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Autobiography of a Graphic Novel

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

What is the next generation of Graphic Novels? In addition to Manga and Anime, beautiful art novels, true life to high school tales, classic remakes, & your standard super hero sagas, I have noticed a fair number of interesting biographies gracing the stacks lately.

Steve Jobs died last year and shortly afterwards (in addition to the proliferation of blog posts, newspaper articles, and books), a graphic novel biography of his life: Steve Jobs : genius by design, appeared on our shelves.

The Dalai Lama visited Calgary at the Saddledome two years ago, providing a unique contrast to my experience of this concert space (I went to a John Mayer concert there shortly afterwards). There are films and books about his life in addition to his own books, and now... a graphic novel version, in Manga no less! Check out The 14th Dalai Lama : a manga biography.

You might be aware of the Famous Five because of the statue gracing Olympic plaza, but did you know that Nellie McClung was Calgarian and you can visit her house as a historic site, at 803 - 15 Avenue SW? (No I'm not a history expert...I used to live just down the block so that's how I know.); and now... there's a graphic novel version of her life! Hyena in petticoats : the story of suffragette Nellie McClung

Speaking of Calgarians, local author James Davidge has written and published a graphic novel rendition of local Ranch legend John Ware "The Duchess Ranch of Old John Ware", full of subtle poetics and beautiful illustrations by Bob Prodor. I had the pleasure of attending James Davidge's most recent book release at Shelf Life books just this fall...

See a trend? Well Houdini breaks it... sort of, he was always good at breaking out of boxes, that is as Houdini : the handcuff king. We do have a great graphic novel version of his life, however I have no personal anecdote to embellish it with, just a high level of endorsement for the fascination he inspires...

In terms of actual autobiographies, there are some great ones I would recommend about high school kids telling their own stories; Persepolis, Escape from "Special", and A Game for Swallows.

And for fans, yes we do have Stephenie Meyer and Justin Bieber biographies... in graphic novel form. So go ahead, have some fun, be inspired and brush up on your people's history!

Wanna be a MANGA star?

by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

Wanna be a Manga star? Well, there is a FREE Manga & Comics Drawing Workshop at Thornhill Library this Thursday February 8th! Register Here! Now!! I know you wanna!

When I was a teen, one of our groups' favorite things to do was hang out at various red-neck diners drawing art and comics for each other all night. Maybe we were all on a kamikaze mission but... sharing all those comics and making zines together was certainly a blast! And sometimes we even sold them at All Ages shows making back our coffee money. DIY! There was always an edge... who could draw the awesomest MANGA? Make the coolest character? Have the weirdest plot? ... or get us in the most trouble?...

At any rate - Come to this workshop, brush up your comic skillz, and possibly MEET others who are as obsessed with Manga as you are!

Then publish your drawings: SUBMIT them to our TEENSCREATE page! From there it's just a short jump to DC... with maybe a few coffee shops and diners along the way...

In the meantime here are also some cool suggestions to get you started drawing.

Plus one of my favorite titles Steamboy by Katsuhiro Otomo. Who's your favorite Manga character?

Teen Afterschool @ Forest Lawn Library

by Alexandra May - 1 Comment(s)

Forest Lawn Library is the place to be after school this fall!

Every Monday through Thursday, starting September 19th, Forest Lawn Library is having afterschool programming for teens in grades 7 -12. There is something for everyone --here is a brief look at some of the exciting programs that are happening:

On September 21st and 28th the branch is hosting a drawing workshop with a focus on comics (anime and western-style), video games, and animated film. On the first day teens will be introduced to the basics, while day two will build on the techniques and tricks learned and focus on more advanced character design and techniques.

Did you know that you can build a robot that can solve a rubics cube? Play a perfect game of Wii bowling? Well... during the Robotics program on November 9th and 16th you can come try your hand at the LEGO Mindstorm Robot and see what you make a robot do. We also have some battling robots amongst others.

