Amy Martin is Oakland Public Library’s Community Relations Librarian, which means she does things like creating the Check Your Shelf podcast and finding other creative ways of connecting people with the library. She’s also a comic artist so it’s no surprise that she’s an enthusiastic reader and recommender of comics. Here are her top Hoopla picks.
Descriptions in italics provided by the publishers.
The Best We Could Do
by Thi Bui
illustrated by Thi Bui
An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family's journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui. This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family's daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.
by Tee Franklin
illustrated by Jenn St-Onge
When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-'60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage. From TEE FRANKLIN (NAILBITER's "THE OUTFIT," Love is Love) and JENN ST-ONGE (Jem and The Misfits), BINGO LOVE is a touching story of love, family, and resiliency that spans over 60 years.
The Complete Wimmen's Comix
by Various Authors & Illustrators
In the late '60s, underground comix changed the way comics readers saw the medium ― but there was an important pronoun missing from the revolution. In 1972, ten women cartoonists got together in San Francisco to rectify the situation and produce the first and longest-lasting all-woman comics anthology, Wimmen's Comix. Within two years the Wimmen's Comix Collective had introduced cartoonists like Roberta Gregory and Melinda Gebbie to the comics-reading public, and would go on to publish some of the most talented women cartoonists in America ― Carol Tyler, Mary Fleener, Dori Seda, Phoebe Gloeckner, and many others. In its twenty year run, the women of Wimmen's tackled subjects the guys wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole: abortion, menstruation, masturbation, castration, lesbians, witches, murderesses, and feminists. Most issues of Wimmen's Comix have been long out of print, so it's about time these pioneering cartoonists' work received their due.
by Jesse Reklaw
illustrated by Jesse Reklaw
A tragicomic graphic memoir, the first long-form work by the acclaimed veteran cartoonist, of childhood, family, pre-pubescent sexual deviance, stalking, card games, mental illness, and cats.
Everything Is Beautiful, And I'm Not Afraid
by Yao Xiao
illustrated by Yao Xiao
This one-of-a-kind graphic novel explores the poetics of searching for connection, belonging, and identity through the fictional life of a young, queer immigrant. Inspired by the creator's own experiences as a queer, China-born illustrator living in the United States, Everything Is Beautiful, and I'm Not Afraid has an undeniable memoir quality to its recollection and thought-provoking accounts of what it's like to navigate the complexities of seeking belonging-mentally and geographically.
Gender Queer: A Memoir
by Maia Kobabe
illustrated by Maia Kobabe
Maia's intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be non-binary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity-what it means and how to think about it-for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.
Green River Killer
by Jeff Jensen
illustrated by Jonathan Case
The story of one of America's most notorious killers is revealed in this true-crime comic unlike any other! Throughout the 1980s, the highest priority of Seattle-area police was the apprehension of the Green River Killer, the man responsible for the murders of dozens of women. In 1990, with the body count numbering at least forty-eight, the case was put in the hands of a single detective, Tom Jensen. After twenty years, when the killer was finally captured with the help of DNA technology, Jensen spent 180 days interviewing Gary Leon Ridgway in an effort to learn his most closely held secrets-an epic confrontation with evil that proved as disturbing and surreal as can be imagined. Written by Jensen's own son, acclaimed entertainment writer Jeff Jensen, Green River Killer: A True Detective Story presents the ultimate insider's account of America's most prolific serial killer.
I Am Not Okay With This
by Charles Forsman
illustrated by Charles Forsman
Sydney seems like a normal, rudderless fifteen-year-old freshman. She hangs out underneath the bleachers, blasts music in her friend's car, and gets into arguments with her annoying little brother. But she also has a few secrets she's only shared in her diary: how she's in love with her best friend, the bizarre death of her war veteran father, and excruciatingly painful telekinetic powers that keep popping up at the most inopportune times. Charles Forsman once again expertly channels teenage ethos in a style that evokes classic comics strips while telling a powerful story about the intense, and sometimes violent, tug of war between trauma and control. I Am Not Okay With This tackles familial strain, sexual confusion, and PTSD in Forsman's signature straight-faced-but-humorous style and firmly stakes his place among the world's best cartoonists.
I Remember Beirut
by Zeina Abirached
illustrated by Zeina Abirached
Zeina Abirached, author of the award-winning graphic novel A Game for Swallows, returns with a powerful collection of wartime memories. Abirached was born in Lebanon in 1981. She grew up in Beirut as fighting between Christians and Muslims divided the city streets. Follow her past cars riddled with bullet holes, into taxi cabs that travel where buses refuse to go, and on outings to collect shrapnel from the sidewalk. With striking black-and-white artwork, Abirached recalls the details of ordinary life inside a war zone.
Jam In The Band
by Robin Enrico
illustrated by Robin Enrico
Jam in the Band is the story of the rise and fall of the all female junkrock band Pitch Girl. The story focuses on the tension between the members of the band and the commitment they are willing to make to be successful. Lead singer Bianca is willing to give up everything to make her dream into a reality, while her band mates Tiara and Corbin feel a much stronger pull towards the comforts of home and intimacy. These tensions will start to simmer when Tiara is confronted with her first real chance at a romantic relationship since Pitch Girl became famous. All of this comes to head when the band embarks on an illfated overseas tour. These three young women will then have to try to figure out who they are and what they want as they transition to the next phase of their lives. Told through a collage of drama, interviews, hand held camera footage, diary pages, news reports, music videos, web chats, and punk rock flyers; Jam in the Band is the story of the lives creative people stumble through in their 20's as they try to live our their hopes and dreams.
by Aline Brosh McKenna
illustrated by Ramon Perez
A powerful modern day reimagining of Charlotte Bronte's classic novel Jane Eyre. Jane learns that in the world of New York's elite, secrets are the greatest extravagance and she must decide if she should trust the man she loves or do whatever it takes to protect his daughter from the consequences of his deception.
