More From DBRL...
To celebrate the holiday season, DBRLTeen will be giving away an autographed copy of “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” on CD! This audiobook is about two teenage boys with the same name, whose lives intersect in unexpected ways.
“One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, Will Grayson crosses paths with . . . Will Grayson. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, and culminating in epic turns-of-heart and the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high school stage.”
“Will Grayson, Will Grayson” is a collaboration between two well-recognized authors, John Green and David Levithan. Green is the author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” while Levithan penned the novel, “Every Day.” Both of these titles are on the current list of Gateway Award nominees, and among the most heavily circulated teen books in our regional library system.
“Will Grayson, Will Grayson” debuted at #3 on the New York Times bestseller list for children’s chapter books, the first book starring gay characters ever to appear on the list. Check out the video below of John Green reading the first few pages of this acclaimed young adult novel and register today for your chance to win a free copy of this audiobook! The lucky winner will be contacted on Friday, December 19.
Originally published at “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” Book Giveaway.
The film “Rich Hill” (91 min.) examines the rural community of the same name that lies seventy miles south of Kansas City, Missouri. This impoverished Midwestern town is the setting for this documentary that examines the turbulent lives of three boys and the fragile family bonds that sustain them. Directed by Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo, this film was a selection of the 2014 True/False Film Festival and won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. There is something invigorating about the crisp Missouri air during this time of year. Also, the holiday is primarily about family and food and generally devoid of consumerism, which is refreshing in the hyper-marketed world that we live in. However, the celebration of food and family is only part of the Thanksgiving equation for me. I often ponder happiness, gratitude and peace during the holiday.
I often refer to my well-thumbed copy of the “Varieties of Religious Experience” by William James when I think of Thanksgiving. Starting with lectures IV and V, James writes: “If we were to ask the question: ‘What is human life’s chief concern?’ one of the answers we should receive would be: ‘It is happiness.’ How to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness . . .” Perhaps Thanksgiving is a good time to reflect on what has made us joyful during the year, in addition to giving thanks for the many blessings we have received.
About this time last year, my then three-year-old daughter gave me a “Daddy present.” “Daddy presents” are often crumpled pieces of paper with incredibly cute drawings on them stuffed into small envelopes. With a flying pony sticker on the front. This gift, though, was a purple bracelet with “Complaint Free World” engraved on the side. It was bought for 5 cents at a garage sale. DBRL has several books associated with the “Complaint Free World” movement, including the popular “Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Enjoy Life.” The movement was started by Will Bowen, who is relatively local (based in Kansas City), and the book is a gratitude-based look at life in the modern world. His motto is: “if you feel you must complain about something, try to change what it is in your life that is causing you to complain.” The most updated version was published in 2013.
In the same vein, look no further than Victor Frankls’ book “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Frankl lost all of his family during the Holocaust and is himself a survivor of the Nazi death camps. He emerged from the experience with tremendous insight into the human condition, and indeed, into the very heart of what makes us grateful, successful and happy creatures. The main premise of “Man’s Search for Meaning” is that happiness and gratitude come from working toward something greater than oneself. “Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run – in the long run, I say – success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.”
Thanksgiving time is also usually still lovely in Mid-Missouri. The trees still hold some color, the weather can be warm, and Thanksgiving Day hikes are a favorite in our family. For a celebration of trees and nature, one might pick up a copy of Jane Goodall’s recent “Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder From Plants.” In this book, Goodall discusses a variety of issues surrounding ecology, plants and agriculture. She asks us to strive for a transformational appreciation of the natural world as a source of societal renewal.
Finally, philosophy aside, Thanksgiving is perhaps most importantly a celebration of all that is important about food: it’s sustaining properties, cultural significance and seasonal variety (the pilgrims probably would not have survived without some of the common foods celebrated during the holiday, such as corn introduced to them by local Indians). A recent anthology of poems about food was published in 2013: “The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food & Drink” edited by Kevin Young. “Food transports us to another place” writes Young. Even if it’s just to the couch after Thanksgiving turkey.