If you want to try your hand at Cake Decorating, there will be Cupcake Decorating on September 28th. Our Fashion Design program might start you on the path to Project Runway Canada. You can bring 3 clothing items and learn how to do everything from hemming, sewing on buttons, mending, and simple alterations. That’s just the first week. In the second week you’ll get the chance to remodel your clothes: make regular jeans "skinny", update last year’s wardrobe to current style, or just create your own unique styles.

If you’re into Anime and Manga, join the Anime Club! Come watch Anime movies, receive prizes and vote on which movies the club watches.

All of these programs are just the tip of the iceberg; in addition, Forest Lawn is also hosting Yoga, the City of Calgary L.E.A.D. program, Scrapbooking, Blogging, Basic Budgeting hosted by Momentum, Filpbook Animation, Gaming and Karaoke, Volunteer Opportunities, Red Cross Certified Babysitting Course, Nutrition and Cooking, Knitting and Crocheting and more.

Check out all the programs this fall at Forest Lawn!

Thanks to our guest blogger, Jan, for updating us on all these sweet programs!

Shiver our Timbers --Int'l Talk like a Pirate Day

by Alexandra May - 1 Comment(s)

What started out as a search for one or two books to tweet about on International Talk like a Pirate Day (Sept 19th 2011) has totally renewed my intense love for the whole scallywag genre.

Here are our top picks for Best Teen Pirate Fiction, and a couple of other fun things from Calgary Public Library. Avast-Ye!

Pirates: The True and Remarkable Adventures of Minerva Sharpe and Nancy Kington, Female Pirates – If Historical Fiction is your thing, check out this exciting book about two young women from the 18C who are both trying to escape lives of subjugation in the West Indies. They travel the world, they look for treasure, and it’s historically accurate! Look for it in Electronic Resources, too!

Steel – This is a fantasy novel about Jill, a high school student and competitive fencer who finds herself magically transported onto a Pirate Ship when she’s SUPPOSED to be on family vacay in the Bahamas. All I can say is it’s a good thing she’s a fencer and not a Cosmetology major.

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean – Yeah, you read that right. It’s a paranormal fiction cross-over. But it’s got everything you could possibly want from either genre! Orphaned twins separated by miles of tempestuous ocean, swashbuckling swordfights and treasure hunts, and a crew of bloodsucking undead. Like Miley always says, you get the best of both worlds!

The always-hilarious and super-fun “One Piece” is a great example of pirates in Manga. Monkey D. Luffy’s body has the wonderful properties of rubber, which are super handy in some situations, but not so much when it comes to swimming. Still! He’s not gonna let that stand in the way of him becoming a pirate, or finding the greatest treasure in the world, the legendary One Piece.

We also have all the classics, like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (available in hardcover, electronic copy, graphic novel, audiobook, DVD, Muppet-version… you name it!) and the popular standard Pirates of the Carribbean – we have all the DVDs and Blu-Rays (with the new one on order so you can already place holds), Soundtracks, Visual Movie Guides, The Pirate's Code --Guidelines, and the awesome children’s books about Young Captain Jack (on the paperback spinners).

And one last tidbit… if you’re struggling with your Arr’s and Aye’s, your Calgary Public Library card gets you a free subscription to Mango Languages, including their pirate translator!


by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

Have you ever wished you were an animal? Or that you had the skills of an animal? I've often wished that I could fly, have the night vision of a cat, move as gracefully as a squirrel and run as fast as a pronghorn.

Clearly, I’m not the only one who has ever thought about how cool it would be to be an animal. Myths and legends about shapeshifting are old, rooted in many different cultures and at the moment, very popular.

Shapeshifting traditions vary across cultures, literature and belief systems. In some stories, being transformed to an animal form is a punishment. For example, Athena turned Arachne into the first spider as a punishment for her pride. Others believe that shapeshifting between animal and human form is magical and a means to utilize animal skills. For example, Norse literature includes stories of "beserkers" (warriors) who had the ability to transform into wolves or bears to fight more ferociously. Some Native American tribes believe that humans descended from animals and the two are intrinsically linked, able to change forms and recieve special powers from animal forebearers.

