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The Monster Librarian Presents:
Reviews of Horror Related Graphic Novels for Young Adults
There aren't a large number of horror graphic novels out there but those that there are make for excellent additions to any library's graphic novel collection and are wonderful for reaching out to reluctant readers.
Hatter M Volume 4: Zen of Wonder by Frank Beddor and Liz Cavalier; artwork by Sami Makkonen*New Review
Automatic Pictures Publishing, 2013
Available:Hardcover and Paperback
Hatter M is a graphic novel series following the character Hatter Madigan, a royal guard to the Princess Alyss of Wonderland. Alyss has come through the Pool of Tears and Hatter is searching for her to bring Alyss home—a story that is told in The Looking Glass Wars trilogy of novels by Frank Beddor. The trilogy is about the “real” story of Wonderland and Alyss, who says Carroll spelled her name wrong. The graphic novel series is presented by the “Hatter M Institute”, which has chronicled his progress from 1859-1872 through Madigan’s own maps and journals. In Zen of Wonder, the story catches up with Hatter Madigan after he finds a stolen Samurai sword with strange but familiar markings. He is led to Japan by Nekko, a young girl who is attempting to teach Madigan about the Zen philosophy and how it could help him on his quest to find the princess. While in Japan, he finds his brother, who also went through the Pool of Tears from Wonderland, but Madigan discovers his brother’s loyalties are different from his own.
The cover art was done by Vincent Proce, but it is the inside artwork by Sami Makkonen that helps define the tone of the story. The artwork is raw and muted, which seems to be a reflection of Hatter Madigan himself. Madigan is fuelled by the single purpose of finding Alyss and bringing her home—he is loyal to a fault. Beddor and Makkonen bring forward a parallel between Madigan and the Samurai of Japan that adds depth to the character. Hatter M Volume 4: Zen of Wonder is very well-written and I thoroughly enjoy the character of Hatter Madigan. Hatter M and The Looking Glass Wars trilogy offer an interesting and entertaining take on Lewis Carroll’s original story. It’s an outstanding story for young adult and adult readers. Hatter M Volume 4; Zen of Wonder works as a stand-alone story but I highly recommend starting from the beginning of the series. Recommended.
Contains: some mild violence
Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund
Graphic Classics Volume 23: Halloween Classics edited byTom Pomplun*New Review
Eureka Productions, 2012
Adapting stories by such luminaries as H.P Lovecraft, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Washington Irving, and more, Halloween Classics is a fantastic collection. Well-written and wonderfully illustrated throughout, this really is a must-have for fans of comics, horror, and literature alike. And best of all, it's all-ages material, suitable for anyone 12 (or slightly younger, depending on the kid) and up. This is a perfect read for the Halloween season and should be a part of each and every library collection. I particularly enjoyed Tom Pomplun and Simon Gane's adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's “Lot No. 249” and Rod Lott and Craig Wilson's adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's “Cool Air”, but really you just can't go wrong with a single story found inside. Highly recommended for public and school libraries.