Lighter Than My Shadow
by Katie Green
illustrated by Katie Green
Like most kids, Katie was a picky eater. She'd sit at the table in silent protest, hide uneaten toast in her bedroom, listen to parental threats she'd have to eat it for breakfast. But in any life, a set of circumstances can collide, and normal behavior can soon shade into something sinister, something deadly. Lighter Than My Shadow is a hand-drawn story of struggle and recovery, a trip into the black heart of a taboo illness, an exposure of those who are so weak they prey on the weak, and an inspiration to anybody who believes in the human power to endure, and to eventually find happiness.
Love And Rockets Library Vol. 1: Maggie The Mechanic
by Jaime Hernandez
illustrated by Jaime Hernandez
Part 1 of the Love and Rockets Library series
The first volume of the Love and Rockets Library collecting the adventures of the spunky Maggie, her annoying best friend and sometimes lover Hopey, and their circle of friends, including their bombshell friend Penny Century, Maggie's weirdo mentor Izzy -- as well as the wrestler Rena Titanon and Maggie's handsome love interest, Rand Race.
March: Book One
by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin
illustrated by Nate Powell
Book One spans John Lewis' youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall. Many years ago, John Lewis and other student activists drew inspiration from the 1958 comic book Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story. Now, his own comics bring those days to life for a new audience, testifying to a movement whose echoes will be heard for generations.
by Simon Hanselmann
illustrated by Simon Hanselmann
Megg is a depressed, drug-addicted witch. Mogg is her black cat. Their friend, Owl, is an anthropomorphized owl. They hang out a lot with Werewolf Jones. This may sound like a pure stoner comedy, but it transcends the genre: these characters struggle unsuccessfully to come to grips with their depression, drug use, sexuality, poverty, lack of work, lack of ambition, and their complex feelings about each other in ways that have made Megg and Mogg sensations on Hanselmann's Girl Mountain Tumblr. This is the first collection of Hanselmann's work, freed from its cumbersome Internet prison, and sure to be one of the most talked about graphic novels of 2014, featuring all of the "classic" Megg and Mogg episodes from the past five years as well as over 70 pages of all-new material.
My Friend Dahmer
by Derf Backderf
illustrated by Derf Backderf
You only think you know this story. In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer-the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper-seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, Dahmer was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides. In My Friend Dahmer, a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the deep recesses of his psyche-a shy kid, a teenage alcoholic, and a goofball who never quite fit in with his classmates. With profound insight, what emerges is a Jeffrey Dahmer that few ever really knew, and readers will never forget.
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party
by Nathan Hale
illustrated by Nathan Hale
Issue #3 of the Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series
The Donner Party expedition is one of the most notorious stories in all of American history. It's also a fascinating snapshot of the westward expansion of the United States, and the families and individuals who sacrificed so much to build new lives in a largely unknown landscape. From the preparation for the journey to each disastrous leg of the trip, this book shows the specific bad decisions that led to the party's predicament in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The graphic novel focuses on the struggles of the Reed family to tell the true story of the catastrophic journey.
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Raid Of No Return
by Nathan Hale
illustrated by Nathan Hale
Issue #7 of the Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, officially bringing the United States into World War II. A new generation of pilots were recruited to fly bombing missions for the United States, and from that group, volunteers were requested for a dangerous secret assignment. For the first time in American history, Army bombers would be launched from an aircraft carrier. Once at sea, they were told their mission was a retaliation strike against targets in Tokyo. But on the day of the raid, a Japanese patrol boat spotted them and they had to launch early, with barely enough fuel to get them past their target. After the bombing, some pilots crashed, some were captured, and many ended up in mainland China and were carried to safety by Chinese villagers, being hunted by Japanese forces all the while. With tales of high-flying action and bravery, Raid of No Return is a story of heartbreak and survival during wartime.
On The Camino
illustrated by Jason
Northwestern Spain, observed with the eye of an artist, chronicling both the good (people, conversations) and the bad (blisters, bedbugs) he encountered on his journey. Full of quiet incidents, odd encounters, small triumphs, and the occasional setback, On the Camino is the first implicitly autobiographical long-form work by a master cartoonist.
by Liz Suburbia
illustrated by Liz Suburbia
In this debut graphic novel collecting Liz Suburbia's popular webcomic, the parents have left the teenagers to fend for themselves in a town where a terrible tragedy is coming for them all. The children of U.S. small-town Alexandria are just trying to live like normal teens until their parents' promised return from a mysterious, four-year religious pilgrimage, and Ben Schiller is no exception. She's just trying to take care of her sister, keep faith that her parents will come back, and get through her teen years as painlessly as possible. But her relationship with her best friend is changing, her younger sister is hiding a dark secret, and a terrible tragedy is coming for them all. Filled with teenage loves and fights and parties, Sacred Heart is a wonderful coming-of-age graphic novel set against the threat of a big reckoning that everyone fears is coming but has no proof.
by Sarah Winifred Searle
illustrated by Sarah Winifred Searle
Harriet Flores struggles with boredom and an unrequited crush while learning to manage her chronic illness through a long, hot, 1990s summer in Chicago. She uses her imagination to cope, which sometimes gets her into trouble, as she makes up fantastical fibs and wonders if there are ghosts upstairs. One neighbor, Pearl, encourages Harriet to read and write, leading Harriet to have a breakthrough and discover the power of storytelling.
Today Is The Last Day Of The Rest Of Your Life
by Ulli Lust
illustrated by Ulli Lust
A long, dense, sensitive, and minutely observed autobiographical masterpiece recalling the summer of 1984, when the artist, a rebellious, punked-out 17-year-old, hitchhiked her way across Italy.
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