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The ultimate graphic novel recommendations





“The New Ghost” by Robert Hunter

Hues of blue plaster across every page, creating a captivating story that ripples through readers’ hearts

“5,000 km per second”  by Manuele Fior

Italian cartoonist Fior brilliantly uses watercolor to illustrate five chapters of building and crushing in relationships.




“On a Sunbeam” by Tillie Walden 

“On a Sunbeam” revolves around Grace as she beats back past and present from when she attends an all-girl boarding school in space and five years in the future. Her story is incredibly captivating and she creates fictional worlds that are so immersive. Walden’s architecture and use of colors are beyond words.

“On a Sunbeam” is free-to-red at and will still be up when it is published by First Second books in fall 2018.

How to be Happy by Eleanor Davis

Incredibly heartfelt. “How to be Happy” is a collection of short, bizarre short stories, engulfing readers and transferring them into a different world. Davis explores each human life inside out with soft colors and warm artwork, cueing peace into hearts.




“Check please!”  by Ngozi Ukazu (webcomic that can be read online)

This one is a hidden gem. Each character is likeable and every chapter is packed with college humor.  “Check please!” is a comic in the format of a vlog from a gay college student on the hockey team.

The entirety can be read online at and will be soon published by First Second books in fall 2018.

“Ghost World” by Daniel Clowes

This is one of the few books where the movie adaptation was better, but the comic still does not disappoint. Dry humor is filled to the brim – think Aubrey Plaza – and the characters are pure wack.

The film adaption for “Ghost World” was released in 2001

“Demon” series by Jason Shiga

Mind-boggling. Shiga never fails to stun readers with his math-driven books and still add hilarious lines from characters. The “Demon” series is completed with 4 volumes, each filled with on-the-edge craziness and unsettling jokes.




“My Friend Dahmer” by Derf Backderf

Backderf, former “friends” with Jeffrey Dahmer, recollects his high school experience in 1977 with Dahmer. He remembers the odd, yet funny, gestures Dahmer kept making to mimic his drug-addict mother and his alcoholism kicking in already at age 16. Extremely chilling, “My Friend Dahmer” is sure to leave a twisted feeling in readers.

The film adaption of “My Friend Dahmer” was released just recently, in November 2017.

“Maus” by Art Spiegelman

“Maus” illustrates the horrid treatments Jewish people had faced during the Holocaust by using mice as characters. Sick-to-the-stomach dark and frightening, Spiegelman manages to leaves readers in silence.





“This One Summer” by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki

“This One Summer” explores two friends who spend their everlong summer with each other at the small beach town of Awago. The enriching purple hues creates nostalgia and comfort to the never-ending summer filled with boredom, sleepy nights, and feverish love.

“Blue is the Warmest Color” by Julie Maroh

Clementine meets a girl with the brightest blue hair at a bar and finds herself falling head over heels. “Blue is the Warmest Color” follows Clementine and Emma, whose friendship weave into innocent love.

“Blue is the Warmest Color” was adapted into French film in 2013

“Spinning” by Tillie Walden

“Spinning” is a memoir of Tillie Walden when she was a figure skater for over a decade. She conceals being lesbian and hides her true desire to be accepted for who she is. In the competitive, backstabbing bubble of figure skating, Walden faces bullying and sexual harassment in her early years, but finds strength amongst frustration.

(“Check Please!” and “On a Sunbeam” also includes LGBTQ content!)




“Relish: My life in the kitchen” by Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley recall her relationships with food and particularly the junk food she was forbidden to eat from her parents. Filled with mouthwatering food on every page and warm stories on each page, “Relish: My life in the kitchen” is worth the read.

“The Lagoon” by Lilli Carre

A family is lured into a familiar song, sang by the Creature from the lagoon. The story about family history intertwined with simplistic, yet beautiful art makes this book one of the best ones yet



Honorable mentions: books that should still be recognized

In Real Life, Level Up, 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank, Do It

2018 Oscar predictions

The 90th annual Academy Awards are coming up on March 4. For some, it’s another Hollywood gimmick to reel in viewers, and for others, it’s a show worth devoting their Sunday to.

Either way, 2017 started off with a bang, thanks to popular movies like “Get Out” and “Split,” and ended on a strong note with films like “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “The Shape of Water” and “The Greatest Showman.” Over summer and autumn, blockbusters like “Dunkirk” and “It” raked in high box office revenues.

