For those of you who haven’t had the chance to attend a book industry trade show, a Buzz Panel is when a bunch of publisher representatives gather together to present to the masses the books they feel are the very best their publishing houses have to offer in the coming season. They can be fun, they can be exciting, they can even be moving. What they can’t really be is unbiased.
Well, on Saturday, May 30th, four intrepid librarians from YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee, Jesse Karp, Barbara Moon, Christian Zebriskie, and I, braved the meeting rooms of the Javits Center during BookExpo America to present a non-Buzz Panel. Since none of us are connected to any specific publisher, we had the freedom to choose the books we really felt were worth buzzing about. So we spent weeks reading and evaluating hundreds of advance reading copies, photocopies of proofs, and PDFs of forthcoming books, hoping for gold. And we found some.
The following titles were presented at the Hot Fall Graphic Novels for Libraries panel, which was moderated by John Shableski from Diamond Comics. The room was full, the reviews were unbiased, and the panelists were on fire!
Binky the Space Cat
Kids Can Press, Ages 7-10
Before Binky the house cat can join the space corps he must first undergo rigorous training to prepare himself for the alien invaders that threaten his humans.
Sticky and Burr #2: The Prickly Peril
Candlewick Press, Ages 6-10
Our hero, Sticky Burr is back for another spine-tingling adventure!
Little Mouse Gets Ready
Raw Junior LLC, Ages 3-6
The intricacies of getting dressed, mouse style.
*Toon Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics
edited by Art Spiegelman and Francois Mouly
Abrams ComicArts, Ages 6+
A massive compilation of Golden Age comic material, featuring the work of future masters and more obscure names, with character who went on to fame and others who faded away, but every story is fun, hilarious or very weird. Both loads of fun and historically important.
The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook
Bloomsbury, Ages 8-12
Stuck in a new school, science nerd/wizard Julian finds a team of like-minded students just in time to defuse the plans of a techno-thief in this little gem that beats stereotypes and celebrates smarts.
*Fairy Idol Kanon
Udon Entertainment, Ages 7+
Three girls start on a quest to save fairyland by becoming pop music superstars. This book is sure to make the little girl in everyone one of us giggle with joy.
Cat Burglar Black
First Second, Ages 11+
Ex-cat burglar K is forced back into a life of daring heists by the den mother of her mysterious girl’s academy, but besides hidden treasure, she uncovers a secret conspiracy and the truth of her own past in this gothic fairy tale drenched in Sala’s trademark weirdness.
Oni Press, Ages 12+
In the continuing story of the Crogan family, Corporal Crogan joins the French Foreign Legion.
*The Storm in the Barn
Candlewick Press, Ages 10+
Stuck in the Dust Bowl in 1937, young Jack Clark has a dying sister, an angry father and a dim future, but a strange figure in the neighbor’s barn hints at a world much darker than he could even imagine in this eerie, melancholy masterpiece.
Outlaw: the Legend of Robin Hood
Tony Lee and Sam Hart
Candlewick Press, Ages 12+
A dark and (relatively) complex re-telling of the famous tale which preserves the heroism and underscores it with strong characters and great action.
Scholastic, Ages 10+
At age 11, Raina’s front teeth were knocked out. Years later, after extensive dental work and newly-found self-confidence, Raina is able to smile. Fans of the SMILE web comic and the Baby-sitters Club will be standing in line for this tender story of young adolescence.
*Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee
VIZ Media, Ages 9+
One boy sets forth on a quest for adventure as a letter carrier in a dark and dangerous land.
Black Jack, vol 7
Vertical, Ages 13+
The story of a mysterious surgeon-for-hire who will perform any operation — for a price — continues in this groundbreaking series by the "Father of Manga."
Charles Darwin’s on The Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation
Rodale Books, Ages 14+
A detailed and luminous examination of the work and life of Darwin. With breath-taking art and text taken from Darwin’s own writings, this is THE BOOK for the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s seminal work.
