New to Graphic Novels and wondering where to start? Here are 10 to try!

Comics and graphic novels (long-form comics) aren’t just about superheroes, and they aren’t just for teenagers. They are published in as many genres as traditional print books – you’ll find humor, horror, science fiction, history, classics, and memoirs, to name but a few. With so many movies and television shows using graphic novels as their source material, you may be curious about graphic novels, but unsure about where to start when it comes to reading them. It can be intimidating, so here’s a list of 10 terrific graphic novels for adults, a good way to get your feet wet!

The March series by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. This 3-part series is the first-hand account of the late Congressman John Lewis’s lifelong struggle for civil and human rights. It spans his youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 1963 March on Washington.

Y, the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. The saga of Yorick Brown—the only human survivor of a planet-wide plague that instantly kills every mammal possessing a Y chromosome. Accompanied by his pet monkey, a mysterious government agent, and a brilliant young geneticist, Yorick travels the world in search of his lost love and the answer to why he’s the last man on earth.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris. Told in the form of a ten-year-old’s diary entries in the 1960s, this gripping story has a B-horror-movie feel to it. Karen tries to solve the murder of her upstairs neighbor, a survivor of the holocaust, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel. An unusual memoir done in the form of a graphic novel by a cult favorite comic artist offers a darkly funny family portrait that details her relationship with her father, a historic preservation expert dedicated to restoring the family’s Victorian home, funeral home director, high-school English teacher, and closeted homosexual.

The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman. A rich blend of modern myth and dark fantasy, The Sandman follows the people and places affected by Morpheus, the Dream King, as he mends the cosmic — and human — mistakes he’s made during his vast existence. The Sandman was one of the first few graphic novels ever to be on The New York Times Best Seller list (along with Maus, Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns).

Kindred : a graphic novel adaptation  by Damian Duffy and John Jennings. This searing graphic-novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s science fiction classic is a powerfully moving, unflinching look at the violent, disturbing effects of slavery on the people it chained together, both black and white – and made kindred in the deepest sense of the word. 

Alice’s Story : based on the novel The Magicians by Lev Grossman ; by Lilah Sturges and Pius Bak. An all new chapter set in the world of The Magicians trilogy of novels by Lev Grossman that retells the events of the first novel through fan-favorite character Alice Quinn.

The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. An epic graphic novel of Hollywood in the early days of the Blacklist. The story goes from the murder of an up-and-coming starlet from studio backlots to the gutters of downtown Los Angeles. Contains behind-the-scenes art and stories, sketches and layouts, and several historical essays.

Here by Richard McGuire. This innovative graphic novel presents the story of a corner of a room and of the events that have occurred in that space over the course of hundreds of thousands of years. The book experiments with formal properties of comics, moving forward and backward in time, using multiple panels to convey the different moments in time.

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh. A collection of comedic, autobiographical and deceptively illustrated essays on topics ranging from childhood and very bad pets to grief, loneliness and powerlessness in modern life.

Boom! Pow! The Benefits of Reading Graphic Novels

Today’s post comes to us from Ali, our Head of Children and Teen Services.

You bring your child into the library to find a book for them to read. They don’t seem interested in any chapter books you suggest.  They find the graphic novel section and seem really intrigued by a few titles.  You don’t allow them to choose one of those books because you want them to read a “real book”.  Sound familiar? I see this scenario often in the Children’s Room.  A child finally finds something they want but are told that, “those books don’t count”.

Graphic novels and comic books have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Parents and educators often dismiss these books as “junk” however, it is important to see the benefits of reading graphic novels. They are great resources for teaching important literacy skills, especially with unenthusiastic readers.  They serve as an initial gateway to reading because they often have more visual appeal than traditional novels.

Graphic novels are great for visual learners because they force readers to decipher differences in the text format to determine narration, tone, or mood.  The illustrations also help to decode difficult vocabulary. Graphic novels can serve as an introduction to non-linear storytelling. Each chapter may present a different time period or flashback to a past event forcing the reader to stop and contemplate the story.

I think it is important to start viewing graphic novels as “real books” because they truly offer so many literacy aids. They offer the same benefits as traditional chapter books, plus some.  If you’re looking for a good starting place, here are a few of my favorite new graphic novels:

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol.  A hilarious memoir of a middle school student who tries to fit in. It’s not easy for Vera, being a Russian girl surrounded by friends who live in fancy houses and go to expensive summer camps.  Her mother can only afford to send her to a Russian summer camp.  Vera is sure she will fit in, but the camp is not exactly what she expected.

All Summer Long by Hope Larson. Thirteen-year-old Bina and her best friend Austin do everything together.  Austin is off to soccer camp for a month, so it’s up to Bina to find something to do this summer.  When Austin returns, he isn’t the same as when he left.  Can they reestablish their friendship?

Grace for Gus by Harry Bliss.  Grace decides to help her classroom’s pet guinea pig, Gus, because she knows what being lonely feels like.  She is determined to do something special for her four-legged friend.

 Positively Izzy by Terri Libenson.  Izzy loves acting in skits and making up funny stories. Bri is the smart one. But she wants people to see there’s more to her than just her good grades. This books captures the angst, drama, and humor of middle school life.