An alarming number of these films received awards and recognition from fans and critics. A few of these films will leave a mark in cinema history and many will stay close to our hearts.

Here are Oscar-winning predictions for fifteen categories, from “Best Picture” to “Best Original Screenplay.”

Best Picture:

  • Most likely — “Lady Bird”
  • Should be — “Lady Bird”

“Lady Bird” is a grungy, yet humor-induced coming-of-age film that captures the audience’s attention, with heart and soul poured into each character.

Best Director:

  • Most likely — Guillermo del Toro (“Shape of Water”)
  • Should be — Christopher Nolan (“Dunkirk”)

Guillermo del Toro, the director of “Crimson Peak,” gained attention with “Shape of Water” in 2017 and won the Golden Globe for Best Director, but Christopher Nolan created a stellar film that left me in awe, with his beautiful screenplay that divides the story between land, sea and air.

Best Actor in a Leading Role:

  • Most likely — Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”)
  • Should be — Bruce Willis (“Split!”)

Gary Oldman leaves a powerful impression with his role as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour,” but Bruce Willis has to get credit. He reveals 24 distinct personalities through the character of David Dunn in “Split!”

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:

  • Woody Harrelson (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”)
  • Should be — Steve Carell (“Battle of the Sexes”)

Woody Harrelson provides remarkable tension in the film as Chief Bill Willoughby, but my favorite was Steve Carell, who portrayed a sexist joker as Bobby Riggs in “Battle of the Sexes,” doing a phenomenal job integrating humor into the film.

Best Actress in a Leading Role:

  • Most likely — Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”)
  • Should be — Jennifer Lawrence (“Mother!”)

Saoirse Ronan won hearts this year in her role as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson and gained significant recognition from her fruitful expressions. Jennifer Lawrence, however, had a killer, raw performance in “Mother!” that brought me to tears and left me with goosebumps.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:

  • Most likely — Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”)
  • Should be — Sarah Silverman (“Battle of the Sexes”)

Allison Janney nailed her role as LaVona Golden, an abusive skating mom who tears her daughter’s world apart, but Sarah Silverman’s role as a heavy-smoking manager cues laughter at the best times throughout the film.

Best Animated Feature:

  • Most likely — “Coco”
  • Should be — “Coco”

“Coco” accurately depicts Mexican heritage and culture, while kindling the importance of “familia” and “amor” with gorgeous animation by the one and only Walt Disney Animation Studios. “Mary and the Witch’s Flower” and “A Silent Voice” were runners-up, both produced by Japanese animation studios, but they lack the visual details “Coco” manages to implement.

Best Cinematography:

  • Most likely — “Dunkirk”
  • Should be — “Dunkirk”

“Dunkirk” is impactful. It is visually stunning and jaw-dropping, even though practically the only colors present in the film are hues of blue and brown.

Best Film Editing:

  • Most likely — “Baby Driver”
  • Should be — “Baby Driver”

The majority of the actions and movements in “Baby Driver” are aligned with the soundtrack. Walking, gun shooting, tapping … all of it.

Best Costume Design:

  • Most likely — “Beauty and the Beast”
  • Should be — “The Beguiled”

Belle’s vivid yellow dress is sure to win judge’s hearts, but “The Beguiled” is filled with marvelous cream-colored lace dresses.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:

  • Most likely — “Wonder”
  • Should be — “The Mummy”

“Wonder” accurately creates face deformity on ten year old August only using makeup. However, “The Mummy” introduces unique makeup techniques, utilizing black symbols and yellow double-iris contacts, that may change Hollywood standards.

Best Original Score:

  • Most likely — Hans Zimmer (“Dunkirk”)
  • Should be — Hans Zimmer (“Dunkirk”)

Hans Zimmer, the composer for big films like “The Lion King (1995)” and “Interstellar,” nails creating a dramatic score for “Dunkirk,” using a thrilling string orchestra.

Best Original Song:

  • Most likely — “This is Me” (“The Greatest Showman”)
  • Should be — “Remember Me” (“Coco”)

Though “The Greatest Showman” was entirely an impressionable musical, “Remember Me” in “Coco” infuses major scenes with warmth and heart.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Most likely — “Call Me By Your Name”
  • Should be — “My Friend Dahmer”

“Call Me By Your Name,” an adaption of the novel written by Andre Aciman, is finished with magnificent cinematography and a beautiful screenplay, but “My Friend Dahmer,” adapted from the graphic novel written by Derk Backderf, wins it all with the character’s eerie movements.

