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The Reading Pile – May 2

It’s a new month, and we have a new stack of books to read here at Good Comics for Kids; join us as our bloggers talk about the books we are in the middle of reading right now—and feel free to add your own current reading in the comments section.

Kate Dacey: My local library has a small but carefully curated selection of books about comics, so on my last visit, I decided to check out Nancy Goldstein’s Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist. I had a passing familiarity with Ormes, thanks to bloggers David Brothers and Cheryl Lynn, both of whom have written about Ormes’ life and legacy. Goldstein’s book offers a more in-depth treatment of Ormes’ career, from her childhood in Monongahela, Pennsylvania to her success as a cartoonist, journalist, and entrepreneur. (One of Ormes’ strips inspired a line of dolls, which were manufactured by the Terri Lee company.) The book also reproduces nearly 150 examples of Ormes’ work, with generous selections from her two most successful strips: Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger, which ran in the Pittsburgh Courier from 1945-1956, and Torchy in Heartbeats, which ran in the Courier from 1950-54. Though Patty-Jo ‘n’ Ginger is Ormes’ most topical work, addressing political and social issues of the post-war period with frank, pointed humor, I developed a special fondness for both Torchy series: they’re melodramatic in the best possible way, populated with beautiful people in beautiful clothing doing fabulous things.

And speaking of beautiful people in beautiful clothing, the eleventh volume of Park SoHee’s Goong: The Royal Palace is also my reading list this week. This gorgeously illustrated manhwa is perfect for folks who are in royal wedding withdrawal. Goong tells the story of a commoner who marries the future king of Korea out of duty, only to fall in love with him. Like all good soap operas, Goong has its share of villains and romantic rivals, but what really makes it tick is the heroine, Chae-kyeong. She’s smart and principled, torn between the desire to improve her parents’ financial situation and her desire to have a life of her own choosing. I am completely, shamelessly addicted to this series; it makes my inner thirteen-year-old very, very happy and I think it will make real thirteen-year-olds even happier.

Mike Pawuk: Since the feature film adaptation of Marvel Comics’ Thor is coming out on Friday May 6th, I thought I’d take a look at Marvel’s Thor: The Mighty Avenger, a short-lived series by writer Roger Langridge and illustrations by Chris Samnee. The series was cancelled after issue #08 but got a lot of positive reviews. I read Vol. 1: The God Who Fell to Earth, and it’s an excellent retelling of the Thor origin that’s both true to the original source, but done in a light-hearted way and is very accessible. I suspect it’s got a lot of similarities to the feature film. Gone is the character of Donald Blake, Thor’s weak alter-ego from the original books, and Jane Foster is now not a nurse but an employee at a war memorial museum in Bergen, Oklahoma. She finds Thor in her museum halls being escorted out by security and from there she befriends the seemingly homeless man but discovers that he’s much more than he looks. A very pleasant surprise and it’s a shame that Marvel canned the series. It seemed to have a lot of potential.

Brigid Alverson: As baseball season is getting underway, I’m reading Wilfredo Santiago’s 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente. I’m not a huge sports fan, but I am old enough to remember what an icon Clemente was in the baseball world—and the world at large, thanks to his humanitarian work. I’m just at the beginning of this book, which is beautifully illustrated but a bit hard to follow: The story opens with Roberto’s childhood in Puerto Rico, and while it shows the simplicity, joy, and hardship of his life, it also introduces a lot of characters without being too clear about their relationships to one another. I’m hoping the story will get easier to follow as it goes along. Certainly Santiago’s loose, expressive art is reason enough to pick up the book, even for those who, like me, seldom read anything about sports.

Brigid Alverson About Brigid Alverson

Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor and a newspaper reporter; now she is assistant to the mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. In addition to editing GC4K, she writes about comics and graphic novels at MangaBlog, SLJTeen, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Comic Book Resources, MTV Geek, and Good Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters in college, which is why she writes so much. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.

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