Sonny Liew’s intricately invented graphic history traces the career of fictional comic artist Chan Hock Chye, with the sociopolitical history of Singapore cleverly mirroring the evolution of the comics medium as depicted via a dazzling series of pastiches. Spanning eight decades, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye finds bittersweet parallels between artistic ambition and political idealism.
Check It Out Category: Graphic Novels
Summer gives us a chance to branch out in new directions or more fully immerse ourselves in areas of interest. Here are three Adult graphic novels that will introduce you to some forward thinkers who were pioneers in their respective fields.
Jim Ottaviani’s Dignifying Science, explores the lives of six women whose mark on science is indelible. Included in this book are Hedy Lamarr, an actress and inventor who was a force behind the concept of the modern-day Bluetooth system, Lise Meitner, a physicist who was among a small team of scientists who discovered nuclear fission, and the Nobel Prize-winning cytogeneticist Barbara McClintock.
Henry David Thoreau was a philosopher, writer, naturalist and an early promoter of the idea of civil disobedience. In his beautifully-drawn accompaniment to Thoreau’s writings, John Porcellino’s Thoreau at Walden brings to life this solemn and thoughtful resister.
The graphic biography of Margaret Sanger, Woman Rebel by Peter Bagge, reveals the compelling background behind her activism, rooted in the difficult and painful times of her childhood growing up at the turn of the 20th century. This was a time in U.S. history which offered few opportunities to women in almost any area of their lives, and Margaret saw firsthand the deep suffering this caused her mother and eventually, herself. Armed with the passionate belief that women should be able to make their own choices regarding their lives, Margaret became one of the earliest and fiercest voices for women’s rights.
Few couples are as star-crossed as a 19th-century gentlewoman and a mummified Pharoah, but their story is one of the most charming romps you’ll find. From their opening stroll in a London park to an unwitting murder and a daring prison break, the tale of Lillian and Imhotep IV is one filled with drama and adventure. The Professor’s Daughter, created by French masters Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert, also tantalizes with beautifully rendered art panels made up of delicate illustrations, period sepia tones, and fine watercolor washes. Readers new to graphic novels as well as those with more studied appreciation will be tickled by this delightful, fast-paced confection.
The embattled, soulful Roughneck by Jeff Lemire is a winter noir story that is both gritty and beautiful. Expert brushwork teases out different flavors of night sky, and the landscapes reflect the characters’ shifting degrees of serenity, menace, bleakness, and volatility. A harsh tale of family dynamic and of recovery, and one that has lived under my skin for months.
“You hear that? That is life. And destiny. That is the get down.”
Part two of Netflix series The Get Down recently dropped, and though it isn’t yet available through the Library, we know some of you are already primed to lose yourselves in the music, the style, the art, and the drama of the Bronx in the late 1970s.
The fascinating world of early hip hop is one born of frustrations, passions, and even activism. To experience more of this electric era, try one of these:
Hip Hop Family Tree 1: 1970s – 1981 by Ed Piskor
The early days of hip hop have become the stuff of myth, so what better way to document this epic true story than in an explosively entertaining, encyclopedic history presented in graphic format? Piskor’s exuberant cartooning takes you from the parks and rec rooms of the South Bronx to the night clubs, recording studios, and radio stations where the scene started to boom. The Hip Hop Family Tree is an exciting and essential cultural chronicle for hip hop fans, pop-culture addicts, and anyone who wants to know how it went down back in the day.
Wild Style, directed, produced, and written by Charlie Ahearn
A perfect point of contrast to a series that recreates the emergence of hip hop is one that was created during the era in question! Wild Style is a 1983 docudrama that celebrates the colorful lives of teens who live in the South Bronx (sound familiar?). There they are seen break dancing, creating graffiti art, and listening to raucous rap. One focus is on the figure of Zoro, who likes to spray-paint subway cars, another reference point from The Get Down in the character of Dizzee, played by Jaden Smith.
The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash: My Life, My Beats by Grandmaster Flash with David Ritz
In the 1970s Grandmaster Flash pioneered the art of break-beat DJing–the process of remixing and thereby creating a new piece of music by playing vinyl records and turntables as musical instruments. In this powerful memoir, Flash recounts how music from the streets, much like rock ‘n’ roll a generation before, became the sound of an era, as well as his own rise to stardom, descent into addiction, and ultimate redemption.
Whether you’ve seen the series and can’t let it go or you want to experience it vicariously, the series soundtrack will satisfy your yen. Featuring both original songs and era classics, the line up includes artists such as Miguel, Christina Aguilera, Michael Kiwanuka, Janelle Monae, and Donna Summer, as well as the talented cast. Consider this your hot summer soundtrack!