Reviewed by: Bob Freeman
by Vera Brosgol
First Second, 2011
Anya is a student at a private school. She’s not proud of her Russian heritage; her family moved to the United States when she was five and Anya has worked quite hard to get rid of her accent. When introducing herself to others, she often Americanizes her last name, another attempt to escape her heritage. Her mother, on the other hand, wants her to embrace it; she arranged for Anya to attend this specific private school because a Russian boy of the same age was enrolled there. One day, as Anya is walking through the park, she falls into a hole. She meets the ghost of a young girl who died in 1918. The girl, Emily, claims to have been murdered. She’s been hovering over her remains, unable to separate herself from the bones that remain. When Anya is rescued, Emily is able to “escape”, due to one of her bones finding its way into Anya’s backpack. At first, Emily is a welcome relief for Anya. Emily offers Anya the companionship she lacks, even assisting with her school work, social life, and wardrobe. Soon, however, Emily becomes a bit obsessed with Anya’s life, living it as her own, in a sense. Anya get suspicious, and does a bit of research into Emily’s past, discovering that she isn’t the person she stated she was. Anya must find a way to detach Emily from her life before things get out of hand. Anya’s Ghost is more than jyour average ghost story; it is also a coming of age tale. Anya is a teen, insecure in her appearance and her identity. She has a curvy body and she’s desperate to fit in with the “in-crowd”. Through Emily, and the experience she has with her, Anya learns to embrace her heritage, her identity, and her being. As this is a graphic novel, the illustrations are important. Brosgol does a tremendous job detailing the emotion and the “feel” of the book by using gray-scale, not just black and white, to illustrate the story. Anya’s Ghost is a graphic novel that would appeal to fans of several genres, including mystery and horror, and both adults and teens. How can you resist a book that Neil Gaiman refers to as “A Masterpiece?” Highly recommended.
Reviewed by: Jennifer Lawrence
Vampire Loves by Joann Sfar*New Review
First Second, 2006 (English translation)
Vampire Loves is a collection of charming, philosophical, comic books featuring Ferdinand, the Vampire. Ferdinand looks like Nosferatu, but attracts women like Casanova. He pursues all sorts of paranormal females--specters, ghouls, Japanese tourists- but sadly, he always misses the mark. Ferdinand’s true love is Lani, a plant-girl, but they can’t seem to get along. In the meantime, there are plenty of lovely necks to bite.
Ferdinand, accompanied by his bizarre Siamese cat Imhotep, meets up with lots of creepy buddies, goes to goth clubs, and travels around Europe. Joann Sfar’s imagination is strikingly original. He creates hundreds of creatures to populate his world and interact with his main characters. Ferdinand’s friends include the Tree Man, who can’t score with Lani, a wailer named Alas, who spreads sadness for a living and dates the Invisible Man, a Lady Wolf--a werewolf who changes instantly on contact with chicks, and won’t turn back until he’s kissed, and Aspirine, a young red-headed vampire with a gorgeous older sister who’s a witch-in-training. All are developed realistically to represent the monstrous world of multi-species dating.
Vampire Loves is quirky and touching, drawn simply and stylistically, and filled with macabre details, reminiscent of the work of Charles Addams. Though the dialogue is simplistic, the cartoonist’s asides are funny and the plots are brisk, complex and tie up nicely. A particularly lovely scene plays out in Mortal Maidens on My Mind, where a dejected Ferdinand goes to visit his friend Eliahu, seeking advice and comfort from the Babylonian Talmud. Eliahu has created a brainless-but-sweet golem to take the place of his dead wife and daughter. As the vampire sleeps, his friend rejoices that “misfortune makes us all unique.”
Sfar is a French author who has published over 100 books since 1990, including a series for younger readers, The Little Vampire. His work runs from horror to science fiction and fantasy; all are creative and enchanting. Vampire Loves contains no gore or nudity, but does have some mild profanity, alcohol use, drug references, and French kissing. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by: Sheila Shedd
Bram Stoker’s Dracula: The Graphic Novel by Gary Reed and Becky Cloonan*New Review
Puffin Classics, 2006
Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Fernando Fernandez*New Review
Del Rey, 2005
Dracula is the novel that inspired our love affair with vampires, and still accounts for movies, costumes, bad Romanian accents, and tons of other cultural references. The world was a different place when it was written, though, and the style is different than most of us are used to, with less horror and gore than we’re accustomed to. Still, it’s essential reading for vampire enthusiasts, with the power to revitalize our reading. Bram Stoker’s prose is undeniably hypnotic and brilliant, and when the stories we’re reading seem tired, reading the original could renew the romantic mystery for us all.
Too busy for the original? Or maybe you prefer graphic novels? I understand. Here are brief reviews of two graphic novel versions of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. They skim the surface of the classic, but hit all the major points and use somewhat formal language, giving the reader a good, quick, foray into the plot of the original.
