David’s Comics Picks for March, 2021

There are so many new exciting comics out this year and you can read them online with your Pinal County Library District card via the hoopla app. Below are just a few of the titles I am most excited about:

Reckless by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips for Image Comics.

This artist/writer team is unstoppable, having released a few stand alone graphic novels over the past year. After completing the Criminal series, Reckless is their new outing and it does not disappoint. In this first volume, Ethan, former undercover FBI operative takes a turn as a hired PI/ problem solver. When he gets mixed-up again with an old girlfriend, trouble ensues. Set in 1980s Southern California, this exciting story has the feel of a 1970s pulp novel.

Wonder Woman Dead Earth by Daniel Johnson from DC Comics.

Writer/Artist Daniel Johnson brings you a tour-de-force of action comics set in a post-apocalyptic setting. After waking up from a long sleep, Diana Prince discovers Earth has been reduced to a nuclear wasteland. She must fight titanic monsters in order to discover the secrets of the dead planet. My favorite part is when she finds the remains of Superman and uses his spine as a weapon in a fight. Truly a superhero comic like no other set in a sci-fi/ fantasy landscape.

Nubia: Real One by LL McKinney and Robyn Smith from DC Comics.

A fascinating comic in that it looks like an independent/ alternative comic and yet it’s published by DC. Nubia is a superhero comic, but more so it’s young adult fiction that deals with issues of race and identity. It’s a story about embracing oneself instead of apologizing for it. Nubia is in the pantheon of DC characters, going back to 1973 as Wonder Woman’s secret black twin sister. However, this new approach requires no background of other DC characters or events. Recommended.

David’s Sci-Fi Comics picks for November

I’ve enjoyed reading these recent graphic novels for mature readers by Koren Shadmi that are available on hoopla.  I first became aware of Shadmi’s work through his excellent biographical tales of Rod Serling and Gary Gygax.  However, I found that Shadmi’s original stories set in a futuristic landscapes were even more powerful than those books.

Bionic by Koren Shadmi.  2020, IDW Publishing.

Bionic is a coming-of-age story with science fiction elements. Victor, a nerdy teenager falls for a gorgeous new student at his school, Patricia.  She works at the mall’s pet store and gifts him an android cat.   While she is friendly to him, he doesn’t seem to stand a chance romantically.  But then she is hit by a speeding car.  When she returns from the hospital with astonishing new robotic parts, both their lives will be changed forever.  She is no longer the traditional beauty, but Victor doesn’t seem to mind her augmentations.  Has the surgery affected her brain?  Patricia begins dangerously acting out.  When the two do finally get together, she ends up breaking his hand with her super strength.  What were the mysterious circumstances for her accident?  And will Victor suffer the same fate as a result of technology?  This was a gripping and unusual graphic novel in both the story and visual style.  I’d recommend it to fans of Kick-Ass or other genre defying comics.

Highwayman by Koren Shadmi.  2019, IDW Publishing

A short tale about the end of the world follows several episodes in the life of the last man alive, a drifter who cannot die: The Highwayman! Forever on the move, Highwayman travels through the vastness of North America searching for the source of his condition. He suffers from a strange, seemingly incurable disease: immortality. Bound to the road and at the mercy of whomever will give him a ride, he encounters people who reflect the rapidly changing world around him. Moving through centuries of change, he gets picked up by hitchhikers and gets discovered by aliens.

Complete Comic Book Series worth reading on hoopla

Do you love comic book series where you can get heavily invested in character development and interesting plot twists? Below are some more riveting science fiction series, available in their entirety, that you can read online with your Pinal County Library Card via the hoopla app.

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, Matthew Wilson.
Published by Image.

Paper Girls follows the story of four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls caught up in the conflict between two warring factions of time travelers! A mix of science fiction and nostalgia, this is an exciting read for both older teens and adults. It is also slated to be adapted for television.

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Pia Guerra. Published by Vertigo.

Y: The Last Man is a post-apocalyptic science fiction comic book series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra published by Vertigo from 2002 through 2008. The series centers on Yorick Brown and his pet Capuchin monkey Ampersand, the only males who survived the apparent global androcide. This comic book (originally 60 issues) is for adults and is as thrilling and complex as a Stephen King novel.

Halloween Fun!

