Is This Guy for Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman by Box Brown
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
This cultural biography documents comedian Andy Kaufman’s life, from his early childhood fascinations with Elvis and professional wrestling to his untimely death. Andy’s obsession with verisimilitude launched him into a career as a professional Elvis impersonator before he became better known as “that guy on Taxi” and somewhat well-known for a professional wrestling career.
Interwoven with Andy’s story is the story of Jerry Lawler, professional wrestler who would go on to be Andy’s archrival on the wrestling circuit. Readers get an insight into the closely guarded and secret society of professional wrestling before it became mainstream, where wrestlers maintained character on and off stage, carefully scripted storylines and fight sequences in back room conversations and had an entire slang to describe their simulation fighting.
Box Brown’s use of three colors gives this story a distinctive retro feel, and his use of close-ups minimal line work helps readers focus on dialogue and character expressions. Not only does this book work as an introduction to 1970s popular culture, but it also, in a play on the title, challenges readers to think of art and artifice as real.
Give to fans of Box Brown’s other books, like Andre The Giant: Life and Legend and Tetris: The Games People Play.
Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
In Brazen, Penelope Bagieu presents a brief portrait into the lives of women in various countries and cultures throughout history, who stood in opposition to what society deemed an appropriate way for women to behave. The women range from more modern and well known trailblazers, such as Temple Grandin, and Mae Jamison, to lesser known historical figures, such as 4th century B.C. Grecian gynecologist, Agnodice, and 7th century Chinese empress, Wu Zeitan. Both the stories and illustrations range from light and humorous to emotional and powerful. From actors, singers, and rappers to mermaids, volcanologists, and crime miniaturists, the women have little in common individually. However, Bagieu shows how each one revolutionized their fields, changed lives, and showcased the strength and capabilities women possess even in the face of unimaginable hardships. Each entry offers only a brief glimpse into the lives of the women presented, yet Bagieu manages to depict the achievements of the women in way that fully demonstrates their strength, resilience, and perseverance.
The illustrations are drawn in comic strip style, using brightly colored hues to enliven the panels and the character’s images with humorous illustrations and asides to compliment the narrated text. The magnificently detailed two-page illustrations at the end of every biography, beautifully captures the spirit of each woman. This narrative and illustrative style mixed together, creates a book that both highlights the remarkable achievement each woman made to history, while also being a highly enjoyable and inspiring book for teens. Highly recommended for budding feminists especially those who are new to non-fiction, or who are interested in strong female role-models.
On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Mia, a young woman just out of school, becomes the newest member on a spaceship that travels to historical ruins, reconstructing the sites for their new uses. She is quiet, unsure of her new job, but fits in with the crew, immediately gaining their trust and friendship. As the crew becomes closer, Mia reveals that she is on a mission to find her long-lost love, a fellow student she met at her inter-galactic boarding school, and asks for their help in finding her.
The use of black and white with splashes of color makes the reader feel as if they are floating through space. The adventure aspect really ropes the reader into the atmospheric world the story is set, and fully brings it to life. Characters are well-rounded, likeable, and the reader can’t help but root for them. The author uses two characterization points that hasn’t been seen much, if at all, in Young Adult literature: the absence of male-identifying characters, and the discussion and importance of they/their pronouns.
Give to fans of Tillie’s previous graphic novels and science fiction and adventure genres with some romance, such as The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.