What it’s about: Jomny, a lonely alien, is sent to Earth to study humans in this charming graphic novel. Instead, he encounters a variety of Earth’s creatures and, through their humanity, learns some of life’s biggest lessons.
What made me pick it up: When I saw the word aliebn on a book spine I thought my fever brain was playing tricks on me, but after I took a closer look I needed to know more about these aliebns.
My favorite things: It was adorable, funny, poignant, and smart. Each of the creatures Jomny meets teaches him something new about what it means to be an individual and still be part of a community. Like the story, the art is simple but compelling. I especially enjoyed the endpapers of the book, which contained a log Jomny keeps of his adventures on Earth as well as his charming interpretations of each interaction.
What it’s about: In this second book of the Lowriders in Space series, three friends close their garage and journey to the center of the earth to rescue their cat, Genie, from Mitlantecuhtli the Aztec god of the underworld.
What made me pick it up: This was recommended and lent to me by a coworker.
My favorite things: Camper’s liberal use of Spanish vocabulary (with translation in footnotes and a glossary at the end of the book) adds depth to the story. The translations appear after only the first time each Spanish word appears and I appreciated the assumption that the readers are capable of learning terms that might be new to them. The art, making use of only blue, red, and black, is fun and engaging and has the feel of something that might have started as a (very impressive) doodle.
Who it’s great for: Tweens looking for a fun adventure with a bit of mythology thrown in the mix.
What it’s about: Set in the politically charged late 1960s Chicago, a young girl struggles to solve the mystery behind the death of her strange and alluring upstairs neighbor. She lives her life through monsters and horror films, desperately trying to escape the reality of her family’s struggles and her own outcast status.
What made me pick it up: I read a preview of this that made it sound incredible. (It was.)
My favorite things: First, let me just say that I was so pleased to find “Book One” written on the spine because this volume opens up far too many threads to close. The story is mysterious, heavy, exciting, and grim, and it pulls you in from the beginning. The art is made up of these beautifully crosshatched panels made up to look like the notebook of a young girl, and Ferris effortlessly recreates classic works of art in her own style.
Who it’s great for: Fans of graphic novels looking for monsters, murder, mystery, or history.
What it’s about: A graphic memoir exploring love, art, loss, memory, and mortality.
What made me pick it up: I can’t seem to pass up a graphic memoir.
My favorite things: Radtke’s art is done in a simple grayscale that perfectly complements her story. I loved the way she tied together her own restlessness with an examination of mortality. The way she chronicles her own loss and grief through a growing fascination with deserted towns is honest and compelling.
Who it’s great for: Readers looking for an engaging exploration of mortality and meaning. Fan’s of artists’ memoirs.
Originally published in: original 2007, in translation 2017
What it’s about: A graphic memoir chronicling relationships and family dysfunction, love and heartache.
What made me pick it up: I gravitated toward it the moment it showed up on our cart of new books – the bleak cover art was immediately compelling to me.
My favorite things: The art, the art! Written over the course of twelve years, the art varies in style and medium and still somehow fits together to paint a portrait of a life through time. Complexities and heartaches of real life, honest about flaws, weaknesses, and mistakes. I love the use of handwriting rather than a font for an even more expressive read.
Who it’s great for: Readers looking for an emotionally engaging exploration of family and relationships.
What it’s about: A reimagining of many of HP Lovecraft’s stories through the lens of Robert Black. Black is a journalist and would-be author living in the 1919 world of Lovecraft’s fiction. Act 1 compiles 1-4 of 12 issues in the Providence series.
What made me pick it up: I just rediscovered it on my bookshelf, it was next on my TBR list at some point last fall.
My favorite things: The art is bleak and ominous. There is an unsettling recurring theme hinting at the coming rise of Nazi power in Europe. I love the inclusion of journal entries and paraphernalia from the world Robert Black is exploring.
Who it’s great for: Devotees of Lovecraft’s stories and fans of Alan Moore’s comics and graphic novels. Readers looking for a short but captivating creepy series to become immersed in.
What it’s about: A collection of excerpts from several different series of comics. Each focuses on the lives and identities of different queer and gender-nonconforming people and their relationships with the the author.
What made me pick it up: It sounded cute and I liked the cover. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
My favorite things: I love the artistic style! It reminds me of those filters you can use to make a photo look like a painting. There is also a great range of topics, from crushes to fashion to pronouns, each handled with both lightness and care. This reads like a beautiful celebration of queer identities.
Who it’s great for: Anyone looking for graphic novels with diversity in gender and sexuality. Fans of Bechdel’s graphic memoirs.
What it’s about: A collection of short horror stories told in a graphic novel format.
What made me pick it up: This is one of my favorite graphic novels from the past few years, so I picked up back up to help me out of a reading slump.
My favorite things: The stories are short and simple but absolutely haunting. Each time I read them I end up with goosebumps and a distinct feeling of unease. The art is beautiful and bleak, using color only sparingly and to great effect. Reading this is like experiencing some of your creepiest nightmares on the page.
Who it’s great for: Adults and teens that enjoy graphic novels and want creepy horror stories. Fans of Audrey Niffineggar’s illustrated works.
What it’s about: A graphic biography following the never dull life of Zora Neale Hurston.
What made me pick it up: I love reading graphic memoirs and biographies, so this was a must-read for me.
My favorite things: Bagge introduces the biography by explaining some of his choices and how he came to write it, which I appreciated. I also enjoyed delving into the extensive background information at the end that gives more insight into some the supporting cast of Hurston’s life. The biography itself was fast-paced and fun, hitting the highs and lows of her life with equal interest. It’s a fun way to learn about what of the great American writers of the 20th century.
Who it’s great for: Hurston fans looking to learn more about her adventurous life. Fans of graphic biographies and non-fiction.
What it’s about: A new superhero is born when a genetic engineer, along with an owl and a cat, accidentally becomes his own next project.
What made me pick it up: A Margaret Atwood comic book sounded too good, and weird, to pass up.
My favorite things: Atwood has a strong interest in animal welfare, particularly that of cats and birds, and this comes out in the form of weird footnotes with stats about both. It’s odd but charming. The amusing cast of characters doesn’t fail to deliver and the overall effect is campy and fun. Like all good superheroes, Angel Catbird is plagued by a complicated inner struggle-mostly between his cat and bird instincts.
Who it’s great for: I loved this, but if you’re looking for a comic that takes itself seriously at all then Angel Catbird is not the superhero for you. Good for fans of campy older comics and cat lovers who want to read about their furry friends as heroes.