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Most likely — “Shape of Water”
  • Should be — “Get Out”

“Shape of Water” redefines “beauty and the beast” romance, but “Get Out” creatively tackles racial inequality within the film by incorporating horror and hilarity into the screenplay.

Student fashion lookbook for winter 2017

Watchmen sequel revives after 30 years

R ecently-released DC Comic series “Doomsday Clock” received praise from longtime Watchmen fans with a promising plotline and as always, superb artwork.

Writer Geoff Johns, most notable for works such as “Blackest Night” and “Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E,” teamed up with pencilist Gary Frank and colorist Brad Anderson on this project. “Doomsday Clock” plans to update every month with thirty to forty pages, starting from Nov. 22.

“Doomsday Clock reaches top-selling on Comixology and gains attention from fans.”

“Doomsday Clock” is a Watchmen sequel that also includes a DC crossover with Clark Kent. Crucial characters like Rorschach and Ozymandias brazenly return with other minor characters.

Although penciling is credited to Gary Frank instead of Dave Gibbons, the original pencilist, the details and linework do not lack and even has dimension, thanks to the increased amount of hatching and shading. However, the color fell short.

“Watchmen” is known for its bright neons and scattered colors — predominantly purple and yellow. Instead, “Doomsday Clock” strived for a rusty, dull color scheme. Maybe it’s meant to be a metaphor.

Otherwise, the story is filled to the brim with suspense and thrill. The comforting relationship between Clark Kent and his wife in the end also adds a touch of lightheartedness to the overall violent story.

“Doomsday Clock” has already announced to end December of next year with a total of roughly 12 issues. If you loved “Watchmen,” this is a must-read for you.

Another typical horror film hits millions in box office

Stuck up sorority girls and generic Hollywood humor litter in director Christopher B. Landon’s recent work, “Happy Death Day.”

Image courtesy of Happy Death Day film

The “Groundhog Day” inspired film earned $26.5 million in box office over the first weekend and that number continues to rise, surpassing “Blade Runner 2049.”

Unfortunately, “Happy Death Day” is as forgettable as it sounds. It’s your run-of-the-mill horror flick, snuck in with some cheesy dorm room love and a predictable ending — which I undoubtedly called in the beginning.

On a numbered scale, “Happy Death Day” would be smacked down in the middle. The “jump scares” wear out after Tree dies her umpteenth time, but the comedy and thriller blend has a hearty early-2000’s approach to the horror genre.

The minor plot twists in the film added dimension. Although it can’t fulfill past “just alright,” it managed to add grip and escape a few gasps out of fellow audience members around me.

Some may disagree: “trashy characters tossing around smutty punch-lines to wind down to some unthoughtful moral? Possibly the worst.” I beg to differ though; nothing is worse than “Flatliners.”

Maybe invite a few friends over. Order a couple of boxes of cheese pizza and cookie dough ice cream while you’re at it. Select this as your choice of dumb-fun horror flick for the night.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

What it takes to destress

Photo by Amistad Institute
According to a survey of HHS students, school is one of the main reasons students are stressed.

According to the article “Rising Numbers of Stressed Students Seeking Help,” stress has been devouring more and more students the past decade as deadlines, responsibilities and testing have increased. Pressure in any human mind can spike overeating, sleep deprivation, depression and anxiety.

In a survey of 163 students at HHS, one third of respondents said that school is their main source of stress. Others also mentioned other factors such as family and social life.

English teacher Megan Rupe said she notices changes in students during test season.

“Sleeping during class trying to catch up on sleep, students try[ing] to do other coursework during my class period, students who are hyped up and on adrenaline,” Rupe said.

Rupe has handled stress in unconventional ways herself.

“I don’t do well with stress. The last time I [was] stressed, I shaved off half of my eyebrow and it hasn’t grown back properly … once I kicked a hole through a wall … you know, whatever it takes,” Rupe said.

Students listed sleeping, talking to friends and listening to music as reliable escapes from the pressures they face. Sophomore Ruksana Varma said through the survey that journaling with her mother helps relieve stress.

