Check out this month’s staff picks from the Betty’s Books crew!
October Staff Picks!
Fresh out of shipwreck wine, three tipsy mermaids decide to magically masquerade as humans and sneak onto land to indulge in much more drinking and a whole lot of fun in the heart of a local seaside tourist trap. But the good times abruptly end the next morning as, through the haze of killer hangovers, the trio realizes they never actually learned how to break the spell and are now stuck on land for the foreseeable future. Which means everything from: enlisting the aid of their I-know-we-just-met-can-we-crash-with-you bartender friend, to struggling to make sense of the world around them, to even trying to get a job with no skill set…all while attempting to somehow return to the sea and making the most of their current situation with tenacity and camaraderie (especially if someone else is buying).
After reading Snapdragon, I became obsessed with Kat Leyh’s work. Her ability to portray deep relationships so quickly is amazing. Leyh shows diverse representation so well throughout everything she makes, from subtly trans characters to queer joy moments, queerness is normalized and so tenderly portrayed. On top of that, Leyh critiques our current society, from fatphobia to capitalism. It’s truly lovely to read her witty, radical, and fun work. The art is also so amazing!! Leyh’s style and expressions are so amazing and lovely; they also have a great understanding and use of panels. Just really cool!
This eerie tale about gender, grief, agency, violence, and more was one of my favorite releases from this summer, but there’s no better time to read it than OCTOBER!! Its creeping, unfurling mystery, twinkling every so often with a panel or spread that shocks is fantastic for a Halloween read. This is the first long-form story I’ve read from Emily Carroll, author of the beloved short horror story collection Through the Woods, and she handled the extra space perfectly.
The story follows a woman who’s recently married a widower father and subsequently moved into his and his daughter’s home, where there seems to be… someone else… lurking about. Our protagonist is clearly very lost, adrift in a riptide of uncertainty that felt more resonant than even the horror at play around her, sometimes softened and sometimes worsened by her interactions with the women so tenuously held in her life. I loved the female relationships in this book, ever-evolving and complex.
Little throwaway lines and motifs come back later in stunning examples of foreshadowing. The color scheme worked beautifully, alternating between grayscale and vivid, almost neon shades depending on the placement of the scene. A Guest in the House combines satisfyingly spooky vibes with a deeply emotional story at the heart of the scariness that grounds the whole thing in a cohesive tale that’s definitely worth your time.
Beware Fools! Grog is grumpy, dark wizard frog who travels to a faraway land to participate in a magic ritual. He stirs up village drama, reunites long lost siblings, and gets into a battle to the death. He also meets an amazing witchy comics shop owner, Lombarda, who is now my role model.
The story is fun and weird and irreverent, but what is a MUST SEE is the art and book design. The details put into the book are delightful and deeply satisfying. The cover has iridescent elements and an incredibly ornate border and inside cover that remind me of a spell book or illuminated manuscript. The gutters or background for the panels change colors as you read through the story which creates a kaleidoscope of moods. Grog (and the other character’s) design is so funky yet cute and the fashions are delicious.
Also, if you’re a real sci-fi/fantasy head like me, you’ll enjoy the book within a book set up for this tale, and you’ll be left wondering…what’s in those other books?? Is that the book of Pisces?? Davilorium & Alba BG, sign me up for the next volume! All Hail Grog!
Recommended for 16+
It’s Halloween and that means it’s time for Swamp Thing. On the not-too-distant Earth, the planet has gotten f&*@ked and it’s humanity’s fault. The Parliament of the Trees and the Red have decided to just finish off these pesky humans and create a new avatar. There’s only one hope for humanity to save them from this relentless monster, but Animal Man is dead so Swamp Thing will have to do. Not much in the creep and tension side of things, but the Jason Voorhees-style gore-stravaganza makes this Black Label book a fun Hallow’s Eve time read.
This book is a little bit picture book and a little bit comic book. It’s a little bit English and a little bit Spanish. Join Little Lobo and his dog Bernabé as they drive their new truck to carry party supplies over the bridge with their pals El Toro and La Oink Oink. The line gets long and the wait seems never ending. What will they do to pass the time?
This vibrant book is steeped in inspiration from Raul the Third’s childhood experiences living in a border town and traveling between El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juárez, México. Spanish vocabulary is intertwined throughout the text and illustrations, in addition to the handy glossary at the end. Enjoy it now during Hispanic Heritage Month, or any month. It’s awesome!
While you’re at it you might as well grab a copy of the rest of the ¡Vamos! Collection: ¡Vamos! Let’s Go To Market and ¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat.
I’m in the middle of my Saga reread right now, and being totally normal about it. If you’re an adult reader of graphic-novels, it’s Star Wars level of must see. Brian K. Vaughan’s graphic, adult humor and brilliant writing converges with the sci-fi fantasy world that he used to daydream about in math class. Magic meets science meets war meets romance, leaving you wondering how one guy even came up with this, and also how Fiona Staples felt while drawing multiple close ups of birth-giving. Saga impacted my personal writing AND art style for my own work and comics for the rest of my life, and rereading it and seeing the influence it’s had on me thrills me to my core. I talk about it even more on the BB’s blog. Pick up Volume 1! Learn why it’s considered a graphic novel classic!
Blue Box is a newer manga to the Shonen Jump Magazine that came out late last year. I picked it up for the sports drama, but stuck around for the romance! It’s about an average badminton player falling for his upperclassman, who’s a star on her basketball team. In order to impress her and improve on himself, he makes it his goal to reach Nationals as a freshman and WIN! If you loved Haikyuu and wanted a more character-driven plot instead of gameplay, this is the book for you!