It’s always difficult when your vision doesn’t translate to reality the way you hope it will. This is what Lika deals with in artist and author Lawrence Lindell’s delightful Blackward. Lika and her pals Lala, Tony, and Amor (they/them) have a club called The Section, “a group for Black folx who a little bit ‘other’”. They want to attract newcomers and establish a community for Black people who feel like they don’t fit in anywhere else. Lika’s vision is a safe space that celebrates differences, but it’s hard to get the word out and it’s discouraging to face down the trolls. As the leader of The Section, Lika relies upon the mentorship of bookstore owner Mr. Marcus and the support of Lala, Tony, and Amor to realize her vision. It’s wonderful to see how The Section succeeds despite obstacles.
Blackward is full of heart. Lindell offers serious themes alongside a playful sense of humor. The bold color palette and dynamic cartoon style make every page pop. The book brings up concepts such as acceptance versus judgment; inclusion versus othering; individual struggles, teamwork, and community-building; being Black and queer; and even just being Black and different. The terrific sense of humor sparkles in interactions between the elder Mr. Marcus and the four young friends, Amor’s revulsion towards children, and the over-the-top White ally who gets it all wrong.
The art is pure fun. From the first pages that depict each character’s house and bedroom in a bright rainbow of hues, I looked forward to a joyful reading experience. Black, toothy speech bubbles chomp into Lala’s dialogue when a toxic instigator interrupts her. On date night, Lindell illustrates the characters getting ready as a silhouetted superhero transformation. The lettering also changes to suit the tone of the panel, using color, style, and positioning to accentuate various moods. Each chapter opens with a word in four different languages. For example, Community, Comunidad, Jumiya, and Communauté are in English, Spanish, Swahili, and French respectively, and the colors of the words correspond to Lika, Amor, Tony, and Lala.
I highly recommend Blackward for all public libraries. Anyone who has felt like a misfit will appreciate it, though I think it will resonate most deeply with Black nerds. Put this book in the hands of older teens and adults who love cartoony art and relish being their quirky and authentic selves.
Blackward By Lawrence Lindell Drawn & Quarterly, 2023 ISBN: 9781770466784
Publisher Age Range: 14+ NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18) Creator Representation: Black Character Representation: Black, Bisexual, Queer, Nonbinary, ADHD, Anxiety, Depression
The first time you visit New York City is a rite of passage. It’s a magical metropolis, full of famous museums and people and shops, with people from all over the world making the pilgrimage every single day. Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki’s incredible new adult graphic novel Roaming lets readers spend time with three friends as they spend five days in the city, finding themselves somewhere on the path to adulthood.
It’s spring break 2009. Dani has dreamt of New York City; she was that girl who was reenacting songs from Rent in high school. Now a freshman in college, she’s apart from her best friend Zoe for the first time. The two friends are reuniting in the city for their getaway, with Dani bringing along her new friend Fiona, a fellow art school student. Dani’s been planning for this trip for years and she is ready for the three of them to see the sights of the Big Apple. Fiona will help them navigate; she has American parents and her brother lives in Brooklyn, so she’s very familiar with the city (and she won’t let you forget it).
But, even though it’s only been a few months away at school, Zoe is different. She’s shaved her head and only wears black. She isn’t as excited by Dani’s meticulously planned binder full of maps and activities as Dani hoped she’d be. Zoe finds herself increasingly intrigued by Fiona. Sure, she can be a bit of a know-it-all at times but, unlike Dani, she’s not acting like a typical Canadian tourist. She’s magnetic and new. The trio quickly finds they all are seeking much different New York experiences on this trip.
Roaming is a beautiful look at early adulthood and the intricacies of relationships during that time. The characters spend time essentially playing what it’s like to be an adult around the city, even as Dani resists it and tries to stick to plan. There’s worth in fulfilling the dreams you’ve had for yourself, even if it’s as simple as visiting all the museums and tourist sites. The story is simultaneously very simple and very intense. Dani, Zoe, and Fiona all experience and navigate situations both familiar and brand new.
The book is aimed at an adult audience and includes scenes with nudity, sex, and substance use. It is recommended for older teen and adult readers. With its 2009 setting, it is both incredibly nostalgic for millennials (the thrill of visiting a Uniqlo for the first time!) and just retro-tinged enough for readers currently in college (what life was like before most people had smartphones).
