Sequential art for your shopping cart

Sequential art for your shopping cart

In the past two years I’ve had the opportunity to read some really fantastic graphic novels, including a few that will be of interest to anthropologists. As we enter the gift giving season I thought I might share with you the cream of the crop. Who doesn’t love giving books? Its like they don’t even count against your gift budget! Go ahead get a couple for yourself, I won’t tell.

If you’d like to know more about a title feel free to leave a comment below. Or, better yet, stop by your local independent comic book shop and ask the friendly folks behind the counter. Some of these titles from smaller presses may need to be special ordered. If you need recommendations for a store near you consider using the Comic Shop Locator.

 

Ladycastle.

Boom! Studios

What it us…

Once upon a time in a faraway magical kingdom all the men went to war and never came back. Now its up to the women to defend their castle keep from wicked curses, malicious harpies, and indefatigable black knights. Wackiness and anachronistic pop culture references ensue.

Who it’s for…

people who miss the first two seasons of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic; feminist Monty Python fans

 

Soviet Daughter.

Microcosm Publishing

What it is…

A remarkable first person account of the Soviet revolution in Kiev, the Holocaust and World War II, incredible poverty and deprivation, and finally escape from Stalinism to the United States. Also multiple love affairs, family frictions, and secular reflections on Jewish identity. A graphic memoir worthy of a place next to Maus and Fun Home on your book shelf. It’s that good.

Who it’s for…

folklore grad students; the descendants of irrepressible grandmothers

 

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth.

Chronicle Books

What it is…

In search of their lost cat, three friends take a road trip to the land of the dead and along the way run into various characters from Mexican folklore, like La Llorona and Chupacabra. Finally, in the epic climax, they must defeat the Aztec god of the underworld in a lucha libre contest to win their pet back.

Who it’s for…

Coco obsessed 10 year olds; kids who draw in class instead of taking notes

 

Alters.

AfterShock Comics

What it is…

Dastardly villains! Valiant heroes! Explosions! Cool gadgets! Secret hideouts! Cute girls in short skirts! Alters is very much a classic superhero story, but with a twist: the hero is trans. Fans of the X-men will recognize many familiar themes of identity crisis, a changing body, coming of age, and a hero that saves people who are potentially prejudiced against her.

Who it’s for…

legit superhero fans; queer teenagers

 

Lissa.

University of Toronto Press

What it is…

Superb work of ethnographic fiction that follows two friends, one an Egyptian medical student and the other an American anthropology student with BRCA1. Each must struggle with matters of personal and public health as seen through the lenses of their respective cultures, in a story of enduring long distance friendship that plays out against the events of the Arab Spring in Cairo. Back matter comes with end notes and discussion questions.

Who it’s for…

undergrad anthropology majors; professors with a novel hidden in a desk drawer somewhere

 

Monstress.

Image Comics

What it is…

Lush, absolutely gorgeous manga and steampunk inspired art draws the reader into an engrossing story of war, magic, and sleeping gods on the verge of reawakening. “Strong female protagonist” doesn’t even begin to do it justice! This is a whole world of compelling, powerful women from heroes and villains, to supporting characters, to background characters, to the very language they speak. Think Princess Mononoke meets Lord of the Rings, but its a horror story.

Who it’s for…

your goth gf; feminist Lovecraft fans

 

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye.

Pantheon Books

What it is…

Tells the life story of a fictional, forgotten comic book author looking back on his life’s work. Each stage of his career is represented by a different style of illustration that itself pays homage to a significant figure in comic history, which is in turn framed by the national history of Singapore. In each of these vignettes the main character reappears as an elder, in a separate illustrative style, to comment on his personal life, his art, and national events from the point of view of the present. There simply are not enough superlatives to describe this book. Awe inspiring.

Who it’s for…

“serious” comic book fans; anyone up for a challenge

 

Black History in its Own Words.

Image Comics

What it is…

Stylized portraits of prominent African Americans — artists, athletes, civil rights figures, intellectuals — paired with a quote from that person that speaks to their uniqueness or personal philosophy. An iconoclastic cast of figures, including several Black Panthers, is what really makes this collection stand out.

Who it’s for…

young person graduating from high school or turning 18; people who like inspirational quotes

 

Anne of Green Gables.

Andrews McMeel

and

A Wrinkle in Time.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

What it is…

Beautiful and fun high quality adaptations of children’s classics. If you’re a fan of either of these titles and your young person is put off by the old fashioned language or length of the originals, both of these are winners. Bonus: you can reread them too and feel all warm and tingly inside.

Who it’s for…

precocious elementary schoolers or teenaged reluctant readers; nostalgic grown ups

 

(H)afrocentric.

PM Press

What it is…

Follows the adventures of a clique of radical college students in Oakland, CA, as they attempt to fight gentrification with bloc parties (sic) and hip hop references. The serious business of passing class, applying for internships, and sticking it to the man drifts into magical realism territory as the main character, Naima, indulges in zany, cartoonish day dreams.

Who it’s for…

Wakanda University alumni; fans of the Boondocks comic strip

 

Bitch Planet.

Image Comics

What it is…

In a dystopian future, “non-compliant” women are sent to an off-planet prison colony where they are forced into gladiator style combat for the amusement of their sadistic captors. That is until they stage a revolt and BURN THIS MOTHERFUCKER DOWN!!!

Who it’s for…

bad bitches; rabble rousers; people with a black sense of humor

 

My Brother’s Husband.

Pantheon Books

What it is…

A Japanese single father and his daughter are surprised by a burly Canadian claiming to be the lover of his estranged, recently deceased twin brother. Slowly, the big-hearted and generous daughter gets her skeptical dad to open up to their visitor as he learns that the cultural differences between Canadians and Japanese are greater than differences between gay and straight men. Awwww! Reads right to left, manga style.

Who it’s for…

people who like cute things; This Is Us fans

 

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness.

Seven Seas

What it is…

What at first seems like a coming of age and coming out story becomes a revealing autobiography of mental illness. Our protagonist’s journey to self acceptance, managing her many neuroses, advancing her career, and placing her parent’s expectations in perspective culminates with her hiring a lesbian prostitute, an experience that’s less sexy than it is heart-warming. Reads right to left, manga style.

Who it’s for…

queer teens; teens with mental illness; anyone whose life is touched by mental illness

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

Matt Thompson is Community Services Librarian for the public library in Suffolk, Virginia. He has a doctorate in anthropology from the University of North Carolina and has been blogging with Anthrodendum née Savage Minds since 2010.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.