While it’s true that Halloween will not be quite the same this year due to the pandemic, it’s still a holiday we have fun celebrating through the library. Below are some recent spooky books we are looking forward to reading!

Garbage Pail Kids: Welcome to Smellville. By R.L. Stine. Harry N. Abrams Books, 2020.

” Welcome to the town of Smellville, where ten kids all live in a big tumbledown house and have as much fun as they possibly can. People may think that they’re gross and weird and strange, but they’re not bad kids—they just don’t know any better. In this hilarious new illustrated series from bestselling author R.L. Stine, the Garbage Pail Kids—from Adam Bomb to Brainy Janey—get into mischief at their middle school, all while battling bullies and their archenemies, Penny and Parker Perfect. These all-new illustrated stories are sure to amuse, entertain, and blow away readers of all ages.”

The Witches (Graphic Novel) . By  Pénélope Bagieu, adapted from the novel by Roald Dahl. Scholastic, 2020.

“Witches are real, and they are very, very dangerous. They wear ordinary clothes and have ordinary jobs, living in ordinary towns all across the world — and there’s nothing they despise more than children. When an eight-year-old boy and his grandmother come face-to-face with the Grand High Witch herself, they may be the only ones who can stop the witches’ latest plot to stamp out every last child in the country!

This full-color graphic novel edition of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, adapted and illustrated by Eisner Award winner Pénélope Bagieu, is the first-ever Dahl story to appear in this format. Graphic novel readers and Roald Dahl fans alike will relish this dynamic new take on a uniquely funny tale.”

Camp Murderface. By Josh Berk and Saundra Mitchell. HarperCollins, 2020.

Summer camp turns sinister in Camp Murderface, a spooky middle grade read perfect for fans of scare masters like R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike.

“The year: 1983. The place: Ohio. The camp: Scary as heck. Camp Sweetwater is finally reopening, three decades after it mysteriously shut down. Campers Corryn Quinn and Tez Jones have each had more than enough of their regular lives—they’re so ready to take their summer at Sweetwater by storm. But before they can so much as toast one marshmallow, strange happenings start…happening. Can they survive the summer? Or will Camp Sweetwater shut down for good this time—with them inside?”

The Puppet’s Payback and Other Chilling Tales. By Mary Downing Hahn. Clarion Books, 2020.

“The author of wildly popular ghost stories, Mary Downing Hahn has created a group of tales for fans of her “scary but not too scary” books. Even the stories without actual ghosts are spooky. Each tale turns something ordinary—a pigeon, a white dress, a stranger on the bus, a puppet—into a sinister link to the supernatural. For the human characters, secrets from the past or careless behavior in the present can lead to serious trouble. All the stories have a young person as the central character, so all will resonate with young readers who enjoy the eerie, the creepy, and the otherworldly. In a concluding note, the author talks about how she came to write ghost stories.”

Venus in the Blind Spot. By Junji Ito. Viz Comics, 2020. *For mature readers.

“A “best of” collection of creepy tales from Eisner award winner and legendary horror master Junji Ito. This striking collection presents the most remarkable short works of Junji Ito’s career, featuring an adaptation of Rampo Edogawa’s classic horror story “Human Chair” and fan favorite “The Enigma of Amigara Fault.” With a deluxe presentation—including special color pages, and showcasing illustrations from his acclaimed long-form manga No Longer Human—each chilling tale invites readers to revel in a world of terror.”

Our outreach librarian, David, has also provided a virtual storytime of some of his favorite Halloween themed picture books for preschoolers from the past. Enjoy!

For more Halloween stories, check out this list of recent books in our catalog.

*Did you know that over 1,000 picture books in the hoopla app collection have a “read-along” feature?  Children can follow along while the book is being read to them by a narrator!  Log in to the hoopla app with your library card and do a search for “read-along”. 

David’s Picks for July, 2020


Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Pulp. Image Comics, 2020.

Writer Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have been long-time collaborators on a number of comics related projects including the Criminal series which were collected in graphic novel format.  Their latest stand alone book, Pulp, is also a crime story but the setting is quite different.  The story focuses on Max Winters, a pulp writer in 1930s New York whose Western character, unbeknownst to his publisher, is largely based on the author’s own outlaw days of his youth in the 1890s.  When the pulp magazines fail to give Max his due and he is mugged by anti-Semites, he realizes his days of facing danger are not behind him.  When nazis begin appearing in New York prior to World War II, Max takes it upon himself to fight against injustice and seek revenge.  While set in the past, the questions about indecency, crime and hatred seem more relevant than ever.  This title is available through our hoopla app.