Puffin Classics version:
Bram Stoker’s Dracula, by Gary Reed and Becky Cloonan, is part of a series of graphic versions of classic novels from Puffin, which include Frankenstein, Macbeth, Treasure Island, and others. It is rendered in simple, but expressive, black and white, and contains almost no sexual content or serious carnage. This version would be appropriate for any teenage reader bold enough to want Dracula at all. The text does a good job delving into the legend of Dracula and the character of Van Helsing. Readers will feel satisfied that the story has been covered. This version also contains some historical and biographical appendixes.
The downside to Reed and Cloonan’s version is that as graphics go, it’s not very artful. Gothic romance and the thrill of bloodshed may be what bind us to Dracula, and the small, multi-panel drawings are just not vivid enough. The text is merely illustrated, which is sufficient if you’re after a simplified, decent re-cap of the original story, but the book doesn’t stand alone as a graphic novel worth collecting.
Contains: nothing objectionable
Del Rey version:
Fernando Fernandez’ full color version also covers the high points of the original work, but it’s clear Fernandez was looking for an appropriate backdrop to feature his amazing watercolor paintings. Here, we find an exaggeration of both romance and gore, closer to the 1992 Francis Ford Coppola film. The artwork, which is often in full page frame, is gorgeous and supremely detailed. The text is clearly secondary, and contains a few grammatical errors.
Three nubile, scantily clad vampire mistresses make forceful appearances and their eventual demise is graphic and quite braless. Actually, every character in this version is sexier, and every vampire ending and attack is more graphically rendered than in the Puffin version: probably closer to what modern readers of horror are hoping for. However, the nudity and gore are still mild, compared with the overall genre of adult graphic novels.
Contains :nude breasts, decapitation, staking, graphic blood-spill.
Reviewed by: Sheila Shedd
Papercutz Slices #2: Breaking Down by Maia Kinney-Petrucha and Stephan Petrucha, illustrated by Rick Parker*New Review
Papercutz/Barking Dog Studios, 2011
If you know anything about the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, then you know it is massively popular, but there are vastly divergent opinions of the series. Personally, I’ve never read them and have no desire to.
For those who haven’t read the Twilight series or seen the movies, I’ll give a brief rundown. Bella moves to Forks, Oregon to live with her dad. She meets Edward, who is a sparkly brooding vampire. They fall in love. There are the obvious complications and their relationship has its ups and downs.
Breaking Down is a parody of the series. This graphic novel includes parodies of all four of Ms. Meyer’s Twilight novels. Since it is an unauthorized parody, character names have been changed, but it’s obvious who the characters are supposed to be.
The jokes are quick and funny, and you don’t need to read the original series to get them all. The writing is very good and the artwork is well-done, and highlights the fact that this IS a parody. While not all of the jokes are directly related to the books, Maia and Stephan Petrucha do quite well at poking fun at the series. Breaking Down is a fun read, and one that I think most readers would enjoy. Recommended.
Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund
Zombie Powder #1 story & Art by Tite Kubo
Viz Media/Shonen Jump, 2006
Kubo's first graphic novel, Zombie Powder, is a Western-flavored tale starring Gamma, a chainsaw sword wielding ultra-criminal (as the good guy), super shooter, suit wearer C.T. Smith, and Elwood, a kid who wants to bring his older sister back from the dead. The trio faces down the gangs who run the world in a quest to gather the 12 Rings of the Dead, which are said to create zombie powder, concentrated life force which can return the dead to life or make the living immortal.
What Zombie Powder has going for it are action and great characters. Gamma is a great “Robin Hood” type character, Smith is amusing and intimidating, and Elwood gives the story soul, with all three hitting perfect notes when it comes to compelling leads. The action is often hard to follow, and much of the story devolves into action in a “Matrix” style of storytelling, with ten pages of plot, then ten more of fighting. But Zombie Powder is a fun, wild ride through ink. Recommended for public collections that include manga or as a starter for those that don't. Grades 9-12.
