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Find more Top 10 Graphic Novels
These 10 superb graphic novels, reviewed in Booklist from July 2019 to June 2020, offer an impressively broad scope of genres, art styles, and perspectives, about everything from jazz musicians to WWII to cultivating joyful artistic practice.
Apsara Engine. By Bishakh Som. Illus. by the author. 2020. Feminist, $24.95 (9781936932818).
Som’s debut collection of richly hued graphic shorts presents a brave new world of diverse women living among friends, lovers, and chimerical creatures, balancing the expectantly mundane with the utterly fantastical.
Bix. By Scott Chantler. Illus. by the author. 2020. Gallery, $29.99 (9781501190780).
Chantler’s nearly wordless graphic biography of Bix Beiderbecke is an exercise in formal experimentation, blending visualized rhythm with poignant notes of both joy and elegy.
Grass. By Keum Suk Gendry-Kim. Illus. by the author. Tr. by Janet Hong. 2019. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95 (9781770463622).
Gendry-Kim’s stark, evocative, black-and-white artwork is the perfect medium for this important, moving testimony to the brutal experiences endured by the Japanese military’s so-called comfort women during WWII.
Leaving Richard’s Valley. By Michael DeForge. Illus. by the author. 2019. Drawn & Quarterly, $32.95 (9781770463431).
Within DeForge’s wildly fanciful tale about off-kilter animals lie honest insights about the importance of community and the struggle to find a place in society, delivered in a richly imaginative and totally singular mode.
Little Lulu: Working Girl. By John Stanley. Illus. by the author. 2019. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95 (9781770463653).
One of the most fondly remembered comic books of the mid-twentieth century, Little Lulu has been reprinted before in slipshod paperbacks, but with this first of five hardcover restorations, it finally gets the treatment it deserves.
Making Comics. By Lynda Barry. Illus. by the author. 2019. Drawn & Quarterly, $22.95 (9781770463691).
Page after handwritten page of exercises make up Barry’s lively guide to making comics. Her playful approach and apparent silliness, though, serve a serious theoretical underpinning.
Moonbound: Apollo 11 and the Dream of Spaceflight. By Jonathan Fetter-Vorm. Illus. by the author. 2019. Hill & Wang, $35 (9780374212452).
Alternating chapters elegantly trace humans’ path to the moon in this evocatively illustrated examination not only of the historic moon landing but of the relationship of the moon to human culture as a whole.
They Called Us Enemy. By George Takei and others. Illus. by Harmony Becker. 2019. Top Shelf, $19.99 (9781603094504).
Takei’s memoir of his childhood spent in internment camps during WWII strikingly interweaves his sometimes-warm childhood memories with historic events and his adult realizations about the cruelty his family experienced.
Two Dead. By Van Jensen and Nate Powell. Illus. by Nate Powell. 2019. Gallery 13, $19.99 (9781501168956).
Detective Gideon Kemp becomes embroiled in a conflict between corrupt cop Abe Bailey and the chief of Little Rock’s unofficial Black police force, Jacob Davis, in this gritty, intense crime thriller, rendered in resonant black-and-white artwork.
Year of the Rabbit. By Tian Veasna. Illus. by the author. Tr. by Helge Dascher. 2020. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95 (9781770463769).
Veasna was born in Cambodia under the reign of the Khmer Rouge, and this graphic memoir reveals the starvation, betrayal, torture, imprisonment, and death his family endured. Occasional dark humor only throws the violence into sharp relief.
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