PaulsPicks Best Graphic Novels of 2019

I read just over 130 graphic novels this year and here’s 13 that I really liked. There’s horror, nonfiction, scifi… All these are great ways to get into the genre.

 

Infidel by Pornsak Pichetshote, Aaron Campbell, Jose Villarrubia and Jeff Powell

Wow! This graphic novel blew me away. From the vivid drawings to the penetrating dialogue, Infidel is a searing piece that deserves all the praise it has garnered. The collected issues are accompanied by an introduction by Tanannarive Due discussing representation in horror, and an afterword by Jeff Lemire on the difficulties of presenting the genre in graphic novels. These two short essays enhance the reading experience by helping to explain the graphic novel’s many layers.


The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui (Graphic Novel Mini Review)

The wash of colors, the choice of palette, and the detail of outlining drew me in on every page. I appreciated the nuanced look at childhood, relationships, and a return, to a place of birth and a legacy of family. As hard as it is to read, this book tells a necessary story of survival. It’s one of the most powerful reads I’ve had in awhile. A harrowing escape by boat, the many demands of allegiance to regimes in power, and adapting to the new life in the US.

Highly recommended. It comes as no surprise that this one has won so many awards.


Upgrade Soul by Ezra Claytan Daniels

Upgrade Soul is mindbending trip through themes of aging, defining beauty, and building legacy. Like a squashed plastic bottle that you try to make perfect again: an experiment twisted and then an attempt to fix.

Highly recommended for readers looking to push themselves into a brainy scifi test of experimentation and desire.


Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley

I found so much to love about this book. The wealth of information was staggering and very helpful to understand the full weight of expectations on women in regards to childbirth. Especially, the ancient superstitions and unfortunately, not so ancient myths and folk tales that have plagued women about their bodies. I also found great hope and optimism in the concluding thoughts in each section. While she was fraught with so many unanswerable questions throughout the pregnancy, she never stopped trying with the help of her family and friends.


A Fire Story. A Graphic Memoir by Brian Fies

There are degrees of separation from tragedy. The people who watch on TV, the people who may know someone affected, and then there are the families whose lives are utterly and irrevocably changed by a disaster. Fies’s book is the connection that people need to make to an event of this magnitude. It is unfathomable for me to think about the details of starting over like he and his wife are having to do. This book is a testament to all those, rich and poor, who are forced to wake up one day and find their community forever changed.


Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Graphic Novel Mini Review)

The author graduated one year behind me in school, so I appreciated many of his references and felt a kinship for his late 80s experiences. I was first introduced to Krosoczka’s art through his Star Wars Academy books. His style doesn’t disappoint here. He explains his artistic decisions in a couple pages at the end of the book, commenting on the absence of defined lines in his panels and color palette.

Raw and affecting, yet inspiring and hopeful, this is a beautiful piece of art.


New Kid by Jerry Craft

New Kid has a tremendous amount of humor, but there is also the biting reality of racial divides and jibes that young people of color are subject to. Craft’s work in this book is honest and truly revealing. I’ll definitely be looking to get this title in my school’s library.

Highly Recommended.


My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Graphic Novel Mini Review)

I loved the palette the artists used in this one. Purples, yellows, and light blues. It really juxtaposes the dark undercurrents of this story. Theft, drugs, lies, and manipulation. It’s one to mull over and allow to settle for awhile before your thoughts really start to flow. A very good modern drama that will surprise you.

Recommended.


The Weatherman Vol 1. by Jody LeHeup and Nathan Fox

Mind bending. Mind blowing. And action packed. Car chases. Shoot outs. And full of zany characters. I loved this one!

The art is bright and dynamic, shifting from space to land in the blink of an eye. Time shifts keep you on your toes as background is quickly inserted in many creative ways.

I thoroughly recommend this one!


Super YA Friday: The Secret Spiral of Swamp Kid by Kirk Scroggs

A perfect blend of drama, scifi, adventure, and hero skills training… love the parts where he is developing his powers (with the help of Swamp Thing). Check this one out!


I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation by Natalie Nourigat

I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation is a graphic novel that I would recommend to someone trying to enter the industry, and really anyone who is looking to make that leap to a new career. It is informative and inspiring.


Friday Graphic Novel Double Feature: Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell. The King of Kazoo by Norm Feuti

The length of the stories vary, but each one places the characters leaping back and forth between the real world and the fantasy realm. I honestly didn’t find a bad one in the bunch. From a boy who wants to dress up as a sorceress to a girl whose grandmother believes girls should be seen but not heard, Sell and crew push stereotypes out of the way in favor of the characters’ dreams.

Highly recommended.


Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles. By Mark Russell and Mike Feehan

Snagglepuss is a complex character whose fight against the Red Scare is nothing less that heroic. He thinks he sees a way out, but his ethics and personal loyalties divide himself from the legal and moral decisions.

Highly Recommended.

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