Contains: Implied rape, torture and other criminal activity, implied goreReviewed by: Michele Lee
Zombie Powder #2 story & art by Tite Kubo
Viz Media/Shonen Jump, 2006
Gamma is an S-Class criminal on the hunt for the legendary 12 Rings of the Dead, that when put together will make Zombie Powder, a substance made of pure life force which can bring the dead to life or give the living immortality. This volume sets Gamma's sidekicks, Elwood and Smith, aside, as Gamma gets caught up in the drama of the little town where they’ve arrived. It's here that he meets Wolfina, a young reporter/vigilante who guards not just the town, particularly the local hospital besieged with attacks from ring hunters, but her comatose brother, the victim of unprotected contact with one of the legendary rings.
Wolfina is yet another great character, who brings to the table new, disturbing information about the risks of ring hunting. The same pattern emerges, with equal parts sketchy fight scenes and plot-moving scenes. The confusing nature of the fight scenes could very well be implied heavy movement, but since they are drawn using still ink rather than animated form, it comes off poorly. It's not difficult at the “pause” scenes to figure out what has happened, but having to stop to do so in the first place will turn off some readers. The plot is quite enjoyable, with a real Western flavor set into a background where feudal Japan has been replaced by all the wild gang types that one would expect from a manga. Recommended as part of public collections including manga, especially for its cleaner nature. Grades 9-12.
Contains: Implied rape, torture and other criminal activity, cartoon gore
Reviewed by: Michele Lee
Zombie Powder #3 story & art by Tite Kubo
Viz Media, 2007
Available: New & Used
Not that the concept isn't weird enough- a trio of people chasing after the mythical (and dangerous) Rings of the Dead, which when put together make powered life force that can make a person immortal- but in this volume things get really strange. Gamma (S-class criminal and chainsaw sword wielder), Elwood (former thief and knife thrower on a mission to bring his older sister back from the dead), and Smith (mysterious, gun slinging, suit wearing master fighter) face down the weirdest troupe of circus performers ever, over the body of a boy playing host to one of the evil rings. Foes in this action-packed manga include an undead box, a deadly assassin and his “human target” sisters and a magician who can bend space and time.
Zombie Powder #3 continues to deliver the same strong characterization and Western theme. It doles out the tidbits of mystery at a pace perfect to keep readers involved. As a plus, this volume contains a Kubo “bonus short” for diehard fans. Recommended for manga collections. When combined with the bonus shorts, these books give a fine idea of the story spectrum available in manga. Grades 9-12.
Contains: cartoon-like violence, implied sexual threats and off-color relationships
Reviewed by: Michele Lee
Zombie Powder #4 story & art by Tite Kubo
Viz Media, 2007
Available: New & Used
The final volume in the Zombie Powder series continues the engaging story of Gamma, a chainsaw sword wielding master criminal, Smith, a light-hearted super criminal himself, Elwood, on the cusp not just between boy and man, but criminal and hero, and Wolfina, who is trying to save her brother from both a circus of crazies and a Ring of the Dead. This volume continues to establish our leads as heroes of the Punisher type, who don't hesitate to break laws and even kill people if it keeps innocents safe. Kubo also drops more tantalizing hints about Gamma and Smith's histories. Then comes the blow that this is the last book in the series and therefore will remain unfinished.
Zombie Powder is a fun series, even if the action scenes are confusing and space consuming. The characters make the story, as great characters should, and it’s hard not to see them translating well to other mediums. I truly hope Kubo revisits these characters again, but as far as getting to see the creative mind playing with convention, this is a rewarding series and should be a part of manga collections. Grades 9-12.
Contains: cartoon violence, implied criminal activity including sexual crimes and murder
Reviewed by: Michele Lee
Tales from the Crypt #4 Crypt-Keeping it Real by Stefan Petrucha, Alex Simmons, Scott Lobdel, Joe R. Lansdale, John R. Lansdale, Aries Kaplan, Jim Salicrup
It's easy to look past some of the cheesiness in this volume of Tales From the Crypt because not only do the writers tap into some very pop culture places, but they really hit a fantastic stride of length here, capitalizing on the graphic format to add to the story instead of merely translating the tales from one medium into another. The first segment, “You Toomb”, is a collection of short tales with a roller-coaster, bottom-dropping feeling, is set up as if the reader is watching a series of Internet videos, all of which are classic Tales from the Crypt-style horror. “Roses Bedight” by Stefan Petrucha in this section is particularly good, almost the sort of tale you'd expect to find in Apex Digest.
With this volume the Crypt crew
has found a good balance between fresh and modern and that classic Crypt
feel. The monsters are cartoony rather than stomach-turning, making this book
particularly good for a young adult section where readers want scary creatures
and plots, but aren't ready for hardcore gore and adult situations.
Review by Michele Lee
from the Crypt #3: Zombilicious by Mort Todd, Marc Bilgrey, Jared Gniewek, Jim
Salicrup, Allison Acton, Rick Parker, and illustrated by Steve Mannion and
For horror fans this is just the sweetest little book--a digest-sized hard back collection of four (new) Tales from the Crypt comic stories, a complete throwback to horror's roots modernized with slick art and shiny packaging. This volume features four tales; "Extra Life" by Neil Klied and Chris Noeth, "Queen of the Vampires" by Marc Bilgrey and Mr. Exes, "Graveyard Shift at the Twilight Gardens" by Rob Vollmar and Tom Smith 3 and "Kid Tested, Mother Approved" by Jared Gneiwek and James Romberger.
Oddly enough, in spite of the title, none of these tales feature a zombie (though there is a vampire). If you loved the old cheesy Tales from the Crypt comics and HBO show this book is right up your alley. Its literary merit is debatable, making its place in collections lean more toward those that include comprehensive or pop-culture titles than high brow, classic-worthy tales. But if horror is your passion, this book is eye-catching, familiar, and utterly groan-worthy.
Review by Michele Lee
Nightmares & Fairy Tales, vol 4: Dancing with the Ghosts of Whales by Serena Valentino and Camilla A’Errico
SLG Publishing, 2008
Nightmares & Fairy Tales: Dancing with the Ghosts of Whales is a graphic novel that contains two stories. The first is a ghost story about a little girl who is haunted by her ability to see ghosts. She is befriended by an older girl that only she can see. The older girl claims that she isn’t a ghost, but the psychic girl’s aunt tells her that ghosts often don’t realize what they are. When the psychic girl decides to help her friend they find out the truth. The second story is about a sideshow with all the special attractions one would associate with a traveling circus; a bearded lady, a tattooed man, a deformed girl, and a mermaid. The mermaid isn’t just some lady wearing a fish tail though. She is a real mermaid held against her will by the man who runs the freak show. He holds her child as hostage and promises its death if the mermaid doesn’t do as he says. When she learns the truth, the freak show owner has a price to pay.
Both tales are enjoyable, unique and quickly read. The art is in a grayscale manga style, but it is all well done and adds quite a bit to the story. Recommended.