Mariko Tamaki writes characters who speak like your own friends, ones you can relate to and understand. Readers will find themselves wanting to be friends with every character and also annoyed by every character. Jillian Tamaki’s art is expressive with a simple, warm color palette. There are multiple conversations about art throughout the book. Tamaki mirrors this art in the captivating double page spreads throughout the book, including as day/chapter breaks. The art and the words fit beside each other perfectly, it is a true collaboration between the cousins.
Another graphic novel by the duo, This One Summer, was a smash hit and a Caldecott Award winner. Many of the readers of that graphic novel are older now and will find themselves just as drawn to Roaming. You may not find yourself understanding or knowing everything about these characters, the story is truly a moment in time, but you will find yourself engrossed and enchanted by this story of three friends and their 2009 spring break trip to New York City.
Roaming Vol. By Mariko Tamaki Art by Jillian Tamaki Drawn & Quarterly, 2023 ISBN: 9781770464339
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18) Creator Representation: Japanese-Canadian, Gay, Character Representation: Canadian, Canadian-American, Gay, Queer,
Translated from French by Aleshia Jensen, Camille Jourdy’s novel follows Juliette’s trip home from Paris to visit her more provincial family. She is also on a journey to revisit her roots and to handle her own growing, crippling anxiety and fears. While her family is delighted to see her, they do not actually pay any attention to her and her increasing vulnerability because they are busy with their own lives, issues, and family ties. Her family is complicated and entirely relatable and authentic to readers of this gentle slice-of-life graphic novel.
While the graphic novel is filled with people of all sizes and backgrounds the main characters are members of Juliette’s immediate family. Juliette’s older sister Marylou, a married mother of two children, has a lover, a man who works in a costume shop and visits her dressed as a bear, a wolf, a white rabbit, and as a ghost. They have lustful and joyful sex on Thursdays in the greenhouse in her backyard.
Marylou is happy with having an illicit affair, but nameless Lover Boy wants more of a permanent relationship. The sisters’ parents have been divorced for a long time but still torment each other each time they meet. Their mother dresses and behaves as a free spirit, taking on a series of younger lovers as well as painting large abstracts that are displayed in a local gallery. Their father, who Juliette is staying with during her visit, is the opposite, he is filled with self-doubts and convinced that he is developing dementia. Juliette’s grandmother no longer recognizes family members or has a reliable memory except when she reveals a long-kept family secret to Juliette.
The only non-family main character is Georges, the current tenant of the apartment where Juliette and Marylou lived as children. He is also a lost soul and someone seeking restoration and love in the local bar. His encounters with Juliette offer the possibility of a romantic closure for the two of them and the duckling they adopted but, sorry for the spoiler, this is not the direction the author takes the reader.
This is a novel of close encounters and careful observation of the setting, the people, and their relationships. It is done without judgment and the reader glides along with Juliette as she maneuvers through emotional and timeless passages of disappointment, mortality, and fading dreams to a place Juliette and Georges refer to, the “tragic dimension.” At the same time, it is also a novel filled with wonder, humor, and enjoyment for the reader.
Jensen’s translation from the original French presents, with sharpness and amusement, a natural cadence of family discussions. We can see, hear, and feel each of the individual characters in the town and they look and sound like members of a close-knit community anywhere. The point of view often shifts without warning from small encounters to larger ones but the shifts do not feel disjointed as the details in each of the panels slow the reader into a meditative state where moving from one situation to another seems natural and organic. This is a novel to be savored and not rushed in the least.
First published in French in 2016, Juliette is Jourdy’s eighth book, and her expertise is immediately recognizable as she is effective in control of the pacing, the panels, the color, the storyline, and her characters. Her illustrations are precise and filled with minute details of family and small-town life. These details are even more pronounced because of the simplicity of the background and the shortage of borders. Most pages are filled with simple vignettes, snapshots of the characters, their relationships, and environment. These busy pages are interspersed with full page drawings that are filled with deeper color tones that often indicate a change of tone or staging. A caveat for public library collections: there are numerous pages filled with Marylou and Lover Boy’s sexual encounters in the garden. These are tastefully done but I think some North American communities may not be as open as the French may be in their depictions of humanity in all their encounters.
The subtitle, ‘or, the Ghosts Return in the Spring’ is evocative and revealing by the end of the novel. It may refer to the rather humorous adventures of the ‘ghost’ hiding from disclosure or, more possibly, the ghosts of memory, family relationships, and our own selves.
