It’s been a long time since I did a post recommending graphic novels and I’ve read some really great ones since then, so let’s just jump right in. As always, I invite you all to swap your own recommendations in the comments.
The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg
Greenberg masters the stories-within-stories structure to create a glorious tapestry. Inspired by mythology and fairy tales, it brings fantastically well-handled feminist and LGBT themes into the mix as well. I love the way each story weaves into the next, and the ways they all link back to those that came before to tell one larger tale of sisterhood, betrayal and love.
Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn
This short series centres around the notion of artificial intelligence, exploring classic themes like love and what it means to be human in a story that is equal parts action-packed as it is character focussed. It’s great if you’re looking for a new series, but don’t want one that will be a huge commitment of time and money, the arc of its story having been completed in just three volumes.
Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon
This hard-hitting tale is based on true events in which a pride of lions escaped from a zoo following a bombing raid. It’s about the brutality of war and the cruelty that humans are capable of, even issues like racial distrust if you want to take the allegory really seriously. At its heart though, beyond a little creative liberty, this is a poignant tale about a search for freedom, beautifully brought to life through the stunningly vibrant artwork. It hurtles towards an ending that feels inevitable but which devastates nonetheless.
Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
This is one of my very favourite graphic novels, being quiet yet effecting. The Tamaki cousins manage to perfectly capture all the unease of teenage life and the daunting first experiences of love, grief, friendship, sexuality and self-discovery, without ever falling into the traps of melodrama. It’s quietly heart-breaking, funny and relatable, with big themes brought together with understated flair and simple yet expressive artwork.
Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
This was one of the first graphic novels I ever read, and I remember it very fondly to this day. This is a fun, quirky story with dark undertones. I think the purple colour palette and stylised art style worked really well, and I also really appreciated that protagonist Anya isn’t your typical ‘perfect’ girl. She’s a Russian immigrant who struggles to fit in and worries about normal teenage issues like weight problems, looking cool and making friends. She made the story a lot more real (despite its supernatural charm) and thoroughly enjoyable.
What graphic novels would you recommend? Let’s chat about them.