March Madness Teen Book Tournament
In mid-December, we will announce the 32 contenders in DBRL’s March Madness Teen Book Tournament. Starting in early January, we will begin voting for the Mid-Missouri teen book champion. Each time you vote, your name will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win cool prizes like free book sets or a Barnes & Noble gift card.
Southern Boone County Public Library
Wednesday, December 10, 2014 • 2:45-4:30 p.m.
Compete in a variety of Wii sports for a chance to win a gold medal and strut your stuff. We’ll have treats and other goodies. Grades 6-8.
Project Teen: Memories
Columbia Public Library
Monday, December 15, 2014 • 6-7:30 p.m.
Craft a personalized memory jar as a gift or in preparation of the New Year, and enjoy free pizza. Ages 12-18. Registration begins Tuesday, December 2. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.
Family Game Day
Columbia Public Library
Tuesday, December 23, 2014 • 9:30-11:30 a.m. , 2-3:30 p.m.
Drop by to play board games. We’ll have favorites, old and new, but feel free to bring your own games, too. For families with children of all ages.
Wii U Family Game Night
Columbia Public Library
Thursday, January 8, 2015 • 6-7:30 p.m.
Try out the library’s Wii U game console. Become a dancing superstar in “Just Dance 4″ or a bowling champion playing “Wii Sports.” Pizza served. Ages 10 and older. Parents welcome. Registration begins Tuesday, December 23. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.
Southern Boone County Public Library
Wednesday, January 14, 2015 • 2:45-4:30 p.m.
Think you have the best dance moves? Prove it! Bring your moves and your friends to this fun dance competition, using “Just Dance” on the Wii U. We’ll have treats and other goodies. Grades 6-8.
Finding Summer Jobs for Teens
Columbia Public Library
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 • 6:30-8 p.m.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015 • 6:30-8 p.m.
We’ll look at local resources for teen job-seekers, help identify job possibilities and employers who may be interested in you. You will leave with resources and a form to make completing applications easier. Snacks provided. Registration begins Tuesday, January 20. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.
Southern Boone County Public Library
Wednesday, February 11, 2015 • 2:45-4 p.m.
Compete in a variety of Wii sports for a chance to win a gold medal and strut your stuff. We’ll have treats and other goodies. Grades 6-8.
Wii U Family Game Afternoon
Columbia Public Library
Friday, February 13, 2015 • 2-3:30 p.m.
Try out the library’s Wii U game console. Become a dancing superstar in “Just Dance 4″ or a bowling champion playing “Wii Sports.” Snacks served. Ages 10 and older. Parents welcome. Registration begins Tuesday, January 27. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.
Poetry Out Loud Competition
Columbia Public Library
Wednesday, February 18, 2015 • 10 a.m.
Area high school students will be competing for a spot on the Missouri state championship team at this recitation competition. Missouri’s winner progresses to the national Poetry Out Loud championship held in Washington, D.C. Come observe and encourage the students as they perform their poems. This program of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation is coordinated locally by the City of Columbia Office of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the Missouri Arts Council. For more information, go to www.poetryoutloud.org. (Alternate weather date: February 25.)
Originally published at 2015 Winter Program Preview.
We recently added “Jodorowsky’s Dune” to the DBRL collection. This film played at the True/False Film Festival in 2014, and currently has a rating of 98% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from the film website:
This fascinating documentary explores the genesis of one of cinema’s greatest epics that never was: cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s (EL TOPO) adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic Dune, whose cast would have included such icons as Salvador Dali, Orson Welles and Mick Jagger. In 1975, following the runaway success of his art-house freak-outs EL TOPO and HOLY MOUNTAIN, Alejandro Jodorowsky secured the rights to Frank Herbert’s Dune – and began work on what was gearing up to be a cinematic game-changer, a sci-fi epic unlike anything the world had ever seen.
There’s been a lot of controversy lately about adults reading young adult fiction (YA). Many argue that adults should be ashamed for reading books written for children, while others say it shouldn’t matter. If you enjoy reading YA, that’s all that’s important. I have to agree with the latter argument. Telling adults they should be ashamed to read YA is absurd, but then again, telling anyone they should be ashamed to read ANYTHING is absurd!
Sure, YA books are novels aimed at readers aged 12 to 19, but YA is more than that. Many books for teens are written in a style meant to keep these readers engaged, and thus much of YA is full of more direct language, faster pacing, action scenes and emotional turmoil. These features appeal to many people (not just teens!!) because of the other media they love with similar plots or pacing – movies, TV shows, Twitter and Instagram.
Enjoying this style of book isn’t just something teens can do. Everyone can.
Now, that being said, I don’t think the classics are dead, or adults should read only YA. That’s also crazy talk. Everything has its place and time. Everything is important to someone. But should an adult feel ashamed for not wanting to be bogged down with what they might see as superfluous language or ambiguous endings? Hardly. Everyone has their preferences.
If you have read YA fiction and thought it was immature, then maybe you haven’t read enough YA. Just like in any genre or category of books, there is the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. You can’t judge an entire type of book based on one work, or even two.
My series of YAFA posts will suggest YA books that will, I hope, appeal more to adult readers. And they won’t be books already enjoying big buzz like “The Hunger Games” or “The Fault in Our Stars.” Here is my first recommendation.
“Grave Mercy” by Robin LaFevers
“Grave Mercy” is a historical fantasy. It follows Ismae, a daughter of Death, as she trains to become an assassin. When the Duchess is killed, Ismae must pretend to be Gavriel Duval’s mistress and hope to find the truth behind what happened. Used to always having Death on her side, Ismae must question everything she’s learned and save the soon-to-be Duchess Anne’s life.
Full of political intrigue, historical references and a mature love interest, “Grave Mercy” has more adult elements than teen ones. Ismae sounds like a narrator above her years, and LaFevers’ language is beautifully balanced, descriptive yet direct. Longer than the average YA, “Grave Mercy” is the first in a trilogy. Each book follows a different daughter of Death. “Dark Triumph” is book two (also amazing!), and book three is yet to be released, titled “Mortal Heart.” (I have it on hold!)
No matter what anyone says, if you enjoy reading something, no matter what it is, be happy and READ!
On November 7, 1867, two teachers in Poland welcomed a daughter into the world. They were poor but managed to nurture within her a love of learning. In a day and age where most women did not consider higher education, the girl found herself fascinated by math and science. It was this fascination that lead the girl – Maria Salomea Sklodowska, better known as Marie Curie – on a journey to the University of Paris in 1891. This journey changed not only her life but also directly influenced the future of science and medicine.
In Paris, Marie met Pierre Curie, a physics and chemistry instructor. Pierre was the love of her life, as well as her scientific partner in Nobel Prize-winning research on radioactivity. Marie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and she was the first person (and only woman so far) to be awarded a second Nobel Prize, which she won in 1911 for the discovery of radium and polonium. Marie’s life was marked by these great successes but also by great tragedy. Both her mother and husband died far too early in their lives. Despite these losses, she persevered. Marie Curie was an unassuming woman who saw herself as simply a wife, mother and scientist. She probably never imagined her role as such an important pioneer for women and science. If you’re interested in learning more about her, the library owns several fascinating books that explore Marie’s life, family and legacy.
- “Madame Curie: A Biography” by Eve Curie. Marie Curie’s daughter, Eve, recounts Marie’s scientific successes, examining how her mother’s Polish childhood ultimately shaped her into a superstar of the scientific world.
- “Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie” by Barbara Goldsmith. Pulling from diaries, letters and family interviews, author Barbara Goldsmith explores Curie’s challenge of living the conflicting roles of wife, mother and scientist.
- “Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, a Tale of Love and Fallout” by Lauren Redniss. Described as a biography-in-collage, this stunning work combines both stark and vibrant imagery and text to tell the life story of Marie and Pierre Curie.
