Imagine coming around the corner in your apartment and catching a man on the couch, reading a comic, wiping a tear from his cheek.
That happened. The book? I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Nimura, published by Image. The book won IGN’s “Best Indy Book of 2008” but was new to us. When he passed me the comic, all he said was, “You have to read this. You will love it.”
And holy shit, do I ever.
The story follows loner kid and Dungeons & Dragons enthusiast Barbara as she struggles through bullies at school, trouble at home, and preparing to fight monstrous giants with her glorious battle hammer, Coveleski. This beautiful book makes it hard to distinguish between Barbara’s fantasy world of fairies and lore, and the truly dark sides of being a kid. The intense writing and fluid art of I Kill Giants will throw you into Barbara’s crazy world.
Through one girl’s fantasy, you’ll experience truth. Seriously, this book is going to bring shit up for you.
You’ll never have friends as an adult like you had friends when you were a little kid. Barbara only has one friend, Sophia. They go on a roller coaster ride of trust and betrayal that makes me want to call my BFFs and sob uncontrollably on the phone about how much I love them.
The imagination of children is legendary. Barbara uses the vocabulary she knows, medieval fantasy, to explain and cope with the horrors in her life. Her fears are translated into terrible giants that will destroy the world. Everyone can identify with her desperation to conquer the darkness. Grab your blankie and flick on the night light, because you won’t stop reading ’til it’s done.
Bullying and Violence
Girls bully. They bully other girls. A lot. It can be physical or emotional, usually both. Seeing it happen to Barbara, and by Barbara, lends an uncomfortable realism to I Kill Giants. The book doesn’t shy away from horizontal violence. It hurts to read about Barbara being attacked by bullies. It hurts even more to watch her lash out at the people around her.
Barbara wears adorable hats that look like bunny or kitten ears, she’s an obvious target. She’s a weird kid. Weird kids of the world know these feels. We were all weird kids at some stage.
Kids learn about death. They have to. The book brought a ton of my own trauma to the surface. I was swimming in Barbara’s suffering and my own memories of being a similar age and attending funerals. In some ways, kids might have a better handle on death than adults do. They have a natural relationship with the world. Kids grow up but adults grow old. Death is a fear that stays with you.
And just when you can’t take the feels anymore, I Kill Giants closes with Barbara helping you cope.
We kill giants.
– Roz Y.