There are tons of books and movies that feature shapeshifters today. Think of these stories: Beauty and the Beast, Brother Bear, Harry Potter (the Animangus: Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black, etc.), Ranma 1/2, Fruits Basket, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Hobbit (Beorn), Pokemon (Ditto & Mew), Fullmetal Alchemist, and the list goes on...

Here are some cool books with shapshifters for you to check out:

Super Librarians

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

These aren’t your typical shushing-bun-and-glasses librarians! Japanese animation and comics turn librarians into magicians, secret operatives and superheroes! Who said being a librarian was boring?!

R.O.D. OAV: Read or die OAV

Based on a series of Japanese novels by Hideyuki Kurata.

Read or Die stars Yumiko Readman aka “The Paper” a secret operative from the special operations division for the British Library. She has an insatiable love of books and the ability of complete control over anything paper. Her latest acquisition: a copy of the ultra-rare German first edition of “The Immortal Beloved” contains sheet music handwritten on the pages and in the margins. The volume becomes the focus of a dangerous plot by an unknown person who employs clones of famous historical figures to steal the book and recreate Beethoven’s lost “death symphony,” causing anyone who hears it to commit suicide. “The Paper” must employ her skills to save the world!

Kiichi and the Magic Books

[Moto no moto no ana no naka]

Story and art by Taka Amano.

After Kiichi’s mother dies and he is ostracized from his village, he sees drawings of Demons (with pointed ears and horns) in a book come to life. Having a family-resemblence to the creatures, he is determined to learn more about his origins. Mototaro, a powerful travelling-librarian and his assistant Hana agree to include Kiichi join them on their journey. Together, they will encounter strange creatures and adventures while Kiichi tries to find his place in the world.

Library wars

[toshokan sensou]

Story adaptation and art by Kiiro Yumi.

Based on the novellas by Hiro Arikawa.
The Japanese government has begun suppressing information they find undesirable or inappropriate and the only people who can stand up to their abuse of power is the Library Defense Force. The Library defense force is an elite military organization which trains their librarians in the standards of 'cataloguing', 'circulation', and of course 'combat'. This story follows Iku Kasahara, a Task Force Trainee with a passion to protect library collections.

Shakespeare.... but it's manga!

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

The Manga Shakespeare series can be enjoyed both as a fresh approach to discovering Shakespeare and as a great way for lovers of traditional literature to discover manga. Each of the nine titles presents a truly original adaptation of the Bard's work, setting the stage in dystopian futures, the North American frontier and even modern Tokyo. The text is abridged to fit the format, but the best speeches are still intact while the illustrations themselves fill in for the missing text. The drawing ranges from the wide-eyed, illustrations of traditional manga in Romeo and Juliet, to the unconventional scrawlings of Julius Caesar (my favourite of the series).

If this sounds like a series for you, here are a few suggestions to get you started:


Samurai from post-apocalyptic future kills his King and usurps the throne after hearing the prophecy of three aliens. Four-armed mutant not "born of woman" disagrees with this arrangement.


Fair Verona gets yet another makeover whilst two star-crossed lovers defy their warring Yakuza families. Maybe this time it will end happily?

King Lear

An Algonquin chief decides to leave the largest part of his kingdom to the daughter who loves him most. Hilarity does not ensue.


It's Othello..but he has wings, Iago shoots magic daggers and Roderigo is a giant fox... coyote... wolf... thing.. it's awesome!

Naruto vs. Bleach: Choose Your Team!

by Alexandra May - 1 Comment(s)

Bleach Vol 1 Naruto Vol 1

This post is the second in Laura's Manga Mania series.

