Tuesday, June 03, 2008


So, apparently my hometown library is going to be doing a summer course sorta thing on comic books, and I've been asked to provide advice, recommendations, information packets, and some kind of presentation.

Anyway, you all know where my expertise lies by now. If the kids want to talk about the big names, I'm all over it. Superman? Ask me anything. Spider-Man? Just you try and stump me. Batman? Don't make me laugh.

Unfortunately, I've hit two snags in my thinking on this subject. First, I want to be all-ages-friendly, but I haven't exactly been keeping up with many of the specifically all-ages titles (Marvel Age, Johnny DC, Minx, etc.), so I'd like you all to offer suggestions as to what's good--especially with Minx.

Second, I'm totally out of my depth when it comes to manga, and that's likely to come up when I'm talking to a 10-and-up group of young'uns. So any advice on what's good/appropriate would be very welcome.

Off the top of my head, this is what I'd be recommending:
Blue Beetle (first trade)
Wonder Woman (Gail Simone? That's not out yet, but Heinberg's is)
Superman: "For All Seasons," "Up, Up, and Away"
Teen Titans Go!
Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century
Marvel Age: Spider-Man
Marvel Age: Iron Man
Marvel Age: Avengers
Justice League Unlimited
Spider-Man/Human Torch
Fantastic Four: "Imaginauts"
Runaways Vol. 1
Batgirl: Year One

I'm also hoping to keep it pretty gender-balanced--as much as I can, anyway. I'd like to put Birds of Prey on the list, but I want to go with a trade that's accessible and not full of T&A art. I'd like to put Manhunter on there, but I'm going to have to re-read the first trade from the POV of a ten-year-old. So, what are your thoughts?


ticknart said...


It should be on your list. The Scholastic editions are wonderful and it's perfect for those kids who have grown up with Harry Potter and are getting ready to move into The Lord of the Rings.

Tom Foss said...

Yeah, I don't know why I forgot Bone. The library actually already has some or all of the Bone books, so that's definitely going to get some mention.

Will Staples said...

Maybe some Legion of Super-Heroes? The post-Zero Hour version was more kid-friendly up until the "Legion of the Damned" arc, and the Silver Age stuff is good reading for anyone.

As far as manga goes, some of the more popular series among kids are Naruto, Dragonball, Inu-Yasha, Sailor Moon... basically anything where the anime adaptation is or has been running on Cartoon Network before 10 PM.

Anonymous said...

A couple months ago when we were collecting a list of essential trades and graphic novels (which, by the way, I never got yours!) I asked a few of our customers for their input, one of whom is the head children's librarian at the Lansing Public Library, and she gave me a list of books that her kids clamor to read, which was this:

Star Wars Tales
Mouse Guard
Patrick the Wolf Boy
Baby Mouse

To that list, in order to involve the superhero scene, I'd second your vote for "Superman for All Seasons" and throw in some Marvel book... maybe Runaways... but I think that, from the perspective of a ten-year-old's parent, that might be a little racy.

I've only read a few of the books on the list above myself... I've never even heard of Baby Mouse, in fact... but I'm sure they're worth checking out, as this woman knows what she's talking about (she actually teaches classes in library sciences at U of I, too, and in one of those I got to give a presentation on graphic novels, kind of like what you're doing, except it was to graduate students, not pre-teens. Which, probably, means mine was a lot less stressful.)

Bill S. said...

I'd recommend Yotsuba&! very strongly, since it's the only manga I really read that isn't Osamu Tezuka. And the library I work at has the first four volumes, so yours might too.

As to Minx, the only volume I read was Plain Janes, which was a good, quick read. I've heard some complaints about the sort of preachy ending, but it still might appeal to those less interested in the spandex set.

You might want to check out the Sardine in outer space series by Emmanuel Guibert and Joann Sfar, and the Little Vampire books by Joann Sfar. They skew younger, and they are pretty fun.

My library also has some books by Chynna Clugston -- the "Blue Monday" series and Queen Bee -- which tend to be sort of clever and relationship oriented. They do tend to be slightly off-color.

And I'm a big fan of Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, myself. And Marvel Adventures: Avengers.

You might want to see what your library has, and check it out, so to speak. Is there somebody (a librarian) who does selection in graphic novels for your library that you can talk to in preparation? The graphic novel selector for my library system is really knowledgeable about manga, and I know that I could approach her to ask for suggestions, and she'd be more than happy to help out.

Sorry to be so wordy! Hope it helps a little.

Bill S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anthony Strand said...

I second a lot of these. Bone, Blue Beetle, Mouse Guard, and Marvel Adventures: The Avengers are especially good.

As for things that haven't been mentioned, what about Amelia Rules? That might skew a little young for what your intended audience is, but it's a blast. Similarly, Leave It to Chance is a fun all-ages book with a female lead.

Anonymous said...

Thought of a few more superhero books: instead of Runaways, I'd use Ultimate Spider-Man vol. 1 from Marvel, and for a good third-party entry, how about the first volume of Kirkman's Invincible?

Tom Foss said...

Wow, great suggestions all around, and much appreciated besides. Let me see if I can address everything.

Bone: One of (as far as I know) two comics that the library already owns, the other being "Maus." Definite recommendation.
Legion of Super-Heroes: I was hesitant to recommend the Showcase trade; those comics were part of my introduction into comic reading, so I thought I might have been looking with rose-colored glasses at them. I think I'll add that to the list though, as well as the animated tie-in trades. Any idea if the post-ZH reboot trade is still in print?
Naruto: One of the ones that I initially considered, but I know the cartoon occasionally gets a bit racy, so I was worried about the manga content.
Dragonball: Same as Naruto, except replace "a bit racy" with "very violent."
Inu-Yasha: Hadn't thought of this, but isn't that on after ten?
Sailor Moon: Is the manga as full of fanservice and quasi-nudity as the cartoon's reputation? Should I even be worried?
Star Wars Tales: Good idea, hadn't thought of that.
Mouse Guard: I've heard nothing but good things about it; definitely added to the list.
Patrick the Wolf Boy, Baby Mouse: Never heard of these; guess it's time for some Wikipedia-ing.
Owly: I picked up the FCBD book for this a couple of years ago and thought it was fun; definitely adding it to the list.
Runaways: I'm going to be re-reading the first series before this weekend, so I can kind of gauge whether or not to recommend it. Right now, based on memory, I'm leaning toward yes.
Yotsuba&!: Consider it added.
Minx: I read Plain Janes, and it'll be on the list. I'm going to finish Re-Gifters tonight, and I might pick up one of the other ones this weekend (Anyone read "Confessions of a Blabbermouth" or "Kimmie66"?). I may just recommend the whole line, since they're targeted around this age group.
Sardine in Outer Space, Little Vampire, Queen Bee: More Wikipedia searching.
Blue Monday: Heard of, but not about, it.
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane: It's a bit of a travesty that I've never read any of this (soon to be rectified). Consider it added.
Marvel Adventures: Avengers: Definitely on the list.
Amelia Rules: I've managed to miss out on this; what's it about?
Leave it to Chance: Not a bad idea...but is it still in-print?
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1: Definitely added.
Invincible Vol. 1: See, I'm leaning against Invincible the same way I'm leaning toward Runaways. I definitely thought about Invincible (and had similar thoughts about Astro City), but it gets really bloody, and fairly often. Other than that, there's not much to object to, and it's great reading, but the gore might be a sticking point.

Thanks again, and I hope you keep these suggestions coming.

Anonymous said...

Alongside Marvel Age, I might throw in the Essentials - at least for Spider-Man. They cover a lot of the same material, but I feel like Spidey still holds up despite some kitschy dialogue. If nothing else it's something to recommend to readers who may be too young to have read the stories but maybe aren't put off by the black and white (manga crowd, maybe?).


Will Staples said...

Inu-Yasha: Hadn't thought of this, but isn't that on after ten?

Good point, I'd forgotten. I've read the first 20-odd volumes, though, and there's nothing really objectionable (unlike Rumiko Takahashi's other series, where people are running around topless all the time). Maybe a little more violence than is okay for the youngest kids.

Sailor Moon: Is the manga as full of fanservice and quasi-nudity as the cartoon's reputation? Should I even be worried?

I haven't read the manga, but I've seen the first 15 episodes or so of the cartoon, and it's pretty clean. If you're not sure, though, maybe you shouldn't take the risk.

I regret not even thinking of Yotsuba&; that's good for pretty much everyone. Azumanga Daioh is by the same author and pretty much more of the same, if less developed than his later work.

Will Staples said...

Oh, I should add that AzuDai is available in a large omnibus edition that collects all four volumes. That would be ideal for a library, I think.

Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith is another good all-ages read.