Friday, September 16, 2011

Speak Out With Your Geek Out: Books...with pictures

Today is the last day of Speak out with Your Geek Out and I really wondered about what to write. Not because I have no geeky interests left, but because there are way too many of them. Doctor Who, Star Trek (or science fiction series in general), toys, history... But I didn't write about books. I'm an avid reader and I'm a librarian, so books play a huge role in my life. That is one huge topic, so I choose one section of it that I like in particular. Books with pictures.

As in comic/graphic novels and as in picture books. I'm not the typical comic book geek (if there such a thing?) - I didn't read all that many comics as a kid and I never really got into superheroes or manga as a whole. But I love, love love comics.
I can totally geek out over the gorgeous drawing in Blacksad or the beautiful simplicity of a Peanuts strip. There's this scene in Astonishing X-Men when Wolverine comes out of a rather childlike state that I fell in love with - it's just two panels, but it's masterfully done. It's art, pure and simple.

When the Wind Blows makes my cry every single time I read it. I love the sneaky story of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. Maus can be hard to read, but it's so worth it. Calvin and Hobbes take me back to my own childhood. There's a Peanuts strip for every occasion. Asterix taught me history (and Latin and how to read Gothic print). I could go on here, but let's just say that I'm a geek for comics and now go and read some. Take a look at French comics, there are a lot of brilliant ones.

Picture books can be works of art as well. Shaun Tan will take you on a beautiful visual voyage in his books. And so will Sven Nordqvist, especially with his Pettson and Findus series about a grumpy old Swedish farmer and his cat. Take your time with the drawings or you'll miss a lot of what is going on there. If you would ask me to recommend one single picture book, it would be Diary of a Wombat - it's hilarious and the illustrations are simple, but spot-on.

The best picture books can be read by adults and children and both will get something out of it - not necessarily the same thing, though. So go ahead, pick some up the next time you're at the library.
And while you're at it, check out the books by Scott McCloud Understanding Comics and Making Comics. Even if you don't plan to draw a comic, they are worth reading and you'll learn a ton of new things, about communication and how we look at things.

Here's to hoping that Speak Out With Your Geek Out will be back next year as planned. I loved every minute of it!

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