Naruto and Bleach are both team-centered shonen adventure series which star blond spiky-haired troublemaking teenagers. Both heroes have enormous power and a desire to protect everyone. The series are epically long (over 40 volumes each and growing), with complicated plots and a huge cast of characters.

For some reason, anime and manga fans have taken it upon themselves to pit Naruto and Bleach against one another. So I urge you, read them both, get in on the action, and pick your team!

Art and story by: Tite Kubo

Teenage trouble-maker Ichigo Kurosaki has always been able to see spirits. But his trouble really begins when he meets Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki. He accidentally inherits her shinigami (death god) powers, and is forced to take up her task of sending lost souls to the afterlife and defending humans from evil spirits.

Bleach is an ongoing series, and the English translations are currently at volume 28, with a new volume coming out in December. It’s currently one of the hottest series in Japan, and has sold over 40 million copies. Bleach is so popular, it’s inspired several Original Video Animations (OVAs), animated feature films, rock musicals, video games, and a plethora of other merchandise.

Some fun facts:
You will notice the appearance of the number 15 in background art and costume design. This is because the name Ichigo can be broken up into “ichi” and “go,” which in Japanese are the words for “1” and “5.” The word “ichigo” also means “strawberry,” something that the hero is often teased about. His father meant for “Ichigo” to mean “he who protects." With Japanese kanji, it all depends on how you spell it!

Art and story by: Masashi Kishimoto

Naruto is a story about an adolescent ninja, Naruto Uzumaki, whose skill is pulling pranks. However, his dream is to prove himself by becoming the leader and most powerful ninja in the village, the Hokage. Although this seems to be a pipe-dream, it’s not out of his reach. After all, he’s the vessel of an enormous power: the nine-tailed fox demon.

This series is ongoing, and available in English up to volume 46. The next volume is due out in December. Naruto has sold over 89 million copies in Japan and is the inspiration for: several sequels, original video animations (OVAs), novellas, video games, trading card games, and much more!

Some fun facts:
The name “Uzumaki” literally means “coil.” You will find images of coils throughout this manga (especially noticeable on Naruto’s belly). The word “naruto” is the Japanese word for a steamed fish-paste cake (looks like a flower with a coil in the middle) which is used to decorate soup or ramen -- Naruto’s favourite thing!

Have Yourself a Merry Shoujo Christmas!

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

Christmas was introduced to Japan in the 16th century with the arrival of the first Europeans, but it has only become a popular holiday recently. As with a Canadian Christmas, there are decorations, music, traditional foods, and presents. But somehow, Japanese Christmases have taken on some unique characteristics. For instance, they eat KFC rather than turkey in Japan. They enjoy strawberry shortcake instead of fruitcake. And they wait for Hotei Osho, not Santa Claus.

But the most significant difference is that Christmas in Japan is a holiday for couples, rather than families – think Valentine’s Day! It has become a favourite day for romance, and is often featured in shoujo (girls’) manga!

High School Debut Cover

High School Debut (Volume 4)
Story and art by Kazune Kawahara
Meet tomboy Haruna. After dedicating her Junior High years to softball and shoujo manga, she has decided that her High School years are going to be committed to being in love and having a boyfriend. But she has a problem: she just doesn’t know how to attract boys. Luckily, handsome and popular Yoh knows what boys like about girls. On the condition that she doesn’t fall in love with him, he agrees to become Haruna’s love coach.
In volume 4, Haruna decides that she’s going to plan her and Yoh’s first Christmas together. Typically, she dives in heart first, turning their Christmas into a total production. This is one of my favourite shoujo Christmas moments: it’s full of angst, comedy, and of course, romance!

Ultra Cute Cover

Ultra Cute (Volume 8)
Story and art by Nami Akimoto
When rivals Ami and Noa meet Tamon and Hiro, they are shocked to discover they DON’T fall in love with the same boy. Tamon and Hiro seem like cute, likeable boys, but they’re actually planning a mean prank on the girls. When Ami discovers this, she decides to get revenge.
Volume 8 is an angsty shoujo-style Christmas. Ami is excited to spend her Christmas with Tamon, but her plans are ruined when Sana is injured and it seems to be Tamon’s fault. When Sana requests that Tamon visit her in the hospital, will Ami be able to trust him or will jealousy get the better of her?

