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Name: Halftone and Halftone 2
Platform: iOS only
Cost: $0.99 (Halftone) and $1.99 (Halftone 2) and in-app purchases for square page layouts

Ever wish you were a cartoonist? The Halftone apps let you realize that aspiration easily enough. Named after the printing process for rendering images through gradients of black and white or color, these apps is easy to use and produce amazing effects.

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You begin by importing a picture or using your camera. You can choose different caption styles, speech bubbles (which can be layered) as well as a series of classic “stamps” to simulate action. Fonts include a range of easily legible comic-based styles, with three sizes. The whole set-up means you can create something worthy of the funny pages in mere seconds.
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It’s a great time to be a comics fan.

There are loads of amazing ones coming out right now. The Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz committees all recognized graphic novels as honor books this year. People are starting to sit up and pay attention to the world of comics and graphic novels, so I am here with a list for your kids (AND YOU!). Happy reading! And welcome to the comics life.

Lumberjanes is by  Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen. It’s published by Boom studies in single-issue format, but the first trade paperback (collecting issues 1-4) is out on April 7th. Y’all, this one is so incredible. Feminist, funny, and constantly focused on friendship, this series is set at a summer camp and shouldn’t be missed.

PrinceLess by Jeremy Whitley has been a relatively new find for me and I’m obsessed. Princess Adrienne is tired of sitting around in her tower waiting for a prince to slay her dragon and rescue her. So she and her dragon decide to go do the rescuing themselves. Completely turns sexist and racist tropes on their head, as displayed by this panel:


PrinceLess hasn’t been checked in since we got it. Your kids are gonna love it.

The Explorer books (there are three) are comics anthologies edited by Kazu Kibuishi, whom your students already know because they adore amulet. This trilogy asks well-known comic artists like Raina Telgemeier, Emily Carroll, and Faith Erin Hicks, to write comic shorts based on a topic. They’re amazing. There’s something for everyone in this series!

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson. Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager in Jersey City who suddenly and quite accidentally becomes empowered with extraordinary gifts. She has to figure out how to handle being a typical Muslim teenager–who’s now a superhero.

Honestly, when I discovered these (there are two so far), I bought them based solely on the tagline: “Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl.” Basically, that’s enough to sell me, but Mirka is fun and amazing and her religion is shown as something that’s part of her life, not something to be overcome or chafed against. Plus, dragons.

This is just a really small cross-section of all of the wonderful comics for kids that are being published right now. I hope you and your kids love them as much as me and mine do!

Our cross-poster from YALSA today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 6 years.

nikoTitle: Niko and the Sword of Light
Cost: Free download (first three chapters), 3.99 for full comic
Platform: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire



This fully animated comic stands on the line between comic book and cartoon. It tells the story of Niko, a young warrior, in an archetypal struggle between good and evil, portrayed in this world as light and dark. Niko has sworn to avenge his people by fighting the dark beasts and ridding the land of evil. Along journey he comes across strange creatures who help and hinder his progress. Read More →

Title: Comic Life
Platform: iPad
Cost: $7.99

Some YALSA Blog readers might be familiar with the MAC and Windows software program Comic Life. It’s a program that makes it possible to create high-quality comics using a computer. Now it’s possible to create, fairly easily, high-quality comics via an iPad with Comic Life for iPad.

comic life template selectionThe first step in creating a comic using the Comic Life iPad app is to select a template. Creators can start with a blank template that doesn’t include a panel layout, or background, or heading, or thought bubbles. Or, it’s possible to start a new comic using one of the layout templates provided as a part of Comic Life. When starting a new Comic Life the number of layout template options is deceiving as there are just nine to choose from, not including the blank template. Read More →

Just a quick note from your, of late, comics obsessed blogger, that the eighth annual Free Comic Book Day is taking place this Saturday May 1st.

Free Comic Book Day offers publishers a chance to give comic readers a taste of new material, and to remind them of all of the great stories comic book shops have to offer.’  Readers get to pick up special compilations and titles made specifically for the day.’  Publisher’s Weekly says this about it.

Here’s a review of the titles that will be available.’  I’m excited because Oni Press, publisher of such things as Scott Pilgrim, will have an offering available.’  There also looks like there are various things that are either geared toward teens, or that teens would gravitate to and enjoy.

So why am I blogging this on a library blog? Don’t we give our patrons free comics every day? Well, yeah,’  but I think we should be supportive of anything that is raising awareness and excitement about reading and great storytelling.

What else could we do? Libraries could partner with their favorite comics shops for the occasion and prominently point the way with a poster and a recommendation. (If you’re in Massachusetts, I will here declare that I like to buy comics at Modern Myths in Northampton)’  Or celebrate the fact that we do offer free comics every day with a graphic novel display or a panel discussion or a manga drawing workshop.

Short notice for this year? Yes, it probably is.’  But keep it in mind for next year and tell your teens to head for the comic shop this Saturday!

Neil Gaiman responding to a question on why defending free speech you don’t like is necessary’  made me realize how important it is to remind ourselves as young adult librarians to push our comfort levels when buying potentially controversial materials.’  In thinking about graphic novels, I wonder if larger systems with three different sections of GN might be more willing to start something in YA knowing they can always move to A if needed.’  10 years ago when it was harder to find enough Children’s GN to fill up a shelf, there was more danger of having Tintin next to Watchman, but now it seems easier. Read More →

According to Newsarama, Stan Lee made a surprise guest appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con’s “LGBT Portrayals in Comics” panel to announce a budding partnership with Perry Moore, the author of Hero. What that partnership actually entails is still up for spectulation (do I smell a movie?).

Hero gained a great following for its epic portrayal of superheroics through the eyes of gay teenager Thom Creed. Thom must navigate both his budding sexuality and superpowers while under the watchful eye of his disapproving, ex-hero father–all while an unseen assailent is murdering the world’s superheroes. While plots and mysteries abounded, Perry Moore managed to keep the book grounded in the characters. It was an altogether exceptional debut. Read More →

Exclusively via cellphone, “Thunder Road” by Steven Sanders will reach cell phones (Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T). Read the article here. Will you subscribe? If not, what comic would you subscribe to via cell phone? More reason to offer SMS to patrons? Share your stories.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Publishers Weekly picks up on the panels for librarians at this past weekend’s conference. According to PW, 400 librarians registered for the con, and experts such as Robin Brenner, Kat Kan and lots of other librarians were panelists listed here.
Check out the podcasts from the con and please comment or post if you attended and have some things to share. They’re already planning for next year’s event to be held April 18-20, 2008! Library Journal article here.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

UNSHELVED has been running some funny cartoons on Sundays based on YA novels. The link here will take you to one about PEEPS by Scott Westerfeld. Crutcher and David Brin titles have also been included. How nice to be able to laugh at one’s own idiosyncracies and foibles.

Posted by Teri Lesesne