Monday, July 26, 2010

New ALD graphic novels, July 2010

Let's get this blog started with some graphic novels that ALD has ordered recently! Below are links to the library record for each graphic novel. Put them on hold and experience the glory of free comics all year around.

Locke and Key: Crown of Shadows is a relatively new series by horror author Joe Hill. The story follows Ty, Bodie, and Kinsey who struggle to combat their teenage years AND ghostly apparitions. This is the third trade in the series, hopefully it will let readers know about the mysterious Omega Key that's been hinted at in the first two books.

Scott Pilgrim is a hilarious manga-styled comic that chronicles the adventures of, you guessed it, Scott Pilgrim. The series has experienced a resurgence of popularity, largely thanks to the upcoming film adaptation starring Michael Cera. The series features a bunch of clever video game-based jokes.

Mike Mignola is no stranger to work and he's continuing the Hellboy series with Hellboy 10: The Crooked Man and Others. When we last saw Hellboy, he was found to be involved in some crazy Arthurian legend which by my guess will be a jumping off point to wrap up the series in an epic conclusion. This volume of Hellboy is sure to feature what all Hellboy trades have in abundance: face punching, confusing mythological references, and the colors red and black.

After the somewhat controversial The Great Fables Crossover, which saw the Fables series and the Jack of Fables series, uh, cross over, Bill Willingham is continuing Jack's spinoff story in Jack of Fables 7: The New Adventures of Jack and Jack . I'm not caught up on Jack's story, but you can be sure there will be self-referential literary jokes, a blue ox, and all kinds of Jacks from fairy tales including Jack Frost.


  1. Dear Nick,

    Since finding your blog, I have really been obsessed with using comic literature in my classroom. I have amassed a small collection for my students to check out, and some for instructional purposes only. However, it is not enough. So, I have decided to pilot a comic book curriculum in my school. I am currently applying for grant money to purchase materials for creating this curriculum, and I need some help. I need STRONG examples of comics I can use to teach these reading strategies:
    • Inference
    • Questioning
    • Prediction
    • Summary
    • Making Connections
    • Visualizing
    • Synthesis
    • Determining Important Ideas

    Now, I have been using comics to introduce many of these strategies, and I have been fairly successful with Inference, Questioning, Predictions, and Summarizing (I used Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics as a mentor text). Strategies like Visualizing seems redundant because with comics the pictures are such a prominent part of the literature. However, if I am going to get this curriculum going and taken seriously, I really need 2-3 really good comics that I can use as examples for teaching lessons in each of these areas. Any thoughts?

    I would love it if you could mull this over for a bit and get back to me as you have tons more comic knowledge than I do. In the meantime, since Writing is my passion, I am looking for comics to teach certain 5th Grade Writing standards, along with Science and Social Studies.

    I know this is a huge undertaking, but I really want to be successful, so I figure the more help I get, the better. Thanks for your help.


    Mr. Adrian Neibauer
    Rolling Hills Elementary
    Fifth Grade - Track D

  2. Mr. Neibauer, I think you've asked the right person! I've run this graphic novel book club since November 2009 and previously to that I had taken a Graphic Novel course in college. Currently, I'm writing an argumentative essay for the legitimacy of graphic novels in library collections whether it's academic, public, or school.

    As far as the reading strategies go, you could really use any of them for any graphic novel. For example, you could have a student summarize a portion of Art Spiegelman's Maus or you could have students infer a conclusion from any amount of information in Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese.

    I am unfortunately a most avid reader of adult graphic novels, but here's a list that should be at least a good start:

    Maus by Art Spiegelman: a World War II autobiography of the author's father. Nazis are depicted as cats and Jews as mice. You could start some simple metaphor talk with this. An old standby, quite a few kids read this in middle school.

    American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang: a very cartoony story of an Asian teenager with an identity crisis. Loosely follows the Legend of the Monkey King. This follows three different story threads that eventually come together, so maybe you could use this for "making connections?"

    Bone series by Jeff Smith: a Lord of the Rings-esque adventure story following the Bone brothers. I have yet to meet someone who didn't love reading these books, it's a series of nine trade paperback books.

    Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan: a kids-as-superheroes story. These kids are all the children of villains and they decide to rise up and fight their parents. Not terribly educational, but entertaining.

    Marvel: 1602 by Neil Gaiman: an alternate history story involving all of the popular Marvel superheroes such as Spider-Man and Nick Fury in 1602 versions of themselves. A good way to sneak some history in there.

    CreatureTech by Doug TenNapel: a wacky story of a scientist who is essentially a jerk until a parasitic creature latches onto him and gives him superpowers. There are Christian undertones here, so I'm not sure if those would get you in trouble, but I found it delightful. Since he changes throughout the graphic novel, perhaps this would be good for prediction or inference?

    Flight Explorer series: Flight is a series of graphic novels that collects stories based on the theme of flight in one anthology. The explorer series is much the same, but for children. If you needed short stories for a quick lesson plan, this would be helpful.

    All of these titles should be available on if you want to take a look at them.

    Finally, I just happened to be using a lot of books on the educational merits of graphic novels and comics in the classroom, so here are a few that found particularly useful that I got from Prospector at

    Getting Graphic: Using graphic novels to promote literacy with preteens and teens by Michele Gorman.

    Teaching Visual Literacy: Using comic books, graphic novels, anime, cartoons, and more to develop comprehension and thinking skills by Douglas Frey.

    Graphic Novels and Comic Books by Kat Kan - (an anthology with some helpful articles)

    I hope this helps! If you'd like to contact me in non-blog format, don't hesitate to e-mail me at At the very least, I'd love to hear how it works out!