(Image found on Google Images)
Most people enjoy comic books, manga, picture books, and even stories told in just pictures. Here are some graphic novels that cover all sorts of genres, from historical fiction to how to make your own graphic novels.
1. Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang (Boxers and Saints duology)
This fictional account of the Boxer Rebellion is told from two perspectives, in two companion graphic novels. Boxers features the perspective of a Chinese boy who wants to protect his country from Christian invaders. Saints features the perspective of a Chinese girl who embraces Christianity and joins a group of Chinese Christians after being shunned by her family. Both characters face many tough choices on their journeys, and the story will stay with you for a long time.
2. Skip Beat! Vol. 1 by Yoshiki Nakamura (Skip Beat series Book 1)
In this fast-paced graphic novel, a young girl discovers that her boyfriend’s only keeping her around to help support him in his demanding career as a pop star. So, of course, she has to get her revenge…by trying to become an even more popular pop star! Any fan of stories about “instant fame” or teen pop stars in general will enjoy this fun story.
3. The Lumberjanes by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen, and Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes series Book 1)
If you enjoy summer camp, the show “Gravity Falls,” and/or strong female friendships, you have to read this book. A group of girls in a program reminiscent of Girl Scouts go on mysterious adventures in the woods of their summer camp, discovering magical secrets and cute, adorable raccoons alike.
4. A Game For Swallows by Zeina Abirached
This story chronicles the author’s childhood during the civil war in Lebanon in the 1980’s. Although this sounds like a very heavy topic–and is–the book incorporates multiple beloved childhood memories and light-hearted moments beside the harsh realities of war to create an effect similar to watching things happen in front of you. Of course, visuals are kind of the point of graphic novels, so this book is a massive success in that regard, as well as others. The images do get a bit monochromatic, putting more emphasis on the story, but the author has a unique art style that suits the story well.
5. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
The art in this book is beautiful, so you may be surprised to find out that the story is absolutely terrifying. Fans of the show “Over the Garden Wall” and fairytale retellings will love this collection of four or five interconnected stories about the terrors of the forest.
6. Hereville by Barry Deutsch
This story made me reconsider the shock value of pig action scenes, if that tells you anything. A young girl decides to fight ogres, and the rest is history. The story also includes many aspects of Orthodox Jewish religion and culture, in a way that feels natural and introduces readers to a society they may or may not be familiar with.
7. March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (March trilogy Book 1)
This graphic novel depicts the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. I probably can’t do it justice in this description given that I haven’t read it in so long, but the narrative is really engaging and the art is really good. Plus, it’s really historically important.
8. Graphic Classics Volume 24: Native American Classics by multiple authors (part of the Graphic Classics series) (Graphic Classics Book 24)
If you love books with multiple, diverse perspectives, art styles, and stories, you will greatly enjoy this graphic novel. Modern Native American artists collaborated to draw graphic interpretations of classic Native American stories from the beginning of the 20th century and earlier, covering topics from traditional legends to colonization. The book also contains some biographical information about the artists and the original authors of the stories. (Fun Fact: One of the authors/editors of the book, Joseph Bruchac, is also the author of the popular young adult book Killer of Enemies, a post-apocalyptic dystopian novel about a Native American girl fighting mutant monsters in the desert which teen readers may also enjoy.)
9. Making Comics by Scott McCloud (part of Comics trilogy)
What better way to learn how to make your own comics than in a comic format? Whether you are a serious artist or simply want to try your hand at panel design, Making Comics is an entertaining, engaging, and totally non-condescending guide to, well, making comics. McCloud includes chapters on how to incorporate dialogue, perspective, characters, color, and all sorts of other details important to the comic artist. Even if you’re not much of an artist, the book provides an invaluable glimpse into the creation of graphic media.
10. Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke (Zita the Spacegirl series Book 1)
This comic has a special place in my heart due to the fact that I, too, was one of the many little girls who dreamed of being a space girl at a young age before realizing my dislike of heights and the fact that I really don’t want to fight aliens for a living. If you, like me, would rather read about space adventures than experience them, you’ll definitely enjoy this book. The book combines some common tropes (adventuring girl, quirky aliens, robots) into a humorous tale of exploring the universe. Plus, the art is incredibly cute.
Happy (graphic) reading!