Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Book Review: Fantomah


     Fantomah is a pretty problematic graphic novel for me. What it basically amounts to is a middle-aged Canadian guy trying to tell the story of a teenage Hispanic woman living in the inner city, while trying to incorporate (incorrectly, I might add) elements of Latin American folklore into the mix.
     He's basically taken the story of a specter known as "La Llorona" (The Weeping Woman) and re-named her "La Fantomah," for some reason, though I have never heard her refereed to this way before, then attempted to turn her from a boogie-man type character meant to scare little Mexican kids into being good, into some kind of heroic, but also crazy and murderous entity out to save the lives of little kids.
    The basic gist is that the local gang is kidnapping children, ostensibly to sell them into sex-trafficking. The protagonist's little sisters get kidnapped, the protagonist gets thrown in the river by her gang-member ex boyfriend while looking for the girls and she is somehow (though it's never explained how to any degree of satisfaction) becomes "La Fantomah" and can hear the prayers of people in crisis. She also becomes super strong, is able to fly and is invulnerable to bullets (though maybe only when she is La Fantomah and not when she reverts back to being human, though THAT is also not very clear). In the process of rescuing the kids, she goes on a massive killing spree of gang members and eventually encounters a demon (or maybe an alien? Who knows.).
     A lot of the plot points are confusing and never fully explained, plus we don't get to know really ANYTHING about the main character before she becomes a revenge-ghost, or after for that matter, so it's pretty hard to know if we're supposed to be horrified or empathetic or what. 

Fantomah is on shelves now, but leave it there, it's not really worth picking up. 

2/5 bookmarks. The art is nice. Otherwise it's pretty bad. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Book Review: Pestilence



     Well, here's a new concept in the deluge of Zombie graphic novels! Pestilence is a fantasy/sci-fi/Speculative fiction title that asks the question: what if the black plague of the Medieval era actually turned people into zombies? And what if the Catholic Church worked REALLY hard to make sure people never found out about it?
    The story centers around the members of Fiat Lux, a group of former templar crusaders who are called to the Vatican to help rescue the pope from the swarm of undead hoards that are causing destruction throughout the land. Of course the men start getting picked off one by one on their way to fulfill their quest, and there is a ton of gross, gory violence and cursing going on all around. It's good action for the gore-lovers all around UNTIL we find out that the church is a bunch of jerks trying to suppress the fact that the "plague" makes people into zombies because... drum roll please.... Jesus came back from the dead, and the zombies are coming back from the dead, and they don't want anyone to say "Jesus was a zombie!"
    Seriously. That's the Catholic Church's ACTUAL stance on Zombies in this book. Oh, did I mention there is a Zombie Pope? Yup. Zombie Pope.
    Pestilence is certainly not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but I have to admit it was actually kind of a breath of fresh air, since it's one zombie back story I had definitely never heard before!

Pestilence is on shelves now.

3/5 bookmarks. Loses points for silly Pope stuff.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Librarian Post - Family Feud at the Library

Recently I hosted a very successful Family Feud program that was popular with both teens and adults.

I have to warn you guys, the program takes a lot of work to put together, but if you do it right, it is definitely something that will appeal to a wide audience.

The first thing I did was decided that all of my questions were going to be library related. But I also did a second round of surveys with a music theme, so I can use them for Summer Reading.
For the library themed game, I asked things like "how many hours a week do you spend reading" and "how many books do you normally check out at one time." Then I put these questions into a Survey Monkey survey in order to solicit respondents. (Keep in mind, Survey Monkey's free platform allows you to create surveys of up to 10 questions each. I ended up with 16 questions so I created 2 surveys to avoid paying). I then posted survey links on my personal Facebook, as well as on a few groups I am a member of, and e-mailed them out to my coworkers.

I got my 100 respondents shockingly fast, so make sure you keep an eye on the numbers and close the survey as soon as you get 100 responses. It's going to be hard enough to cull through all the answers with just those 100 trust me.

Also worth noting, the free version of Survey Monkey caps your surveys at 100 responses, which is actually perfect.


Once I had my responses, I had to go through them, and that was a tiny little nightmare. Do this any way you think will work, but what worked best for me at the end, was, once the survey was closed, I copied and pasted ALL the answers for each question into a Word document. Then it was easy, though highly time consuming to group like answers together and see what my top answers were.

Like on the game show, I kept only the top 5-6 answers that were given and threw all others out for playing purposes. (Someone actually asked during game play why point totals were not adding up to 100 so I felt that ought to be explained on here as well). I printed out answers and number of responses and attached them to poster boards and just used construction paper taped over them to create our super low-tech "board" which worked out fabulously!

My "boards." Simple, easy to make, and easy to use during play. 


This was one of the very few times I asked for registration in advance. This was because I wanted to have an idea of which teams to pair against each other, since the game was open to ages 8 and up... it didn't feel very fair to have, say a team with a bunch of elementary school kids up against a team of adults.

I got good coverage for the event through posts on social media, the local paper and even a DJ on a local radio station who signed her family up and mentioned the program on her show.

Gameplay was just like on the show... 2 teams pitted against each other per round and one person from each team doing a face off to determine which team would play the round. Steals were allowed after 3 wrong answers, and top score after 2 rounds was considered the winning team. We were able to get through 6 rounds in about 50 minutes, and this was after throwing out one "round" which not person could give an answer to. I had a table with random prizes that the winners got to choose from, and there was enough for every person to take something home. In the end I would call this an extremely successful program! I even got a call from a player the next day telling me how much fun they had and thanking me for hosting.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Book Review: The March of the Crabs


   The March of the Crabs is a translation of a French graphic novel by Arthur de Pins. And yes, it is a graphic novel about crabs. Specifically, it is a story about a species of crab that has not evolved in millions of years.
    Cruelly cursed by nature with the inability to turn themselves, they are doomed to walk a straight line forever.... that is until the day one crab comes up with an ingenious method to change his direction, and his entire outlook on life.
   Of course, as you can imagine, this sudden change angers some of the more lunk-headed members of the animal community.
   With an amusing side-story about a pair of documentarians trying to make a movie about the crabs. this story is at once light-hearted and deep, silly and profound. Higly recommended!

4/5 Bookmarks!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Book Review: Beauty


     Coddie is just a plain looking little girl who stinks of the fish she helps her mother clean and cook for their meager living. That is, until the day a fairy grants her a spell to make her the most beautiful woman in the world. Everything goes great until it starts to go horribly wrong: women hate her and are envious of her beauty, and men can't control themselves and try to have their way with her constantly.
    Pursued by angry villagers, Coddie is saved by a young lord and thinks she has found real happiness... for a time, but life's may harsh lessons teach Coddie that being beautiful has its own set of dangers and sorrows.
   Intriguing twists and uniquely beautiful artwork make this highly unusual fairy tale a must read!

4/5 bookmarks!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Librarian Post: Cosplay Meetup - What Kind of Meetup Are You Hosting and What Will You Need?

The first thing you need to do to host your Cosplay meetup is decide what type of program you want this to be?

Do you want this to be a special one-time program or a recurring event?

If the answer is one-time, then you had best find yourself an experience local Cosplayer to come in and speak or even demo some of their techniques.

If you want to do a recurring event, then you can either set it us as a mini maker space (this is what I do) and have equipment and tools available to people who want to work on their cosplay or you can do something like a monthly series where you will either teach a skill (wig styling, for example) or create a specific project (a mask, goggles or a cape perhaps).

I chose to make my program a recurring mini-maker space because I feel this is the most inclusive type of program for Cosplay. Say you offer a specific project - how to make some Steampunk Goggles for example - the only people who are likely to show up are the ones interested in a costume that uses that specific item or technique. I encourage people who come to my program to bring in projects they are working on so that they can share techniques with others, and so far that has worked out really well. I was also fortunate enough to be able to get some basic start-up supplies for people to use communally, and hope to add to the stash next time we have budget availability.

Basic Supplies You Might Need:
* Hot glue guns (and plenty of glue sticks).
* A couple of self-healing mats.
* Rotary cutters.
* Scissors: at least one good cloth-cutting pair, some basic paper scissors and if possible fancy scrapbook scissors with shaped blades.
* Nail polish. Cheap $1 ones are just fine. They can be used for painting ALL KINDS of things, including jewelry or small areas that require precise application.
* Paint brushes of various sizes and types including foam brushes.
* Acrylic paints.
* E6000 craft glue (it glues almost anything to almost anything else)

Additional Supplies to Consider:
* Various leather or cloth remnant pieces. (You can buy large packs of leather remnants from most hobby shops for very cheap).
* Ribbons, especially single-colored sateen and grosgrain. I avoid the wired kind. They're less versatile.
* Assorted Beads and buttons.
* Feathers.
* Cardboard of assorted sizes and shapes.
* Duct Tape in various colors.
* Spray adhesive.
* Mod Podge
* Craft foam.
* Spray paints, ESPECIALLY metallics.
* X-acto knives or box cutters.
* Interfacing in various weights, iron-on is especially useful.

For the REALLY advanced or REALLY adventurous: (use and supply with extreme caution)
* Modeling clay.
* Clay tools (can be bought in sets from most hobby shops).
* Air Dry clay.
* Plaster of Paris
* Liquid Latex
* InstaMorph moldable plastic (requires heat, so provide at your risk).
* Sculpey
* A sewing machine.
* Iron and ironing board.

Also remember to think about the space you are going to be using and the safety hazards they might pose. I lead my program, for example, in our basement auditorium, so ventilation is NOT good. Therefore I do not allow the use of spray paints or spray adhesives in the space. And use caution when setting out things like rotary cutters or box cutters, and find out beforehand if your library would require you to have some kind of release signed in order to allow patrons to use the items that might lead to cuts or stabbings.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Librarian Post: Cosplay Meetup = Adults and Teens at the Library!

So the great question at many libraries seems to be "how do we get teens and younger adults interested in our library programs?"

One type of program you can try, which has been very successful for my library is a Cosplay group.

Some of you may be asking yourselves: "what the heck is Cosplay?" Cosplay is the art of creating costumes that resemble your favorite characters from a variety of fandoms. Most people who Cosplay do so for conventions such as Comic Cons or Anime conventions. There are a huge variety of Cosplay subgroups and philosophies, and I will not even try to get into them here, because there are just so darn many. Suffice it to say those who Cosplay do so in large part for the social aspect of it. Going to a convention in costume can make you a star for the day. People ask to take your picture, and you get to embody a character you love and admire. Storebought costumes from places like Party City are NOT considered genuine Cosplay, and Cosplayers are expected (and in some cases REQUIRED) to make their own costumes and prepare their own makeup in order to enter into the competitions that the conventions offer.

By they way, I know this stuff because I AM a Cosplayer. I frequently attend conventions in several states and have cosplayed a variety of characters from different fandoms including:
Carmen Sandiego (old-school video game heroine/villainess)
Esmeralda (Disney leading lady and non-princess from The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Kiki (anime character from Kiki's Delivery Service)
Rowena Ravenclaw (founder of Ravenclaw House in the Harry Potter universe)

If you have been reading this post and all of this information is brand new to you, and you are not a Cosplayer and have never worn a costume that was not store bought, the best advice I can give you is DO NOT host this type of program by yourself. Find a local cosplayer (there may even be one or more on staff!) that is willing to partner with you to run a program like this. Geeks (yes, we call ourselves Geeks, but if you are not one of us, you don't get to call us that) want to learn from fellow Geeks, and will come to a Cosplay program if they feel they are going to either learn from someone more seasoned than they are, or be able to share ideas with others.

Cosplay is a very fast-growing hobby and has been starting to hit the mainstream more and more thanks to shows like Heroes of Cosplay and Cosplay Melee. If there are any Comic Cons in your area, if your library or town has ever hosted a Con, I guarantee there are Cosplayers or would-be Cosplayers in the environs.

In the next few posts, I will share how I run my program, some other ways you could try a Cosplay program, what you will need and how to go about getting the word out.

May the force be with you! Here are some shots of me in my Cosplays.

Me as Kiki with a home-made bow.

Carmen Sandiego with props. 

Esmeralda. Bpyfriend is Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.