October Brings Mysterious Readings to 4 of Our Groups!
Fall is in the air and—for the most part—Halloween is on the minds of our Book Clubs this month, as 4 out of the 5 groups picked books with a mysterious or magical bent!
This month, Downtown read Mystery Society by Steve Niles and Fiona Staples. The book was unanimously well-liked by everyone in attendance! All considered Mystery Society a highly enjoyable, breezy, and refreshing read. Many found comparisons to Saga, especially in the dialogue and relationship between Nick and Ana, who reminded some of Saga’s Marko and Alana. A few even wondered if Fiona Staples contributed significantly to the writing in both books in addition to her excellent art, since the dialogue and humor seemed so similar. Speaking of humor, it was definitely a highlight for most, especially all the playful homages to literature and comics. The one minor criticism was that since the book was such a “palate cleanser” and didn’t involve much emotional investment, it didn’t leave that much of a memorable impact. Nevertheless, this “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Lite” was a pure delight for everyone. Next month, the Downtown Group will read Lazarus vols. 1 & 2, by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark.
The Mission Valley group's October read was MARCH Book One written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin with artwork by award-winning graphic novelist Nate Powell. MARCH is a graphic novel memoir series which chronicles the life of Congressman and Civil Rights icon John Lewis. Book One spans John Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall. While noshing on pancit and lumpia, discussion questions included the usual fare of feelings about the book, story and artwork. Moderator Rachel also asked the group about their own personal experiences with racism and if they have ever been involved with a significant cause. A few members shared their own accounts of either experiencing or witnessing racism or prejudice. Despite the book being set during the Civil Rights movement, the content was certainly relevant to issues happening today.
For November, Mission Valley will read The Jekyll Island Chronicles written by Steve Nedvidek, Ed Crowell and Jack Lowe with artwork by J. Moses Nester and S.J. Miller. We will continue reading the MARCH Trilogy with books 2 and 3 for the January 2018 meeting.
North Park chose a very Halloween appropriate book for the month of October, Black Magick, Vol. 1, Awakening Part 1 by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott. The first volume set the scene and introduced the main character of the book, Rowan Black, a detective who is also a witch. Her two worlds collide during a hostage negotiation with a man who knows her name and about her secret life. After the encounter, she actively begins looking into who set up the meeting with the mysterious man.
Not only was the book intriguing, but the flow of the story made it a very quick and enjoyable read. In fact, it was almost too short and left readers wanting more! Although the story wasn’t groundbreaking, it was fun and the artwork was more realistic than the typical comic book. In fact, it was found to be beautiful, yet haunting at times, and the facial expressions evoked so much emotion that it was a bit disorienting (in a good way, of course). All things considered, the majority of the club will patiently wait for the second volume to be released!
In November, North Park will read volumes 5 and 6 of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series.
The La Jolla Group decided to get spooky during the month of Halloween and journeyed into mystery! The group read Hellboy, Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola and John Byrne. Members enjoyed the gothic artwork, and simplified color palette used in the art. The group also enjoyed that despite the book being named after the titular Hellboy, that it was actually a “team book.” Everyone drew parallels to The X-Files and Men in Black, and even picked up on a pinch of steampunk, and expressed interest in seeing more of the vast world Mike Mignola has created.
La Jolla also really enjoyed Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodiguez. The group loved the artwork by Gabriel Rodriguez, and liked how more complex story elements were conveyed through the images and not rely heavily on written exposition. Many found the book surprisingly exceeded their expectations, and were quick to spot that some characters might be more connected as the series progresses than what is presented in this initial volume. There was an eager curiosity to find what other keys might un-Locke as the series unfolds.
Next month, the La Jolla group will explore Frank Miller’s view of the beginning and the end of the Caped Crusader, by reading Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns.
The Encinitas group welcomed October by discussing Neil Gaiman’s 4-part Books of Magic collection. As with the group’s previous discussion of Kingdom Come, this month’s selection serves as another “Who’s Who” of the DC Universe, focusing on magic users. A number of Book Club members mentioned having some difficulty getting into the collection at first, particularly because the first section of Books of Magic is “densely DC” and contains an almost daunting richness in text and artwork. However everyone found Books of Magic to be a rewarding read, particularly due to Neil Gaiman’s storytelling and world-building chops. The exploration of how magic and science intertwine and differentiate was an interesting concept,
The group all were fans of protagonist Timothy Hunter, particularly in the way he would stand up for himself and even be a little mouthy to those characters who tried to push him around. Members took some time to examine similarities between Books of Magic and Harry Potter, which is a series said to have been influenced by Gaiman’s work. Before long the group got to the fun part and by determining who would win in a fight between Tim Hunter and Harry Potter. Almost everyone sided with Tim, though one member stands firm that Harry Potter would emerge victorious. “He’s just so much more whimsical!”
This unresolved debate aside, Books of Magic was definitely another selection universally enjoyed by the group, and at least a few members are planning to explore the post-Gaiman continuation of the series. In November, the Encinitas Book Club will be discussing Velvet volumes 1-3 by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting.