Archive for the ‘Jennifer M.’s Picks’ Category


Batman Week, Day 2. With our regular comics blogger off at Comic-Con, we implored librarian and geek culture goddess Jen to write about a favorite Batman story arc. This one comes from the library’s collection of graphic novels for adults. — Ed.

We librarians are not known for our poker faces. We’re bad liars. So what to do when a co-worker (yes, Melissa, I am pointing the finger at you) comes to you in desperate need of a blog post. And not just any blog post: would you be willing to write a Batman blog post?  What she doesn’t know is that you have an entire storage box full of classic 1980s Batman comics. You hesitate, wondering if you can get away with the lie that you know zip about Batman. She waits. After a long pause, she whips out “that’s not a no!” And there you are. Stuck with the job.

Where do you start? There is just soooo much! You can’t go into your hidden stash and pick a comic. That could take weeks and she needs this thing stat. So I did what any smart librarian would do: I went to the stacks (bookcases for you regular folks out there).  And —yay me! — found a true gem of the Batman universe.

Batman: The Killing Joke was written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland. When you write about Batman comics you have to come to grips with the fact that many people over the years have not only told portions of his story, but many people have been tasked with drawing it. And in my mind these sometimes undervalued illustrators are just as important as the story’s writer. Actually, to be truly honest, I feel the illustrator is MORE important than the writer. Many a time I have picked up a story and put it right back down, left absolutely cold by the illustrations. I like realism in my graphic novel world. I don’t particularly care for comic-y looking illustrations, and I have a really, really hard time with jagged line artwork (not a huge Frank Miller/The Dark Knight Strikes Again fan.) Brian Bolland does a fine job and leaves it up to Alan Moore to hit the home run with his amazing story.

The story is absolute genius. We see how a normal man, hounded by the pressures of providing for his family and the continual failures at succeeding at his chosen job, yields to temptation and has “one bad day.” Interposed with the flashbacks that make up The Joker’s bad day, we see Commissioner Gordon’s “one bad day” as provided by none other than The Joker. The Joker seems bent on proving to himself and all others that what happened to him would happen to anybody. In looking at the story deeper, Moore has sprinkled it with parallels, and we get to see that Batman and The Joker are really two sides of the same coin. Both men are created from “one bad day,” and in some ways both are insane because of it. If you like Batman and you haven’t read this story yet, I highly recommend it. If you have read it, but it’s been a while, it might be time for a reread. And while you’re reading, see if you can spot the origin of one of DC’s most amazing heroes, Oracle. And while all librarians are super heroes… some of us take it to a whole new level!

Check the WRL catalog for Batman: The Killing Joke

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Thanks to Jennifer M. for today’s post:

What do you do if you’re a 6’2″ super athlete who also just happens to be black, white, and Japanese and living in an area famous for its Aryan Nation fort? You might join the football or basketball teams, whose coaches have been begging you to play since junior high. But not if you are T.J. “The Tao” Jones. Not one to ever do what he is told, T.J. decides to get his revenge by forming the wildest group of misfits known to high school into a varsity swim team. Never mind that the school has no pool and one of the swimmers has only one leg. That the very existence of the swim team is driving the macho jocks of the football team crazy is just an extra bonus.

Throwing a loop in T.J.’s plans is Mike Barbour, football jerk extraordinaire. Irritated by T.J.’s lack of interest in football, and incensed at the “loser” crew he has formed for his swim team, Mike and the Athletic Council put a codicil on the team’s letter jacket requirements. No swimmer, not a single one, will get a letter jacket unless every single swimmer beats their personal record every meet of the season. Faced with this herculean task, you can only ask yourself… Will they sink or swim?

Warning: This book is NOT for the faint of heart. It deals with many traumatic and difficult issues, and, much like life, the nice guys don’t always finish first.

Check the WRL catalog for Whale Talk

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