If you go into most any school library or classroom you will find children deeply entrenched in graphic novels of all kinds. When teachers tell me they won't let their students read graphic novels in their spaces I am deeply distressed. They and their children are missing out on so much.
If you are an adult reading this and thinking about the comic books of your youth, give your head a shake. I became sold on the power of this format a number of years ago when I read American Born Chinese by by Gene Luen Yang (2006). It is still my standard for what a quality graphic novel should be. If you haven't read it, start there and prepare for your mind to be blown.
I make no claim that these are the best graphic novels published in 2018, although some of them might be. All of them just happen to be the finest novels I have had the pleasure of spending time with this year.Clicking on the title links below will take you to the Goodreads page for that book.
The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner (2017)
I absolutely adore this book. I laughed out loud numerous times, but it's more than just a humorous graphic novel. Fox is a failure. No one takes him seriously, not even the animals on the farm, who feel so sorry for him they send him home with baskets of turnips to eat. When Wolf comes up with a plan to steal some eggs to then hatch and eat, Fox agrees with it.
The problem is that it is Fox who ends up sitting on the eggs and looking after the chicks once they hatch. And once they imprint it isn't long before Fox becomes attached to the little chicks in return. This book full of full of all kinds of adventures and mishaps, but ultimately is a book about love and family. If you get a chance to see the movie, don't miss it, but honestly, the book is better.
The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick & Guy Major (2015)
This was fabulous! It has adorable characters placed in a science fiction setting. The pages are gorgeously coloured with brilliant action scenes. I love the silliness that is countered with witty remarks, and strong emotional connections between the characters. I am now a fan of Judd Winick’s work and plan to read more! The good thing about being late to the Hilo party is that I won’t have to wait to read more of the series.
Crush by Svetlana Chmakova (2018)
Don't tell anyone, but my middle school self has a huge crush on Jorge. I can't help it. He's sweet, honest and exceptionally kind. He’s an athlete but not into toxic jock culture. Alas Jorge already has a crush on someone else.
Seriously, this book captures the essence of the tumultuous time of adolescence. It's all completely believable. I love how earnest Jorge and Olivia are about making their school a safe place. Sure there are the usual insecure, nasty jerks, one of whom is near to them, but ultimately these are great kids with good teachers. If you haven't read this high caliber graphic series, I encourage you to find and read them.
Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt, Isabelle Arsenault (Illustrator), Christelle Morelli (Translator), Susan Ouriou (Translator) (2012)
This is one of those graphic novels that I would purchase for my library if only I still ran one. It's a powerful story about a teenaged girl being bullied by her former best friends.
I was distressed that these 'friends' harassed her by fat shaming her, including writing publicly that she weighed 216. The thing is that the images just don't reflect that this young girl is anything but normal. I'm not going to spoil the book for you by revealing the ending, just know that this book looks hard at body image issues and girl on girl bullying.
The book references Jane Eyre. It's through reading it that our protagonist finds comfort and hope. It also shows us how important it is for individuals to become allies and nor remain silent when this kind of behaviour goes on.
The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg (2016)
Five stars is not enough for how much I love this book. It's a feminist retelling of The Arabian Nights. It's epically mythic. I became a fan of Isabel Greenberg's work when I read The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, the first of her Early Earth series. If you haven't yet read either of these, you need to fix that soon. I can hardly wait for Greenberg's next book.
Spill Zone (Spill Zone, #1) by Scott Westerfeld, Alex Puvilland (Illustrator) & Hilary Sycamore (Colorist) (2017)
You will want/need to read this one for yourself to fully appreciate it. The world building is powerfully creepy. The plot is intense. The characters are compelling. There is a lot of suspense, a hint of romance, a brooding strange young man who we know next to nothing about. I hated having to wait for the sequel, The Broken Vow. And now I have to wait again for the next instalment!
Spill Zone: The Broken Vow (Spill Zone, #2) by Scott Westerfeld, Alex Puvilland (Illustrator) & Hilary Sycamore (Colorist)
This continues where the last one ended. Addie has collected dust from the spill zone to sell, but touching it changed her. Don Jae, a North Korean teen, has also been touched by the zone and has super powers. When Lexa, Addie’s sister is taken over by a being and is being stalked by another from the zone, it’s up to them to save her.
While not as powerful as Spill Zone, the colours in this are still gorgeous! It’s emotional and exciting with a complex storyline and the same compelling characters.
Suee and the Shadow by Ginger Ly & Molly Park (Illustrations) (2017)
If you like creepy stories, then this one should appeal to you. Suee is determined to keep to herself when her father moves them to a new city. But when strange things start to happen to people around them, it is impossible for her to stay isolated. Suee soon learns that the danger is much closer to home than she could imagine. I love the character development, the crisp illustrations, the story arc and the inherent messages for kids and adults.
Where's Halmoni? by Julie Kim (2017)
These stunning illustrations integrate Korean folklore into the everyday life of a couple of Korean children's day when they go to visit their grandmother. She's not home. In their search for her they end up in a glorious world filled with a clever rabbit, goblins, a greedy tiger, and a wily fox. This book was a hit with every age group I read it with, from kindergarten to grade seven. It's got humour and suspense and oh such beautiful artwork!