Aging punks, lucha libre, small-town ennui, the enigmatic Luba and everyone else in the Central American village of Palomar – all signature elements of Love and Rockets, Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez’s soap in graphic novel form. Starting in 1983 as an SF-flavored pop culture mashup, Love and Rockets moved quickly into decade-spanning character drama which continues today in yearly installments.
Jaime’s side of the series focuses on the lives and loves of the Locas: Maggie Chascarrillo and Hopey Glass, two young punks living in fictional LA barrio Hoppers 13. Maggie and Hopey navigate life changes and upheaval, their on again-off again romance and tragedy in stories that effortlessly blend slapstick and heartbreak in equal measure in gorgeous black-and-white. The tales of the Locas expand beyond their early borders over the decades into a tapestry that includes friends Izzy, Daffy and Penny Century (née Béatriz Garcia) among others, and often delves into women’s wrestling, a sport often underrepresented in any medium. The bulk of the Locas stories are collected in four volumes from Fantagraphics: Maggie the Mechanic, The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S., Perla La Loca and Penny Century, spanning over twenty years.
Gilbert’s side of the Love and Rockets universe centers on Palomar and its well-drawn residents. His more traditionally structured tales are as mesmerizing as Jaime’s sprawling ones. Town mayor Luba anchors the first years of Palomar stories, and later ones follow her life post-Palomar as she moves to America with her family. Most of the Palomar tales are collected as Heartbreak Soup and Human Diastrophism, with the first set of post-Palomar tales collected in Beyond Palomar.
Dizzyingly inventive, often profane and absolutely not for children, Love and Rockets has continued since 2007 in yearly collections. To get a taste of Los Bros Hernandez’s range, check out Amor y Cohetes, a collection of their non-Locas/Palomar work from Love and Rockets. From the ridiculous pulp SF of “BEM” to a fourth wall-breaking “Hernandez Satyricon” to Gilbert’s gorgeous tribute to Frida Kahlo, it’s a great place to begin a readthrough – or to end. Check them all out today!
At the Stratford Zoo, the animals act out Shakespeare plays after the visitors go home. In the first of this delightful new series, these animals present Macbeth in a manner never seen before. The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth, by Ian Lender offers a fun introduction to the Bard for kids in grades 2-5. It’s also great for adults who love all things Shakespeare. Lender cleverly alludes to quotes from the play which appeal to younger audiences and make readers familiar with the play smile. Zack Giallongo’s colorful illustrations draw the reader into the story showing the perspective of the audience; the murder scene is cleverly hidden by a late arriving elephant. Fans will eagerly await the next installment, the zoo’s rendition of Romeo and Juliet, due to be released in September 2015.
“Sometimes you wonder how she knows the difference, since Bushmiller’s hoboes look exactly like his bums – battered hats, patched coats and pants, and heavy stubble (though never full beards) – except that the bum doesn’t carry the regulation bindlestick that in Cartoonland signifies ‘just passing through.’ In a strip from 1959, [Nancy] enters a public bomb shelter for no particular reason, sees two bums sleeping, and changes the sign to BUM SHELTER. (Have the semioticians gotten their claws into Nancy? No other cartoon character is half as compulsive about revisiting signs to better suit their referents.)” – Unpacking Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy vis-à-vis formerly funny vagrant humor, from American Cornball
The hi-larious comedy of the past can often be difficult for a twenty-first century sensibility to parse. Hats, for instance. Now that hats are no longer considered de rigeur, fashionwise, it’s harder to find the joke in one getting knocked off. Comedy archeologist Christopher Miller has addressed this pressing researchological gap in American Cornball, an encyclopedia of the former cornerstones of American pop-culture funny. From pie fights to the stinky nature of limburger cheese, the obsessive wearing of barrels when no other clothing is at hand or the slapstick of attempting to put up wallpaper sans skill or sense, Miller leaves no trope unturned. Racism and sexism aren’t overlooked, either, so be warned that some entries contain offensive material.
“When you ask people to list the funniest words they can think of, pants often makes the list alongside more obvious candidates like lollygag, platypus, kumquat, and gubernatorial. The question of exactly what makes a word funny falls outside the scope of this encyclopedia, but usually the humor is semantic and not just phonological. To be sure, a disproportionate number of funny words feature p or k; and oo (as in poot or bazooka) shows up more often than it should, but seldom do funny letters alone add up to laughter.” – Phonology is serious business in American Cornball
The next time an anvil falls on a cartoon character’s head or a Honeymooners rerun is on and Ralph’s railing on about the delivery peccadilloes of the iceman, turn to American Cornball for all you need to know about the yuks of the past. Put a hold on it today!
