I’ve written a guest post at A Moment of Cerebus, a blog dedicated to the enormously influential but also very anti-feminist comic book “Cerebus.” My post is about the artistic ends of things, not the anti-feminism.
(Note: “Cerebus” as a whole – which is over six thousand pages long! – includes some definitely adults-only material, so I don’t recommend it for kids.)
Included in the post is a page from my sketchbook in which I drew Cerebus in my character Mirka’s clothes:
Well, not so much “foiled” as “politely greeted.”
I got home at about 11:50pm tonight; as I was walking in our front door, I ran into a man I didn’t know walking out that same door, wheeling a bike.
This is not especially unusual; my housemates have friends who I don’t know, I often don’t recognize even people I’ve met several times, and Portlanders habitually bring their bikes indoors with them (for security and for dryness) when they visit a house.
I said something like “hi there!” and he – perfectly calm and friendly – said something like “Hi. Just heading out.” I walked in, he walked out, and my housemate Charles walked in from the kitchen at that moment. I asked Charles if he knew who that guy had been, and Charles, glancing over my shoulder, recognized his own bike being wheeled away and gave chase.
I ran out after Charles, and caught up with them on the sidewalk in front of the house; Charles had grabbed one end of the bike and they were having a tug-of-war, and Charles said “no ****ing way, ********.” The guy ran away at that point, and Charles and I brought the bike back indoors. Hanging off the bike’s rack was Sydney’s backpack, and in the backpack was my housemates stuff – Kim’s laptop, Kim’s e-cig, Jakes’s Playstation, and Sydney’s headphones. (All six items – bike, pack, ecig, laptop, playstation, headphones – had been in the TV room).
We also found an open window, leading into our TV room from the alley in back of the house. We called the cops, but the guy got clean away. The police advised us to lock our windows (good idea!), and to get curtains over the windows.
Oy! Second break-in in four months. That doesn’t mean anything, statistically – it’s not especially unlikely for two robberies to occur in the same year just by random chance – but still not a happy thing.
Note to self: Next time I run into someone in my house I don’t recognize, don’t assume that they’re here legitimately.
An article in “The Bee,” a local Portland paper.
Foster-Powell cartoonist creates books for global readers
By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE
In his Foster-Powell studio, Barry Deutsch works on a page from his second book in the “Hereville” series.
While pausing for inspiration, artist Barry Deutsch glances up, and looks out at Laurelhurst Park from inside his Foster-Powell Neighborhood studio.
An idea pops into his mind, and Deutsch goes back to work, as he stands, drawing on a Wacom Cintiq – a combination of a high-resolution computer monitor and digitizing tablet.
Although his work shows he’s a gifted artist, Deutsch says he doesn’t consider himself an artist, illustrator, or graphic designer. “I am a cartoonist,” he says.
He wanted to be a veterinarian in high school, Deutsch recalls. “But then, I took my first biology class when they had us dissect things. It turns out, the insides of a frog are really gross. Disgusting, in fact! That was pretty much the end of my becoming a veterinarian.”
However, he’s always been a big fan of comic books, he explains. “It was natural for me to switch over to creating comics.
“I started drawing at school, and also in my free time. My teachers were okay with it. In fact, I was very lucky, in that I had a good drawing instructor in high school. I learned a lot of basic principles of drawing. Even though I skipped a bunch of my other classes so I could go to drawing class more often, things worked out okay.”
For several years, Deutsch says he worked as a wedding coordinator and assistant manager at the Old Church, downtown. “It was a fun job, actually. There were very nice people there, and it helped pay the bills while I continued working on my drawings.
“I’ve been making a full-time living at this for the last five years or so, since my work on ‘Hereville’ began.”
Hereville is a series of two illustrated hardcover comic books, explains Deutsch. “I’ve had other things in print. But, two Hereville books are in print, and I’m currently working on the third book.”
The heroine in these books is Mirka, an 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl, who wants to fight monsters.
“She came about because I wanted to do something that would make a fun adventure comic; something that I would like to read. I’m kind of sick of all these ‘action comics’ about muscular 30-year-old white guys in New York City who punch each other a lot.
