic Trixie book, Magic Trixie and the Dragon, is simply outstanding, the best yet! First off, there’s an awful lot going on. I’m okay with having a minimum of plot so long as there are plenty of amazing Jill Thompson pictures to look at, but that’s certainly not the case here. Trixie’s grandmother Mimi takes her to the circus/carnival, where she falls in love with the dragons and wants one. Of course, she can’t have one, even though […]

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Magic Trixie

Jill Thompson’s Scary Godmother series never got the success I thought it deserved. Her new series, Magic Trixie, takes a different approach to a world of magic and fun. Instead of a niece who gets to wander into a fantasy world occasionally, Magic Trixie is a little girl with her own powers, a talking cat, and a wild shock of blazing orange hair. She’s also incredibly realistic, which makes her behavior believable to anyone who’s either seen a been a […]

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Understanding Comics

Understanding Comics started a revolution in the medium that’s still being worked through. Scott McCloud created this book to analyze how comics work and what the medium is capable of. He did it in a clever and unexpected way; instead of writing text, he drew it as a comic book. A friendly version of himself is the main character, the narrator, leading us through his thoughts on the history of the medium, its strengths and weaknesses, the definition of art, […]

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Reinventing Comics

I thought of Reinventing Comics as the ugly middle child of Scott McCloud’s trilogy of books about the medium. Understanding Comics was revolutionary; nothing like it had been done before in discussing the theory behind the art. Making Comics was needed; there aren’t enough good books about the practice of craft. But as I remembered it, Reinventing Comics was a bunch of outdated gee-whiz-aren’t-computers-cool bits and pieces. I was surprised, then, upon rereading it, to realize how current and up-to-date […]

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