John Green. Looking for Alaska, Dutton, 2005.

I think it’s fair to say that John Green has become the modern day John Hughes.  His take on YA Fiction is back to basics – the stories are dramatic, full of heart and based in reality.  Like classic YA authors such as Paul Zindel, Green uses his own experiences and trauma as a starting place to dive deep into teenage pathos and coming-of-age themes while firmly setting his stories in a contemporary setting. Two of his popular young adult novels have been adapted into successful films and these include The Fault In Our Stars and Paper Towns.

Green’s debut novel, Looking for Alaska, is the one most closely based on the author’s experiences of growing up in the South in the mid-1990s.  It has recently been adapted into a hulu original series and it has been released on DVD.  The library owns several copies and it is requestable through our catalog.  It is my favorite of all the adaptations and the streaming tv format gives the story room to breathe (clocking in around 8 hours).  The story is set at a boarding school for gifted teens in Georgia.  And however dark the story gets, it still has moments of great humor and an airy, wistful setting akin to a summer camp where pranks are played and first love blossoms…but not without a cost.

Phoebe Wahl. The Blue House. Alfred A Knopf, 2020.

There is nothing typical about this children’s picture book. Leo, the main character has long hair and lives with his single father. They live happily together in an old blue house with peeling paint that creeks when the wind blows. When new apartments begin to go up in the town, they are evicted and need to find a new place to live. Leo is angry about the move and he takes out his frustration with his father by dancing and singing to records and painting on the walls. I loved the densely hand drawn illustrations in the book that combine cut out elements with paint, pencils and pastels. A great story for atypical families looking for something different that is still relatable.

*To see more of what David is reading, check out his book list here.

Pride: Celebrate LGBT History Month

LGBT History Month is an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements.  LGBT History Month provides role models, builds community, and represents a civil rights statement about the contributions of the LGBT community.

The libraries in Pinal County Library District have an assortment of books to help you discover and explore LGBT History. Check out our booklist here, as well as the selection of titles listed below:

Queer Heroes
by  Arabelle Sicardi

Summary: Profiles notable LGBTQ figures and highlights their contributions to society and their community, including Martina Navratilova, Frida Kahlo, Alan Turing, David Bowie, and K.D. Lang.

A Queer History of the United States for Young People
by Michael Bronski

Summary: Through engrossing narratives, letters, drawings, poems, and more, the book encourages young readers, of all identities, to feel pride at the accomplishments of the LGBTQ people who came before them and to use history as a guide to the future.

Stonewall : A Building, an Uprising, a Revolution
by Rob Sanders

Summary: Describes the Stonewall Riots in New York City in 1969, which sparked the gay liberation movement in the United States, and details the history of LGBTQ rights since the riots.


Queer : A Graphic History
by Meg John Barker and  Julia Scheele

Summary: “Activist-academic Meg John Barker and cartoonist Julia Scheele illuminate the histories of queer thought and LGBTQ+ action in this groundbreaking non-fiction graphic novel. A kaleidoscope of characters from the diverse worlds of pop-culture, film, activism and academia guide us on a journey through the ideas, people and events that have shaped queer “theory”. From identity politics and gender roles to privilege and exclusion, Queer explores how we came to view sex, gender and sexuality in the ways that we do; how these ideas get tangled up with our culture and our understanding of biology, psychology and sexology; and how these views have been disputed and challenged.”


Pride : The LGBTQ+ Rights Movement : A Photographic Journey

Summary: This lavishly illustrated book commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and is an inspiring photographic journey through the LGBTQ+ Pride movement over the last century.

Stuck Rubber Baby
by Howard Cruse

Summary: “This classic graphic novel is the tale of a young man caught in the maelstrom of the civil rights movement and the entrenched homophobia of small-town America”

New Graphic Novels

David, our outreach librarian, has been reading a lot of new graphic novels during this unusual time.  Below are some of his recent favorites which will be available to request from our catalog once the libraries begin to reopen.


