In “The Cardboard Kingdom,” Wisconsin-raised Chad Sell put together an awesome collection of short comics about childhood, creativity and cardboard! Sell created the art and was the editor, and 10 authors provide all the text. The stories follow the friends as they transform ordinary cardboard into amazing costumes.
Each individual short story tells about a different child, and they often appear in each others’ stories until they all converge in an epic end-of-summer experience. Sell’s debut is incredibly colorful, fun and filled with important lessons of self-acceptance, friendship and finding your identity.
I’ve been following Sell as an artist for years and have always loved his work, so it was not a surprise that his first publication would be so successful and touching. It is perfect for any middle schooler, and also totally appropriate for fourth- and fifth-grade children.
Originally released as “Hi-Fi Fight Club,” this ’90s throwback, Scooby Doo-esque, crime fighting comic stars four awesome girls working at Vinyl Mayhem, their town’s awesome record store.
Chris is brand new to the store, and everything seems normal until Rosie Riot, the lead singer of Chris’ favorite band “Stegosaur,” goes missing, and Chris discovers that her co-workers are not just great at recommending new music ... they’re also a vigilante girl group!
This is a really fun premise for a comic and it has cool, likeable characters and great art. While the entire run of comics has been printed, “Heavy Vinyl” is being re-released in volumes, and I am having a hard time patiently waiting for the second! Perfect for mystery fans, fans of “Moxie” and fans of kick-butt girl groups.
En garde! “Fence,” by C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad, focuses on Nicholas Cox, illegitimate son of U.S. fencing Olympic champion Robert Coste, as he gets a scholarship to and enters “Kings Row,” an elite boys boarding school.
There, he meets fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama, a very serious competitor who turns out to be Nicholas’s roommate. “Fence” is a romantic and humorous sports comic that emulates a lot of the tropes of sports manga like “Haikyu” and “Yuri!!! On Ice.”
This beautifully drawn graphic has a very diverse cast, with characters who are not only different races, but also classes, orientations and more. It’s also based on the author’s experiences as a high-school fencer.
Johanna the Mad is a really popular fan artist and her art is perfectly suited for the regimented and precise sport of fencing. The pair of Johanna and Pacat is a fantastic duo, and as both were fans of each others’ work, the admiration truly shows. Perfect for fans of sports manga/anime, “Check, Please” by Ngozi Ukazu, and LGBTQ characters.
Off the Shelves is published Sundays. Each week a different Kenosha Public Library or Community Library staff member organizes reviews of a handful of books available through the library system.