The following are graphic novel recommendations from our outreach librarian David. Some of these titles are available to check out from Hoopla, our digital platform for eBooks. These are books are for a variety of ages (some for children, some for adults) and are good examples of the variety in non-superhero comics being published in the past few years.
Jon Buller and Susan Schade. Anne of Green Bagels. Papercutz, 2016.
Buller and Schade are a husband and wife team with more than four decades of experience creating children’s books. I loved their previous series, The Travels of Thelonious, which was a three book fantasy series. Like those books, Anne of Green Bagels alternates chapters told in a comics format with chapters told in an illustrated prose. The story centers on Anne and her family as they move to a new suburban environment where Anne attends school. Her father is an eccentric inventor. Her new best friend is an accordion player who she starts a band with. The story also involves an animated cartoon series and Anne’s surreal dreams. If you enjoy the absurdist stories of Daniel Pinkwater, I think you’d enjoy this too.
Charles Forsman. I Am Not Okay with This. Fantagraphics Books, 2020.
Forsman’s book about a teenage outsider who also possesses telekinetic powers has recently been adapted into a live action Netflix series. The book is succinct, a quick read, that delves into the teenage years with dark humor. Told in a journal format in a sort of classic comic strip style, Forsman subverts our expectations by creating a powerful and sometimes violent story about trauma and control.
Dylan Horrocks. Sam Zabel & the Magic Pen. 2014.
This funny and erotic comic for adults chronicles the author’s alter ego through comics history and the creative process. A mysterious old comic book set on Mars suddenly throws Sam headlong into a wild, fantastic journey through centuries of comics, stories, and imaginary worlds.
Johnston, Lynn. For Better or For Worse: The Complete Library: Volumes 1 – 4. IDW, 2016 – 2019.
For Better of For Worse was a very special daily comic strip in that the characters actually age in real time. You can read the first 14 years of the strip via these four volumes on the hoopla app. As the story progresses, Lynn’s strengths as a visual storyteller improve. The family dynamic becomes more dramatic and she begins to deal with more serious themes. Fans of Raina Telgemeier, author of Smile, will most likely enjoy these books as they were a huge influence on that artist growing up.
Rich Tommaso. Dry County. Image Comics, 2018.
This noir story set in sunny Florida features a Generation X slacker character who finds himself in the throws of a violent mystery. What begins as a fairly hum-drum narrative, slowly builds into an exciting story of a young man bent on tracking down the woman who he’s recently fallen in love with.
Deb Olin Unferth and Elizabeth Haidle. I, Parrot. Black Balloon Publishing, an Imprint of Catapult, 2017.
Daphne is struggling as a single mother after she lose custody of her son. In search of doing whatever she can to get him back she gets involved with taking care of a flock of passenger pigeons. Soon she is in over her head but is able, through introspection, to find a new way to solve her problems. Much of the story is symbolic and the illustrations are beautiful and unique.
Vaughan, Brian K., Chiang, Cliff, et al. Paper Girls Deluxe Edition Volumes 1 and 2. Image Comics, 2019.
What starts out looking like a coming-of-age tale set into the 1980’s quickly turns into a time-traveling masterpiece of science fiction. The art, with its controlled color sensibility, will quickly draw you into this story and its engaging characters. Vaughan was also the writer of The Runaways books from Marvel that in recent years were adapted into the TV show. This series, which can be read in its entirety via our hoopla app will certainly appeal to a similar audience.
Andi Watson. Glister. Dark Horse Books, 2017.
Glister is a young girl living in England. She gets drawn into strange and magical adventures on a regular basis and this book is made up of three of those episodes.
This fast moving story is for all ages and it involves haunted teapots, houses that rearrange their own rooms when you’re not looking, and trolls in wishing wells!
This title is from a few years back and it is available on Hoopla. Watson also has two new books coming out in 2020.
More comics for mature readers:
Below is a list of David’s favorite graphic novels aimed at an adult audience that are currently available to read online through our hoopla app: