This is THE speculative graphic epic. The legendary anime director penned this graphic novel before pitching the film of the same name, and it encompasses a much vaster story and world. With incredible, unique world-building, breathtaking dip-pen illustrations, and messages about human nature, technology, and faith that feel shockingly prescient for a comic from the eighties. Everyone who loves comics or science fiction owes it to themselves to read this story, and this box set is the cheapest way to do so.
Romeo and Juliet, retold from Tybalt's perspective, and filtered through hip-hop culture and samurai flicks. Wimberly's dialogue matches the tone and style of the original perfectly, even when one of his characters is giving tips on how to eat a bomb-pop suggestively.
Manga fans don't often get a complete epic story in one volume, and rarer still do we see manga printed in full, glorious watercolor. Sazan delivers both! This comic has something for everyone: whimsy, action, romance, and likable characters in a fun setting. It's shocking that this is Akase's first work, because it feels first and foremost like the Eighties anime film you never saw.
What begins as a straightforward dystopian noir quickly expands into something of a short story collection. But the myriad characters -- a Greek banker, an African artist, an alchemist in the Roman Empire, and a far-future hyper-consciousness -- together form a larger picture which spells out an answer to the inciting mystery. It's like Huxley on a strong dose of Western esotericism: a hermetic meta-novel that blurs the lines between people, stories, memories, ideas, and data. This is a story that will change the shape of your mind.
There is nothing in any medium quite like Beautiful Darkness, yet it comes from the same recesses of the id as all ancient fairy tales. Through pristine, seemingly innocent watercolors, the artists present a haunting allegory that is made visceral through splashes of sudden, shocking violence.
Though it's fair to say this is a socially-conscious horror story of the sort that's come to dominate the genre in the wake of Get Out, it would be unfair to discount all that BTTM FDRS brings to the table -- its likable, flawed, humorous characters, and its fresh combination of cartoony art with vivid body horror.
Everyone knows the feeling of finding a story that seems to be about you specifically, and how it resonates with your core. This is what the Magicians trilogy was for me. So it's especially hard to offer a recommendation that isn't firmly rooted in my own blinkered experience, but -- if you were a "gifted and talented" kid who became a deadbeat adult, if you grew up reading Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia, and you thus feel you may have been ill-prepared for real life, with all its directionless drudgery and shapeless ennui -- this book will resonate with you too.
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Nothing quite like Daybreak has ever been attempted, previously or since: a zombie flick told in first person, with the characters addressing you, the reader, and your perspective shifting rapidly as you flee from flesh-eaters. Brief moments of humor and humanity break up scenes of terror. The last page will leave you breathless; it's probably my favorite ending to a graphic novel.
As an obsessive follower of Darnielle's band The Mountain Goats, I was not particularly surprised to learn that the man could also write a mean novel. Wolf in White Van is a harrowing but propulsive read. The chapters, presented in reverse-chronological order, bring you closer and closer to an unnamable event, like planets drawn into a black hole. At its core you find a meditation on the inexplicability, the senselessness, of self-destruction.
A story of escapism gone horribly wrong that inverts the fun of tabletop role-playing games into horror. I don't frequently enjoy comics that are serialized as single issues, because the need to advance each plot-line meaningfully within 22 pages can lead to some cramped pages and rushed storytelling. Gillen and Hans make it look like a cakewalk, though. Between artist Stephanie Hans's exquisitely painted panels and writer Kieron Gillen's exquisitely painted characters, Die will grab your heart.
The first graphic novel to win a Caldecott, This One Summer is a thoughtful, richly textured read, perfect for a teen, mature middle-grade reader, or an adult who wants to remember how being twelve feels. Its serene, effortless illustrations and naturalistic dialogue belie a roil of emotion just below the water's surface.
From the pages of the Hernandez brothers' long-running Love and Rockets, the Locas stories -- starting with this volume -- chronicle a group of Latina punks through decades of love, heartbreak, and growth. Over the years, as the characters and the author age, Locas slips fluidly between sci-fi pulp, slice of life, drama, thriller, and magical realism. Locas will remain forever a singular achievement in comics.
This is what you would get if Jane Austen wrote fantasy -- a rollicking, unpredictable, and highly discursive tale of powerful magic and petty rivalry. The greatest delight are the footnotes, which take you on a tour through an alternate-history Regency England that was once split into two kingdoms under the rule of the mysterious and wizardly Raven King.
It sounds like heresy to say that the book might be even better than the movie when the movie is a Hayao Miyazaki film. But there you have it. The greatest difference with the screen adaptation is that Jones's Howl and Sophie are flawed, haughty characters, which in a way makes them that much more likable. This is literary comfort food, whether you're ten years old or, like poor ensorcelled Sophie, a young heart in an aging body.
Much has been said of this book, so I don't know if I have anything to add, except: this is the only book that has ever left me crying for hours. It could be called a quiet but searing exploration of societal repression, of othering; it could be called a poignant allegory for the human condition, for living-unto-death. But before it is either of those things, it is simply the story of parentless children trying to make sense of their place in a world not quite like ours -- a story that will be with you forever once you've read it.
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If you've ever wanted something like a bedtime myth, but weirder, Rice Boy is here for you, a whirlwind tour of otherworldly locations featuring endearingly odd characters navigating their roles in a long-deferred play of fate.
Jeff Smith is the comic world's Tolkien -- if Tolkien were a good character writer, and if instead of hobbits, his world were populated with figures seemingly transported from Scrooge McDuck. The combination of both cartoony and human protagonists, surrounded by high-fantasy trappings and bound for magical destinies, works better than you might think, and what begins as a charming little jaunt becomes one of the medium's greatest epics.
A loving, knowing, occassionally tongue-in-cheek ode to Japanophilia and fandom, Weeaboo somehow also manages to be a nuanced and believable portrait of three teens on the cusp of adulthood, navigating broken home lives and shifting gender identities. At the intersection of the two threads in this balancing act, Weeaboo lays bare the problematic aspects of otaku culture, such as colorism in cosplay, while also celebrating its positive roles: as a space for self-discovery, as an avenue for needed escapism, and as a foundation for the meaningful bonds that carry our protagonists through the dark corridors of adolescense.
This delightful children's graphic novel is also, at 45 pages, short enough to serve as a single-sitting read-aloud for younger kids. The lively illustrations, by turns playful and striking, alongside clever compositions and page layouts, make it an enjoyable read for comics enthusiasts of all ages. The writing succesfully evokes the timeless feeling of a fairytale, while expressing a modern theme of love through self-acceptance. As with other Toon Graphics releases, the story is bookended by a few pages of historical context and cultural analysis; these are engaging and accessible, and offer an avenue towards broader discussions with curious children. Parents should note that one scene depicts the titular princess holding a sword against her stomach in a moment of despair: though not graphic, this moment could prove upsetting to younger or more sensitive readers.
Masterful brushwork; lived-in environments; chiaroscuro compositions that brilliantly balance richness and sparcity. Nail-biting scenes propelled by careful, deliberate pacing, brought to life with naturalistic dialogue and character acting. And a sense of place so strong that the island-paradise Hawaii of popular stereotypes is completely flushed from your mind. It's truly hard to imagine this book is Johnson's first release, because every page is a masterclass on visual storytelling. Its nondidactic story, simple enough on the surface, churns with class tensions and adolescent confusion. Night Fisher leaves you with not much more than an incandescently vivid slice of life, like your own teenaged memories, compressed by the passage of time into raw, irreducable feeling.
Such a dear book! Walking the line between a fantasy novel and a novel about fantasy novels, 'Among Others' starts where a conventional YA fantasy would end. Scottish teen Mori has (probably) saved the world from her power-hungry witch mother, and in the struggle, her sister was killed and her hip broken. Now, as told through journal entries, she contends with meeting her absent father, enrolling in an English girls' school, healing from her injury, and mourning her twin, trials which she navigates through the framework of the sci-fi and fantasy stories she devours obsessively. Real-world spells, she tells us, don't work like they do in books -- they act indirectly, in ways that always leave room for plausible deniability. While she (probably) does do magic and (probably) does converse with faeries, the bulk of the novel is cozily (and sometimes heartbreakingly) quotidian, resulting in a sweet coming-of-age story shot through with occasional veins of beautiful, mythic fantasy.
A queer, witchy homecoming story featuring richly imagined magic and vivid, imperfect characters. With loose, flowing artwork, this lovely little modern fairytale deserves a spot on your shelf next to the classics.
You'd have trouble finding a more beautiful comic in the world. The Moth Keeper's deserts and distant mountains are so alive with color you can almost hear and smell them. From dawn to dusk to dead of night, every scene is breathtaking in its own way. The story, though simple, offers an uplifting parable about community, solitude, and purpose. But what you'll remember is the atmosphere. This tale has the texture of a dream and all the hues of an heirloom quilt.
Looking at galleys often feels like flipping channels or scrolling through Netflix. But it's all worth it when you get to something that you can tell is going to be a part of the cultural conversation for months if not years, and you get the honor of introducing a couple people to it. And that's this book. Chain-Gang All-Stars is science fiction with nonfiction footnotes. It principally follows one team (or 'Chain') in the titular blood-sport-reality-television hybrid. The tone is an exercise in opposites: hyperbolic then restrained, acerbic then idealistic, brutal and tender, satirical yet dead serious. Most of the Chain's gladiators, including the wonderfully-realized leading couple, are guilty of murder or worse. Yet Adjei-Brenyah and many of his characters believe (or try to believe) that people are not defined by their worst actions. The author extends this even to those who stage and watch the death-game: they float on constructions of bad faith and double standard, every bit as layered as the enablers of real-world atrocity.