“With my mom, I write to her in a journal and she writes back,” Varma said.

One unnamed student provided another untraditional coping mechanism.

“I lay on the floor for several hours,” the anonymous respondent said.

Students in the survey have also seen improvements in their mental and physical behaviors when physical activity is added to the equation. Feeling happier and feeling more relaxed were common answers to stress, but weight loss and looking more confident were also components that made students feel better.

87.7 percent of students believe their stress reduction technique is at least somewhat effective. Sleeping, kicking walls, shaving eyebrows —whatever it takes to destress.

Horror movie roundup

Muschietti makes a riveting adaptation of Stephen King’s iconic novel  

Amazing acting and incredible visuals define this popular horror film

As many know, “It” was originally created by the popular horror novelist Stephen King in 1986. The plot was centered on a group of outcasted children being terrorized by Pennywise, a sinister shape-shifting clown that takes the form of his victim’s worst fears.

Being one of his most famous works, the popular thriller novel was adapted into a miniseries four years after its publication. Unfortunately, this 1990 adaption of the book would fail to impress many, earning a 57% on Rotten Tomatoes with critics claiming its only remarkable quality was Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise.

However, the newest version of “It”, released on September 8, 2017, not only has a notably sensational portrayal of Pennywise by Swedish actor and model, Bill Skarsgård, but also incredible child actors, a good atmosphere, creative scares and an excellent soundtrack.

The incredibly adept cast of child actors give a genuine depiction of childhood grief and isolation while showing as much skill as educated professionals. At no point throughout the film did poor acting or stunted dialogue pull me out of the story, and I found myself truly becoming attached even to characters who only appeared for short amounts of screen times

The fine-tuned details seen throughout “It” only increased my appreciation for the movie. Amongst the background, eagle-eyed viewers could find a deadly easter egg hunt, creepy library patrons skulking in the background and a motif of lurking red balloons.

It’s clear this film was made with painstaking focus on the visuals, every scene using lighting, proper set decor and a detailed costumes to create an atmosphere that emotionally adds to the situation and characters.

However, while what scares someone is different for all individuals, I personally found the jumps in “It” to be predictable and cheesy, with an overuse of imagery that was noticeably computer generated. The film’s noticeable lack of any ambiguity or suspense also ruined the scariness of the story.

Pennywise defies the common trend in horror films of keeping the main monster a mystery in appearance. Most of it’s entrances are rather extravagant ordeals (Pennywise even frantically dancing in one of them) that ruin all chance of tension.

Though “It” is full of creepy, innovative visuals, it doesn’t have an eerie tone or any real terrors to make this a truly frightful movie. Honestly, “It” fits in more of a coming-of-age, fantasy genre due to the film’s occasionally choppy comedic exchanges, focus on childhood drama, extravagant visuals and ultimately heart-warming ending.

However, these flaws don’t make “It” any less of a well-done, intriguing movie. Even with a running time of of two hours and 15 minutes, it’s impossible not to be hooked on this adrenaline-rushing, surprisingly poignant film.

A prequel that upstages its predecessor

Despite “Annabelle”’s flaws, its prequel, “Annabelle: Creation”, is a riveting watch.

“Annabelle,” a branch of “The Conjuring” franchise, was the over-hyped horror movie of 2014 that was expected to be as well-done and original as it’s companion films. Ultimately, it failed to meet such hopes due to its dullness, predictability and lack of genuine frights.

Despite such poor reviews, the financial success resulted in an initially unwanted prequel: “Annabelle: Creation,” which most expected to be just as unoriginal and boring as its predecessor.

“Creation” focuses on a nun and six orphaned girls being housed by a former toy-making couple who’ve lost their six-year-old daughter, Annabelle.

To everyone’s shock, “Annabelle: Creation” proved itself to be an incredibly frightful film, full of intense and creative jumpscares.

However, this movie certainly isn’t intellectually or emotionally profound. It’s not going to make you contemplate any philosophical issue, but innovative scares make up for all of the film’s flaws. The director of the movie, David F. Sandberg, is merciless in his attempts to terrify you.

By not holding back on suspense, and cunningly using common fears, such as the dark, scarecrows and creepy dolls, he delivers a petrifying film.

