The Treatment of Eating Disorders in Lighter Than My Shadow



Question: Why is this book worth my own and the reader’s attention?

I read a number of books this week but the comic that I wished to focus most upon was Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green. This was a quick read for me and while I could never say that I enjoyed the story (I find that “enjoy” is never the right word when referring to something so emotionally trying) I was certainly engrossed.

Over the next two weeks in class we are working on the principles of nonfiction. My group is focusing on subject treatment which was a focus for me while reading. While Eating Disorders are a prominent topic in pop culture the treatment is, generally, very poor. Oftentimes, eating disorders are glamorized or positioned far too lightly. This is why I found Green’s book so important.

Green shows her eating disorder in a manner that does not shy away from the ugly pieces of the disease. When drawing herself at her skinniest the character Katie is not portrayed as beautiful; she is boney, her body sags, her clothes do not fit, her hair thins, and she grows more body hair (an oft-ignored symptom of an eating disorder). Green portrays her eating disorder around the theme of inward control rather than merely focusing on the cosmetic. Katie looks to praise herself for her discipline when she initially begins the disease and even into her first round of treatment but then as she begins to spiral after her second round of treatment (an entire blog post could be written on her deeply disturbing “treatment”) she loses control and binges, another often ignored eating disorder symptom.

This book holds many adult themes and graphic depictions yet I would still recommend it to teenagers in the library. As this is an important topic that is frequently poorly portrayed in popular culture it would aid many in gaining an understanding of the vulnerability and lifelong affects of Eating Disorders.

Observant Note: I would be interested in a discussion of the style of this book as well. Due to the way it was drawn (people were drawn only in white) there is no representation of any people of color in the book as that would mean breaking the style. However, perhaps there were people of color in the crowd scenes that were still depicted in white to fit the rest of the style…. perhaps this wasn’t the point of the book and I’m reading too deeply? I would be interested in the thoughts of others on this, do we sacrifice reality for style, is this wrong?



Exploring New Genres Visually


Visuals aid in the understanding of difficult concepts, can this be applied to comics?

As science was never my strong point in school it has never been high on my list of literary interests. I always assumed that books about science or scientists would be technical beyond my capacities of understanding leaving me frustrated; a feeling never to be pursued in pleasure reading. Biographies are much the same. The biographies that I have started, no matter how initially interesting, usually end up returned to the library with one of the pages in the middle still dog-eared.

This was not the case while reading Feynman and Trinity. Had these books been traditionally formatted they would have admittedly bored me to tears and I doubt I would have finished either. However, due to the graphic format and the accompanying scientific diagrams I was able to understand the science and stay engrossed in both stories, both ended up being quick reads.

This is important to note in terms of libraries. While there are plenty of people happy to read scientific materials and biographies, there are many others like me, who would prefer to stay within the realms of fiction and poetry. However, as it is important to read out of one’s comfort zone and sometimes required for school assignments, a librarian should have recommendations for non-fiction books that may interest a fiction reader. Non-fiction comics might be a really great option.

If a reader is a fan of the comics format then it may be that new genres are more accessible if presented visually. The right art style can animate a situation or concept to the point that it is able to hold the interest of the reader that would have been lost on a page of text. As an example, at the end of Feynman, Richard Feynman’s theory of quantum electrodynamics is explained, while Feynman possessed an uncanny talent of explaining physics to the non-scientist, in text it still would have lost me. But, as it was in a comic form I was able to slow down, see the images, read the words, and attempt to conceptualize what was being described. I am curious to see if anyone else had a similar experience and what others think about recommending non-fiction comics to the fiction reader.




A Review of My Favorite Thing is Monsters


In the style of a Kirkus review.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters

Ten-year-old Karen Reyes is a girl of Mexican, Irish, and Cherokee ancestry growing up in Uptown Chicago in the late 1960’s, a time of political and racial upheaval.