- “Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science’s First Family” by Shelley Emling. Author Shelley Emling’s book explores Curie’s relationship with her daughters Irene, a Nobel Prize winning scientist like her parents, and Eve, a successful writer.
- “The Curies: A Biography of the Most Controversial Family in Science” by Denis Brian. Author Denis Brian’s biography examines the lives of the Curie family, with a focus on the ultimate price of the fame resulting from their scientific discoveries.
- “Sudden Genius? The Gradual Path to Creative Breakthroughs” by Andrew Robinson. Author Andrew Robinson explores 10 creative geniuses, including Marie Curie, looking for what they have in common that may have directed the paths their lives took and shaped the breakthroughs they made in their work.
The post From Humble Beginnings to the Nobel Prize: Marie Curie appeared first on DBRL Next.
You usually read stories with characters who want to succeed, whether in an adventure, a quest, a mission, etc. But what happens when the main character wants to fail? From popular teen authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes “The Iron Trial,” the first book in the Magisterium series that takes a sharp left from the traditional hero’s journey.
Our protagonist, Call, has been warned all his life by his father to stay away from magic. Magic finds Call anyway, and he’s off to be trained at the Magisterium. However, lots of secrets revolve around Call – oddities in his mother’s death, his connection to a big war on magic, the origin of his crippled leg, etc. You’ll find many answers in this book and at least as many more questions.
I like the rules of magic in this book. Much like other magic-based stories, Black and Clare emphasize the elements…fire wants to burn, water wants to flow, air wants to rise, and earth wants to bind. A fifth type of magic is chaos magic, which wants to devour. Each magician specializes in one of these five types – gee, can you guess which magic the main villain specializes in?
This book has gotten a lot of praise, but it’s had one primary complaint from critics – this book is too much like Harry Potter. And admittedly, there are some similarities. Child has a parent (but not two in this case) killed by a dark lord of magic. Check. Child ends up at a school for wizardry. Check. Child is initially unpopular but is befriended by two friends, a boy and a girl. Check. Dark lord of magic causes mischief. Check. So yes, I’m not denying any of the above. However, I suspect that most critics tying this book to Harry Potter have not actually read the whole story – to figure out what I’m talking about, well, you’re just going to have to read this one yourself. Magisterium Book 2 is expected to be released sometime in 2015.
Originally published at Books for Dudes – The Iron Trial.
November is National Adoption month. More than 100,000 children and youth in the U.S. foster care system are awaiting permanent families. National Adoption Month is a time to raise awareness about the adoption of children and youth from foster care, and we wanted to share with you some informational resources about adoption, books available from your library and a publication put out by the Missouri Attorney General called “Welcome Home,” a step-by-step guide to the adoptive process.
A newly updated resource on adoption topics is located on our library’s website. In this adoption subject guide, you will learn current information about the adoption process, including local adoption resources, national and international services, post adoption support and, of course, financial and legal resources.
Several books written on the adoption process are available for check-out from DBRL. Here is just a sampling (and some of these books are on display at the Columbia Public Library).
- “The Complete Adoption Book” by Laura Beauvais-Godwin and Raymond Godwin, Esq.
- “The Whole Life Adoption Book” by Jayne E. Schooler and Thomas C. Atwood
- “The Complete Book of International Adoption” by Dawn Davenport
“Welcome Home,” the adoption process publication put out by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, is available online and at the reference desk at the Columbia Public Library. It provides a nice overview for anyone wanting to learn more about the process in Missouri and covers everything from types of adoptions and frequently asked questions to forms, legal terms and available resources.
Adoption is a very large subject with many sub categories, and each one is worthy of more in-depth exploration. Some related topics of interest might include orphan trains, adoption laws state-by-state and reunions.
Genealogy and adoption is another topic of great interest, and next week we’ll share information here on DBRL Next about the challenges and some resources related to adoption and researching family histories.