Juliette or, the Ghosts Return in the Spring By Camille Jourdy Drawn & Quarterly, 2023 ISBN: 9781770466647
Publisher Age Rating: adult
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+) Creator Representation: French, Character Representation: French, Anxiety, Depression
I am beginning this review with two caveats. First, I am a mother of a daughter who works in the trades and while she has not worked in Fort McMurray, she has experienced many of the same behaviors that Kate Beaton confronted in her two years in the camps. Second, I am an Albertan who has visited both the city and the camps in the oil field areas numerous times. Throughout the several readings of this graphic novel I was reminded again and again of the stories from my daughter and the observations I took away on my short visits. The contradictions innate in the oil-rich area around Fort McMurray has become better known outside of Canada in recent years, but it has always been controversial for the Canadian culture, economy, and, more even more recently, politically.
This was an amazing read, one that I highly recommend for everyone but especially for young women going forward in a disastrous misogynist society. Beaton’s memoir explores through her dialogue a myriad of complex issues including abuse of economic and human resources, lack of respect for the Indigenous inhabitants and culture, sexual harassment and rape, commodification, environmental destruction, isolation, and personal identity. These conversations, and graphic novel, begin with the home life she had before leaving her small town in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to travel across the country for lucrative jobs in the oil sands of Alberta to pay down student loans. She was 21, naïve and unknowing, when she arrived. Her readers, through her bleak illustrations and chronological recording, journey with her in her personal discoveries of the enormity of the environmental tolls on the land and the people who work at the various sites.
When hundreds of ducks are snagged in a hazardous tailings pond and a co-worker dies in an onsite accident, Beaton becomes highly cognisant of the global and environmental consequences of the tar sands and camp life. At the same time, she must also contend with the rampant sexism, sexual harassment, and crassness of many of her male co-workers and bosses who have also come from away (the Maritime provinces). Her use of dialogue is effortless and natural, bringing the various characters to life, including Kate herself. There are flashes of subtle and wry humor that provide a welcome balance to the reading experience. Her use of muted grays and the proliferation of wordless panels exemplify the vastness of the landscape and the giant machinery. Beaton’s layout of mostly small panels emphasized the confined environment for the workers and herself. Her illustrations of the interiors reveal the limited spaces and rooms crammed with bed bunks, other furniture, and tools. These interiors are in direct contrast to the vastness of the exterior landscape and sky that she brings to life so effectively, often is full page spreads.
The isolation, loneliness, bleak lifestyle, and the lack of normalcy take its toll on the people in the camps. Some people handle it admirably, but so many were physically exhausted and mentally stressed in living conditions as foreign as the landscape. Her portrayal of the people she encounters and the experiences she has had in the various camps is candidly sincere. She relies on her own acute observations, underlining her personal connections with the people, land, and machinery. The graphic novel is commendably honest. The responses to the fate of the ducks contrasted to those of the Indigenous health and land concerns and the mental health of the migratory workers within and without the boundaries of the oil industry was frightening and telling. The repercussions of this willingness to overlook the dangers of the oil fields because of commercial gain underlies her novel but Beaton is never didactic in her remarks. This is a story that honors critical thinking on behalf of readers.
Beaton suffers through several horrendous experiences but maintained her humanity with her online connections and her creation and postings of Hark! A Vagrant webcomics. Her homepage for the webcomic eventually garnered half a million visitors each month and led to the publication of her first picture book, The Princess and the Pony and the printed collections of Hark! The story ends with hope as Beaton pays off her loan and returns to Cape Breton and her newly found career as a successful cartoonist. Here too, unfortunately, there is another repercussion of her time in Alberta. Becky, her sister who also worked in the oil sands, is diagnosed with cancer. Beaton writes about this in her afterword and later in an article for New York Magazine’s The Cut discussing the failure of the medical world in responding to Becky’s symptoms seriously in much the same way as the suffering of other workers and the Indigenous were treated with silence in previous decades.
Honest investigative reports from journalists and books such as Ducks help illuminate that silence and deserve a large audience. Highly recommended for high school students with a caveat regarding the inclusion of sexual abuse and mental distress. This is an essential purchase for public libraries and highly recommended for academic libraries as well.
Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands By Kate Beaton Drawn & Quarterly, 2022 ISBN: 9781770462892
Publisher Age Rating: Adult
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18) Creator Representation: Canadian, Character Representation: Canadian,
The entire composition of this graphic monograph is a collection of book covers with their invented whimsical, pertinent, deadpan, and frequently hilarious titles. The titles, penned in a variety of uppercase handwritten typefaces, are displayed on diverse bold coloured images of books, sometimes with simple illustrations but most frequently unadorned. This is truly a library of words, the intriguing combination of which are repeatedly confusing, illuminating, and entertaining.