Brown, Lisa. The Phantom Twin.  First Second, 2020.

This fictional story, set in a turn-of-the-century sideshow focuses on Isabel who used to be a conjoined twin. Jane, her sister, dies after an ambitious surgeon separates them. Strangely enough, Isabel still sees and communicates with Jane even after her death. She tries to build a new life and create a new act in the sideshow. Although now, she is not sure who to trust. She finds solace in a kind tattoo artist but questions his intentions. Despite the heavy subject matter, the story is handled with a light tone and the drawings are whimsical. This book will appeal to young adults with a curiosity about fitting it in despite their differences.


Cody, Mathew and Yoshitani, Yoshi. Zatanna and the House of Secrets. DC Comics, 2020.

DCs new graphic novel series for kids reimagines many characters from the DC Universe as teenagers. In this fantastical entry, Zatanna is a middle-schooler with a single father. After dealing with some social pressures at school, she comes home to realize that things are far stranger than they appear. Her house is nearly as old as time and her father is a powerful magician. She realizes she is able to communicate with her dead mother and that only she holds the key to the house’s secrets. Add to this an origami shine and a talking rabbit and what you have here is an exciting adventure story. I love the colorful artwork by Yoshitani. It’s a unique style in that is completely non-line based and looks quite different than most other comics. I also like that you could read and enjoy this book without the need to know about the history of any of these characters. Even though it is a DC book, it has nothing to do with superheroes.


Fontana, Shea and Dichiara, Marcelo.  Batman Overdrive. DC Comics, 2020.

This is another fun DC Kids graphic novel where we see Bruce Wayne as a young teen prior to becoming Batman. In this reimagining, Bruce is a bit of a gear-head who gets the bug to fix up his deceased father’s 66 Crusader. It will eventually become the Batmobile. Along the way, he meets a young thief. This turns out to be Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. However, this story has little to do with super-heroics. The main part of the story deals with Bruce’s relationship with his pseudo-adopted parent, Alfred, the butler. He also befriends a whiz kid, Mateo Diaz, who not only helps him build a car, but becomes his assistant in his first stint in fighting crime as a masked vigilante. This is an enjoyable tale for those that like their comics fast and furious.


Jusay, Jeremy. The Strange Ones. Gallery 13, 2020.

This is a nostalgic story set in Manhattan during the mid 1990s that focuses on the relationship of two teenage outsiders who find a bond through alternative music. Angeline and Franck go to concerts together, watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show and are generally oddballs. Their relationship is not romantic, but they have a genuine connection. When Franck suddenly dies, Angeline reconnects with Franck’s past through his old friends. It is a very personal and heartfelt tale that will appeal to fans of realistic young adult fiction. The black and white art is reminiscent of some of the best zines of the 1990s, like Tomine’s Optic Nerve, but it also has a neatness and precision which sets in it in a class by itself.


Knisley, Lucy.  Stepping Stones. Random House Graphic, 2020.

This is a middle grade quasi-autobiographical graphic novella that I’m sure would appeal to fan of Raina Telgemeier. I’d say that Knisley has an even more organic and natural cartooning style than Raina. It’s drawn in pencil and the coloring is really well done – gradients and slight texturing really add to the summer mood. The story itself is brief and breezy. Jen, who has moved to Peapod Farm, with her mother, misses city life. She must adjust to living on the farm with her mother’s new boyfriend and his two daughters. She struggles with working at the farmer’s market and finding a way that her particular talents can be of use. Reader’s will notice and relate to Jen’s insecurities. She is a real character that one can identify with, obviously based on the author’s own experiences.

Graphic Novel Recommendations

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.
sam_zabel and the magic pen
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:



Graphic Nonfiction

Comics, as a medium, have the ability to tell all different types of stories.  This is evident in the growing popularity of graphic nonfiction. You have probably heard of Art Spiegleman’s Pulitzer Prize winning MAUS or Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home (that was adapted into a Broadway Musical).  If you have enjoyed those, we have created a list of graphic nonfiction titles that are perhaps not as well known.  These comics, aimed at adults, range from autobiographies/ biographies/memoirs to journalism on a variety of topics.

You can view the full list in our catalog here.

Additional graphic nonfiction can be found via the hoopla app.