On average, 2.8 million teens runaway from home each year. Rainbow House, a local emergency shelter for youth, receives 10-15 calls each month from teens who have either been abused or kicked out of their homes. To help combat this serious widespread problem, the Youth Community Coalition partnered with Rainbow House to launch the Safe Place Program.How does Safe Place work?
Youth can stop by one of 20 Safe Place sites, including the Columbia Public Library. Then, they simply find the first available employee and let them know they are in need of a safe place. Young adults will be connected to emergency shelter and other supportive resources available through Rainbow House.
If you’re in trouble and can’t make it to a Safe Place site, you can call (573) 818-8288, or text “SAFE” and your current location (address/city/state) to 69866.Where are Columbia’s Safe Place sites?
Columbia Fire Stations No. 1-9; Blind Boone Community Center; Columbia Housing Authority; Columbia Public Library; Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services; Activity & Recreation Center; Stephens Lake Activity Center; The Armory; Family Counseling Center; Rainbow House; Voluntary Action Center; Youth Empowerment Zone; and, QuikTrip Gas Station.
View Columbia Safe Place Sites in a larger map
Originally published at Safe Place: A Resource for Teens in Need.
We recently added “Finding Vivian Maier” to the DBRL collection. The film was shown earlier this year at Ragtag Cinema and currently has a rating of 95% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:
Now considered one of the 20th century’s greatest street photographers, Vivian Maier was a mysterious nanny who secretly took over 100,000 photographs that went unseen during her lifetime. Vivian’s strange and riveting life and art are revealed through never-before-seen photos, films, and interviews with dozens who thought they knew her.
Our first Better Know a Genre post was in the realm of nonfiction. In this installment, we turn our attention to fiction. Earlier this year, I read “Annihilation,” the first book in Jeff VanderMeer’s wonderfully unsettling Southern Reach Trilogy. At just over 200 pages, it was a slight book, but it lingered in my mind for many weeks. I did a little research and discovered that this book was in a genre known as “weird fiction.” I was excited to learn that not only did this genre have a name, but also that it contained some of my favorite authors. I liked weird fiction and hadn’t even known it!
So what is weird fiction? As one would guess from its name, it is unusual. Before we (society) had genres, we just had stories, and some of these stories had ghosts and vampires and swamps and mysterious deaths, but they were still just stories. Later, we (publishers) had to make it easier for readers to distinguish among all the possible books to purchase, and genres became established.
H.P. Lovecraft, a famous and early writer of weird fiction, wrote that these stories have a “certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread.” These are not traditional ghost stories, but they do have a supernatural element. The stories can be horrific, but they are often psychologically terrifying instead of gory or violent. The stories are different from science fiction because they do not contain the world building that is present in much of sci-fi. The setting is often our world (or something very close to it). There might be a tentacle or two.
If you are like me, you probably have read some weird fiction and not even realized it. Edgar Allan Poe, Daphne du Maurier, Franz Kafka, Shirley Jackson and Ray Bradbury have all contributed unsettling tales to the genre. The aforementioned Jeff VanderMeer is considered one of the foremost writers of the New Weird – a recent resurgence in weird fiction. He and his wife, Ann VanderMeer, are editors of “The New Weird,” an anthology containing some of the most recognized authors of the genre. You could start there, or you could jump in with a single author. Pick up a novel by China Mieville, or take our gentleman’s recommendation and check out Kelly Link’s short story collections. As Jeff and Ann VanderMeer write in the introduction to the anthology, “Because The Weird is as much a sensation as it is a mode of writing, the mostly keenly attuned among us will say ‘I know it when I see it,’ by which they mean ‘I know when I feel it.’”
- Friday, November 14 at the Columbia Public Library at 1 p.m. Ages 12-18. Registration is required. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.
- Saturday, November 22 at the Callaway County Public Library at 12 p.m. Ages 12 and older. Registration is not required for this session.
Originally published at Project Teen to Celebrate New Hobbit Movie.
Why would this be a good choice for a community-wide read?
Thank you for your suggestion!
November is NaNoWriMo. If you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, and yes, it’s as daunting and hard as it sounds – 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s an average of 1,600 words a day, including Thanksgiving. Easy? Definitely not.