The Canadian creators, founding members of the art collective the Royal Art Lodge in Winnipeg, have been collaborating on art projects for more than fifteen years. The Royal Art Lodge has since been disbanded, but the two continue to work together with their work in many permanent collections of galleries in Canada and Europe. The two artists began gathering their book covers for this project in 2009. The structure of this unique library seems quite random, the books are not organized alphabetically, by theme, or even by colour. The reader is free to browse the collection of over two hundred titles without any directives. The library of titles can be read from cover to cover or dipped in leisurely to offer consolation, consultation, or curiosity (or all three at the same time). Numerous pages contain four or nine books while other pages focus on only one title. Some of the books are depicted as open, offering a hint to the pages within and a glimpse at both the front and back covers, while others are upright and closed. Still others rest on an unseen surface, surrounded by saturated coloured backgrounds. The simple illustration of the red book featured on the back cover, “It’s Not Going To Be What You Think. It Can’t Be Described Properly, Or Understood Easily. It’s Everything To Me. It May Be Nothing To You,” may offer a clue to the interior and intent of the book itself.
Ranging from laconic to suggestive, the idiosyncratic titles are continually thought provoking. One of my favourites is, ironically, a full page spread with an illustration of a silhouette of an androgynous profile on the cover: “You Should Consider Your Words, Because I Will Take Them Seriously”. Other favourites offer homilies and earnest advice, “You Can Only Learn The Same Thing From The Same Mistake So Many Times,” and “The Art Of Never Finishing Your.” Others suggest sarcastic opinions that resonate with this reader. “Can You Hand The Phone To Someone Interesting?,” “You Can Talk All You Like, My Ears Are On Strike,” and I Have a Medical Condition That Makes it So I Don’t Have to Talk to You.” However, I must caution that my list of favourite titles did change and morph with each rereading, the time of day I was reading it, and the setting in which I found myself while reading. This is a treasure that gives again and again and again.
Complicated to explain, this library collection of words and images, offers countless possibilities to adult and young adult readers from writing assignments to book group discussions. It pays homage to both concrete art and to the power of words. Highly recommended for school and public libraries.
Library By Michael Dumontier, Neil Farber Drawn & Quarterly, 2021 ISBN: 9781770464124
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18) Creator Representation: Canadian
In this personal contemplation on the life, death, and influences of Leonard Cohen, Philippe Girard creates a tour de force. Originally published in French, the novel was translated to English by Helge Dascher and Karen Houle.
The graphic novel opens on December 7, 2016, with legendary Canadian songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen dying on the floor beside the bed. Girard imagines that a bird on the wire outside the bedroom window may be one of the last sights of Cohen’s final moments. He also imagines Cohen’s final reminiscences as he faces mortality to offer the reader a myriad of episodic flashbacks on Cohen’s life and achievements. As we turn the page, we are transported to a traumatic winter day in 1947 in Montreal, Quebec when young Leonard discovers his deceased dog. His sorrow immediately takes him to his typewriter and solitude, a familiar reaction to distress, which is constant throughout his lifetime.
This is soon followed by his reverence for poetry, music, wine, and, of course, women. Cohen moves to London where Girard dresses him in a blue raincoat, another nod to Cohen’s song titles that reverberate throughout the novel. His distress with his flagging writing career and the wet weather prods him to leave for Greece, where he meets his muse, Marianne Ihlen, and becomes a writer of songs. Girard returns us to the dying man saying his goodbyes to his life at that time and to Marianne. The palate of the background for the pages with Cohen lying on the hospital room floor are dark and cloudy while the backgrounds for his memories are filled with colour and light.
This episodic pattern continues throughout the book, highlighting his fascination with Suzanne, his recording career, his touring in Israel and other points of interest, and his escapades with well-known stars such as Lou Reed, Nico, Phil Spector, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, Judy Collins, Rebecca De Mornay, John Cale, Rufus Wainwright, Jeff Buckley and more. A brief annotated Rogues Gallery of these cameo appearances is provided at the end of the novel along with a concise bibliography for further reading. We follow his iconic recording career, Girard’s humorous depiction of Cohen’s disenchantment with the popularity of the myriad of covers of his song Hallelujah and the lack of recognition of him as the writer, and his retreat to the monastery. Girard also highlights Cohen’s necessary emergence to tour again and his eventual diagnosis of leukemia, before returning us to early memories that offer us background knowledge of some of Cohen’s axioms hinted throughout the book.