“And, I’m Jewish. This is a topic that enabled me to do a lot of research about Judaism. It all came together in Hereville. I don’t think anyone in the world but me would have come up with the idea to make this comic book.”
It’s similar to Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, the creators of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, he says. “What made them special wasn’t the fact that they had what some considered to be a silly idea. They saw that they could actually tell appealing stories with these characters. Perhaps Hereville will never sell that well, but it is appealing to people.”
He’s both somewhat astonished, and pleased, Deutsch smiles, that a publisher actually picked it up, then a second book – and is now waiting to publish the third in the Hereville series.
What surprises him, he adds, is that Hereville, which started out as a web comic, appeals to all ages.
“It’s no secret that I write and draw for myself,” Deutsch muses, “It wasn’t until I got an agent that I found out I have been creating a kids’ book. So it could be that I’m brilliantly creative – or, that I’m very immature!”
And, to see much more of his work, visit his website:www.hereville.com
This is by no means a comprehensive list – I haven’t read everything out there! And there are plenty I’ve read that I’m probably forgetting at the moment. But librarians ask me often enough for graphic novel recommendations that it seemed worthwhile to compile a list.
These are all graphic novels I’ve personally read and enjoyed. They all have genuinely top-notch cartooning, and I’m confident kids will enjoy them. I’ve tried to make a list that includes both “obvious” graphic novels, and lesser-known works that are nonetheless excellent and entertaining.
Some graphic novels for all ages.
- Bone, by Jeff Smith.
- Smile , by Raina Telgemeier.
- And also Drama, by Raina Telgemeier. Raina’s books are magic; she has a direct portal from her drawing board to the hearts of young girls everywhere. It’s uncanny.
- Beanworld, by Larry Marder.
- American Born Chinese by Gene Lee Yang
- Inuyasha, by Rumiko Takahashi.
- Castle Waiting, by Linda Medley. I love both Castle Waiting books; fantasy that emphasizes friendship and humor rather than danger and daring, and somehow is fascinating rather than cloying. Plus, no one draws castle architecture better than Linda Medley.
- Rapunzel’s Revenge, by Shannon Hale and Nathan Hale.
- Courtney Crumrin, for those kids who like stories that are gently macabre.
- Jellaby, by Kean Soo. Out of print, as is the sequel, but available secondhand and worth it; sweet and unique.
- Meanwhile, by Jason Shiga. A completely fresh take on the choose-your-own-adventure genre.
- Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, by Nathan Hale.
- Amulet, by Kazu Kibuishi
- A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel, amazingly well adapted by Hope Larson from Madeleine L’Engle’s novel. I’m not generally favorably inclined towards adaptations, but this one is an exception.
- Yotsuba&! by Kiyohiko Azuma.
- Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke.
- Friends with Boys, by Faith Erin Hicks.
- Babymouse, by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm. (Okay, this one isn’t “all-ages,” it’s for little kids.)
- Amy Unbounded, by Rachel Hartman.This is a “hidden gem,” long out of print and available only used. A fantasy comic full of accurate details about the daily life of a bright ten-year-old girl in the middle ages.
- The Baby-Sitters Club, by Ann M Martin and Raina Telgemeier. I normally tend to recommend more “indy” titles, but the charm and excellent cartooning in these three books is irresistible.
Superhero Graphic Novels. Gotta have a few of ‘em, I guess. Other than Superhero Girl, these are for older kids rather than all-ages.
- The Adventures of Superhero Girl, by Faith Erin Hicks. More of a parody of superheros than a standard superhero book, this one can be enjoyed by both superhero fans and superhero skeptics, and contains no grimness and next to no violence.
- Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection, by Scott McCloud. This is my favorite superhero comic. It is optimistic rather than grim, and although it has moments of intense adventure it’s not especially violent. A teen coming-of-age novel in superhero form, the hero’s girlfriend Jenny is at least as much the protagonist as Zot himself is. There’s an earlier color Zot! book, which I also like, but the black-and-white book is better and can be read on its own.
- Runaways, by Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona, Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan. Fun superhero action with a diverse cast of main characters. Like most superhero comics, Runaways can get rather grim and violent; there are betrayals and some characters die. I only recommend the first eight volumes, after that the quality plummets.
- Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. THE classic of the superhero genre, much better than the movie of the same name. WARNING: Extreme grimness and violence, and some sexual scenes depicted non-explicitly, including one panel depicting a rape.
- Batman, Year One, by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli. If you’re going to stock just one Batman graphic novel, this is the one. Christopher Nolan clearly kept this book by his bedside while he was making “Batman Begins,” but the version on paper is much better. Grim and violent, however.
Graphic Novels For Older Kids – books with death, tougher themes, etc.. Some of these may be fine for mature middle-school readers, but given how much standards vary, librarians and teachers should read these before recommending them for pre-high-school readers.
- Incognegro, by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece.
- Maus, by Art Spiegleman.
- Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi.
- I Kill Giants, by Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Nimura. (Might be okay for middle school kids, too. I need to reread it to see. But it has some tough themes about bullying and trauma, so I’m putting it here for now).
- Anya’s Ghost, by Vera Brosgol. WARNING: The main character – who is wonderfully written – smokes and swears. (Although I think she quits smoking by the end of the book).
- Aya, by Marguerite Abouet. As well as being a gorgeous comic book, this is the one of the best portraits of daily life in Africa (specifically, the Ivory Coast) you’ll ever read. Again, might be okay for middle schoolers, but I’d have to reread to be sure.
- The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot. Excellent graphic novel about a girl recovering from sexual abuse.
- Ivy, by Sarah Oleksyk. A realistic coming-of-age novel about a young girl and wannabe artist, nearing high school graduation and exploring her options. This book contains R-rated nudity, sex, drug use, and swearing, so may not be for every library, despite its high quality.
- Paul Joins the Scouts by Michel Rabagliati. Gorgeous, mostly-autobiographical story about being a young Quebecker boy joining the Scouts in the early 1970s. (On this list rather than the all-ages list because it includes brief nudity and character death.)
- Troop 142, by Mike Dawson. Another scouting sleepaway camp graphic novel, notable for its very realistic dialog and depiction of the (sometimes ugly) social dynamics among both the teens and adults at camp. A terrific book, but not for folks looking for the sugarcoated version of camp.
- Blankets, by Craig Thompson. Maybe the best coming-of-age romance graphic novel ever. (Includes sexuality, swearing, and I think some nudity.)
- Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud. An entertaining comic book textbook about the medium of comic books, this won’t appeal to all kids, but the intellectual nerdy comic book fan types may dig it.
- Making Comics, by Scott McCloud. This is the number-one book I recommend to high schoolers who are beginning to get serious about making their own comics.
Some All-Age Classics
- Pogo, by Walt Kelly
- Peanuts, by Charles Schulz
- Uncle Scrooge, by Carl Barks
- Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson
- The Adventures of Tintin: Red Rackham’s Treasure ) and…
- The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, both by Hergé. Normally I don’t recommend particular books within a series, but if you get only 2 Tintin books, get these two (which form a single two-part story). They’re both an example of Hergé’s cartooning at its best, and also an example of a Hergé book without any offensive racial stereotypes to worry about. (Although one character is an alcoholic.)
- Moomin, by Tove Jansson.
And hey, while you’re at it, please consider picking up a copy of Hereville. :-p
Layele is one of Mirka’s sisters, and is about 6 years old. She really didn’t appear much in books 1 or 2, but is a major character in book 3.
One thing I’m trying to do is make a different sibling the “primary sidekick” in each Hereville book. So in book 1 the “primary” sibling character was Zindel, although Gittel and Rochel got some nice screen time too. In book 2 the “primary” sidekick was Rochel, and Zindel was present as well, but poor Gittel barely appeared. In book three, Layele will be the primary sidekick. I have an idea for a plotline in which Gittel is the primary sidekick – which would be interesting, since Gittel is older than Mirka and would try to assert authority over her – but that would be for a future book.
My newest sketchbook page, “Starface.”
I saw the “field of faces background” in another cartoonist’s drawing on Facebook and thought “I am definitely swiping that idea,” but now I can’t find the other cartoonist to credit her. Sorry, whoever you are.