Lots of writers participate in NaNo, using it as motivation to write that book they’ve been thinking about or to finish their current work in progress. But NaNo isn’t just for writers; it’s for anyone creative who has been procrastinating and needs inspiration (or peer pressure!) to accomplish their creative goals. Maybe that goal is drawing one illustration a day, painting for 10 hours a week or posting two blog posts each weekend.
Use November as the month to set your goals and meet them. (And sometimes even beat them!)
The books I’m suggesting are ones meant to inspire you creatively and to help you through those phases where you think, I simply can’t go on. When you meet your goal at the end of November (because I know you will), you’re going to feel very accomplished.
“Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative” by Austin Kleon
Austin speaks from his own experiences in “Steal Like an Artist,” breaking the creative process down into 10 major ideas. Full of humor and wit, this compact book will give you suggestions on how to keep going and new ways to develop your creative self. Easy to read and full of cartoons and pictures, “Steal Like an Artist” is a must read for all artists, not just writers.
“Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity” by Hugh Macleod
I discovered Hugh Macleod while searching for books on creative thinking. I’d never heard of him before, but this book is amazing. Between the text and Macleod’s quirky business card cartoons, you’ll be amused and intrigued. Hugh focuses on the hard aspects of a creative life that no one wants to hear but everyone needs to understand. After reading “Ignore Everybody,” you’ll understand yourself and your process better. I know I did.
“The 3 A.M. Epiphany” by Brian Kiteley
This book is specific to writing, but I think many of the prompts could easily be altered to fit other arts. “The 3 A.M. Epiphany” is meant to get your creative juices flowing when you’re feeling stumped or unable to move forward. With over a hundred writing prompts, it will be impossible not to find something to write about (or draw about), and after you get going, hopefully it will be easier for you to return to your original work.
“Finish This Book” by Keri Smith
“Finish This Book” is similar to “The 3 A.M. Epiphany,” but instead of writing prompts, this book is full of questions awaiting answers. Smith will ask you to finish drawings, to make observations, to write ideas or go “hunting” with your camera. No matter which activity from this book you choose, it will get your brain moving. Just promise you won’t write directly in the library’s copy – use a your own journal, please!
And don’t worry that you’ll be on your own; I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo this month, too. My goal is to finish my current work in progress.
October 31: “Citizen Four” starts at Ragtag. (via)
November 3: “20,000 Days on Earth” 5:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. at Forum 8. (via)
November 3: “Girl Rising” 6:00 p.m. at Missouri Theatre. (via)
November 3: “Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines” 6:00 p.m. at the MU Student Center. (via)
Be sure to register online by Friday, November 7 if you plan to take the December 13 ACT exam. If you would like to know more about testing locations, exam costs and fee waivers, please visit our online guide to SAT/ACT preparation. The library also has a wide selection of printed ACT and SAT test guides for you to borrow.
Our most popular resource for test-takers, though, is LearningExpress Library. Through this website, you may take free online practice tests for the ACT or SAT exam. To access LearningExpress Library, you will need to login using your DBRL library card number. Your PIN is your birthdate (MMDDYYYY). If you have questions or encounter difficulties logging in, please call (800) 324-4806.
Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog updates for regular reminders of upcoming test registration deadlines!
Originally published at November 7 Deadline for December ACT Exam.
Just as a vampire needs the blood of the living to sustain it, or a zombie needs brains, comic books might have faded from existence without the chewy, pulpy sustenance of horror stories. This same subject matter was also almost their undoing, but such are the risks when you dabble in the dark arts.
For a look at the early days of horror comics check out “The Horror! The Horror!” This collection contains numerous covers and complete horror comics from the pre-code 1950s, (before such comics were censored). Commentary and informative text provide some context for the stories.
“Action! Mystery! Thrills!” is a great look at the weird world of old comic book covers. Most of these depict scenes intended to simultaneously shock and entice you.