The final full-page illustration by Girard of the towering mural depicting Cohen wearing his signature fedora with his hand over his heart pays respect to both the man and the city he called home. Both Leonard Cohen and Montreal are brought exquisitely alive in this tribute to the man whom Girard, along with a large universal fandom, obviously venerated.
I appreciated this personal view of Leonard Cohen. I have been a long-time fan with many memories of the man, his music, and his words. I appreciated the selective process that Girard must have undergone because of the length of Cohen’s lifetime and career. Of course, there were episodes I would have liked to see included, especially his time in Edmonton, Alberta. As my friend Gilbert Bouchard reported on July 23, 2008, Cohen wrote several poems and songs while he was here as the guest of the University of Alberta. This is where Sisters of Mercy, one of Cohen’s best-known compositions, was written and where Cohen got his first taste of real fame. “He became one of the first Canadian writers to step away from the academy and become a celebrity and a pop culture figure at a time when that was just not done. His visit wasn’t a celebrity experience for those of us there. It had a very personal feel.”
I appreciated the research methodology that Girard undertook. In a recent interview webinar, Girard explained how he wanted the book to represent his own impression of Cohen and so did not undertake any interviews himself. Instead, he made his way to the public library and took out everything they had on Cohen and read everything and watched every video he could for five months before he started to write the novel. He then drew a Star of David and allocated each point as a decade in Cohen’s life. A song, woman, and item were chosen as pivotal moments for each decade. Girard presented his material in a forthright manner, with straightforward lines and warmly coloured panels, for the most part, extending a nuanced and balanced portrayal of his subject. The layout of the panels is also fairly uniform and straightforward with simple backdrops to the personalities and items that are the focus of each panel.
This realistic and honest look at a man, his career, and his influences should be included in all biographical collections from high schools to public and academic libraries. There is a universal and spiritual appeal to the story and, for the wide legion of fans, could be considered required reading. Highly recommended for readers to pull up a chair, pour yourself something to sip, and listen to a selection of your favourite Leonard Cohen songs while appreciating the skill and talent of both Leonard Cohen and Philippe Girard.
Leonard Cohen: On a Wire By Philippe Girard Drawn & Quarterly, 2021 ISBN: 9781770464896 Publisher Age Rating: Adult
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18) Creator Representation: Canadian Character Representation: Canadian, Jewish
In this deceptively simple and colour-filled graphic novel, we are introduced to the author’s family history as seen through the eyes of five female members at fifteen. The book starts in 1908 with Weng Pixin’s great-grandmother Kuan in China. Her story is followed by the narratives of her grandmother Mei in 1947, her mother Bing in 1972, herself in 1998, and the imagined story of Pixin’s future daughter in 2032. The fact that we are shown, rather than are able to attend to their verbalizations, is an indication of the struggles this matrilineal family has, and continues to face, with silence as their paramount defense in all aspects of their lives. “She grew to quiet her voice, just so she could survive.”
While the stories are not completely based on her female family members due to the silence and lack of family stories, Pixin extrapolates the histories and uses her art to explore the concealed and stifled personal struggles that had traditionally been internalized, subdued, and hidden from others in her lineage. It is through her art and the telling of these stories that Pixin delves into the rationale behind the harrowing and negative relationship she had always had with her own mother. These stories are told in a series of vignettes, moving both forward and backwards in time, each exploring key and interrelated elements in the lives of the five characters. This arrangement effectively illuminates the inter-generational complexities of societal expectations, family dysfunction as well as successes, and reveals how they are transferred from one generation to another. The themes that resonate within these vignettes are the love of nature and animals, a sense of alienation from the adult world, the suppression of trauma, and the sanctuary of artistic expression to compensate for the silence that predominated each of their lives. The breaking of that silence and the understanding of the causes of the frustrations and anger that seems insurmountable is the valuable undertaking that Pixin and her imaginary daughter explore with the fragments of the family history that they can find. “I wonder also what it would be like to live in a world where you have no control over your life.”
