Here’s all you need to know: not since Neil Gaiman’s brilliant Sandman series have a I found a work of graphic fiction to be so engrossing and moving as I find Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke and Key to be. Joe Hill’s story and Gabriel Rodriguez’s art come together in a way that I’m not certain any other collaborative comic project will be able to match. If you like brilliant, emotional, and very dark, creepy storytelling at its finest, you must start reading Locke and Key right now.
In the world of manga, Ryoko Kiyama is an ideal character. His eyes turn into pulsating hearts when he sees the object of his affection, sadness creates literal storm clouds overhead, and he is an expert at combating giant lizards and robots without getting injured. After accidentally falling through an “interdimensional cross-rip,” however, Ryoko’s ordinary behavior suddenly becomes freakish and bizarre. Ryoko has accidentally fallen into Western comics, a place populated by American teenagers who struggle to understand and tolerate such a strange visitor.
The Left Bank Gang opens with a dog shuffling down the streets of 1920's Paris, keeping mostly to himself. He ignores a panhandler, but then sees another dog that he recognizes. They shake hands. One dog's name is Ezra Pound. The other's is Ernest Hemingway.
Gang is a clever nugget of alternate history fiction. Rather than focusing on complex geopolitical questions like "What if the Germans won World War II?" Norwegian cartoonist Jason turns to the zeitgeist of expatriate writers such as Pound, Fitzgerald, Joyce, and Hemingway. His hypothesis is "What if all of these starving geniuses just got fed up and turned to crime?"
Metro City’s very own superhero Captain Amazing is getting too old for his job, so he’s going to need some backup. Sidekicks is the journey of some die-hard hero wannabes who wish to join the captain for one very simple reason: They are his pets, and he hasn’t been paying them any attention lately.
It seems like a good idea, and Roscoe the dog (hero name Metal Mutt) seems like a shoe-in. Who would be a better superhero sidekick than man’s best friend? Unfortunately, ever since an incident with Amazing’s last animal sidekick, he’s adopted a strict no-pet policy.
Sure, all of these guys bring something to the table. Roscoe is big and strong; Shifty the Chameleon has powers of camouflage. Manny the cat has actual experience in the field. But what can tiny hamster Fluffy possibly do? At least he has a teeny, tiny Captain America costume.
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, by G. Neri, is based on a real child who lived and died on the streets of Chicago. Only eleven years old and already with an extensive criminal background, he was a child, but he was also a gang initiate and had been stealing his whole life. His father was in jail, his mother was on the streets, and he was being raised by his grandmother, as best she could, so she said. This book takes a look at Yummy’s life from the perspective of another young boy who knew him…went to school with him…lived near him…and whose brother was in the gang with him.
As if David Small's graphic autobiography Stitches:--A Memoir wasn't powerful enough on its own, five scenes have been turned into eleven minutes of heart-wrenching video. If you've read the novel, is it worth it? Absolutely. Hearing 'mama's little cough," slamming of cupboards and moving her "fork a half inch to the right" further enhances the viewers understanding of David Small's traumatic, childhood home. If you haven't read this book, which was nominated for the 2009 Young People's Literature Award by the National Book Foundation, place a hold today! It's worth enjoying in all formats!