Poetry month might be over, but that doesn’t mean we’re completely done with poetry here at the Cedar Mill Community Library. Like a rude guest late to the party, May 12th is Limerick day! You know limericks. Those sneaky little poems with an unforgiving rhyme scheme and usually start with “there once was a man from a Nantucket?” It’s all plenty of fun until you run out of things that rhyme with bucket. Although famously silly and dirty at once, Limericks have a long history in poetry and have been tarnishing the names of good poets since late medieval times. Their modern identity as crude, humorous stanzas named after a city in Ireland really only emerged in the 18th century, and became popularized in the 1800’s by one Edward Lear. Today, they’re usually known as children’s rhymes or dirty lyrics, but I like to think of them as a funny little five-line challenge in creativity. Here goes.
There once was a man overdue
Who couldn’t check out anything new
so he paid off his fine
Returned books on time
and kept track of when to renew!
Alright, there may have been a slant rhyme in the middle, and that last line is kind of a mess. Let’s see what else we’ve got here.
Printing is 10 cents a page,
Even in the digital age,
We can’t fax or scan
but that’s still in the plan
so hold on to your internet rage.
It might not be funny or even terribly relevant, but it fits the rhyme scheme nicely. One more, you say?
Our mascot is Wiser the Owl,
we’d never keep him as fowl,
He encourages reading
and learning and leading
at prices much better than Powell’s.
The obligatory promotional limerick, now with hyperlinks:
We offer some great learning classes
No card? We give out guest passes
Make it your mission to visit 2nd Edition
and we’ll be here if your computer crashes.
I think that’s it for me today. What have you got? – Reference Rob
Who was Andy Kaufman- really?
Was he a comedian? He was an entertainer, that much is certain. Andy called himself a “song and dance man,” but that was about as true as, um, Richard Nixon telling the country that he was not a crook. He captivated audiences with those piercing blue eyes and was (in)famous for doing whatever he could to generate the greatest reaction possible – whether it was positive or negative, he didn’t seem to notice, as long as HE was the one being noticed. He would never break character, ever, in his public career, and died young enough (or did he die at all?!) that the world has very little idea of, well, who he really was.
Bill Zehme’s book, Lost in the Funhouse, does not attempt to directly answer that question. It is not a magical window into the essence of the “real” Andy Kaufman. If anything, it reinforces the idea that the real Andy was the one who had been staring straight at us the entire time. Based on interviews with Andy’s parents and several of his friends (that is, the few people who were less distant from Andy than everyone else), the book starts at birth and travels through Andy Kaufman’s entire life, documenting everything from his favorite activities at home and at school, to when he invited members of the audience at Improv New York to touch a cyst on his neck (but only after they washed their hands), to the stellar evening when he killed at Carnegie hall before loading the entire audience onto twenty-four buses and buying them milk and cookies.
The text is written from a dazzling, surreal perspective that lets you feel – just a little – that you are living through Andy’s eyes, and the view is spectacular. This book has been recently purchased for the Cedar Mill Community Library, and is available to be placed on hold Right Now. You’d better, um, get to it!
Comments Off on Checking In: Lost in the Funhouse: The Life and Mind of Andy Kaufman
Where do socks go when they fail to show? If the lost sock could talk would it tell us where it walked? Why do they get lost by themselves, never in pairs? Why is the lost sock always from the pair you wanted to wear? Why, oh why, do socks like to strike out on their own? May 9 is National Lost Sock Memorial Day! Remember favorite missing footwear and read some stories about socks. –Ginny W.
Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? by Eve Bunting When Duck loses his pair of brand new blue socks he asks Mr. Fox and Mr. Ox and his friends the Peacocks if they have seen them. Then Duck makes a happy discovery.
Duck Sock Hop by Jane Kohuth Dancing ducks and decorated socks meet once a week for a wild sock hop. And when the dance ends and the socks are worn out? Make a visit to the Duck Sock Shop to get ready for the next sock hop.
Dirty Joe, the Pirate: a True Story by Bill Harley Dirty Joe is a sock-stealing scallywag who meets his match, Stinky Annie. She and her crew like to steal underpants. When they meet on the high seas, the battle is on for undergarments until Joe and Annie recognize each other from somewhere!
Where’s My Sock? by Joyce Dunbar Pippin is missing his yellow sock with clocks and Tog offers to help him look. They embark on a “serious sock hunt” with a funny result.
A Pair of Socks by Stuart J. Murphy A lonely sock is looking for its’ mate and searches the house trying to find it. With some help from a puppy things are put right. A perfect title to introduce the concept of matching to preschoolers.
New Socks by Bob Shea The first picture book by the talented Bob Shea. Chicken gets a new pair of orange socks which change his world. Be sure and take a peek at the funny film clip of those orange socks on Bob Shea’s website.
Comments Off on Kid’s Corner: National Lost Sock Memorial Day is Saturday!
