Image Comics, 2009. 978-1607060925
Synopsis: Barbara Thorson likes to play Dungeons and Dragons, baseball, and has a full time job killing giants. Basically, she’s not what her classmates and teachers would call normal, and she can see things no one else does. This means she gets beat up a lot and spends most of her time by herself reading books. Then Barbara meets Sophie, and decides to show her into her world, but both girls might get more trouble than they bargained for.
Why I picked it up: This Unshelved comic.
Why I finished it: This story mixes a child’s fantasy with reality and how the two can often be confused. Barbara is seen as having an over-reactive imagination and the fact that she gets in trouble for speaking her mind endeared me to her character. Kelly develops the story around Barbara’s wacky world of fairies and impending doom, and the conflict she experiences at school and at home is portrayed with profound emotion. The art is a cross between classic manga style and the Western comic styles that gives a sort of realism to Barbara’s Dungeons and Dragons inspired world and the growing fear of loss. It gives voice to Barbara’s conviction that the world is about to end and she will be the hero that can save it. The sweetness and innocence of the story combined with its powerful conviction that one must always believe in themselves is what draws you in and makes you want to read it again.
Other related materials: Joe the Barbarian by Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy; Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol; Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye; Spud by John van de Ruit; Chew series by John Layman; Feed by M.T. Anderson; Black Hole by Charles Burns; Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks; Foiled by Jane Yolen and Mike Cavallaro; Stitches: A Memoir by David Small; Bone series by Jeff Smith; Ghostopolis by Doug Tennapel