Brad Hawley

On FanLit’s staff since April 2012

BRAD HAWLEY received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Oregon in 2000, specializing in ethics and contemporary fiction as well as rhetoric and composition. After teaching for two years at Jacksonville State University and a short break from teaching to be a stay-at-home dad, he now teaches at Oxford College of Emory University. During the past fifteen years, he has taught courses and independent studies in composition, Crime Fiction, Comic Books, Beat Literature, twentieth-century poetry, and Shakespeare. His wife, who also teaches English at Oxford College, thinks he has too many comic books.

Read Brad’s series on HOW TO READ COMICS.

Between the Gears by Natalie Nourigat

Between the Gears by Natalie Nourigat

I feel like I lucked out finding Between the Gears by Natalie Nourigat: I generally don't find myself looking for non-fiction sequential art, though I've certainly read enough to have favorites. What piqued my interest was a description of the book that let me know it's a year-long autobiographical comic of her senior year at the University of Oregon in 2010. Since I earned my PhD in English Literature from the U of O in 2000, I was extremely interested in seeing Eugene, Oregon through her eyes. However, if the book had been merely of personal interest, I wouldn't bother to write a review. I think it's a fascinating work that will be of interest to anyone who likes reflective coming-o... Read More

Letter 44: Escape Velocity by Charles Soule & Alberto J. Alburquesque

Letter 44 (vol one): Escape Velocity by Charles Soule and Alberto J. Alburquesque

I've just found a real gem in my stack of books to review: Letter 44: Escape Velocity by Charles Soule is a must-read for science-fiction fans. Saga by Vaughan is the first current comic title I usually recommend to fans of SF. Luckily, I now have another current title to recommend right along with Saga. Letter 44: Escape Velocity has equally compelling character development and perhaps even ... Read More

Batman and Robin: Requiem for Damian by Peter J. Tomasi

Batman and Robin (vol 4): Requiem for Damian (New 52) by Peter J. Tomasi

DC did a soft reboot of their universe almost three years ago. It's called the New 52, and Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi is one of my favorite books, particularly volume one, which I liked so much I taught it in my college English class. Overall, the entire series has been incredibly consistent. Even if you didn't know that Batman has a son named Damian who is the most recent Robin, you can still read and enjoy this series because it deals with significant themes and not just with superhero action. Volume one deals with Damian's coming of age in his rebellion against his father, as well as Bruce Wayne's trying to figure out how to be a loving authority figure to his young son. In events just previous to volume four, unfortunately, poor Damian died... Read More

Vampirella: Southern Gothic by Nate Cosby

Vampirella: Southern Gothic by Nate Cosby

Vampirella is in the Witchblade tradition of pin-up lead female comic book characters. If you aren't likely to enjoy comics with this type of art, there's not even a slight chance that you'll enjoy this comic book. However, if you are already a fan of Vampirella, you probably already follow her books, and nothing I say here will make you like them any less, though I hope to help you decide whether this new book is worth seeking out. Therefore, I'm speaking primarily to an audience somewhere in the middle, an audience of readers open to the possibility that while they may be offended by certain visual aspects of a comic book, they might still appreciate other aspects of Vampirella. For that audience, I suggest that, though no... Read More

Tales from Oz (Vol. 1) by Joe Brusha

Tales from Oz (Vol. 1) by Joe Brusha

Grimm Fairy Tales presents Tales From Oz (Vol. 1), unfortunately, was a bit of a disappointment. I was interested in reading the four short stories about the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, The Scarecrow, and Toto. The general storyline is written by Joe Brusha, but four separate authors took over the task of taking his plot and writing the individual stories.  The background of this version of Oz is told to us at the start of the collection: There was an evil sorceress Zamora who once tried to take over Oz. She has been defeated, but now her daughters, Lynessa and Zinna, are attempting to rule over Oz. All four stories take place within this context.

The first story is abo... Read More

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

The more I read by Gene Luen Yang, the more I am impressed. Like many people, I first learned of his work through American Born Chinese; however, I liked The Eternal Smile with Derek Kirk Kim just as much if not more. I also enjoyed his Level Up with Thien Pham. This newest work, The Shadow Hero, is another brilliant graphic novel, and Sonny Liew's art is perfect for telling the st... Read More

Viminy Crowe’s Comic Book by Marthe Jocelyn and Richard Scrimger

Viminy Crowe's Comic Book by Marthe Jocelyn and Richard Scrimger with comics by Claudia Davila

Viminy Crowe's Comic Book is a great book for young adults, but oddly enough, it's not really a comic book. However, it will certainly appeal to those who love comics because the story is about two children who get pulled into a steampunk comic book. Young Wylder Wallace meets a girl his own age, Addy, at the Toronto International Comic Book Festival, and they immediately dislike each other, which creates a nice tension between the two main characters of the story. Wylder, a big fan of a comic book by Viminy Crowe, soon finds out that Addy is this great artist's niece. The rest of the book tells the story of their being forced to work together and even... Read More

Terra Formars by Yu Sasuga

Terra Formars by Yu Sasuga 

Terra Formars is a science fiction manga that takes place on Mars, and if you aren't totally creeped out by roaches, then you might be able to deal with this very violent, but action-packed, story. The astronauts sent on this mission are not picked for their intelligence or exceptional skills; rather, this group is made up of those considered disposable. Some are poor, some are criminals, but all are not valued by those in power and running the mission. These Terra Formars are treated as science experiments to send off to Mars to deal with the roach problem.