Contains: sex, language and nudity
Review by Bret Jordan
Death Valley by Andrew Cosby, Johanna Stokes, and illustrated by Rhoald Marcellus
BOOM! Studios, 2008
In what could be the first zombie graphic novel that truly has a teen audience Death Valley tells the tale of seven high school students who after being accidently locked in the bomb shelter located in their school come out to find that the population has been turned into flesh eating zombies. Although the character types are pretty standard- the jock, the stoner, the nerd, and so on- that’s part of the fun. Death Valley has a mix of horror, humor, and romance that will appeal to a variety of readers. It’s a great choice for introducing teens who don’t normally read horror to the genre. The art is solid and visually pleasing, with strong colors on high gloss paper. Being a zombie story, there is gore and violence, with some startling images, but fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer should feel right at home. There are three additional zombie short stories “The Bakemono and the Cranes”, “For Pete’s Sake” and “Zoombies”, and a script for a story called “Matthew 21:22”. The additional stories are more serious and dark, and may not connect to teen readers as Death Valley does. All three additional stories also appear in Zombie Tales Vol 1, by the same publisher. Readers advisory note: this is a good choice for readers who liked Zombie Blondes by Brian James, fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and readers of zombie fiction looking for something a little different. Contains: violence, gore, startling imagery. Recommended for public library collections.
Agnes Quill: an anthology of mystery by Dave Roman, illustrated by Jason Ho, Raina Telgemeier, Jeff Zornow, and Dave Roman
SLG Publishing, 2006
Available: New and Used
This collection spotlights Agnes Quill, a sixteen year old with the ability to communicate with the spirits of the dead. She lives in the haunted, Victorian-style city of Legerdemain, where she runs the New Curiosity Shop with the mysterious Mr. Lorik, and operates a detective agency where she takes jobs helping people both dead and alive. Unlike many supernaturally gifted teens, though, Agnes isn’t in it for the greater good. She’s just trying to pay the bills and get through the days the best she can. Although she has a generous heart, and some of the stories are touching, Agnes also accepts work from some pretty unsavory characters. The ghosts and monsters of Legerdemain are varied, and help set the tone of the stories. The eccentric and “helpful” Beatrice adds humor to “The Mummified Heirloom & The Divided Man,” while the little girl in “Lost and Found” adds pathos to her story. Other stories included in the collection are “Zombie Love Trap and Buried Homes and Gardens” and “Invite Only.” Each artist takes a different approach to Agnes and her adventures- some stories use very simple line drawings with lots of black and white space, while others use rich detail to provide realism to their story. Even with these differences, the art for each story seems to flow well with the text. The variety of approaches different artists have taken to Agnes’ character is evident in the art gallery located in the last pages of the book, and it’s clear that the artists who illustrated the book developed unique ways of illustrating the adventures of Agnes Quill. Also included near the back of the book is a Field Guide to Agnes Quill, provided by the Data Analysis Keep, a community of scholars that keeps tabs on the supernatural activities going on in Legerdemain. The guide gives additional background on Agnes and excerpts from her diary. Over all, the Agnes Quill is an enjoyable read, the art is an excellent companion to the stories and were well selected for the tone of each tale. Recommended.
Contains: minor action
Morbid Myths, Vol 1: The Collection created by Hard Way Studios
In the tradition of Tales from the Crypt, Morbid Myths presents a series of horror tales. Each story is introduced by narrator Job, collector of horrific tales. Morbid Myths Vol 1: The Collection contains of a number of issues of the Morbid Myths comic book series. Each issue is a series of short horror stories, done as a black a white comic. The tales in Morbid Myths tales vary in length. Some are only one or two pages, others are much longer. Some of the stories work very well. “Overdue Collection” is about a librarian and her assistants from Miskatonic Municipal County Library, out to retrieve a rare book that can be used to open portals and summon creatures from another plane. It is my favorite story not only because of the fun librarian character but also because of the engaging art. I could easily see this story be a jumping off point for additional tales of the librarian. Others, such as “What Dreams May Come”, fall flat, and many of the shorter stories would work better with a little more fleshing out. Overall, though, Morbid Myths is an enjoyable read. Most readers will find something that they enjoy, and fans of the Tales of the Crypt series will have a new way to get their fix.
Contains: Violence, gore, self mutilation.
