Welcome to Smugglivus 2015! Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2015, looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2016, and more.
Who: Barbara Morais, ther very first Brazilian author we invited for Smugglivus. Barbara is a YA author, and an undergraduate student majoring in economics at University of Brasilia. Her most dashing abilities are passing notes in class, accidentally knocking down random objects and reading as much as one can. She writes about books and stuff at her blog, Nem Um Pouco Épico, and her first trilogy is Trilogia Anômalos, published by Editora Gutenberg. All three books are out now in portuguese!
Please give it up for Barbara, everybody!
When Ana asked me to write a post for Smugglivus, I:
a.Had a Fangirl Attack (OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE IT I JUST CAN’T);
b.Started wondering what I should write about;
c.Panicked because English is not my first language, and despite the 7 or more years that I spent learning it and all of the reading I do, all my phrase structuring is made in Portuguese and I think in Portuguese and I’m a writer and well, words are technically my job and I’m a perfectionist and why the hell did I agree to do this anyway?
But when I calmed down, the answer came to me as clear as day: Comic Books! I’m going to write about comic books!
I’m an avid comic book reader. I can trace back my love for reading to my love for Turma da Mônica (I guess it’s called Monica’s Gang in English), that’s been ongoing since 1959 and is part of most Brazilians’ childhood. There was also a Barbie Magazine that came along with a “Foto Novela” that I loved and was, despite the name, a comic book.
I was a kid in the mid-to-late 90’s and the anime explosion happened in Brazil around the time I was a pre-teen. That’s when I started reading manga, with Card Captor Sakura, Rayearth, Dragon Ball X, Rurouni Kenshin and almost everything else that had been published in Brazil. I found out that I loved shoujo manga more than the rest and also that Angel Sanctuary was my favorite comic book of all time.
Comic Books have always been half of my reading list, but it took me some years to acknowledge them as books. I had this notion that because they had pictures, they weren’t as relevant as novels and I refused to acknowledge them on my reading lists and even my goodreads account! Then, one day, while wondering how hard it was to write and design comics, I saw that by not considering them as valuable as novels, I was actually demeaning the artist’s work. It’s not because they contain pictures that they’re lesser (and now I even think it may be a medium harder to develop than written word alone, but I digress).
So, now, I usually make lists of my favorite books of the year with both novels and comic books and, SURPRISE, more than a half of my top 10 favorite books of this year were comics.
I’m not going to talk about all of them, just the ones I loved the most and that EVERY PERSON ON EARTH SHOULD READ AND PLEASE COME TO BRAZIL.
Sit down because we’re in for a wild fangirl ride.
1)The Wicked + The Divine, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as teens. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead.
That’s it. That was all WicDiv needed to make me want to read it. And I was so, so in love with Faust Act (the first arc). This is one of those books where the story is just as stunning as the art, and they know it and use it as part of the story-telling.
The ways the characters get dressed add to their personalities (and of the deities they represent), the scenery and colors add depth to certain parts of the story and it’s all so vibrant and dynamic and teen, in the best sense of the word. As a “none more goth” teenager, I would have reread this until the pages were lose.
I bought the second act thinking it could not get better than Faust, but then I read Fandemonium and WOW, my mind was blown. I re-read one part of the issue 15 times because HOW WAS IT SO AMAZINGLY DONE?
Then I came back to reread it all because NOW a lot of what’s been done makes even more sense to me. I spent hours making up theories and basically just screaming at my friends that haven’t read it that they were morons and why are they waitiiiiiiiiiiiiing when this amazingly bold story is out there in the world?
This is one of the stories I wish I had written, but I’m so glad that someone is doing it better than I would.
2) Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson
My review on goodreads for this is just: “I WANT TO MARRY THIS BOOK”
I don’t know what I was expecting when I began reading Nimona, but certainly wasn’t what I got. I got so, so much more. It started out as a funny little cute story about this girl with powers that was helping a villain and then I was almost crying on the subway and hugging the book like a freak.
I guess I don’t have words to say how good Nimona is without spoiling it, but if you think this is a cutie thingy that has no depth, you are so wrong, sir. It’s not because it’s funny or cute that it lacks depth or Moral Complexity.
3) Ao Haru Ride, Io Sakisaka
This was released in Brazil this year and I was so, so in love. Aoharaido (how it’s also called) has what I love most about shoujo manga: the character’s feelings are relatable, and they get hurt and learn with their mistakes and FEELS ARE EVERYWHERE.
Aoharaido has another thing that is like catnip for me: a second chance romance.
Not only that, but it deals with some feminist issues as well. Futaba was hated by the girls when she was younger because she fitted the “yamato nadeshiko” pattern that is valued by japanese society and the boys liked her, and she hated all the boys (but Tanaka). When she goes to high school, she’s decided to erase her past and act as rude and loud as possible, so the girls won’t hate her. One of the dilemmas she faces is this: should she align with her new friends and ignore the girl that was just like her or should she befriend the girl, as she knows so well how bad it is to be ignored? And it’s dealt so well. Also, Kou, the boy she liked as a kid that now becomes her friend, is cold, but not an asshole, which is always refreshing when it comes to shoujo manga.
I just love it. The four volumes I’ve read so far are great and I hope it keeps on like so.
4) Como eu Realmente 2, Fernanda Nia
Nia makes comic strips about casual situations in a website called Como eu Realmente (there’s an English version called How I Really) and has already published two issues in Brazil with some of the strips featured in her website and some new content. She also makes excellent commentary on social issues, and her sense of humour is superb.
But what makes the 2nd volume of her strips shine is the short story she wrote specially for it. Niazinha, the character that is slightly based on the author, has a cat, Miss Lil’ Claws, and in the short story, Miss Lil’ Claws GOES MISSING. Nia managed to mix the usual humor of her work with the despair that comes when your pet goes missing and the result features even a Cat-Mecha!!
(She made a poster for me with that illustration, it was good)
5) Saga – Vol 4, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Look, this one was a tough fight between Loki – Agent of Asgard, Ms. Marvel #2 and Saga, but in the end Saga won out for this one and only reason: we’re 4 issues in so far and it only gets better. It’s so hard for a story to be this regular and to keep surprising the readers, but Saga excels at it.
Why? Because there’s so much weird shit going on (they’re ruled by a tv-headed prince and have a ghost as a babysitter) and so much heart. Despite being on space, it’s about family and loyalties while you’re at war. This is the kind of story that ressonates with everyone, in all the galaxies and planets. In the end, despite being set in space with aliens spiked with crazysauce, the real story is about humanity.
Saga reminds me everytime why I love science fiction so much.
– From Marvel: Loki – Agent of Asgard; Ms. Marvel; Captain Marvel:
Well, I get everything from Marvel and DC with a delay, as the brazilian publisher (Panini) takes a good 2 or 3 years to bring the series here and some of them have no chance of being translated. As it is, I usually import the collected volumes and, well, everything I bought from Marvel this year was astonishing. Kelly Sue DeConnick has done a wonderful job with Captain Marvel on her run with the character and Ms. Marvel is one of the best comics of the decade, in my opinion.
So Loki – Agent of Asgard was the only surprise of the bunch. I read the Kieron Gillen run on Young Avengers (KATE BISHOP IS MY QUEEN) and I already loved Teen!Loki, but Agent of Asgard made my love skyrocket. I love how it explores the ambiguity Loki has and how it’s a spy story with the slyest character of the Marvel Universe. The art is also amazing and Loki’s hot (this is mainly Tom Hiddleston’s fault, and for that I’m grateful).
– This One Summer, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki:
I read this after reading Nimona and at a certain point I was felling personally attacked by comics. This One Summer is so sensitive and precious, like a tiny vase that you have to be careful not to break. The purple drawings fit so much the bittersweet nature of the story, the art is amazing and EVERYTHING IS AWESOME.
– Bear 2, by Bianca Pinheiro:
Raven got lost from her parents and while trying to find them, she ends up in a bear’s cave, where she meets Dimas. Dimas’ first reaction is to send Raven away, but he can’t let her wonder the world alone without adult supervision – this is the start of their journey. The first volume presents us with the world and the characters, but it’s on the second one that it shines through. In their journey, they end up in a city where all the adults were turned into kids and everything is in chaos. The way Bianca handles kids, growing up, childhood solitude and responsabilities is amazing! It’s a webseries and it’s also available in English.
Have you read any of these? What were the best comics you read this year? Share them with me! I’m really looking forward to 2016 and all the amazing possibilities that it’ll bring, so I’m open to recommendations for my ever growing TBR Pile.
Happy Smugglivus to all!!