FUN FACT: All of the selections today are by writer-artists (one person writes and draws the book). They are the singer-songwriters of the comics world.
Cece Bell, writer and artist
Anticipation/Expectation Level: I’d heard lotsa good things about this one.
My Reality: All the praise is deserved. It’s a mildly fictionalized memoir about Cece Bell growing up with deafness, outside of the Deaf community – it’s about feeling awkward because she’s afraid she looks so different and because of the challenges of navigating a world that doesn’t always make the allowances it should for a lip-reading child, and it’s also about basic growing up stuff: friendships, family, school. Bell has a good ear for social detail and her chronicles of trying to find a true friend and feeling lonely will win her many readers (I hope). And she’s also funny.
Will teens like it?: Yes. Fans of Raina Telgemeier and The Wimpy Kid/Big Nate will be into this for sure.
Is it “great” for teens?: Yes.
Jesse Lonergan, writer and artist
Anticipation/Expectation Level: None. I knew nothing about this going in.
My Reality: Great realistic fiction which I think sometimes is thin on the ground in the comics world, especially for the high school level. All Star is squarely high school oriented. It’s not the baseball story that the cover may lead you to believe it is. It’s about the golden boy becoming aware of his golden boy privileges and trying to do the right thing. I’m always fascinated to read about fictional or nonficitonal characters trying to do the right thing. (All Star may seem autobiographical but it’s not). Lonergan writes clean, beautiful action pages that made baseball not so boring even for me. His characters are exaggerated – a little boxy like Jeff Lemire’s but more like walking skeletons.
Will Teens Like it?: Teens might not get all the cultural references going on, but hopefully that won’t turn them away from the story.
Is it “great” for teens?: Yeah.
Liz Prince, writer and artist
Anticipation/expectation level: I got a personal recommendation for this from several people whose taste I trust.
My Reality: Loved it! Prince doesn’t try to tamp down on the ambiguity of her feelings about how she wants to be in the world. Because these go against culturally built up norms for gender expression she struggles with how she feels about girly things, how she has been taught to think about being a girl, and how she feels comfortable and if that has to fit into a gendered behavior. But it’s told as a story that is open, using a black and white, thin-lined style that I think of as “refined sketchbook cartoon” – really accessible and enjoyable for a huge age range.
Will Teens Like It?: I put this on display on Tuesday and a teen immediately picked it up.
Is it “great” for teens?: YES.
Yumi Sakugawa, writer and artist
Anticipation/Expectation Level: I had read this on Tumblr or something before it was published. I thought it was cute to a point.
My Reality: I like how the format: small and square, with one text panel and one picture to each spread, makes the reading go more slowly. More like a picture book for adults. Sakugawa has a very appealing drawing style. The narrator of this book is a of a monstery design, sort of a cyclops Cousin It. She draws with a thin, textured pencil line, with a good eye for design. While I have experienced friend crushes and support the idea of more talk about the importance of friend-love and friendship as sustaining relationships, I feel like this book is more about friend-crush desperation. A reviewer at Rookie reads it as an exchange between the crusher and crushee, but I see it as a long declaration from the protagonist to an oblivious friend crush. A declaration that would make most people uncomfortable because it lacks confidence. And it is steeped in the social media world of today, and those references will become dated and take away from the chance of this being a classic book with a universal message. So I can’t fully get behind this as a great book but I do think it is cute and harmless – even maybe confidence building?
Will Teens Like it?: Yeah, this is built for sharing on Tumblr.
Is it “great” for Teens: I don’t know. I see it more as a novelty picture book?