Sugar Princess Cover

Sugar Princess
Story and art by Hisaya Nakajo
This is a short 2-volume shoujo series about first time skater Maya Kurinoki. After making an impression on skating coach Eijo Toda, she becomes the partner of Shun Kano, a professional skater. Although he agrees to train her, he has no interest in become partners with anyone – especially a novice. But when they learn that the rink is going to be shut down due to lack of funding, the two will have to pair up in order to save it!

Manga Mania: Sports Manga

by Alexandra May - 0 Comment(s)

We are happy to introduce a special guest blogger! Laura works in the Library's Collections department. Her expertise is manga, and she reads all genres, age levels and styles. Laura's interest in manga sprouted from her study of the visual arts and her love of all things Japan. This post is the first in a series called Manga Mania that Laura will be writing. Take it away, Laura!


You really don’t have to know anything about a sport (or even like it) to appreciate the great characters and fantastic stories to be had in Sports Manga!

What you should know:

The story usually revolves around an amateur player, which means that much of the plot is devoted to them learning the skills and strategy to become the ‘star’ player. For example, I had never heard of the game Go before I was introduced to Hikaru no Go. After reading it, I knew enough about the game that I went out and bought myself a Go board to try it out!

Unlike other manga series, Sports Manga has short story arcs within the whole. There is usually a grander plot at play, but the short stories keep the pace fast. They also create lot of opportunities for characters to grow and change. Sports Manga are a very satisfying read, especially when the star accomplishes something extraordinary.

Although Sports Manga is usually written for boys (shonen), there are some girls' stories (shoujo). The girls' stories usually have a love interest as the sub-plot, but the sport and her rivals still dominate the protagonist’s feelings.

The formula for a good Sports Manga is this: train…fight…train some more…fight…train harder…etc…win! You may have noticed this formula in other popular manga like Dragon Ball Z and Hunter x Hunter. But the plot works especially well in Sports Manga. After all, there is always a game to play, a tournament to prepare for, or a rival to out-do.

Check out the Sports Manga at the Library:

Crimson Hero CoverCrimson Hero – a shoujo manga about volleyball. A girl named Nobara aspires to become a high school volleyball player, despite her obligations as the “young miss” for her family’s establishment. With her mother set against the sport (she even has the high school remove the team), Nobara will have to fight for a chance to even see the gym.

Eyeshield 21 CoverEyeshield 21 – a shonen manga about a lightning-fast runner named Sena who is scouted by his high school football team. However, Sena is bullied and it becomes necessary to keep his identity a secret, which earns him the nickname “Eyeshield 21”.

Hikaru no Go CoverHikaru no Go – a coming-of-age story about a boy named Hikaru who is possessed by Fujiwaru no Sai, a former instructor of Go during the Heian era. Still determined to play the legendary “hand of god,” Sai convinces Hikaru to play Go. When Hikaru shows an aptitude for the game, Sai learns what he’s really hanging around for, and Hikaru discovers a life-long rivalry with a young Go protigé named Akira.

Slam Dunk CoverSlam Dunk – a shonen manga by my favourite author, Takehiko Inoue. Hanamichi is a hopeless high school gang leader whose only skills are beating people up and being rejected by girls. When he discovers Haruko Akagi and her love of basketball, he thrusts himself onto the team. Then things get complicated: Haruko is in love with Rukawa, the team’s ace player!

Whistle! CoverWhistle! – a shonen manga about a boy named Shou Kazamatsuri, who desperately wants to join his new school’s soccer team. Kazamatsuri will have to work hard to become a regular player: he must overcome the disadvantage of his small stature and defy the low expectations of his classmates.