Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Cute Girl Network by Greg Means and M.K. Reed

Jane has just moved to town when a skateboard accident turns into a date with the cute guy who sells soup on the corner. Jack and Jane get along great; they're both young, broke, and enjoying a laid-back lifestyle. But Jack has dated a lot of the women that Jane knows, and their bad experiences with Jack lead them to form the Cute Girl Network, which is dedicated to spreading the word about Jack and his many shortcomings. Will Jack shape up for Jane? Will Jane take her friends' advice? Will Jane and Jack break up? Living life according to yourself is hard to do, but sometimes it's necessary.
Appeal: adult relationships, friendship, good female characters
Art: Black and white, smooth lines
Text: Conversational, casual
Other: M.K. Reed writes the webcomic About A Bull.
Awards: M.K. Reed's Americus was a YALSA Great Graphic Novel for Teens in 2012.

Means, Greg. Reed, M. K. Flood, Joe. The Cute Girl Network. New York : First Second, 2013 . Print.

Happy Happy Clover by Sayuri Tatsuyama

Clover is a young, energetic bunny growing up in Crescent Forest. Together with her bunny friends Mallow, Shallot, and Kale, and their babysitter, flying squirrel Hickory, Clover has fun and goes on adventures. Clover challenges the wandering rabbit Bramble to an obstacle course race; promises to deliver a letter across the forest for her teacher Mr. Hoot; and accidentally tells Kale's six little brothers about the human called Santa Claus-- and then has to bring them the presents they ask Santa for!

Appeal: Cute, animals, all ages, growing up, friendship

Art: Chibi, cute, stereotyped

Text: Busy but simple, exclamatory

Other: Happy Happy Clover has been adapted into an anime and a Nintendo DS game.

Awards: Tatsuyama's previous work, about puppies and other pets, won the Shogakukan Manga Award for kids' manga in 2001.

Tatsuyama, Sayuri, Sayuri Amemiya, and Kaori Inoue. Happy Happy Clover. San Francisco, Calif. : Viz Media, 2007. Print.

Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan

On one ordinary day more than 20 years ago, all at once, every chicken on Earth gained sentience and human-level intelligence. This is Filipino chicken Elmer's story, told from a journal left to his son, Jake. From those first hellish days hiding from furious humans, to the fight for human rights, to his middle years trying to provide for his family, Elmer dealt with traumatic experiences and tried his best throughout his life. This story is so real you can feel the heat of the fires and hear Elmer's panic during the burning of the slaughterhouse where he gained sentience.

Appeal: Stories about discrimination, chickens, realistic, racism
Art: Black and white, realistic, grounded
Text: Narrative, argumentative
Other: The story was inspired by the chickens that wandered the streets of Gerry Alanguilan's hometown of San Pablo City during his childhood. Elmer was originally published in the Phillippines, and was released in English and French in 2010.
Awards: Elmer won the Prix Ouest-France Quai des Bulles and the Prix Asien de la Critique ACBE in 2011.

Alanguilan, Gerry. Elmer: A Comic Book. San Jose, CA : SLG Pub. ; 2010. Prin

Static Shock: Trial by Fire by Dwayne McDuffie and Robert L. Washington

Virgil Hawkins is a smart, smart-mouthed high schooler trying to date his best friend and avoid making the bad choices available at every turn. He's also Static, a superhero with electricity powers, trying to defend his neighborhood against superpowered punks. Static uses science and wit to defeat bad guys, but Virgil can't seem to catch a break in love, at home, or on the streets.

Appeal: Black representation, superheroes, growing up, high school
Art: Rough, stylized line, distinctive 90s color palette
Text: Conversational, vernacular, scientific

Other: Static Shock was originally published from 1993 to 1996, and became part of the DC Comics universe in 2008. Static Shock was adapted into an animated television show in 2000.
Awards: In 2003 Dwayne McDuffie won the Humanitas Prize for Children's Animation for the Static Shock episode "Jimmy", which deals with gun violence.
McDuffie, Dwayne and Robert L. Washington. Static Shock!: Trial By Fire. New York, NY : DC Comics, 2000. Print.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Mixed Myth by Robin Meyer

Mixed Myth

Mixed Myth is a parody of every fantasy trope you can name. Is the main character, Keeva, a half-elf? She is indeed, but the other half is goblin, and since goblins and elves are mortal enemies, family reunions are awkward. Does Keeva have a drunken sidekick? Yes she does, and he's a literal nightmare, a demon horse named Puck. Does Keeva meet an attractive stranger? How did you know? Aidan is a half-selkie werewolf assassin who quickly gives up his mission to kill Keeva as impossible. 

Keeva is a firebrand, seizing the day and all the explosive phoenix eggs she can find, as likely to blow something up as she is to save world. Unfortunately, saving the world just became her responsibility, so along with Puck, Aidan, and Tamit (a sphinx so mysterious she can barely remember her own name), they set out to save the world from a fate so dramatic you'll be shocked-- shocked! The plot is intricate and brilliant, the characters are deep, and the wit is biting. 

Mixed Myth is available online.

Appeal: Fantasy, parody, good female characters, elves, puns

Art: Grayscale, detailed, flowing, fantastical

Text: Humorous, dramatic, ironic

Other: Robin Meyer's other projects since Mixed Myth's completion include Metrophor and Real Life Fiction.

Meyer, Robin. "Mixed Myth." Web. 4 May 2014.

Safe Havens by Bill Holbrook

Safe Havens

Samantha Argus, 26, is the foremost expert in genetics at Havens University and perhaps in the world. In fact, she's cracked the code that lets ordinary humans transform into any living thing at the drop of a hat and has cloned a few dodos back to life. The world isn't quite ready for this knowledge yet, though, so she keeps it under wraps while she works as a dorm RA, professor, and researcher. But life isn't all boring-- her fellow RA is a talking cat, her husband's overseas agent is a time traveler, and her late grandmother can talk to her from heaven through any reflective surface.

Safe Havens began life as a syndicated comic strip in 1988, set in a daycare called Safe Havens. The characters have aged in real time and are having children of their own now. Dave Hamper grew into a professional basketball player and Samantha's husband; Thomas Volant is a Cirque du Soleil performer married to a mermaid, with a trapeze-swinging, half-fish son; and Bambi is a famous singer with plans to travel to Mars.

Safe Havens is available online at The first comic posted online is from October 2010.

Appeal: Science fiction, puns, black representation, anthropomorphism, adult relationships

Other: Bill Holbrook also writes Kevin & Kell, an anthropomorphic comic strip, and On the Fastrack, a strip set in the technology offices of Fastrack, Inc. Some characters from On the Fastrack appear in Safe Havens.

Holbrook, Bill. "Safe Havens." Web. 4 May 2014.

Girls with Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto

Girls with Slingshots

Hazel is making her way through life post-college. She's a writer, sort of, when she has work, and she tends to mope, but her best friend Jamie is cheerful enough for both of them. This comic started as a gag-a-day strip, but has developed into a continuity strip about Hazel, Jamie, and their friends. Since the first strip, Hazel has acquired a long-term boyfriend and gone through a difficult break-up; Jamie has found the love of her life, now has an open relationship with her; Thea has gotten over her dating dry spell and found a wonderful woman to marry; and Clarice is finally dating her crush, but still trying to hide her part-time job as a dominatrix. Hazel doesn't always understand her friends' lives and desires, but underneath her prickly exterior she cares about them as much as Jamie does.

It is online at Read from the first comic here.

Appeal: Slice of life, making it in the world, family relationships, friendship, queer representation

Art: Shifts dramatically from detailed realism in the first years to the current bright, cartoony style

Text: Conversational, sarcastic, personal

Other: Danielle Corsetto has been cartooning since she was 8 years old. She began Girls With Slingshots in 2004, and it became her full-time job in 2007. Corsetto has worked on the Adventure Time comic book and The New Adventures of Bat Boy for the Weekly World News.

Corsetto, Danielle. "Girls with Slingshots." Web. 4 May 2014.