Tamaki, Mariko & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me.

NY: First Second, 2019.

This is the other kind of graphic novel, the kind that’s as far from a “comic book” as it’s possible to get. The kind that could as easily be a text-only novel, but in which the story really is enhanced by the art. The protagonist is Frederica Riley, a seventeen-year-old Berkeley lesbian, who has been in love with Laura Dean, the most popular girl in school, for a year now. And Laura is a crappy girlfriend.

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Rowell, Rainbow & Faith Erin Hicks. Pumpkinheads.

NY: First Second, 2019.

I’ve read and mostly enjoyed several of Rowell’s off-the-wall novels, and I’m a fan of Hicks’s graphic fiction, so I picked this one up with some optimism. And it’s . . . okay. But not much more than “okay,” I’m afraid — the awards it has won notwithstanding.

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Telgemeier, Raina. Guts.

NY: Scholastic Books, 2019.

In 2010, Raina published her first original graphic novel, Smile, based on events in her own childhood in northern California. (She had already been illustrating the “Babysitters Club” series.) It won her the Eisner, the most important award there is for author-artists. In 2014, she did a sort-of sequel, Sisters, also based on real events. That won another Eisner. This new book makes it a trilogy and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she pulls off a hat trick.

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Published in: on 13 March 2020 at 4:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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Allison, John. Giant Days. Vols. 1-12 + Early Admission [prequel].

Los Angeles: BOOM! Box, 2015-20.

This is one of the most entertaining and real-world-funny graphic novel series I’ve seen in some time, following three young British women through their careers at university, one term at a time. Susan Ptolemy is pre-med, doesn’t have much use for boys (with a couple of special exceptions), and has a tongue like a sardonic buzz-saw when she’s provoked — and she provokes easily.

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Lemire, Jeff. Roughneck.

NY: Gallery 13, 2017.

Lemire has created several successful, and award-winning graphic novel series, but this standalone story may be his best yet. Half-Indian Quebecois Derek Ouelette was a professional hockey player once, though he says he was only ever a thug. (“At least now I don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not.”)

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Published in: on 23 February 2020 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Thummler, Brenna. Sheets.

St. Louis: Lion Forge Comics, 2018.

Being thirteen is no fun at all for Marjorie Glatt, not since her mother accidentally drowned. Her little brother hasn’t quite figured it out yet and her father almost never leaves his room, leaving the running of the family’s laundromat business almost entirely in her hands.

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Allison, John. Bad Machinery No, 5: The Case of the Fire Inside.

Portland, OR: Oni Press, 2016.

This is an ongoing series (of nine volumes now) about the adventures and just ordinary life experiences of a crew of engaging adolescents in the English seaside town of Tackleford. They’re all thirteen now, more or less, and the boys have stopped arguing about superheroes and have begun trying to figure out girls (and vice versa) while all their parents just keep their fingers crossed.

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Fetter-Vorm, Jonathan. Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb.

NY: Hill & Wang, 2012.

It’s possible this nicely done book hits a stronger chord with me than it might with younger readers, inasmuch as I was born before the beginning of the Atomic Age and grew up in the ’50s in a world in the grip of the Cold War. The author doesn’t oversimplify the issues surrounding the development and use of atomic weapons, either.

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Knisley, Lucy. Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Cheerful Chaos.

NY: First Second, 2019.

Lucy Knisley (pronounced “Nighz-lee”) has become something of a graphic novel phenomenon, beginning with her first book, French Milk, published when she was in her early twenties. Ten years and six books later, she’s pretty much unstoppable — and that’s a good thing, because she does really great work, all of it spun out of the often ordinary-seeming experiences of her own life.

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Maroh, Julie. Blue Is the Warmest Color.

Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2013.

This is the original graphic novel that was subsequently made into a Palm-d’Or-winning film at Cannes, and it tells a moving and tragic love story by means of some truly beautiful artwork. Clementine is a typical secondary school student in France, trying to figure out guys, hanging out with her girlfriends and also her best guy friend, who is gay, and just generally living her life.

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