Tuesday, February 8, 2011

2 Charming Graphic Novels - Highly Recommended

Completely free of any paid endorsement or incentive, I’d like to recommend a couple of graphic novels I read recently.

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, written and drawn by Barry Deutch is a charming all-ages stand-alone story. The sub-subtitle “Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl” spells out the subject matter, and gives you a hint about the book’s sense of humor. Aimed at younger readers, I still enjoyed it. Mirka lives in a conservative Jewish community where the other women try to convince her to hone her domestic skills, while she dreams of becoming a dragon slayer.

One of the things I liked about this book is that Mirka does not have to learn to transcend her community realize her dreams. Her heritage is not incidental to her success, but a major factor in it. I would recommend it for older elementary and middle school kids for discussions about how our religion and community shape us.

I spent part of the last weekend reading Action Philosophers by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey. I didn’t even know this book existed, but I happened across it in our local library. Van Lente and Dunlavey are both comics industry professionasl who were awarded a grant to publish this history of western philosophy under their independent label.

This book is awesome. It explains dozens of philosophers and their theories down in comic book form. I swear, I will never think of Plato in the same way again. Need a quick review of someone you read in college, flip through this book and you’ll be sucked in to read the rest. These easily digestible nuggets of complex ideas are actually funny. Try though I may, I still don’t get Wittgenstein, but I don’t hold Action Philosophers responsible for that.

While Van Lente and Dunlavey mostly restrict themselves to western thinkers, I appreciated the inclusion of a few non-Christians like Rumi, Boddidharma, Lao Tzu, and the guy who began Kabbalah (his name is escaping my mind). I would have liked to see a few more of these, but I still enjoyed the book for what it was. The only two women featured are Mary Wollstencraft and Ayn Rand, but I lay the blame for that more on western culture as a whole.

There are a few off-color jokes, but I think this would be fine for older teenagers. Thank you for indulging this moment of nerdery; you may now return to your regularly scheduled reading about important things.

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