In the midst of learning to navigate her world a crisis occurs in the form of the death of her upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a Holocaust survivor known for her beauty and her quirks. The cops have pegged her death as a suicide but Karen is not so sure. As she works to solve the mystery the stories of those around her begin to unravel. Ferris shines in the quiet development of characters. Deeze, Karen’s brother, an artist haunted by a past mistake, is especially well-formed as are many of the lesser characters: Missy, Karen’s ex-best friend, Franklin, a budding drag queen, and Herr Schlitz, a man from Anka Silverberg’s past. As Karen digs deeper into the mystery of Anka’s death she begins to learn the sadness of her neighbor’s life, a sadness spanning wider than that of the concentration camp in which she eventually resided. Ferris’s illustrations, inspired by EC horror comics from the 1950’s–a love shared by both Karen and Ferris, set the mood of the story she is out to tell. The reader gets lost in the full color splash pages seamlessly intermixed with the, at times difficult to follow, dialogue speaking directly to Karen’s experiences as a ten-year-old girl in an increasingly adult world. Karen steers the story from the first person, portraying herself as the werewolf detective of her dreams rather than the girl whose life she lives day to day. For her first novel Ferris has created a genre-spanning tour de force surely to enrapture lovers of mysteries, horror, realism, and comics.

A visually-stunning, and consuming exploration of growing up in difficult times.

Ferris, E., (2017). My favorite thing is monsters. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics.



Visit and Reflection


I replaced my trade of Brief Lives while I was out.

As I spend a lot of time in libraries I visited a comic book store and a book store to see how comics were arranged and how staff reacted to my questions. It feels ridiculous to say but I was a bit nervous to visit the comic book store as I have not always had the best experiences sometimes I have felt as if I have to prove or validate my interests which I dislike doing. However, I was wrong, I had a great experience!

I was biking to the store and thought I could miss it but luckily there was a big Batman cutout in the window. Upon entering I was overwhelmed, the shop was small and packed with comics. On the left wall were two shelves of comics flanking a large rack of comics that were faced and a couple cases holding rare collectibles. The faced rack had five sections, each of which was alphabetized by title. The five sections were labeled, ‘This Week’s Comics’, ‘Last Week’s Comics’, ‘Marvel’, ‘DC’, and ‘Kid’s Comics’. The shelf to the right contained archived series comics organized by series title. The shelf to the left of the racks was full of stand-alones, one shots, and anthologies. Near the window there were stacks of unorganized comics that  were not browsable due to possible avalanche. The store has a great website, it is not set up for online shopping but they are easy to contact about their stock.

An elderly woman was working and offered her help as I entered. I didn’t need anything immediately but eventually I approached her asking for a recommendation based on my enjoyment of Sandman and Paper Girls. She was great and recommended Saga and we talked for a bit. The store was having a promotion and she gave me a flyer in explanation. The flyer was made in Microsoft Word without any images or fonts and only contained a detailed explanation of what seemed to be a buy two get one of equal or lesser value deal with many confusing stipulations.

My second stop was a large chain bookstore. Initially I wanted to sit down and write about my experience at the comic book store. There were many chairs in the art and cooking sections but they were occupied by adults. The store was huge and I had to ask an employee where the comics were. He responded with, “Oh, graphic novels? They are downstairs in the corner.” I found the comics corner which was placed between the pulpy Sci-Fi and Romance sections. While observing the organization strategy I noticed that I was constantly stepping over the teens that were lying around on the floor and propping themselves against pillars and shelves because no chairs had been provided in this section. I decoded this as a pointed slight at the young comics readers.

The selection at the store was excellent but the organization was hectic. There were many shelves labelled either ‘Graphic Novels’ or ‘Manga’. The Graphic Novel shelves consisted of everything from superhero series comics to stand-alone slice of life comics. Everything was organized by title and I had trouble finding where the alphabetization began.

The second problem I encountered in the space was that there was no one in the comics area or surrounding sections who I could ask for reader’s advisory. I wandered all about looking for someone to talk about comics but there was no one around! After looking for quite a while I eventually gave up and accepted that I was not going to find anyone to talk to. As I was leaving I noticed a large line at a counter where a man in front of a computer was giving recommendations but he looked miserable and I was beginning to feel very uncomfortable so instead of asking him my questions I left instead.

Though the specialty comic book store had a much smaller selection the amount of help and cordiality I experienced from the woman working definitely won me over. The bookstore had a wider selection of comic books and more of the weird life stuff that I’m into but the lack of help and chairs in the area didn’t make me feel welcome. As librarians we need to think about how our spaces are organized, where we allot our resources (especially chairs), and our approachability (or lack thereof) if we are to successfully welcome all readers into our space.