Tales From The Crypt #1: Ghouls Gone Wild (Tales from the Crypt Graphic Novels)
by Don McGregor and Mark Bilgrey, ill. by Exes, Sho Murase
Available: New and Used
Tales from the Crypt #1: Ghouls Gone Wild is the first in a series of digest length graphic novels aimed at readers who are outgrowing The Midnight Library and Goosebumps series. The stories collected here will appeal to teens and reluctant readers. Tales from the Crypt is an appropriate choice for high school libraries as well as teen collections in public libraries. While there is some violence, most of the blood and gore is not graphically represented in the art, and there is no cursing or nudity. The books are sturdily bound in a hardcover format, and it appears that they will hold up well with frequent circulation.
Each story is introduced by three pun-loving characters; The Crypt-Keeper, The Old Witch, and the Vault-Keeper, who add an element of humor to the horror, and the art style is different for each story. The variety, quality, and entertainment value of the stories is such that, although the stories are targeted to teens, adults will enjoy them as well. Recommended for school media centers and public libraries.
Tales from the Crypt #1 includes the following stories:
"Body of Work" is the story of a young couple trying to get rich quick by stealing art from their eclectic artist neighbor who does paintings of the dead.
"Runway Roadkill" is the story of fashion designer Kimberly Kinselling’s ruthless behavior and the consequences of her actions.
"For Serious Collectors Only" tells of a young man who prizes his collection of action figures and finds that his latest acquisition comes with a deadly price.
"The Tenant" describes the situation of slumlord James Winchell, who has been sentenced to live in one of his houses, located near a cemetery.
Life Sucks by Jessica Abel, Gabe Soria, and Warren Pleece
First Second Books, 2008
Life Sucks is an unusual, funny, and unglamourous take on the vampire tale. Dave Miller is a young man whose life takes a dramatic change when he applies for a night job at a convenience store. The vampire owner turns him, sealing Dave’s fate to forever be the night manager at the store. Dave’s life changes for the better when he meets Rosa, a goth girl. His attempt to romance Rosa is complicated when psycho-surfer vamp Wes decides to try for Rosa’s affection. Life Sucks is well-written, with good artwork. But mostly, it’s just plain fun. Those who appreciate a little irony with their vampires will get a kick out of Life Sucks. Recommended.
Contains: Violence, minor gore
Horror Classics Graphic Classics Volume Ten edited by Tom Pomplun
Eureka Productions, 2004
Horror Classics contains twelve works of classic horror from poems to very short stories to longer works from classic horror writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe and Clark Ashton Smith. Each story is illustrated in a different style, from dramatic to distinctly more cartoony art. Not all of the stories are as spooky as they were to the people of the era in which they were published, but many still hold timeless chills and all are still poignant stories. This is a fantastic book to both bring graphic novels and classic horror to a library's shelves. There are stories and writers within that many readers might not come across in a traditional bookstore, or might dismiss for not being modern enough, but the format is appealing enough to draw those readers in. The format also allows for spooky stories, murder, and horrible happenings to be shared without graphic shows of gore, sex or violence. Following in the tradition of classic horrorists it's often what is not seen that is scariest. Even the foulest of beasts and deeds are rendered bloodless, and often appear as mere indistinct and shadowy suggestions, making this a book an appropriate introduction to horror for libraries a little squeamish about building their collection.
Review by Michele Lee
Graphic Classics: Edgar Allan Poe (Vol. 1 / 3rd Edition) edited by Tom Pomplun
Eureka Productions, 2001
Graphic Classics: Edgar Allan Poe, compiled and edited by Tom Pomplun, is a graphic novel anthology of classic stories and poems by the legendary father of the American Gothic. These diverse, comic book-styled adaptations are outstanding and run the gamut between whimsical New Yorker-inspired cartooning, traditional American comic book styling, and more surreal works. Some of the tales included in this volume are the time honored classics "The Raven," "The Cask of Amontillado," and "The Tell-Tale Heart," as well as nine others. Stark black and white images bring the master storyteller’s words to life, and readers will be compelled to seek out other titles in Eureka’s Graphic Classics library. Readers advisory note: this title may be an accessible doorway to Poe’s work for reluctant readers. Lovers of Poe should be thrilled by this collection, as well as anyone with an interest in comic book art. Highly recommended: a must have for any library collection.