Fans of the “Conjuring” series will definitely enjoy this latest installment, which features several easter eggs. Some of them including Valek (the malevolent villain of “The Conjuring 2”), a brief appearance of the original Annabelle doll that the movie is based off of, multiple post-credits scenes and an ending that cleverly ties in with the original film.

“Annabelle: Creation” is a worthy prequel and a frightful delight for both regular viewers and fans of “The Conjuring” series that I would thoroughly recommend for anyone hoping to be scared out of their mind.

Madness Condensed Into One Movie

Mother! delivers a high-intensity, fast paced thriller, feeding fans satisfaction

Gut-wrenching barely scratches the surface for “Mother!” as it displays gunshots of sickening emotions and a whole new definition of violence.

The film features two nameless couples, the first played by Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, and the second being two strangers played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris. Their meeting triggers a massive wave of commotion that spirals out of control.

I’ve waited for this film for months. Director Darren Aronofsky managed to gorge out every bit of sanity my mind was capable of holding in “Requiem for a Dream” and “The Black Swan” and I did not expect any less from “Mother!”.

Though I have to admit, this film left me confused when I first stumbled out of the theater. Copious amounts of vague symbolism were smashed into this two-hour flick and it left me with a sense of hesitation towards “Mother!” and regretfully, Aronofsky.

After putting more thought into the movie and digesting explanations from Aronofsky, I realize that this film isn’t meant to be simple at all. This is very complicated, very deranged and very outstanding.

The biggest highlight from the film was Jennifer Lawrence’s exceptional performance. She illustrated a radiating goddess on one end and a hysteric slasher soaked in blood on the other end.

This paired with the “soundtrack” really hit the spot for me. One Skeeter Davis cover of “The End of The World” by Patti Smith was layered on top of the ending credits, but no other soundtrack was present throughout the film.

What they did instead was exaggerate every sound in the film; the fly buzzing outside, Lawrence picking up a glass of water, sliding her hands against the table. All emphasized more than it needs to, luring the audience in and forcing them to pay closer to details. The lack of any soundtrack was almost a soundtrack itself.

I personally highly appreciated “Mother!” from beginning to end, but the movie isn’t for everyone. It’s difficult to recommend this to all, because it can really twist your emotional and mental limits. But if you’re seeking for something to stir and crush you inside out while being able to stomach gore, this might be the film you’ve been looking for.

Oplev’s Downfall

Horror film remake brings disappointment to the table

Nials Arden Oplev, genius creator of film “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “Dead Man Down,” etches disappointment into the audiences’ minds with his recent remake of “Flatliners.” Pointless and monotonous, “Flatliners” was able to do just one thing: flatline me to boredom.

I won’t lie ; the mid-summer release of the first trailer snapped my attention with an intriguing concept: medical students playing with science and temporarily stopping beating hearts to see what’s beyond death.

Ellen Page’s appearance as Courtney definitely contributed to my decision to watch this film. Her performance in “Juno” was in-character and left me in silent awe. I was a little skeptical on this one though —  “Flatliners” would be too serious for her usual childish and reckless personality in movies.

I was right. Page’s acting fell short but didn’t lack as much as the other major roles in the film. Kiersey Clemons (as Sophia) and James Norton (as Jamie) were exceptionally forgettable characters, bundled there to only exaggerate the plotline. Nina Dobrev (as Marlo) was also extremely unnecessary, with facial expression fruitless as ever.  Page just shouldn’t work for thriller films.

That wasn’t the tipping point for me though. What really irked me was the amateurish editing and the choppy transitions.

The messy color gradation and the absent blend between computer graphics and actor was simply rushed and unprofessional. Careless, silly plot holes were peppered throughout the film. Unfitting soundtracks were dispersed in the worst possible moments. Their $19 million budget could’ve gone to much better use.

Ben Ripley, writer of “Flatliners,” is clearly ill-knowledgeable in comedy and romance. Even the serious romantic wedge of the film was utterly spoiled by a dialogue between Ray (played by Diego Luna) and Marlo: “What do you see in me?” “You’re hot.” Try going on a date or two, Ripley.

Plain and simple: “Flatliners” is merely about oblivious rich kids that open unnecessary amounts of bottled wine and are too self-centered for their greater good to mourn for their friend’s death, all accompanied by one-toned jump scares. Cheap and pathetic, “Flatliners”  deserves the 2 percent it got on Rotten Tomatoes.