Catster’s 5 Favorite Comic Book Cats

Catster is celebrating National Comic Book Day (September 25) with this post about their favorite cats in comics. I had forgotten all about Streaky the Super-Cat, Supergirl’s sidekick (to mirror Superman’s Krypto)!

“Streaky was also briefly a member of the Legion of Super-Pets, consisting of several high-powered animals, including a monkey, a horse, and Superman’s dog, Krypto. Since those halcyon days, comics have thankfully found more substantial roles for cats.”

comic-book-cats-05True — like the Siamese cat from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: Dream of a Thousand Cats. It’s a story that is at once wondrous and magical, but at the same time, sad, soulful and frightening — sounds like Neil. 🙂

“The most wondrous and mystical cat on this list, the itinerant Siamese narrates a harrowing tale of love and loss. Seeking retribution against the callousness of her human owners, the Siamese goes on a visionary quest for the Cat of Dreams. The issue is an extended meditation on the question of whether cats dream, as well as the power of the imagination to create reality.”

Read more at:
For National Comic Book Day, Our 5 Favorite Comic Book Cats | Catster.

2009 in Review: 365 days, 37 books.

I read 37 books in 2009, probably an all-time high, except for maybe back when I was 15 and stuck at home over the summer, bored out of my gourd. I can’t even remember all the books I read back then, but a few years ago, true book-geek that I am, I started keeping lists of everything I read. Everything new — I’m not counting in this list anything I reread. If we were to include those, toss on a few Anne McCaffrey books and Tigana, about 8 times alone.

I was actually a little surprised how many books I read this year. Right off the bat, eleven of them are from Book Club, but while it’s sometimes hard to get each month’s selection finished in time for the meeting, that has more to do with sometimes not enjoying it. In the meantime, it seems like the more I read, the more I wanted to read. And while I didn’t enjoy all of these, each one — maybe especially the ones I disliked — was an experience. Some took forever to finish: I was reading The Hour I First Believed for quite some time, but it was rather long. Others, like the Twilight novels, took about two collective weeks, despite their length. 😉

Favorites? The first book I read, Doreen Orion’s Queen of the Road, still tops the list. I enjoyed every page and didn’t want it to end. I also truly loved The Secret Life of Bees, The Graveyard Book, and Unaccustomed Earth: Stories. Ones I disliked, not counting Twilight (because that wouldn’t be fair; they’d blow everything else out of the water in that category, but I’m still glad I read them, leaving me free to snark): Indignation (I don’t think Philip Roth is my cup of tea) and Take Your Shirt Off and Cry, which was poorly written. Also The Lost Symbol, but I wasn’t expecting much. Looking at it another way, though, the biggest disappointments were Wishful Drinking (I know Carrie Fisher can write better than that) and The Penelopiad (great idea, but lackluster execution).

The full list (I’ve linked to where I’ve already posted a review; others will be reviewed in early 2010):

Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own – Doreen Orion (review)
Indignation – Philip Roth (review)
The Tales of Beedle the Bard – J.K. Rowling
The Penelopiad – Margaret Atwood (review)
Then We Came to the End – Joshua Ferris (review)
The Sonnets – Warwick Collins
The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman (review)
Remember Me? – Sophie Kinsella
Serenity Vol. 1: Those Left Behind – Joss Whedon
Serenity Vol. 2: Better Days – Joss Whedon
The World Without Us – Alan Weisman (review)
The Cellist of Sarajevo – Steven Galloway (review)
Apples and Oranges – Marie Brenner (review)
A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson (review)
Take Your Shirt Off and Cry – Nancy Balbirer
The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd (review)
Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro (review)
Twilight – Stephanie Meyer
New Moon – Stephanie Meyer
Eclipse – Stephanie Meyer
Breaking Dawn – Stephanie Meyer
Unaccustomed Earth – Jhumpa Lahiri (review)
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
I Was Told There’d Be Cake – Sloane Crosley
Walking Across Egypt – Clyde Edgerton
Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher
The Hour I First Believed – Wally Lamb
The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Jane Austen and Seth Grahame Smith
The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown
Dedication – Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
The Audacity to Win – David Plouffe
Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
The Audacity of Hope – Barack Obama
Imperial Woman – Pearl S. Buck
Holidays on Ice – David Sedaris (review)
The Truth About Santa – Gregory Mone

