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In Honour of Zombies, Ghosts, Ghouls... aka Bleak, Bizarre & Beautiful

by Adrienne - 3 Comment(s)

Inspired this past May (which was Zombie Awarenes Month), this post reviews a few graphic novels that fit the theme. Fairies and Ghouls beware! Halloween is fast approaching and Calgary just had it's own Zombie walk on Saturday October 13th! Do you have your costume ready? Or are you a die hard Zombie fan who will wash and recycle their Zombie gear creating environmentally friendly apocalypse wear for All Hallows Eve? For great Zombie books and movies year round check out Alex's great Zombie Awareness Blog from last May.

For now, here are some ghouly graphic novels to get your Halloween grease moving. Grimericks by Susan Pearson and Monster Museum by Marilyn Singer are both illustrated by the lovely Gris Grimly. Think Tony Diterlizzi (The Spiderwick Chronicles) meets Tim Burton (The Nightmare Before Christmas) - on paper. Take MaryLou Jones; the java drinking, peter pan collar, blue polka dotted dress, blonde bob, pilgrim shoe wearing skeleton as a Grimly Zombie example. Both books are filled with witty puns to boot! Singer gets straight to the point with a Zombie poem that teaches us how Zombies "dance" and a ghost poem delineating all the family "types". Pearson's

Recipe for a Grimerick goes:

1 limerick, lightly salted

dash grim

slosh of spook juice

1 cup giggles

3 ripe guffaws

Mix together with 1 funny bone.

Chill in dank cave.

Turn the lights down low.

Lock the doors.

Look under the bed.

Read with relish!

I hate to admit it, but I'm actually not actually into Zombies (I know, I know ... please don't bite me!), I AM however, very into juicy, messy, blotchy, splotchy drawings. How to Draw Zombies a Fantasy Underground book by Mike Butkus & Merrie Destefano, is chock full of them! There is much exquisite mark making here showcasing all the delicate intricacies of the artists hand and/or personality - if you believe in hand writing analysis. Each drawing/painting/digital rendering is broken down step by step so that you can see all the layered marks in isolation like Mr. Dress Up - Zombie style! Anyone up for creating a Zombie Mr. Dress Up art piece? We would love to see your submissions on our Teens Create page. Looking through this gem, I have to admit that Zombies are fine ground for digging in & sketching out all the gory details. Mr. Dress Up challenge aside, if you could draw a Zombie what/who would it be?

Here are photos of Calgary's May 2012 Zombie Walk, and here are the photos for the October zombie walk. Calgary's Zombie community is Awesome!

If that's not enough, these stellar Zombie comics and novels should keep you entranced for awhile:

Plus for former Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans... we currently have Diary of a Zombie Kid on order!

When dealing with ghosts what fits the bill of beautiful? Perhaps when the meaning of a mystery lies in belief being it's own reward? Or perhaps when illustrations tinge on being creepy but really are pretty brilliant comic illustrations. Slog's Dad illustrated by Dave McKean, (who also illustrated The Sandman by Neil Gaiman) is a master at this. Written by David Almond, this graphic novel defies easy categorization or interpretation, embedding itself heavily in enigma.

Always save the best 2 for last, right? Here they are. The winner has to be Zombie's Vs. Unicorns, a great new anthology compiled by Holly Black (Team Unicorn) & Justine Larbalestier (Team Zombie). The two duke it out with witty commentary before each short story and the reader is left to decided who wins, Zombies?? or Unicorns?? This book includes many stars of YA fiction such as Scott Westefeld ( who is Justine's husband, did you know?), Libba Bray & Meg Cabot. Westefeld may have actually been playing in this sandbox for a long time. Ever think of nanos as Zombies? Specials anyone? Kathleen Duey included a particularly haunting addition in which you could most likely classify the Unicorn AS a Zombie. Isn't any creature that has eternal life sort of technically you know - a zombie? I, I admit my Zombie love is growing, fed by Unicorns of course!

Finally, because Halloween should always end with something wholesome - like apples... candied - we will end with Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol. This book could be described as Casper... for 16 year olds, with just the slightest bit of Creepy!! thrown in. If you fell down a well, ... well would you befriend that ghost? Join Anya B as she navigates private school with her ghost. As their friendship develops she discovers that being friends with a shade may or may not be all it's cracked up to be; and that somethings are more important than others. This debut graphic novel written and illustrated by Brogol is Great. It has won numerous awards... for good reason! Long live....

Bleak, Bizarre and Beautiful... New Fairytale Comics!

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

I am happy to report that we have some great new fantasy graphic novels in! The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen being notable among them. Yolen weaves a story around just enough stereotypes to turn them around and come out with a satisfactory egalitarian ending -- a great read. Yolen is one of the most prolific writers of our time, boasting 300+ books to her name (with CPL carrying 40+ of her YA and Adult titles). A great storyteller with a penchant for fantasy and extremely relatable characters, she ranges from writing children's books, to poetry (adult poetry among them), to novels. She has also partnered with many great artists throughout her career, such as Come to the Fairies' Ball illustrated by Gary Lippincott. Sacred Places illustrated by David Shannon is also a notable highlight among her illustrious ilk. In The Last Dragon artist Rebecca Guay fits right in there by creating a visual feast for the eyes with hints of Art Nouveau and the Pre-Raphealites. I like pretty comic books, it's true. Guay has also illustrated Black Pearls A Faerie Strand, a YA novel by Louise Hawes.

Pay the Piper is a modern rock n' roll twist on the Pied Piper -- Modern, urban fantasy at it's best. Another great Pied Piper re-telling that just hit the stacks is The Brixen Witch by Stacey DeKeyser

At the back of the graphic novel The Last Unicorn there is a spread of art by 5 different artists depicting the characters from the story. I'm assuming the artists auditioned to illustrate the final comic. The art was amazing, as were the artists they picked, and it made me wonder how the novel would have been different if illustrated by each artist. A picture is worth a thousand words and this concept - of seeing other artistic possibilities for the same book intrigued me. Then, along comes Spera by Josh Tierney! One graphic novel, one story, illustrated by five different artists, each depicting their own chapter! The most surprising thing about this really is how smoothly the story actually flows from artist to artist, yet each lends a particular flavour, slanting and enhancing the scenes at hand. And for those of you who just can get enough, there's a Volume 2 on order!

Although not new to our collection the following items are more than worth your while.

Castle Waiting is a great comic book that takes elements from fairytales such as 'Sleeping Beauty' and combines them with a good dose of humour and plots about bearded ladies, two-headed girls, pregnancy and hidden libraries... Arthur Rackham makes an appearance as a stork and there are lots of other humorous post-modern references sprinkled throughout. Linda Medley, the author, has been described as Arthur-Rackham-meets-Charles-DeLint-meets-Marvel-comics! I highly recommend her. And there's Castle Waiting II too. Funnily enough the intro is written by... Jane Yolen! Of Medley she says: "Once upon a time, which is how all good fairy tales begin (if you grew up in western culture), a child was born in the rural Salinas area of California. Or Califunny as those of us who live 3000 miles away like to call it. Which, if one were writing a fairytale would be prophetic. If one were drawing a comic, it would come with a banner: Here is born Linda Medley. Then an arrow to a group of trees, Rackham trees. A child sits with her back against the heavy bark, in her lap a drawing pad. There is a newspaper, folded to the comics page by her side, a copy of Grimm Tales... So I feel as if Linda Medley is an old friend who has written Castle Waiting just for me - a feminist fairy tale with attitude, heart, imagination, laughter, love and truth. Er, Truth." I heartily agree!

The Goblin Companion by Brian Froud has long been a standing favourite of mine. Although Froud is famous for his fairies I particularly enjoyed seeing how he would draw a goblin wife, what kind of tools each fool possesses, and in general the rough juiciness of his pencil drawings particularly suits a more ornery subject... such as goblins. Check it out!

We're so OLD!

by Alexandra - 2 Comment(s)

If you haven't been into the library lately you might have missed the fact that we are celebrating our CENTENNIAL BIRTHDAY this year. It's a big deal. Between Calgary Parks, Calgary Recreation, the Calgary Stampede and us, this is one helluva year to be Calgarian!

This Saturday all 18 of our branches are having MASSIVE Birthday Parties -- each with a different theme.

Here at Central we're having a 5-floor... wait for it... Circus! There's going to be cake, popcorn, a building-wide Scavenger Hunt (you could win a Kobo and other prizes if you enter) a comedy festival, tons of bands playing, and loads of other fun stuff -- all for free. We DARE you come and not have a good time!

May is Zombie Awareness Month

by Alexandra - 4 Comment(s)

It's something of an inside joke here at Services for Children, Teens and Families that my TOP 5 list of GREATEST FEARS is pretty ridiculous. I mean... I don't think it's any more ridiculous than the next person's (fear in itself is quite irrational, is it not?) but everyone else seems to think I'm off my rocker.

ALEX'S TOP 5 GREATEST FEARS OF ALL TIME:

1) Fast Zombies

2) Rabbits

3) Slow Zombies

4) Lactose Intolerance (for me... I'm afraid of becoming LI, I'm not afraid of people that already are...)