My 2-year-old and I love nothing more than reading in bed with a cup of dry cereal. She is lucky to have a mom who works at a library, because we have no shortage of awesome picture books. Recently I read and really enjoyed a book by Jenny Offill called: Dept. of Speculation. It is the story told so often; of love, marriage, children, and well, life, written in an unusual format. The book is extremely quotable, because it is essentially written in quotes. I knew that Offill had written a half-dozen children’s books, but did not realize until later that the book my daughter had been wanting me to read over and over was one of Offill’s. While You Were Napping is illustrated by frequent New Yorker contributor Barry Blitt. I must have picked it up in the first place, because the illustration looked familiar. The story is clever and one that appeals to parents as well and Blitt’s illustrations heighten the story. And, I love sharing a favorite author in common with my baby.
Comments Off on Inside Scoop: Jenny Offill for My Toddler and Me
READER’S ADVISORY: This story is dark, creepy, and scary in parts, but is also an interesting and entertaining story with a great mix of darkness, humor, friendship, and imagination.
I recently read a really interesting juvenile novel, The Imaginary, by A.F. Harrold. I originally requested it online because of the cover illustration, thinking it would be a beautiful picture book. When I received it I was surprised to find it was a 200+ page chapter book interspersed with black and white and color illustrations. The story is about a boy named Rudger—but he is not a human boy. Rudger is Amanda’s imaginary friend. Rudger only exists because Amanda imagined him, and when she gets in an accident and goes unconscious Rudger begins to fade. However, this is not Rudger’s only problem because one other person can see him, and he isn’t so friendly. The story includes some humor and reminded me a bit of Roald Dahl’s books. However, the content is a little scary in places (there is talk about the bad guy making a deal with the devil and a creepy ghost-like girl with dark sunken eyes and long, jet-black hair is described and pictured). The friendship between Amanda and Rudger and the supernatural elements was similar to Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs, a book appropriate for a young adult audience. If your kid (or you!) can handle the scary parts, I recommend this book for age 8 and up. Like Harry Potter, this is a juvenile book that adults can enjoy too!
Comments Off on Blurbs From the Branch: Recommended Juvenile Fantasy Novel
I read to make sense of my own life most of the time. When I became a mother, I naturally found parenting themes more compelling. After months of hiatus from reading, I picked up Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, which resonated so much with me at the time that it got me right back into reading. While looking for similar themes and authors (young-ish professional mothers), I came upon Outline by Rachel Cusk and After Birth by Elisa Albert. Children bring changes to our lives in such profound ways that it takes the new parents quite some time to re-orient themselves in the world. Each work delves into lives of women who are trying to make sense of what the world means to them when their focus shifts from self to their tiny offspring. I think it will resonate especially with those who have strong desires to achieve both being there for their families and to continue on with their dreams pre-baby. Wait, that’s all of us.
Comments Off on Off the shelf- Mom is always write.
“Kane Starkiller and his friend the elderly General Luke Skywalker are the only two surviving Jedi left in the galaxy, having escaped death at the hands of the Sith knights who have hunted down all the other Jedi-Bendu. The two Jedi lead a rebel alliance against the Empire and destroy the ‘death star’ space fortress. The Black Knight of the Sith and commander of the Empire’s legions is Prince Valorum, who is assisted by his General, a man named Darth Vader.” – One of the first drafts of George Lucas’ The Star Wars contains some familiar names and concepts
The history of Star Wars is long, very often contradictory and endlessly fascinating as a chronicle of revisionist history, both onscreen and off. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming out in December, and the impromptu pun-based holiday May 4th nearly upon us, it’s time to reflect on the labyrinthine history of what began as a straight-up remake of Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress. Michael Kaminski’s new book The Secret History of Star Wars: The Art of Storytelling and the Making of a Modern Epic traces Lucas’ populist space opera-turned-franchise through an exhaustive (and in some ways exhausting) unauthorized reference work. Tracing the series’ development from conception of the first film (sans Episode IV retroactivity), touching on the effect Indiana Jones had on the tone of the films, as well as the addition of first a sequel trilogy and then the eventually shot first (heh) prequel trilogy, Secret History is a detailed, illustration-free one-stop shop for Star Wars information.
“Based on the few comments he gave between 1979 and 1983, it appeared to revolve around ‘the rebuilding of the Republic’ and was to be a more introspective series of films about ‘the necessity for moral choices.’ Contrary to popular belief, the Sequel Trilogy was not supposed to follow a grey-haired Luke and company with the aged original cast portraying their elderly selves – this was a later addition used as an alternative after the original Sequel Trilogy was cancelled.” – Lucas’ oft-changing plans for his never-filmed sequels
Kaminski also covers additional, less well-known material related to Star Wars, including the Journal of the Whills, a pre-New Hope document that laid out the rules of the Star Wars universe, as well as an analysis of just exactly when Darth Vader morphed from villain to father. It’s not light reading, but no other book on the subject collects everything in one place. Place a hold on The Secret History of Star Wars today!
Comments Off on Checking In: The Secret History of Star Wars