Archive for Graphic novel

The Adventure of the Dying Detective

Sherlock Holmes is one of the smartest (fictional) detectives in history. I love his stories and that’s why I was so pleased to see the new Graphic Novel Adventures of Sherlock Holmes!

The Adventure of the Dying Detective book coverMy favourite so far has been The Adventure of the Dying Detective. Sherlock Holmes is near death from a mysterious tropical disease; can his loyal friend Doctor Watson track down Holmes’s enemy,Mr. Culverton Smith, who may be the only person who can cure Holmes?

A gruesome one is  The Adventure of the Cardboard Box. When Susan receives a cardboard box that contains two human ears, she calls in Sherlock Holmes. He knows at once that a sailor has committed TWO horrible murders and thinks the solution to the mystery is so easy that he doesn’t want people to know that he worked on such an easy case. I didn’t find the mystery so easy to figure out but maybe you will!

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A white-edged raging defence of comic books

There are two words which, when mentioned together, are guaranteed to get me frothing at the mouth in a barely controllable rage: ‘reluctant’ and ‘reader’.

The term reluctant reader is tossed about by the unthinking and the well-meaning in equal measure. It’s usually aimed at boys of a certain age, and I find it completely and utterly repugnant. I’m probably over-reacting (I have a tendency towards ranting) but hear me out.

I’ve seen it used as a pejorative: I suppose this book might be popular with the reluctant reader set. As if a book that kids actually want to pick up and read is somehow a bad thing. This sneering condescension is at the heart of a boorish them-and-us mindset from adults who ought to know better. You know the type: Tarquin and Jacinta devour books like starving geniuses, but Johnno (eye roll) well, I suppose not everyone can be a READER.

First of all, bully for Tarquin and Jacinta — good for them. Second of all, geniuses or not, they warrant no more or less consideration in their learning than does Johnno. How dare anyone be consigned to the big bin labelled HOPELESS because they don’t happen to share your ideal of what constitutes a good book. Perhaps if snotty parent/teacher/librarian could put a clothes peg on their nose for long enough to consider for a second that maybe Johnno doesn’t read because he thinks The Famous Five is outdated tosh, and he would be more than happy to lose himself in a story if only someone would show him a good one.

Which brings me to the subject of comic books. 

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I read a colossal number of comic books when I was a kid. Cracked, Cor, The Beano, Peanuts, Donald Duck, Richie Rich, The Archies, Phantom, Commando, Twilight Zone … and the daddy of them all: Mad Magazine. Under the careful tutelage of Alfred E. Neuman, I was introduced to literature and movies, to history and geography, to satire and word play. It piqued an interest in US history that continues to this day. Its soft scepticism and lack of reverence for authority probably nudged me towards my early career in journalism. When I was done reading textbooks or set novels, it was towards my stack of Mad Magazines that I gravitated. The owner of the local second hand bookstore would keep any fresh titles aside for me, knowing full well that I would buy them. For an inquisitive 11-year-old, they were my window to a mad world.

So rather than branding a kid as a reluctant reader, maybe they just need the right thing to read. There aren’t so many classic comics being published these days, but there has been an explosion in the field of graphic novels. If you’re worried your kid isn’t reading, I’d spread a bunch of graphic novels around the house like cockroach baits. Just like the real thing, they’ll start nibbling soon enough. You’ll be surprised where it can lead.

 

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Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

I went to the very cool new Central South City Library last weekend and amongst the shiny new books that I borrowed was a fantastic new graphic novel called Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel.  It’s about a boy called Garth Hale who gets accidentally zapped into the ghost world by Frank Gallows, an agent for the Supernatural Immigration Task Force.  Frank has messed up big time and gets fired from his job, but he promises Garth’s mum that he’ll find him in the ghost world and bring him home.  Meanwhile, in the ghost world Garth makes friends with Skinny, a skeleton horse, and a ghost boy who just happens to be his grandpa.   They meet all of the groups that inhabit Ghostopolis, including the Mummies, the Wisps, the Specters, the Zombies, the Boogeymen and the Bone People.  Soon they’re on the run from Vaugner the evil ruler of Ghostopolis, who wants to use Garth’s newly discovered abilities to increase his control of the spirit world.  Will Garth find a way home and will Frank Gallows keep his promise?  Find out in Ghostopolis.

Ghostopolis is a spooky, adventure-filled story with plenty of laughs thrown in.  I really liked Doug TenNapel’s style of illustration because it’s colourful and the panels are not overcrowded with detail.  I particularly like how Doug has presented his characters (Frank Gallows looks worried alot of the time, Vaugner just looks plain evil with his blank eyes and spiky hair, and Garth just looks like an ordinary kid).  If you like graphic novels like Tintin, Asterix or The Rainbow Orchid and want something a little different, you’ll love Ghostopolis.

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Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Smile is a graphic novel about an eleven-year-old girl called Raina, who trips over one night after Girl Scouts, and knocks out her front teeth.  She gets a cast to help them mend, but her teeth just get pushed up further than the rest, resulting in Raina looking like a vampire. After that, Raina sees numerous dentists, orthodontists, and other dentists that she had never even heard of, and gets a heap of casts, braces, retainers, and embarrassing headgear. As if that wasn’t enough, Raina has to endure not-so friendly friends, confusing boys, high school horrors, and a major earthquake! Eventually, Raina makes a whole heap of friends, and discovers her inner artist, but will she be able to smile again? I found it very interesting, reading about Raina being in a huge earthquake. It was very accurate! I thought that the pictures were very good, and that the book was very funny. My favourite part is when Raina gets her ears pierced, and I also like the bit where she has the sleepover. This is definitely a book for girls, from about 10 to 13.  I usually don’t like graphic novels, but Smile is a huge exception.

By Tierney, 11.

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