“The Weird World of Eerie Publications” is another fine collection of old horror comics and a history of the industry. It tells the story of the eccentric, ethically challenged and at times scary owner of Eerie Publications.
If you don’t know what a pre-code comic is, you should check out David Haju’s “The Ten-Cent Plague.” This book explores the censorship campaign against comics like those in the collections above. That campaign led to the Comics Code Authority, which many people feel hamstrung creativity in comics for decades. Even after reading some of the horror comics of the time, it’s shocking the lengths people went to stop them. This book is both a fascinating history of a moment in American pop culture and a frightening look at hysteria.
Not all horror stories are held in low esteem. More than a few are now considered classics. If you’d like to look a little more highbrow while scaring yourself with comics, pick up a graphic novel adaptation of “Dracula,” “Frankenstein” or the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
Richard Sala’s style shows the influence of classic illustrators of the macabre Charles Addams and Edward Gorey. Sala has a knack for drawing grotesque caricatures that are just cartoonish and humorous enough. His stories maintain an eerie mood but still wink at the reader letting them know it’s just a comic book, right? “Delphine” is a retelling of the story of Snow White from Prince Charming’s perspective. This is based on the original fairy tale and not the Disney film, so it’s a darker story told by a master of them.
Scott Snyder currently writes Batman, but his strongest work is another series about a bat-human hybrid. “American Vampire” tells the story of a new breed of Vampire (originating in America) that can not only walk in daylight, but also is made stronger by the sun. He’s a particularly viscous vampire too. Not only does he fight with the requisite vampire hunting organization, but he also doesn’t get along well with the old-school vampires either. The series is an ongoing epic that starts in the late 19th century and sets each story arc in a different period of the 20th. It’s a new take on a classic horror trope.
“Baltimore” is another fresh take on the vampire story by novelist Christopher Golden and comic book artist and writer Mike Mignola (best known for “Hellboy“). Originally a novel co-written by the two with illustrated pages by Mignola, the character of Lord Henry Baltimore has found continued life in comics. This alternate history tells the story of an ancient race of vampires brought back to life by the blood soaked battlefields of WWI. Lord Henry Baltimore is a soldier who has a confrontation with one of these vampires during the war, which sets his life on a course for revenge.
“Dylan Dog” is Italy’s most popular comic book. It describes the adventures of the eponymous “Nightmare Investigator.” Dylan is a former Scotland Yard detective who lives with his sidekick Groucho (who looks exactly like Groucho marks and loves puns). He is also a penniless, poetry quoting hopeless romantic who can only play one song on the clarinet. In this collection of interconnected stories, Dylan deals with zombies, mad scientists and an axe murderer. It’s a quirky combination of surrealism, humor and horror, but the story is executed in a way that is sure to appeal to many.
Have you heard of “The Walking Dead“? I’ll bet you have. It’s a hugely popular television show that got its start as a comic book. If you like the show and haven’t read the comics, you should check them out. If you don’t like the show but like stories of surviving a zombie apocalypse, you should still check out the books.
“Afterlife With Archie” is indeed about the famous Archie and his hometown of Riverdale. When Jughead’s dog is hit by a car, he calls on Sabrina to bring the dog back. As is always the case (Will we never learn?!) the dog comes back wrong. Zombie contagion ensues. A lot of people would turn this idea into an easy joke or a way to mock Archie Comics. Instead, the creators take the subject seriously and use the familiarity of the characters as a way to make the story more frightening and emotionally affecting.
Perhaps all the monsters, darkness, terror and gloom have got you down at this point? Then let me end with a story of romance. This being a list for Halloween, it’s a romance involving a sea creature. In much the way John Gardner’s novel “Grendel” took the epic poem Beowulf and told the story from the monster’s point of view, “Dear Creature” takes the classic “sea monster terrorizes beach goers” story and tells it from the sea monster’s point of view. The sea monster, Grue, has been finding bottles stuffed with Shakespeare’s writings. This subdues his appetite for beach goers and kindles his romantic interest in the source of the bottles. How could anything go wrong?