Below are some examples of stand-out titles:

Jessica Abel. Out on the Wire: the Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio. B/D/W/Y/Broadway Books, 2015.


Jessica Abel explore how stories are told on the radio by investigating the creative process of several NPR programs. This book gives great insight into how podcasts are creating some of the most exciting and innovative storytelling available today.

Peter Bagge. Woman Rebel: the Margaret Sanger Story. Drawn & Quarterly, 2016.


Peter Bagge is known as the creator of one of the 1990s best loved alternative comics told in his signature humorous style.  In recent years he has turned to writing biographies. Woman Rebel portrays the life of Margaret Sanger, a birth control activist and advocate for female reproductive rights.  These books continue to reinforce that Bagge remains one of the most unique and strongest voices in comics.

Box Brown. Tetris: The Games People Play. Self Made Hero, 2017.
Box Brown Follows up his graphic biography of wrestler Andre the Giant with another pop culture staple.   In Tetris, Brown untangles the complex history of the games origins and delves deep into the role video games play in art, culture, and commerce.

Thi Bui.  The Best We Could Do: an Illustrated Memoir. Abrams ComicArts, 2018.


This stunning debut a memoir that also delves into the author’s family history. Bui describes her experiences as a young Vietnamese immigrant, highlighting her family’s move from their war-torn home to the United States.

Brooke Gladstoneand Josh Neufeld. The Influencing Machine Brooke Gladstone on the Media. Norton, 2012.


The cohost of NPR’s “On the Media” narrates, in cartoon form, two millennia of history of the influence of the media on the populace, from newspapers in Caesar’s Rome to the penny press of the American Revolution to today.  This is engagingly illustrated by Josh Neufeld whose previous book was the excellent A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge, another great example of comics journalism.

Tom Hart. Rosalie Lightning: a Graphic Memoir. St. Martins Press, 2016.


Heartbreaking and real, Tom Hart uses the graphic form to articulate his and his wife’s on-going search for meaning in the aftermath of his daughter’s untimely death, exploring themes of grief, hopelessness, rebirth, and eventually finding hope again.

David Zane Mairowitz and Robert Crumb. Kafka for Beginners. Fantagraphics, 2013.
Famous underground cartoonist Robert Crumb honestly details the life of Kafka, author of The Metamorphosis.  The book is a wonderful educational tool for those unfamiliar with Kafka, including a brief but inclusive biography as well as the plots of many of his works.

David’s Favorites from 2010-2020

Happy New Year!  David, our outreach librarian, has chosen some of his favorite books published in the past decade.  He has a preference for graphically inventive picture books and graphic novels. This is reflected in his choices below.

Baker, Jeannie. Mirror. Candlewick Press, 2010.


This is a very innovative and mostly wordless picture book created in a detailed collage style.  It consists of two picture books which fold out and can be read side-by-side.  It follows a parallel day in the life of two families: one in a Western city and one in a North African village.

Clowes, Daniel. Patience. 2016.


This full color graphic novel is a psychedelic science-fiction love story for adults that deals with depression, romance and time travel.  It is rare to see such a fully realized graphic work by a single creator in such a distinctive style.

Kalesniko, Mark. Freeway. Fantagraphics, 2011.


A meticulous graphic novel, running over 400 pages, that tells a fictional story loosely based on the Disney studios in Burbank, California.  Freeway explores the author’s alter-ego, Alex, on his artistic journey and how the reality of working as an animator clashes with his own idealistic dreams.

Napoli, Donna Jo., and David Wiesner. Fish Girl. Clarion Books, 2017.


This is a great collaboration by YA author Donna Jo Napoli  and children’s book artist David Wiesner. Napoli  has done many modern retelling of classic folk or fairy tales.  Wiesner has won awards for his picture books.  Their first graphic novel is a surrealistic mermaid tale about a girl trapped in an aquarium by the sea and the boy who discovers her.

Sala, Richard. Delphine. Fantagraphics Books, 2012.


A graphic novel that originally appeared in four single issues.  Like Clowes, Sala is a comics auteur with a unique style all to his own.  Delphine is a retelling of Snow White in a dark, contemporary setting.  Full of mysterious twists and turns and a surprise ending with gorgeous artwork throughout.

Salmieri, Daniel. Bear and Wolf. Enchanted Lion Books, 2018.


