Just like crime-fighting superheroes, geeks hide their true natures from all but their very best friends (if they have any friends at all). Or at least, they used to. Nowadays an overly obsessive love of Lego, Loki, Wonder Woman or Hello Kitty (celebrating her 40th birthday this year!) is a badge of honour, a sign of deep connection to popular culture and to imaginative interplay.
Take uber-fan Jeffrey Brown, who has written and drawn an utterly delightful collection of snapshots of Princess Leia’s life had she not been adopted and happily raised on the planet Alderaan.
In truth, as all Star Wars fans now know, Leia was the daughter of the evil Darth Vader. Brown’s book, Vader’s Little Princess (2013, filed in the Lennoxville Library’s Graphic Novels section), brings us to Episode 3 and ¾ in the Star Wars nonet.
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…
Darth Vader, Dark Lord
of the Sith, continues to
rule the Galactic Empire and
is out to destroy the heroic
Rebel Alliance. Meanwhile,
he must raise his young
daughter, Leia, as she grows
from a sweet little girl —
into a rebellious teenager.
This picture book is just too cute. What’s a droid nanny to do when Leia refuses to go to sleep? Disintegrations are NOT allowed.
And poor Leia. Dad is quite the embarrassment at school. (Please dad, don’t dance.) And first dates are… killers. Not to mention when dad objects to her wardrobe: “You are not going out dressed like that.”
It takes a real fan to play with canon. “Many media outlets have been struggling to explain the fandom phenomenon to ‘normal people’ with varying results,” writes Sara Levine in a recent blog post. She’s a master’s student, and suggests that fans are well on their way to outnumbering the “normal people”. Consider the avid interest in the Twilight vampire novels, or the new Sherlock Holmes movies and two (!) television series (although that’s nothing new; his initial fans demanded the great detective’s return from the dead in the 1890s), all of which have managed to bring together fans of different generations. (I am rather fond of the adoring amateurs who created a faux murder for the Toronto Constabulary to solve in a recent Murdoch Mysteries on CBC television. That’s quite the fan club.)
Fandom, Levine writes, “is primarily used as a way for media consumers to continue to play in the world that the creators bestowed upon them…. On that note, I would move on to fan art, fan videos, and the increasingly open-ended conversations occurring between creators and fans on various social networks. Fans are meeting future spouses through fandom, making long-lasting friendships, provoking discussions on gender and race….”
Sherbrooke geek culture comes to the fore next month at the city’s very first nerdly convention, Animara Con (where the real nerds will show up dressed as their favorite characters – and yes, there will be a how-to seminar in “cos play”). It’s at the Cégep de Sherbrooke. There’ll be Japanese anime, Star Trek, manga, gaming, and more. There is an entry fee, and you can find all the info at animaracon.com.
If you need a primer, the Lennoxville Library has a selection of comics classics. In manga, there’s DragonBall (by Akira Toriyama and translated into French, 1984), and a series based on the Japanese trading card game Yu-Gi-Oh titled Millennium World (story and art by Kazuki Takahashi, translated into English, 2005). Yugi is a shy 10th grader who solves a puzzle and gains an alter ego, the warrior Yu-Gi-Oh. But Yu-Gi-Oh has no memory of his past, and is on a quest to rediscover his identity. To do so, he must go back in time, to ancient Egypt…
North American classics include the Bone series (by Jeff Smith, 2010). And for slightly older readers, there’s Elfquest (by Richard and Wendy Pini, 2003), in which the elves and humans fight for the right to live in the forest.
All these tomes are available on the Graphic Novels shelves. But do check the age coding; Jeff Smith’s Bone is published by Scholastic and intended for children, but other Smith books are directed at older audiences. There are superheroes on the shelves, also. Young adults will appreciate the work of Mariko Tamaki, and other coming of age tales. (You can find European bandes dessinées such as Tintin, Asterix, and more, shelved over in the children’s section.)
What about new arrivals in graphic novels? Try The King’s Dragon, by the Ontario-based Scott Chantler (2014, the fourth volume in the Three Thieves series). Sir Drake is a knight, a King’s Dragon, who swore an oath to serve the monarchy and protect the innocent.
Naïve and a bit stupid, he’s discovered he may be the only knight in the kingdom to take that oath seriously. This tale’s solid and well-paced, as we follow Drake’s efforts to discover who’s trustworthy, and who’s treacherous.
Now if I can pound out enough tin cans by the sixth of December, I’m going to look very, very cool in my new armour.
TOP 5 MANGA
Here’s a list of the top five most popular manga at Sherbrooke’s L’Oeil de Chat (the manga counter at 22 Wellington Street North, where you can buy as well as rent a read while sitting comfortably in the tea shop). Manga is translated from the original Japanese, and is intended to be read from left to right. Some North American creators have adopted manga style, as well.
1) L’attaque des titans, or Attack on Titan, by Hajime Isayama
2) Tokyo Ghoul, by Sui Ishida
3) Magical Girl Of the End, by Kentaro Sato
4) Seven Deadly Sins, by Nakaba Suzuki
5) One Piece, by Eiichiro Oda
TOP 5 COMICS
Juke-box comics is right across the street, at 19 Wellington Street North (at the back of the games shop). It specializes in English-language comic books and graphic novels. Here’s its top five of the season.
1) Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman
2) Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan
3) Avatar the Last Airbender, by Gene Luen Yang (and various)
4) Batman, by Scott Snyder
5) Deadpool, by Daniel Way, Cullen Bunn, Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn.
– Eleanor Brown, November 28, 2014