5) Carrot Top (this guy)

I'm going to skip the things people say about me when I tell them about my lagomorphobia (that's the bunny bit, and no, it has NOTHING to do with Monty Python and the Holy Grail), because that's a whole other story, and today we are going to discuss my fear of Zombies.

People seem to think that Zombies are a silly thing for me to be afraid of. Because hey, why be afraid of something that's not real, right? WRONG. I think it is actually HUGELY intelligent for me to be afraid of both real and not-yet-real things (notice that phrasing, it will be important later). Because then I'm truly prepared for every eventuality. Like what if you thought your biggest fear in the whole world was black-widow spiders, but then massive, eight-legged, blood-sucking, bone-bashing, super-intelligent aliens came to Earth, and you were like "Freak on a Peak, I just pooped myself becauseI just saw something I didn't even KNOW I was afraid of!" and your body shut down and you just died from fear on the spot. WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?!?! I am. Because I have covered all of my bases and evaluated the things that are to be feared RIGHT NOW (like bloatiness from drinking too much milk) and DOWN THE ROAD (like undead ex-friends and family who are trying to suck my brain out through my nostrils). And fear will not surprise me.

If you want to be prepared for a possible Zombie Apocalypse, here are some things you need to check out:

This Scientific Article about Toxoplasmosa Gondii and a podcast about it too.

The story of Clairvius Narcisse, who's [Voodoo] Doctor turned him into a Zombie

The Symptoms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (sounds like zombies to me!)

or the cracked.com article (which is much less PG-13, but way funnier than these others), Top 5 Ways a Zombie Apocalypse COULD Happen.

Then you'll want to look into the Calgary Zombie Survival Guide.

Still not convinced? Well... maybe some of these books will get you there:

And just in case that's not enough... there's always Zombie Carrot Top with Milky Eyes...

The Star Wars Comeback Special

by Jocelyn - 1 Comment(s)

The blog author embraces her inner Leia.

Ok, I admit it. I am of the generation that grew up with the original Star Wars (that would mean episodes IV through VI for the rest of you.) I grew up pretending I was Princess Leia, and I even had a Princess Leia shampoo bottle (disturbingly, the head is the bottle cap that twists off.) I embraced the Ewok movie too. Later on, I read Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces because I heard that was the book that inspired George Lucas. In San Francisco, I stared at the ships beyond the wharf, as I had heard that was the place that gave inspiration to many of the ships in Star Wars

So when I heard that they were making a new trilogy about Anakin Skywalker, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Sadly, like many of us who grew up with the originals, I was deeply disappointed in episodes I to III. It was like George Lucas had taken the greatest villain in cinematic history (Darth Vader) and reduced him to a whiney sniveling shadow of a young Jedi (what is up with that!?!?)

The good news is, despite all that, Star Wars is still wildy popular, especially in hyperspace, and it’s not because of George Lucas endlessly re-editing the films (I don’t even want to talk about what he did to Return of the Jedi). Lego certainly has something to do with it – Lego Star Wars books, the game on Wii, etc. have breathed some new life into old loveable characters, such as Chewie. One can only imagine what would happen if Lego teamed up to create some kind of Hunger Games model sets… but I digress.) The other factor is the fans themselves and the endless video spin-offs you can find on YouTube or the books you can find in the library – for example, I just read Darth Paper Strikes Back: an Origami Yoda book by Tom Angleberger. This is the sequel The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, and I quite enjoyed it.

For those who just want to peruse the art the fans have created on the internet, here is a few to check out:

1)Star Wars Uncut. This is a Star Wars fan tribute video, coordinated by Casey Pugh, where thousands of fans got together and did a scene by scene remake of Episode 4. They filmed with Lego, with their old Star Wars toys, with themselves, with their own home-made videos. And from what I have seen, it is awesome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ezeYJUz-84

2)Jedi Cats Strike Back. Two college students filmed this vignette with their newly rescued kittens. It is absolutely adorable, and pretty much the only non-violent light saber battle that I could find on the internet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z3r9X8OahA

3)Chad Vader. This is a series made by Blame Society Productions about a guy related to Darth who happens to work at a grocery store called Empire Market. Or at least he did. Here is Chad trying out some other work. It doesn’t go so well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmDf6SnTVxg

4)Pink Five. This series features Stacey, a rather chatty X-wing pilot that was created by some true Star Wars fans. Here, she has accidentally followed Luke Skywalker to the planet Degobah: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kf8bbaX6D1s

5)John Williams is the Man. This is a rather hilarious acapella Star Wars tribute (although it's actually done to the tune of the Indiana Jones theme...but that is just a mere technicality, right?): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk5_OSsawz4

And don’t forget to check out Wookiepedia – the Star Wars wiki – where you can get lost for hours reading everything you wanted to know about Star Wars at http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page