Nerd Alert: Discovering the Awesomeness of I Kill Giants
Here at Nerds on Earth we think it’s high time we reclaimed the phrase “nerd alert.” For far too long, its been used to ostracize people who spoke of dragons or debated the superior captain of the USS Enterprise.
Instead of pointing a finger at a person, we want to point a finger at noteworthy things for the nerd populace. We want to alert our fellow nerds of what is excellent; especially if it will prove to be wholly new to you. These posts will be our attempts at pointing you toward some of the hidden, new, or downright awesome items in the loot crate that is nerd culture.
So, the year is 2009 and in the midst of discovering podcasts, I find myself listening to the iFanboy podcast. I wasn’t buying comics at the time, but I had just paid off some crippling debt and was discovering I had a little more wiggle room in my personal finances. When I got an Amazon gift credit for the Christmas season and it was sitting there unused in January, I knew that I wanted to check out the book that the iFanboy crew had been raving about: I Kill Giants. (You can check out that particular episode of iFanboy. )
Now I Kill Giants is a bit of a challenging book to write about because there is a reveal that comes later to adds a layer of emotional depth to the whole work, but the gist of the book is about Barbara Thorson, an early adolescent girl who doesn’t fit in at all. She is the D&D dungeon master who gets so annoyed with the actions of the people she plays with, that she routinely kills them all. And in the midst of her weirdness, Barbara also believes that – with the help of her trusty hammer, Coveleski – she is ready to take on the giants of the world that come her way.
I have to say, this book is nearly perfect to me. It won a ton of awards when the trade of the book first was released, appearing on many young adult book lists, not just graphic novel lists. It tells a wonderfully complete story about a young person that I think anyone can relate to. We see in her our own failure to conform, our own need to be outside the box and we feel for her as the circumstances around her begin to close in. And as I said before, I Kill Giants has a deeply poignant meaning that goes way past the initial things we see; that ending elevates the book to its vaulted status.
The book is by Joe Kelly, a well known comics creator and the art is by JM Ken Nimura. The book is a visual masterpiece, done in blacks, whites and grays and there are pages that just need to be studied. (I liked the declaration page of I Kill Giants so much that I had it made into a custom phone case. When knowing people would see it at Dragon*Con, I became someone they wanted to talk to more.)
Because of the book’s accolades, it is in a lot of your local libraries or accessible through a library loaning programming. Additionally, you can order the graphic novel in a variety of formats from Amazon and the collected edition is on the Comixology app as well.
Part of why I came back to comics was the discovery of how the genre of comics was being used to tell amazing, beautiful stories and I Kill Giants is one of those that gets an unequivocal praise.