In making Mars habitable for human beings, the scientists have introduced moss and other plant and bug life into the Mars ecosystem.... Read More

Super Ego by Caio “Zed” Oliveira and Lucas Marangon

Super Ego by Caio "Zed" Oliveira (author) and Lucas Marangon (artist)

Super Ego is a superhero spoof about a clinical psychotherapist who specializes in the superhuman condition. In order to meet with his super clientele, Dr. Eugene Goodman wears a silver,j reflective, skin-tight mask. Otherwise, he's dressed in suit and tie and goes to a typical-looking office with a stereotype for a secretary. This set-up could result in a very typical type of superhero parody, a sub-genre that's become almost as cliché as the superhero genre itself. However, Oliveira's dialogue and clever plot twists make Super Ego far better than most other parodies of this type.

Central to the superhero parody is making fun of famous characters... Read More

Barbarian Lord by Matt Smith

Barbarian Lord by Matt Smith

Barbarian Lord is an excellent story for both kids and adults, particularly fans of Icelandic Sagas and Nordic Mythology, which Matt Smith has clearly studied and for which he has an obvious passion. This book would be perfect for introducing kids to this mythological world; however, it's not merely a retelling of classic Nordic tales, though some of them are certainly incorporated. Rather, Barbarian Lord is a unique combination of all these and more, even a bit of Tolkien and He-Man, Smith acknowledges in the back of the book.

The story of Barbarian Lord starts with a listing of his family lineage, including some animals, which lends mystery to Barbarian Lord's strength and leadership. T... Read More

Sailing to Byzantium: Move it to the top of your to-read stack

Sailing to Byzantium by Robert Silverberg

I just finished listening to the audio version of Sailing to Byzantium. It was read convincingly by Tom Parker, who transported me in time along with Charles, the lead character. Charles is from New York City, and he is a twentieth-century man, a curiosity in the world of the story. His 1984 is long gone, yet he doesn't quite understand how he's been transported in time to the 50th century. The people of this time, the "citizens," will tell him very little actually. They consider Charles to be a "visitor." Charles doesn't know how long his visit will be though. He is confused and tries to go with the flow, but keeps finding it hard to do so in this very odd future world.

In the 50th century ("of what," he wonders at one point), there are very few citizens. There is a small world population compared to 1984 (and especially compared to our time). All the citizens look almost identical — ... Read More

Moonhead and the Music Machine by Andrew Rae

Moonhead and the Music Machine by Andrew Rae

I've recently had the good fortune to discover comics and graphic novels published by Nobrow Press, and if you've never heard of Nobrow before, Moonhead and the Music Machine by Andrew Rae is an excellent place to start. It is a stunning graphic novel that is representative of Nobrow's highly selective catalog. Nobrow puts out high quality art books, so if you are a fan of sequential art, you'll want to get your hands on their new releases. In addition to high quality content, each book has unique dimensions that are well-suited to the nature of each individual project. As a result, the books don't look like all the ot... Read More

Map of Days by Robert Hunter

Map of Days by Robert Hunter

I've recently become a fan of Nobrow Press: They put out unique, and often small, runs of graphic novels that stand out as special works of art because of the high level of paper, binding, and printing techniques. Each graphic novel is sized differently to suit best the artwork inside, and the printing technique reminds me of William Blake's illuminated manuscripts. Each book stands out and looks and even feels unlike any comic book or graphic novel I've ever seen.  Map of Days by Robert Hunter is an excellent example of Nobrow's high standards of material and presentation of that art.
... Read More

Destination X by John Martz

Destination X by John Martz

I've recently become a fan of Nobrow Press: They put out unique, and often small, runs of graphic novels that stand out as special works of art because of the high level of paper, binding, and printing techniques. Each graphic novel is sized differently to suit best the artwork inside, and in the case of Destination X, the book is a small, square volume. Each book stands out and looks and even feels unlike any comic book or graphic novel I've ever seen.  Destination X by John Martz is a little less colorful than some other Nobrow selections, but the choice of color scheme is appropriate for the shor... Read More

Samurai Jack and the Threads of Time: A good comic for children

Samurai Jack and the Threads of Time by Jim Zub

Samurai Jack and the Threads of Time is a fun comic book for kids. It is an episodic battle adventure with better-than-average art and excellent coloring. Samurai Jack was created by Grenndy Tartakovsky, so apparently Threads of Time isn't the first Samurai Jack story. However, he's a new character to me. Author Jim Zub writes a good story for his primary audience of kids, but Andy Suriano's artwork is appealing to any reader. It's the part of the book I enjoyed the most.

From what I can tell, the background story of Samurai Jack is that he's stuck in the future and wants to get back to his own time period. He has an arch-nemesis named Aku who, I think, has caused him problems in both the past and the future, which is the present of the story. In this comic book, we follow Jack on a series of adventures that will lead to his final confrontation with this Demon Wizard ... Read More

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