Contains: gruesome and shocking depictions of horror, sometimes real, though often times imagined.
Review by Bob Freeman.
Gothic Classics: Graphic Classicsedited by Tom Pomplun
Eureka Productions, 2007
Gothic Classics is a collection of gothic tales both long and short. This genre usually features fainting heroines, brooding heroes, haunted castles, and mysterious supernatural horrors. “Carmilla”, by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, is a tale of vampires predating Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” “The Mysteries of Udolpho”, by Ann Radcliffe, is a tale of romance and horror that was widely popular in its time and influenced writers as diverse as Edgar Allan Poe and Jane Austen. “Northanger Abbey” is Jane Austen’s parody of the gothic romance in general and “The Mysteries of Udolpho” in particular. There are a few short tales including “The Oval Portrait” by Edger Allan Poe, and “At the Gate” by Myla Jo Closser. These stories have the potential to appeal to a variety of different readers. More traditional horror enthusiasts will go for the vampire based tale of “Carmilla”, while fans of more a more blended version of romance and horror may be attracted to “The Mysteries of Udolpho”. The book would benefit from an introduction explaining the characteristics of gothic literature and the connections between the different stories (especially the inclusion of “Northanger Abbey”). Gothic Classics has the potential to be a good teaching tool for advanced English classes. However, the complexities and nuances of the stories would not necessarily make this title a good hook for reluctant readers. Recommended for libraries serving high school and college students exploring this literary genre. Contains: violence and murder.
Graphic Classics: H.P. Lovecraft edited by Tom Pomplun
Eureka Productions, 2007
Graphic Classics: H.P. Lovecraft is an excellent introduction to Lovecraft's writing. Seven tales are presented in a graphic novel format, with the intent of staying true to the original Lovecraft. The stories are text heavy and the vocabulary is complex for an initial foray for reluctant readers, but the book will be an effective bridge to Lovecraft's work for readers who are more comfortable with a graphic format. The first story is "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," a tale of a young man who discovers dark secrets in an eerie seaside town. It is followed up by "Dreams in the Witch-House," about a young man haunted and possessed by an ancient evil in a boardinghouse. The third story, "Sweet Ermengarde," is a parody of romance stories and provides a brief change in tone. "Herbert West: Re-Animator," tells of a man obsessed with discovering the secret to reanimating the dead. "The Cats of Ulthar" introduces a small town couple whose hatred of cats has deadly results. "The Terrible Old Man" is about three thugs who search for hidden fortune in an old house. The last story, "The Shadow Out of Time," involves a professor's dreams that lead to a search for ancient buildings where evil awaits. Each story has a different illustrator and different writer adapting the tale for the graphic format. While H.P. Lovecraft’s stories do contain horror most of the killing is done “off stage”. Recommended for high schools. Contains: violence.
Vampire Knight, Volume 1 by Matsuri Hino, and illustrated by Matsuri Hino
VIZ Media LLC, 2007
This manga is set in an elite boarding school that is home to the "dayclass" (humans) and the "nightclass" (vampires). Yuki and Zero, both survivors of vampire attacks, now protect the Dayclass from the Nightclass and vice versa. The first book was quite good, revealing Zero's tragic secret and setting up an interesting love triangle between Yuki, Zero, and Kaname, the head of the vampires. I'll definitely buy more in the series. According to the manga, this is rated T for Older Teens and they're not kidding there, as the parallels between vampires and sex are pretty clearly drawn. That said, I just talked to an 8th grader today who LOVES this book. Highly recommended for purchase by public libraries. Contains: implied Sexual situation Entry by Havoc.
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