Librarianship and the ‘God Bless ‘Em!’ Mentality


As mentioned many times in class, the three main comics that were initially viewed as ‘worthwhile’ and appropriate to be recommended to library patrons were Maus, Watchmen, and Batman Returns. While great, these comics are exceedingly involved, laden with symbolism, and are not formatted in a linear style thus making them difficult to read.  They should not be given to someone who has been identified as a “reluctant reader”. However, in the realm of librarianship comics are wrongfully recommended to the immature reader. This is highlighted in Cedeira Serantes’ article Misfits, Loners, Immature Students, Reluctant Readers: Librarianship Participates in the Construction of Teen Comic Readers.

As librarians we are to aid our patrons with their needs sans judgement. The librarian quoted in this article viewed her comic-reading patrons with a sort of mocking sympathy; believing herself to be doing these groups a favor by giving their interests a weak validation. It is appalling that this librarian felt comfortable speaking about these patrons in this way in regular conversation let alone as a quote in a widely read journal of librarianship. Throughout the profession librarians will come into contact with a wide variety of people and it is highly likely that there will be a large portion that differ greatly from the librarian’s personal experience. These differences can stem from trifles such as likes, dislikes, or interests or they can be found in those of greater importance: lived experience, political divides, or cultural and religious affiliation. Regardless of what these differences are it must be looked at as wrong to stereotype or discriminate against patrons who are different. This is a profession rooted not in materials but in people, to place oneself on a pedestal with a ‘God bless ’em!’ mentality is doing a disservice to our patrons, ourselves, and librarianship as a whole, let’s strive to be better.


Cedeira Serantes, L. (2013). Misfits, loners, immature students, reluctant readers: Librarianship participates in the construction of teen comics readers. In Anthony Bernier (Ed.), Transforming young adult services: A reader for our age (pp. 115-135). New York: Neal-Schuman.


The Visual Vocabulary of Comics


As a reader I’ve read many comics of varying styles and types, I enjoy the different manners in which stories are told. However, reading basic comic theory is new to me. While I have read much of Eisner’s and McCloud’s work I, as the casual reader, overlooked the inner-workings of the pages themselves. Of course, in a way, this is exactly what is supposed to happen. We, as readers, understand that the nervous man in a thick striped shirt and eye mask is a burglar without pausing to wonder why it is that we think that. We have never seen a burglar in this specific outfit, however, as this trope has been used time and time again, we accept it as part of the story and move quickly forward.

This example fits perfectly into Eisner’s discussion of stereotypes in comics which was a point that stood out to me from the weekly readings. As a comic is static and contains far less panels than film (in considering a film reel as a conjunction of panels) visual cues are necessary in order to fully build a character. As example, these visual cues exist in the facial structure of a character; it is instantly recognizable whether they present as attractive, unattractive, or average thus giving the reader an initial understanding of who they are. Aspects such as clothing, stance, body type, and expression give further insight into who the person is, their part in the overarching story, and the manner in which the reader is meant to respond to their existence.

These cues work best when they go unnoticed as with the above example of the burglar. So far in my understanding of comics theory it seems that it is the minutiae and subtleties that create a truly great comic. A showstopping splash page is of course excellent and a great way to display the artist’s skills but the true difficulty lies in the small details that transmit understanding. I am fascinated to continue my reading of comics theory for this course and am curious to see how it affects my further reading of comics and whether I begin to pick up on the small details that I missed.

Eisner, W. 2008. Graphic Storytelling. New York: W.W. Norton, (p.7-45)


Introductory Post– 790


Firstly I find introductions difficult as I’m never fully sure what to say and oftentimes I have a tendency to ramble which I will be working on reigning in for the rest of my life. My name is Morgan Boyle, I currently work as an Assistant Children and Young Adults Librarian at the New York Society Library. I am from Nebraska but currently live in Queens with my lovely roommate and no animals (a fact we constantly lament). I moved to New York for library school as the library school in Nebraska was only available online and I learn best when attending classes and having in person discussion. It was also the proper time for me to leave the Midwest and create a new network for myself in a different part of the country. I worked the circulation desk at a public library division in Nebraska for three years and it was there that I realized that librarianship was my chosen career path.

I’m over the moon to be a part of this particular course as comics have been an interest of mine for many years. I looked over the syllabus and while there were quite a few that I had read the vast majority are new to me and I am excited to start reading. I’m banking on the fact that I probably know quite a few of you from previous classes but to those that I haven’t met yet, nice to meet you! I look forward to discussing comics with everyone.