This is a very quiet picture book with an interesting perspective. The artist has made great choices in showing the animals in their natural setting from a distance in a cold, silent environment.

Schwartz, Joanne, and Sydney Smith. Town Is by the Sea. Walker Books, 2018.


A melancholy, but powerful picture book.  A young boy wakes up to the sound of the sea, visits his grandfather’s grave after lunch and comes home to a simple family dinner with his family, but all the while his mind strays to his father digging for coal deep down under the sea.  The full page spread convey a great contrast between the warm and dark places.

2 books by Allen Say:

Say, Allen. Drawing from Memory. Scholastic Press, 2011.

Say, Allen. The Inkers Shadow. Scholastic Press, 2015.

In these two autobiographical graphic books, the famous children’s book creator Allen Say details his journey into becoming an artist from the time he was a child in Japan to his migration the States as a young adult.  These books look decidedly different than any comic or children’s book I’ve ever seen.

Wilker, Josh. Cardboard Gods: an All-American Tale Told through Baseball Cards. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2011.

cardboard gods

This is a memoir structured around baseball cards from the 1970s and 1980s.  It explores what it means to be a fan. I love how such simple cardboard items are able to evoke such heartfelt, and often dark, emotions and memories from the author.

Upcoming Graphic Novels for 2020

Below are some noteworthy graphic novels to be released in early 2020.

Brubaker, Ed.  Phillips, Sean. Cruel Summer. Image Comics, 2020.

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips return to writing and drawing the best crime comic of the past decade. Immaculate art and suspenseful storytelling by this prolific team. Set in the late 1980’s, this story features Teeg Lawless and his son Ricky, both in over the heads and headed towards trouble.  This story is currently being serialized in the Criminal comic book which you can read via our Hoopla app.

Brubaker and Phillips will also release a completely original graphic novel in June called Pulp.  From the cover it looks like it will have a Western theme.


Ha, Robin. Almost American Girl: an Illustrated Memoir. Balzer Bray 2020.

Ha’s previous book Cook Korean ingeniously combined recipes with comics and family stories.  In her new full color graphic novel coming out in January, she delves deeper into her history with this poignant memoir of her teen years.  When her mother decides to move from Korea to Alabama, Robin is thrust into a new culture at age 14.  The story, centered around difficulties with family, friends and finding your way is heartfelt and classic YA material.  Robin’s voice is unique but  anyone who has ever felt like an outsider will certainly be able to relate to it.


Scioli, Tom. Fantastic Four – Grand Design. Marvel Comics, 2020.

Scioli previously revamped properties such as The Go-Bots, Transformers and G.I. Joe in his signature style that looks different than any other artist in mainstream comics.  For his latest project he is retelling the legendary Jack Kirby run of the original Fantastic Four.  Scioli’s stories are always dense, fun to look at, and full of offbeat humor.  It’s an ambitious task to fit the entirety of the original Fantastic Four story into one tell-all volume!


Scioli will also have a comics biography of the life of Fantastic Four’s creator, Jack Kirby, out later this year from Ten Speed Press.  The title is Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics.  It will come out in July.

Sciver, Noah Van. Complete Works of Fante Bukowki. Fantagraphics Books, 2020.

Sciver’s trilogy of Fante Bukowski books will be reprinted in this complete edition.  Fante is a failed wannabe writer and his exploits and failures are chronicled in these stories.  Living in a cheap hotel, consorting with the debased and downtrodden, searching for that golden idea that will rocket him to the success he yearns for as the great American novelist…Fante Bukowski feels partly like a satire of a generation and partly like a sincere look at what it takes to put yourself in the face of rejection.


Copeland, Cynthia L. Cub. Algonquin Young Readers, 2020.

This looks like a promising and humorous slice-of-life comic for younger readers.  Twelve-year-old Cindy has just dipped a toe into seventh-grade drama—with its complicated friendships, bullies, and cute boys—when she earns an internship as a cub reporter at a local newspaper in the early 1970s.


Shaw, Dash. Clue: Candlestick. IDW, 2020.

IDW collects Dash Shaw’s comic book series based on the popular board game.  This book has intriguing mystery, humor, cutting edge artwork and a lot of originality!  Brought to you by the creator of the animated film My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea.