Common wisdom for writers suggests that one sticks to writing what they know. Once a writer has a few works under their belt and is a bit seasoned, they can reach out past their lives and daily concerns, but in the beginning, most writers should stay on the porch. I’m not a writer.  Does that mean I get to write about any ol’ thing that strikes my weird fancy? No. I should really stick to what I know. I give myself some freedom this time around because being a geek is something I know pretty well. Geeking out over pastimes and items of interest is a task I was born to live out! One could say I am the Queen of Geek Town; busily spazzing out over a variety of things that I find especially entertaining. Personal history has proven that not only am I comfortable geeking about but that I am in the right place. Bookmans IS Geek Land and has it’s own Geek Zone. In fact, May is Geeking Out month, so lets let our geek flag fly and get our geek on!
If geek books had an ambassador genre (imagine a literary UN where all the books are represented by little book ambassadors, in fancy 3-piece book covers, speaking to a translator about world-wide book affairs) with ambassadors representing book geeks worldwide, they would be graphic novels! Graphic novels have reached an all time popularity in the past decade, taking on all genres, styles and even scooting some stuffed shirt classic titles off the couch. After all, there will always be an inner 8-year-old living inside each of us. That 8-year-old loves pictures, and books with pictures are twice the fun! Why just have books with only words or only pictures when you can have both?
Art has made its way in and decided that kids books aren’t the only place where it can live in literature. Why did it take us so long to realize that words and art can go together like peanut butter and jelly? Well, there were those illustrated manuscripts done by the church; all of that gold leaf, heavenly Latin language hierarchy. This was back when the church pretty much controlled words and thus controlled books and people. These illustrated manuscripts where spectacularly beautiful and it could be argued that they were the world’s first graphic novels. I just hope that saying that isn’t some kind of sacrilege.
Let’s enjoy a chat about graphic novels that live in our Geek Zone and take a second to enjoy the pure 8-year-old’s excitement over a new book. Graphic novel creators are currently enjoying a type of freedom that allows them to shred boundaries and explore ideas and concepts, artist styles and adult content like never before. Some authors are taking on the classics, retelling tales in another way. This genre is inclusive, which gives both creators and audiences the freedom to explore literature while mining for intellectual gold.
John Kovalic released a collected edition entitled The Collected Dork Tower vol. 3, The Heart of Dorkness. Don’t let the nostalgic artwork, which is reminiscent of a mix of Beetle Baily, Dilbert and Little Orphan Annie, fool you. Kovalic knows literature and pulls from many classics to build a truly unique work. The back cover encourages readers to give in to the glory that is geek with Heart of Dorkness, “have a heaping helping of geekdom.” That is certainly up our alley.
Next is the Art of Jaime Hernandez; The Secrets of Life and Death by Todd Hignite. This gorgeous full-sized coffee table compilation includes full color plates, originals, sketches, magazine covers, a family history including photos, sketchbooks and new works accompanied by a full biography of Jaime. As an added attraction, the forward was written by the incomparable Alison Bechdel. Even if Hernandes’ work wasn’t amazing (which it is) the Bechdel forward would be enough for me to purchase this treasure.
James Patterson jumped into the graphic novel game with his original graphic novel adventure series, Witch & Wizard: Battle for Shadowland. One of the best features of a graphic novel is color, and Patterson’s work is not only a wicked fast, action-packed fun read, but it is visually stunning as well. Done in full color, with glossy page slickness, this work would be fun even without the words. Luckily for us, James Patterson is never short on those.
Last on today’s list is a fetid little bauble called Just Who The Hell Is She, Anyway? by Marisa Acocella. My next article will be on books that I read just because of their clever titles and this work almost made that list! The subtitle is “Damn. Does My Life Have To Be An Open Book?” Now that is a book I definitely would read, just based on the title alone. You got me Marisa! This work is pared down, more stripped and simplified than the previous two titles, using only black, white and the lightest of lavenders. Nothing was lost in translation. The clean distinctive artwork is paired with strong characters and action that not only bounce around the globe but also explore the characters’ inner worlds. Acocella is certainly one to watch and we hope she will be releasing more titles soon.
The Queen of Geek Town has spoken! We hope you will check out our Geek Zone to get the graphic novels that interest you. Let us know what titles struck your Geek Zone and what you thought of them. We are always interested in sharing the enthusiasm for all geek things. See you at Bookmans!