Now, I have to admit. I hate Graphic Novels. There, I said it. I just don’t “get” them. I find the illustrations annoying – in my experience, they get in the way of the story and are often unattractive, chaotic and full of unnecessary clutter. I have also found many of the stories to be uninteresting to me – juvenile and cartoonish and deliberately offensive, plus the predominance of superheroes has not been a draw for me. Obviously, this month is really going to push me out of my comfort zone!
[Note: Is this a generational issue? I’m willing to admit that I’m no spring chicken and I didn’t grow up reading graphic novels. Do other middle aged adults feel the same way? Or is it just me?! What do you think?]
Obviously, I’m not the right person to recommend Graphic Novel titles. Fortunately, we have Graphic Novel experts (and fans) on staff. First up is Allison, who has some great advice getting started as well as a list of titles to try.
My advice for people just starting is to start with a character they like. So, if they’ve liked the Avengers movies, start with that (where to start is another answer). You don’t have to start at the start – comic books are infamous for reboots, ret-cons and general timeline goofiness. And it’s a very novel time for superhero shows with “Arrow,” “The Flash,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” “Agents of SHIELD,” etc.
And It’s not just about following the character, it’s also about following a particular author/artist. I personally follow Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Saga) Matt Fraction (“Hawkeye” Marvel Now!) G. Willow Wilson (“Ms. Marvel” Marvel Now!)
The same goes for non-superhero comics. Like “The Walking Dead?” It’s a comic! “Doctor Who”? Heck yes! It’s not always *the* best, but it can be a start. One caveat is that if you like the show “Lucifer”, the comic book it very lightly based on is waaaaayyyyy different. It’s also good, just waaaayyy different.
Here’s an off-the-top-of-my-head list of my recommendations. The juvenile & YA titles can be enjoyed by all ages. Some of the adult titles are TV-MA. I’ll note them in the lists. I would recommend all of those that I listed.
- “Drama” & “Smile” by Raina Telgemeier. Growing up is hard to do.
- “Nimona” & “Lumberjanes” by Noelle Stevenson (seriously, you should try “Nimona,” it’s the BEST) . “Lumberjanes” is ongoing. “Nimona” is a fantasy-esque story, and “Lumberjanes” begins as a best friends at camp story.
- “Amulet” by Kazu Kibuishi. Action adventure, finding-your-destiny story. Beautifully drawn. Ongoing
- “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” by Ryan North (also an author to follow). Ongoing Marvel characters, lighthearted.
- “Ms. Marvel” by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona, Marvel Now!. A great title for teens, diverse cast, coming of age, etc. Series has ended
- “Strong Female Protagonist” by Brennan Lee Mulligan & Molly Ostertag. What happens when the masks come off?
- “Rat Queens” by Kurtis Wiebe. Untraditional Dungeons and Dragons adventuring & sisterhood. Violence, sex, nudity. Series is on-going. I wrote a review of it: https://blogs.davenportlibrary.com/reference/rat-queens-vols-1-2/
- “Saga” by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples. This comic had been widely acclaimed – a young family from opposing sides of an intergalactic war try to find safety and raise their daughter. There is violence, sex and nudity. Excellent title for adults. Series ongoing.
- “Sandman” by Neil Gaiman & Craig P. Russell. A member of the “comics cannon”. Excellent fantasy series.
- “Y: The Last Man” by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra. Another cannon comic, excellent end of the world story. Violence, sex and nudity.
- “Unwritten” by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. Really excellent story. Very literary / Harry Potter-esque.
- “The Wicked + The Divine” by Kieron Gillen & Jaime McKelvie. “Every ninety years, twelve gods return as young people. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are all dead. It’s happening now. It’s happening again.” Really great concept, steeped in mythology. Also violent with sex & nudity.
- “Letter 44” by Charles Soule. Obama vs. aliens, basically. Very cool first-contact story, and political satire that can be a little too spot-on. Three volumes so far.
- “The Fuse” by Antony Johnston & Justin Greenwood. Scandinavian noir mysteries, in space! Two volumes so far.
- “Here” by Richard McGuire. Very cool concept, was written up in the NYT Book Review. My review here: https://blogs.davenportlibrary.com/reference/here-by-richard-mcguire/
- “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi. Autobiography of a girl growing up in and out of Iran. Farmer’s Market, definitely.
- “Fun Home” & “Are You My Mother?” by Alison Bechdel. Coming of age as a gay woman, plus family dysfuction. “Fun Home” was made into a musical and won several Tonys. Sex & nudity.
- “Boxers & Saints” by Gene Luen Yang. A two-book series, one following a rural Chinese boy in the midst of the Boxer rebellion and the other following an unwanted daughter who finds acceptance with Christian missionaries as the rebellion unfolds.
Next up is Stephanie who not only willingly reads Graphic Novels, she also orders them for the library. Here’s her list.
Here’s a list of non-superhero graphic novels. Think of it as a list of graphic novels for people who think they won’t like graphic novels or for those who think all graphic novels are superheroes and spandex.
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley (anything by Lucy Knisley is fantastic)
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker
March: Book One by John Lewis
The Arrival by Shaun Tan (this one is wordless and the art is amazing!)
Laika by Nick Abadzis
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki (this one is young adult, but it’s still good)
Blankets by Craig Thompson (this one gets a lot of love by reviewers, but it’s almost 600 pages long)
Habibi by Craig Thompson
The Sculptor by Scorr McCloud
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (young adult)
Boxers & Saints by Gene Yuen Lang (also young adult)
Whew! Lots to choose from! And there’s lots more to come – in a couple weeks I’ll list more of the titles that Allison and Stephanie gave me. In the meantime I’m going to read Nimona by Noelle Stevenson and Relish by Lucy Knisley, both of which have been enthusiastically recommended to me. Wish me luck!
What about you – what will you be reading this month?