I always was a DC girl

coverDC Comics, that is. Yeah, I know that with X-Men and all, the past decade or so, it’s been somewhat “cooler” to be Team Marvel instead of Team DC (and yes, I just used a Twilight reference, my god, it’s taking over everything). But I grew up on Superman, on The Justice League, The Legion of Super Heroes, and last but not least, The New Teen Titans. As a kid I read them for fun, as a teen I went to comic book shops — completely changing their demographic statistics every time I walked in the door, because if there’s any place in the world that’s still a boys’ club, it’s the comic book store, or at least it was in the 80s. In college I stumbled onto Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, an entirely different kind of comic book than I’d read before, and fell in love — I still think it’s one of the best pieces of literature I ever read. And did I mention it was published by DC Comics (Vertigo)? Nowadays I’m out of the comic book loop, but my treasures are tucked away in acid-free boxes, in mylar sleeves, with acid-free back boards… as any responsible archivist would do. I haven’t bought a new comic book in years, but whenever I see a blast from the comic book past, it catches my eye.

I love to vote — in polls, on Election Day, for American Idol — so when I stumbled across The Top 75 Most Iconic DC Covers (that’s a mouthful), I was tickled pink — I remember all of these, even the ones before my time! Voting starts November 23 (this Monday). If you were ever a DC girl like me, take a look at the nominees now.

Book Review: The Graveyard Book

Review of: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
HarperCollins (2008), Hardcover, 320 pages

This Newbery Award-winning book for young adults begins with a knife in the dark, a family murdered, and a toddler escaping to a nearby cemetery. Found by ghosts and raised by them, Nobody Owens (the name given to the toddler; he’s called “Bod”) cannot return to the outside world because his family’s murderer still waits for him. Instead he is raised by loving ghost-parents, a community of ghost friends and neighbors, and a guardian, Silas, who is the guardian of the graveyard but not part of it, neither living nor dead. Interestingly enough, I never realized – nor does Bod himself – that Silas is a vampire. Gaiman has mentioned Silas’s nature in recent interviews so the information is not meant to be a “big reveal” nor constitutes a spoiler now; I simply never caught on, and I think this is a testament to the writing. Like Bod, I accepted the world that was presented to me, a world where the dead walk the earth and it’s perfectly natural to live in a graveyard, and a world where a not living, not dead guardian who is never seen by day is perfectly normal.

Gaiman says that he “cheated”, in a way, by putting Silas in the story, to explain how a boy could survive there (Silas brings Bod food, and later clothes). But I don’t think it was a cheat: instead, Gaiman smartly addressed the very powerful “need to know” that children have, and made his story more believable. Whereas we adults have learned to accept the conventions of fiction and overlook the details, I know that I myself have rarely met a child who did not want to know how something worked, what made something go, who put something somewhere. This attention to detail is necessary to satisfy the curious child.

The Graveyard Book has a timeless quality to it. Because time has no real meaning in a graveyard – one day is much like another, and no one ages past the years they’d earned before death – and because there are no new graves in this graveyard, and therefore no newer, more modern ghosts, it is only Bod’s growth that marks the passage of years. Even the time period itself feels nebulous at first. Outside the graveyard, it might have been 1895 or 1940. When the outside world finally does encroach on Bod’s life again, it’s a startling juxtaposition, remembering that the book is set in more or less present day, complete with cars and computers and cell phones.

Overall, though, the real genius of this book is another juxtaposition: the turning around of what we know to be true — that ghosts are terrifying — and telling instead a story where it is the living that are feared. Much as Wicked turns The Wizard of Oz on its head, showing us an entirely different point of view that completely changes our sympathies and reactions, The Graveyard Book puts a new spin on the traditional ghost story and, to some extent, on death itself, giving us a new perspective on what we fear.