Despite a very busy month in July with that little event called Comic-Con International, the two branches of our Graphic Novel Book Clubs held meetings in July and August. Here’s what they read … and ate!
July saw the Downtown club tackle Joss Whedon’s first foray into comics, Fray, written by Whedon and drawn by Karl Moline and Andy Owens. Most participants loved it, especially those that were fans of Whedon’s TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fray takes place in the future and features a new slayer in the mold of Buffy. While this was Whedon’s first comics work, many saw all the familiar indications of his work, including crackling dialogue, great female characters, and those unexpected action moments. Book club member Roya was our moderator and she showed up with muffins adorned with a Fray-like scythe that we all kept after enjoying the delicious baked goods!
August turned to something completely different with Gene Luen Yang and Thien Pham’s Level Up, the story of a young man pressured by his father to enter the medical profession when what he really wanted to do was become a professional video game player. Everyone enjoyed the book, but pretty much everyone was a bit “iffy” on the artwork. Some felt the almost 8-bit like simplicity of it helped make the book more relatable. Others felt it looked unfinished. Most people really related to the story, even those who had parents that were less forceful in their dreams for their children. Some found the ending too pat, while others thought the message of choosing your own destiny fit perfectly. Moderator Erik brought an amazing Pac-Man cake that was entirely appropriate given the book, plus some chocolates shaped like the video game characters. And milk!
July, needless to day, was a busy month but the Comic-Con Graphic Novel Book Club is always a welcome respite. In anticipation of Marvel’s release of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, the July book was Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1: Cosmic Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis, Steve McNiven, and Sara Pichelli. Moderated by Mary, this nice introduction to the characters was touted by many to be a good jumping-on point to learn more about this team of misfits. As is typical, not everyone agreed on many points, but the stand-alone stories at the end of the novel, focusing on each individual character, were very highly praised by all. With the movie on the horizon, it lead to an interesting talk as to if this novel would inspire or deter anyone from seeing the film. After agreeing that everyone was still likely to see the film, we all left happy with our new Guardians of the Galaxy bookmarks provided by Mary.
August saw the Mission Valley Book Club steering away from superheroes and back to more quirky fare. Laura moderated this session about Get Jiro! by Anthony Bourdain, Joel Rose and Langdon Foss. Despite the delicious sushi-inspired treats, the discussion was over pretty quickly, when—in a rare occurrence—no one seended to enjoy the book. The conversation switched to the great other books being read (I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura, Rust by Royden Lepp, and the continuation of Fables and Locke & Key which had been read in previous months), movies enjoyed (Guardians of the Galaxy) and the great time everyone had at Comic-Con (especially member Christy’s great cosplay!).
In addition to our separate July and August discussion groups, both book clubs met for the first time at Comic-Con on Saturday evening, July 26. While the scheduling of con panels and events put a bit of a damper on the attendance, about 15 members showed up (some in costume, like James and Melissa from the Downtown group and Christy from the MV group) to meet and greet their fellow members and discuss their respective Comic-Con 2014 experiences. There was a drawing for prizes, with James and Attiba from the Downtown group each winning a copy of SDCC’s 40th anniversary book, Comic-Con: 40 Years of Artists, Writers, Fans & Friends, and Adriana winning our “grand” prize, all 5 Pop Vinyl Guardians of the Galaxy figures.
Plans have begun for our big holiday meet-up in December, where both clubs will once again “collide” at the Downtown Central Library. With phrases like “graphic novel white elephant” and “book club potluck” being bandied about, it looks like Christmas will come a little bit earlier this year!