Hey guys, do you know what you need to read? Aya: Life in Yop City. It’s been previously published as three different hardcovers, but is now coming out as one big awesome book—and it’s definitely worth reading. (The conclusion of the series, Aya: Love in Yop City, which comprises three volumes not published in English yet, comes out in November, and I can’t wait!) Aya is the story of teenage Aya and her two best friends as they navigate coming-of-age in 70s-era West Africa, dealing with family, romance, and jobs. And it’s hilarious and touching, with really cute art. The series is based on author Marguerite Abouet’s own life and the details really ring true (and ring true across cultures). Very highly recommended for high school and up.

Aya, maybe weirdly, reminds me a bit of Joann Sfar’s stuff—mainly it’s the vague African connection, as Sfar is an Algerian Jew, but some of the art is a bit similar too, especially in the use of colors. I’m particularly reminded of Sfar’s The Rabbi’s Cat, a personal favorite about a rabbi, his daughter, and a talking cat who’s full of mischief and philosophical discussions (I’m sure all cats would be, if they could talk). Apparently this was actually made into a movie recently, and clearly I need to track that down. Anyway, Sfar is another writer/artist worth checking out—he also has some GREAT all-ages series, like Dungeon and Sardine (which I think especially appeal to silly young boys, but also to silly people of all ages).

And now, awards and updates! Here are the Ignatz Award Winners, which I talked about recently, as well as the Shuster Award winners, which I’ve never talked about, but which honor Canadian comics, so if you’re interested in current Canadian stuff, there you go. I’m just excited that Love and Rockets dominated the Ignatz Awards so thoroughly after being ignored by the Eisners. And speaking of Love and Rockets, imagine my joy at encountering this mural at Duke’s Perkins Library earlier today.

Yes, that is Xo from Love and Rockets chilling with Donald Duck and other classic comic book characters. The mural is by Bill Fick, Assistant Professor of Visual Arts, and that guy needs a HUGE high five.