Friday, January 31, 2014

Graphic Novel and Manga Madness

Graphic Novels

NOLS has graphic novels for all ages and reading levels.  Graphic novels are shelved separately from non-fiction and fiction in the children, young adult, and adult sections of the library.  Also included in the collection are omnibus editions of comics from the newspapers such as Dilbert and Garfield, Prince Valiant, and even Star Trek.

For those who want lots of text to tell you about the history of graphic novels and all the various genres, the Internet Public Library has a great site:

Unlike the Sunday funnies or comic books of an earlier age, graphic novels are longer book length stories. As the name implies, the plot is developed and unfolds primarily in pictures.  Graphic novels do include the traditional superhero tales, but also run the gamut of all fiction genres, especially mystery, thriller, steampunk, and science fiction. There are also biographies, memoirs, war reporting, satire, history, and even math and science books in graphic novel form. 

If you are new to graphic novels, a good place to start is to pick one from a genre you already love and try it out.  For zombie fans, The Walking Dead series will give you visual gore galore, and for Diana Gabaldon fans, there are even Outlander graphic novels featuring hunky Scot Jamie Fraser. You can also check out some juvenile graphic novels/comics like Tintin or Archie.

Suggested Graphic Novels

A good general list with something for every age is here:

A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached - a memoir of a moment in the civil war in Lebanon as told by a teenager – poignant, beautiful spare black & white graphics, a way to understand the conflict that is more impactful than the news reports. (Young Adult or YA GN)

Maus I and Maus II, both by Art Spiegelman—Maus is the graphic novel memoir which made reviewers, librarians, scholars, and other skeptical adults take this format seriously.  A story of a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe and his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father's story and history itself.  (Adult or AGN)

Lest you think graphic novels are only serious, for fun and a slice of everyday working-class life as seen through the eyes of a 20-something in New York, try: Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero and Johnny Hiro: The Skills to Pay the Bills by Fred Chao. (AGN)

Drama by Raina Telgemeier: Callie rides an emotional roller coaster while serving on the stage crew for a middle school production of Moon over Mississippi as various relationships start and end, and others never quite get going.  This is a really good slice of middle school life and coming of age story.

Magic Pickle by Scott Morse: when Weapon Kosher, the Magic Pickle, erupts from her bedroom floor, young Jo Jo Wigman works with him to stop the Brotherhood of Evil Produce from taking over the world.

Trickster: Native American Tales, edited by Matt Dembicki: this extraordinary graphic novel depicts traditional Native American trickster tales with inspired artists and native writers.



Manga are comics from Japan, not to be confused with anime, which are animated films. (The library does carry some anime on DVD, including the popular works of Hayao Miyazaki.) Again, there is a diversity of genre and story for every age group available in this form.  In Japan, readers also select manga based on gender, so there is “girl’s manga” and “boy’s manga.” The same is true for adult manga series.  NOLS currently carries primarily juvenile and teen Manga.  

Since Japan has different cultural norms about sex and sexuality, the human body, and violence, manga books in the United States come with ratings like films to give some guidance to the contents which can include language, violence, nudity and sexual situations. The ratings are:

E = Everyone or A = All Ages
Y = Youth, Age 10+
T = Teens, Age 13+
OT = Older Teens, Age 16+
M = Mature, Age 18+

The ratings on manga, like those on DVDs, are there to help people make their own choices. The library does not restrict check outs of any manga or other material to anyone based on their age or the ratings.

Suggested Manga

For younger kids and cat fans:  Chi’s Sweet Home by Kanata Konami (JGN)
For a sample of teen boy manga, which is called Shonen:  Naruto (series) by Masashi Kishimoto (YA GN)
For an example of teen girl manga, which is called Shoujo: Fruits Basket (series) by Natsuki Takaya (YA GN)
For adults:  The Drops of God by Tadashi Agi, a 4 part series involving wine connoisseurs (AGN)

Those who want to know more about manga and get some recommendations can visit:

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