Quarantine life has posed many alternatives for us to consider–from how we work, to how we cope with stress–and this is especially true with reading habits. I have been reading a lot more, often for hours at night to decompress. Some days, though, I am not in the mood for heavy reading, but want to enjoy some literary entertainment with the fast accessibility of a movie or TV show. Graphic Novels have always filled in this gap for me insofar as they occupy the disparate space between abstract language and strict visual signfier; graphic novels fuse the signifier and signified seamlessly for an engaging literary experience that has the depth of a novel with the visual cues of the best visual mediums. Below is nine recommended graphic novels that I’ve read separated according to general age range. I encourage teens and adults to read “down” from their age group as these picks transcend their audiences’ age range.
When one thinks of literary novels, they almost never think about graphic novels or comics being included on the list. That may seem obvious but I like to think differently. Pictures often help convey emotions, elements that words can’t easily describe. Not only do I usually recommend graphic novels for reluctant readers, I also recommend them for those who consider themselves well-read. Illustrations can greatly enhance a work and there are so many beautiful graphic novels. In addition, there are so many comics that are thoughtful with great characters. When you think of comics, you often think about superheroes in silly capes and dorky catchphrases. Though I love those two things, there is also a wide range of comics (even superhero ones!) that are genuinely written and drawn in a beautiful way.
That said, I thought it’d be fun to create a short list of some of the graphic novels I’ve read and that I recommend. All of them are available on Hoopla, so they’re instantly available now with your library card! All of the links below will take you to the Hoopla page so you can start reading.
I don’t read nearly as many graphic novels (or comic books, if you will) as I used to. To be honest, I often find myself a little intimidated about starting in on any long-running series – because I can easily get through three or four volumes on a regular day’s commute, I find it especially hard to manage reading comic series’ through the library, and since that’s where I get all of my reading material these days, it means i mostly stick to regular old prose. But, that’s not really a great excuse! The thing is, there’s plenty of great stand-alone graphic novels out there, and I have been remiss in dropping them off my reading repertoire.
So, anyway, as a reminder to myself to get back into the graphic novel-reading game, here’s a list (in no particular order) of some of my favourite stand-alone graphic novels:
Pride of Baghdad, by Brian K. Vaughan
Based on true events, this graphic novel follows the story of a pride of four lions that escaped from the Baghdad zoo following an American bombing raid. The lions ‘ newfound freedom is, inevitably, fraught with danger and new challenges that they can’t understand and were not prepared for.
To be honest Niko Henrichon’s artwork is more than enough reason to pick up the book, but I also found the story deeply affecting, as the lions leave behind the caged safety they’ve always known, instead choosing freedom, whatever the cost (and the cost is high). Continue reading