After you take in this summer’s new Wonder Woman movie, read the crazier-than-fiction backstory on the creation of America’s favorite female superhero. Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman traces Wonder Woman’s creation by William Moulton Marston, who also invented the lie detector test (lasso of truth, anyone?). Marston’s unusual family arrangement is a story unto itself, and following the ups and downs of his personal life and career makes for a fascinating summer read.
In exploring the pre- and post-WWII American cultural landscape and examining Marston’s connection to major feminists of the period, including Margaret Sanger, Lepore nicely frames Wonder Woman’s rise and examines the various parties who competed over—sometimes for control, sometimes to censor—this rising icon. Request a copy.
I hadn’t before read a graphic novel (or in this case, a graphic memoir), so Kristen Radtke’s Imagine Wanting Only This was new territory for me. I was drawn to this book because of its topic, rather than its format. In it, Radtke explores her fascination with architectural ruins, relating them to her own sense of the impermanence of life and her grief over losing a close relative. Never feeling rooted or settled, she travels the world visiting abandoned towns and structures as they are slowly reclaimed by nature.
Radtke tells her story in direct, unfussy language and compelling black and white drawings. In some pages, she conforms to the traditional three to nine frame comic format, and in others her drawings overlap the frame or incorporate collage or drawn-over photographic elements, giving the book a lot of life, and the reader plenty of incentive to keep turning the pages. Radtke’s story is poignant, her illustrations lovely. This book quickly hooked me and I read it in one sitting. I now consider it a favorite. This is a great entry point into the graphic book format, and I recommend it to new graphic book readers (and experienced graphic readers won’t want to miss it). Request a copy.
I really enjoyed The Queen of the Tearling. It has a heavy basis in fairy tale—the young princess hidden deep in the woods, the evil queen, the magical jewel—but it is fairy tale in a Snow White and the Huntsman meets The Hunger Games kind of way. The adventure rolled along from page one, and I had trouble putting it down.
Amidst revolution and political strife, Princess Kelsea is hidden away in the woods until she reaches the age of nineteen, when she is to ascend the throne as Queen of the Tearling. But first she has to reach the castle alive, then overthrow her nasty uncle, the prince regent. On her nineteenth birthday, the Queen’s guard, formerly sworn to protect Kelsea’s mother, arrives to escort her to the land of the Tearling. Kelsea endures the guards’ disrespect, treacherous travel conditions, and the constant threat of ambush and assassination to reach the castle and face her uncle, the fawning puppet of the powerful and nasty Red Queen of neighboring Mortmense. With the help of some allies (and the aforementioned magic jewel), but mostly by her own wits and courage, Kelsea comes into her own.