*The Umbrella Academy: Dallas
Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá
Dark Horse, Ages 16+
Is it better to save the President or maintain the status quo?
Del Rey, Ages 16+
Life at an Ag school is a whole new ballgame when you can see, hear and touch the microbes around you.
Star Trek: Mission’s End
Ty Templeton and Stephen Molnar
IDW, Ages 14+
You’ve seen how the mission begins, now see how it ends as the classic crew wraps up its voyage in the style of the original series, brimming over with fun and ideas.
The Vietnam War: A Graphic History
Hill and Wang, Ages 16+
A historian and an artist combine their talents to create a stunning study of one of American’s most complex stories.
*Kimi Ni Todoke: From Me to You
VIZ Media, Ages 14+
A painfully shy girl comes out of her shell with the help of the most popular guy in school.
*Ball Peen Hammer
Adam Rapp and George O’Connor
First Second, Adult
Lives converge (and fail to converge) in a pair of post-apocalyptic safe houses in this dark-as-pitch tale about need, trust and even the nature of art.
Bob Dylan Revisited
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., Adult
Thirteen graphic artists interpret this poet/songwriters classics. From "Blowin’ in the Wind" to "Like a Rolling Stone," enjoy them all over again or for the first time.
*Ooku: The Inner Chamber
VIZ Media, Adult
When a plague kills off most of the men, women take on the traditional male roles, including that of Shogun. But when a new Shogun comes to power she begins to question the continuing male-centric deference that prevails in this alternate-Edo period Japan.
Alec "The Years Have Pants" (A Life-Sized Omnibus)
Top Shelf Productions, Adult
This huge memoir ranges across decades and continents and is funny, compelling, and quite addictive.
G.I. Joe: Origins
IDW Publishing, Adult
Fantastic military fiction, high stakes adventure, and an incredible sensitivity to our returning veterans should make this a favorite for any service members, their families, or their supporters.
*Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol 1
Steve Ditko, Edited by Blake Bell
Wonderfully lurid work from the creator of Spiderman. This stuff is from before the Comics Code Authority and is an important historical record of comics before they had their teeth pulled.
West Coast Blues
Jacques Tardi and Jean-Patrick Manchette
After witnessing a murder, a young businessman abandons his family and goes on the run from two hired assassins.
*Stitches: A Memoir
W.W. Norton & Co, Adult
Children’s book author and illustrator David Small’s memoir of growing up in a cold and unloving household before and after a throat operation leaves him almost mute.
*starred titles indicate books the panelists feel deserve special attention.
Jesse Karp is the Early Childhood and Interdivisional Librarian at the Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School. He reviews graphic novels for Booklist, blogs about them for GuysLitWire, and has delivered seminars on the form at Pratt Institute and Queens College.
Barbara Moon is a Youth Services consultant for the Suffolk Cooperative Library System. She has organized graphic novel symposiums, led a session on graphic novels at the National Council of Teachers of English annual conference, and is a frequent presenter at workshops for Long Island school and public librarians. She writes graphic novel reviews for School Library Journal.
John Shableski works for Diamond Book Distributors as a sales manager with a focus on the independent bookstore market and on public and school libraries. Before working for Diamond, he worked at Brodart Co., where, with librarian Kat Kan he worked to develop their graphic novel program. He recently served as a judge for the 2009 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. He is a regular contributor on the Buzz, Balls and Hype Blog, where he posts as “The Graphic Novels Guy.”
Eva Volin is the Supervising Children’s Librarian for the Alameda Free Library, CA, where she puts graphic novels into the hands of kids every day. She served as a judge on the 2008 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. She reviews graphic novels for Booklist, GraphicNovelReporter, ICv2, Good Comics for Kids.
Christian Zabriskie is a Young Adult Librarian for Queens Library where he connects inner-city teens and reading. Prior to becoming a librarian he worked for Houghton Mifflin as both editor and sales rep. He holds an MA in English from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland in addition to his MLS.