Pixin’s illustrations, painted in bold and vibrant colours, are reminiscent of folk art, focusing primarily on domestic settings. Included in the panels are extreme close-ups, recurring images of crickets, and the daily chores of each of the teenagers within their time frames. The layout of the panels is not static, but, while fairly conventional, it is also reflective of an uncomplicated and straightforward narration that combines to engage the reader in unanticipated observation and mediation. This is not a book that should be read quickly, but savoured. The ambiguity of the stories being told adds to the appreciation of the book as a whole. The occasional full-page panels add to the awareness of this being a work of art and passion. The occasional dialogue offers additional snippets of information about each of the characters, their motivations, and their challenges, but it is not the driving force for this graphic novel. It is the images, and the silences within the panels and illustrations, that ultimately carry the story.
Recommended for high school library collections, public library collections, and collections on memoir, family histories, and Chinese creators and history.
Let’s Not Talk Anymore By Weng Pixin Drawn & Quarterly, 2021 ISBN: 9781770464629 Publisher Age Rating: 16 and up
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18) Creator Representation: Chinese Character Representation: Chinese
When you look around, it seems like there is evidence of prejudice in just about every direction, so much so, that we often become numb to it. It is a special work that can get us to look at discrimination and prejudice through a new lens, and to do it with humor and charm too. Cyclopedia Exotica is just that type of book.
Serialized on her Instagram feed, Aminder Dhaliwal collects her comics into a book about the daily issues and trials of a group of cyclopes living among us ‘two-eyes’ in modern times. At times wry, sad, heartbreaking and heartwarming, Dhaliwal unearths our prejudices and looks at them in unique ways as her characters confront what it is like to live with one eye. Tim and Pari are a mixed human and cyclops couple who will soon have twins and are confronted with what it will be like to raise them. Will she go back to work? Will the kids be cyclops or human? Pol is prematurely bald cyclops who is struggling with dating apps and preconceived notions about what a date with a ‘cyclops’ is like. Bron takes the plunge on the experimental eye surgery to look more like a ‘two eyes’ but when the surgery fails, he is left with one human eye and an eye patch, a consistent reminder of his self-hatred. Jian and Grae are sibling artists who explore what it is like to live as a cyclops, but when one of them ‘sells out’ to go work in Hollywood, they both have to grapple with who they are alone. Arj is a clumsy, sweet and anxious character who tends to overthink things. All of their lives intertwine as they intersect each other’s comics throughout the book and it forms a rich tapestry by the end of the story. Like most good comic strips, the individual strips form a more cohesive whole.
Dhaliwal has worked as an animator and her characters here are simply drawn. Most pages are in black and white but she occasionally uses color to make something distinct or to draw attention to it. Her characters are expressive and she effectively uses perspective to enliven some panels when needed. There are lots of puns and jokes about ‘eyes’ and some of them are poignant while some are just bad puns. The majority of the time, the humor is effective and helps illuminate what are some fairly dark issues (depression, body image, self-hatred).
Most libraries with adult graphic novels will want to get this book. It’s well done and will have appeal far outside of the core graphic novel audience. There is some nudity and adult themes in general, so this title belongs in collections for adults. It would do well in a college library as well.
Hot Comb offers a poignant glimpse into black women’s lives and coming of age stories as seen across a crowded, ammonia-scented hair salon. The titular story “Hot Comb” is about a young girl’s first perm – a doomed ploy to look cool and to stop seeming “too white” in the all-black neighborhood her family has just moved to. Realizations about race, class, and the imperfections of identity swirl through these stories, which are by turns sweet, insightful, and heartbreaking.
Hot Comb By Ebony Flowers ISBN: 9781770463486 Drawn and Quarterly, 2019 NFNT Age Recommdnation: Older Teen (16-18)
Legendary cartoonist Yoshihiro Tatsumi is the grandfather of alternative manga for the adult reader. Predating the advent of the literary graphic novel movement in the United States by thirty years, Tatsumi created a library of literary comics that draws parallels with modern prose fiction and today’s alternative comics.
Designed and edited by one of today’s most popular cartoonists, Adrian Tomine, The Push Man and Other Stories is the debut volume in a groundbreaking new series that collects Tatsumi’s short stories about Japanese urban life. Tatsumi’s stories are simultaneously haunting, disturbing, and darkly humorous, commenting on the interplay between an overwhelming, bustling, crowded modern society and the troubled emotional and sexual life of the individual.
Push Man and Other Stories By Yoshihiro Tatsumi ISBN: 9781896597850 Drawn and Quarterly, 2005 NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)