Are there seriously still people out there that think graphic novels aren’t for grown-ups? If so, they need to drop in on a book club I’ve recently joined.

Hurley’s Heroes, a comic and gaming shop located at 824 S. Main St. in Joplin, has established a public book club that is meant to appeal strictly to adults 21 and older: Comics and Cocktails, which meets the third Wednesday of every month at Infuxon, 530 S. Main St. The idea is that participants read the same book (hopefully after buying it from Hurley’s, because it’s important to support your local small businesses, folks) and gather at Infuxon to discuss it and consume tasty edibles and well-crafted cocktails, including a special one inspired by the book.

“Seconds” by Bryan Lee O’Malley – known to many as the author and illustrator of the “Scott Pilgrim” series of graphic novels – was Comic and Cocktails’ inaugural selection. It’s the story of Katie, a talented and successful young chef. Her life seems utterly charmed, until quite suddenly things start to turn sour – among other complications, her ex-boyfriend reappears and construction on her new restaurant faces obstacles. Katie is soon provided a solution, in the form of a strange girl who offers her a mushroom and these instructions: 1. Write your mistake. 2. Ingest one mushroom. 3. Go to sleep. 4. Wake anew.

Kate follows the directions and the next morning finds that what was done has been undone. However, she is quickly caught in a cycle of doing and undoing that begins to have unsettling, even supernatural, consequences. I’m stopping there; you’ll have to read “Seconds” if you want to find out what happens.

There was a lot I appreciated about this graphic novel. It’s a coming-of-age story, even though Katie is technically already an adult. O’Malley has chosen a beautiful color palette; the rich reds of Katie’s hair, her car and the dresser that the mushroom-toting Lis perches on really pop against the more widely used earth tones. Additionally, while he illustrates the characters with clean, bold lines, there is some very fine detail work in the background.

One caveat: I must admit that I found Katie kind of annoying after a while. She seems to have the emotional maturity and impulse control of a young teenager, yet she’s allegedly a well-respected professional in the culinary world who manages to run her own restaurant and is building another. I don’t know that I completely buy her personal growth as the story progresses to its conclusion, either. However, the secondary characters were much more intriguing, particularly the mysterious Lis and the shy waitress, Hazel.

But read “Seconds” for yourself; don’t let my opinion of Katie sway you. You can find it in the adult non-fiction collection of the Joplin Public Library. Also, if you’re interested, the next Comics and Cocktails event is Wednesday, April 15. For more information, check out Hurley’s Heroes Comics and Games on Facebook, call 417-782-6642 or just stop by the store.

Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg

It’s not a graphic novel, but I can’t help but tack on a brief mention of a new non-fiction book we recently added. If you need a laugh, check out “Text from Jane Eyre.” The entire book – which I think I read in 20 minutes – is chapter after chapter of imagined texts sent to and by well-known writers, as well as characters ranging from Hamlet to the twins in the “Sweet Valley High” series.

There’s Mrs. Bennett from “Pride and Prejudice” texting her daughter Elizabeth: “remember when there was someone who wanted to marry you” “yes” “hahahaha there isn’t anyone like that now”

And how about T. S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock?: “let’s have a tedious argument in the streets” “have you been drinking?” “the sky is so beautiful tonight like a patient etherized upon a table” “I’m coming over I’m worried about you” “there’s yellow smoke on the window-panes” “What kind of smoke? Did you leave the stove on?”

Then there are texts with John Keats: “oh my god oh my god do you know what I LOVE like what I am just crazy about” “is it this urn” “THIS URN” “I figured you seemed really excited”

Trust me. You need to read this book, especially if you’ve ever taken a literature class. I wish I’d had it within reach during my undergraduate and graduate school days when I needed a giggle.

Lisa E. Brown is the Administrative Assistant at the Joplin Public Library.

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