Manga: Actually Completed Series

Introduction

It can be tough to add a series to a collection or recommend it to a reader when it’s unfinished or cancelled, so this list is made of only completed manga series. Some are longer than others, but all of them were completed by their creators.

Backstage Prince

Kanoko Sakurakoji

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Those looking for a short and sweet romance manga can find what they seek in Backstage Prince. Akari is an ordinary high school girl who gets swept up into the world of rien (kabuki theatre) when she follows a stray cat into the back door of the theatre. Little does she know that cat is not a stray, but belongs to one of the rising stars of kabuki Shonosuke Ichimura, which is the stage name used by a heartthrob upperclassmen at her school Ryusei Horiuchi. When a deal is made for her to work as Ryusei assistant, Akari gets a crash course in kabuki and in the way of the heart.

Appeals to

Shojo lovers will get all the drama and tropes without the commitment of a longer series.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Golden Kamuy

Satoru Noda

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Saichi, a former soldier, decides to pursue a legend of gold connected to the Ainu people to try and honor a promise he made to a lost comrade, which starts with finding the map that happens to be tattooed on the backs of prisoners. This leads him to Asirpa, an Ainu girl, he sets off. Their story will quickly become entangled with others' and eventually lead to deciding the fate of the Ainu people as a whole. It's a sweeping and multifaceted story of revenge, redemption, and family.

Appeals to

What makes Golden Kamuy distinct, aside from its focus on the Ainu culture, is that it blends humor so well into darker and more difficult topics. It also doesn't shy away from showing scenes of things like butchering an animal for meat, and more gruesome acts of human or animal violence. It's an excellent choice for fans of Vinland Saga or Steel of the Celestial Shadows, but I could also see it having appeal for fans of Dan Da Dan for the wacky adult humor.

Content Notes

Depictions of violence and gore, discussions of PTSD/the effects of war, some nudity

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Hell's Paradise

Yuji Kaku

Cover Image

Hell's Paradise really has it all, from art that depicts the beauty and brutality of the characters' experiences to interesting fight scenes, and going all the way to philosophical discussions on the nature of life and immortality. Also, the world's most unexpected wife guy is one of the main characters, Gabimaru. Follow this hollow-eyed ninja with his stiff executioner chaperone Sagiri through a lush and strange fantasy that ends (no spoilers) actually surprisingly happily considering that most of the story doesn't feel like it will.

Appeals to

Because of the mix of wonderful and horrifying, it's hard not to suggest Hell's Paradise to readers of series like Hellsing or Berserk, and the historical angle pulls in readers of Blade of the Immortal, while the presence of ninjas means it might be an interesting suggestion for fans of Naruto who are looking for something a bit more intense.

Content Notes

Many scenes of dismemberment or bodily harm and blood, as well as body horror and disturbing monsters.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Restaurant to Another World

Junpei Inuzuka

Takaaki Kugatsu

Cover Image

Food and fantasy meet in this story about a restaurant that cooks western food in a Japanese style that has a secret. Every Saturday, a door to another plane opens in the restaurant and the chef devotes himself to feeding and entertaining this exotic clientele, which involves many fantastical types like elves, demons, and dragons that you might see in a D&D campaign or fantasy novel. in the first volume we meet Aletta, a demon girl who is unable to find a job in her world because of the long standing hatred and discrimination against demons. She stumbles on the door to the restaurant and after being treated to a lovely meal by the chef, he offers her a job as a waitress serving the customers who come in on Saturdays. One word of advice, don't read this book hungry!

Appeals to

Foodies and fantasy fans alike will love this title.

Content Notes

Mild language, implied nudity

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Run On Your New Legs

Wataru Midori

Cover Image

Shouta went from being a promising soccer player to a shut-in after an accident meant the loss of one of his legs. Now he's at the school he got into thanks to soccer and can't play, and he pushed away his best friend. Then an odd prosthetist named Chidori sees Shouta running through a train station and offers him an unexpected bit of hope. If Shouta helps Chidori's business, then while he may not be able to return to soccer, Shouta could give track, and even the Paralympics, a try.

Appeals to

Though this is a sports manga, it does a lot of discussing disability, prosthetics, and the Paralympics so an interest in track and field isn't necessary as a reader. There's also the fact that this manga takes place as the COVID-19 outbreak began, and it talks about the effect that had on student athletes (and teen life in general). It's funny, sweet, and informative, making it an easy suggestion for many kinds of readers.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Missing Limb |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Soul Eater

Atsushi Ohkubo

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Soul Eater is an action manga that follows 2 pairs and 1 trio of students who attend the Death Meister Weapon Academy, a school for training people with the special ability to turn into weapons and their wielders to rid the world of evil-corrupted souls. The manga follows the journey of Maka, Soul Eater, Black Star, Tsubaki, and Death the Kid and his twin weapons Patty and Liz on their mission to collect 100 corrupted souls and one witch soul so that their weapons can become a death scythe, the most powerful type of weapon among weapons and meisters.

Appeals to

For those looking to get into shounen/action manga, this title is a great place to start, as a lot of the tropes and cultural aspects of the title are easy to find out in context.

Content Notes

Language, violence, nudity, sexual situations

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Hidden Gems: Adaptations and Retellings

Introduction

Graphic Novels are a great way to make literary text more accessible and approachable, especially for folks who might otherwise struggle with a dense text. There are also a number of comics out there that put a new spin on a classic tale. Below are our picks of graphic novel adaptations or retellings that you may have missed!

Brave New World: A Graphic Novel

Aldous Huxley

Fred Fordham

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This adaption of Brave New World takes a dystopian tale that feels as prescient now as it did when Huxley originally wrote it and adds Fred Fordham's cinematic visuals to give this story new life. With an art style that feels like classic sci-fi without feeling dated, this adaption will appeal to both graphic novel fans and lovers of the original novel.

Appeals to

Sci-fi/dystopia fans looking to see this classic novel in a new light.

Content Notes

Violence. Nudity and sexual situations.

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Dune: The Graphic Novel

Frank Herbert

Raúl Allén

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With Dune Part Two just released in theaters, this is a perfect time to check out the official graphic novel adaption. This adaption was done by Frank Herbert's son with the help of prolific SFF author Kevin J. Anderson. This adaption brings Herbert's vast deserts of Arrakis and water water-covered surface of Caladan to life, with a desire to keep to close to the source material as possible. The third and final volume of this adaption will be released in July 2024.

Appeals to

Those looking to revisit Hebert's rich world, or those looking to experience it for the first time will find something worthwhile in this adaption.

Content Notes

Violence. Depictions of war and political assassinations.

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

M is for Monster

Talia Dutton

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Consider if Frankenstein was a story featuring a more diverse cast and did more to discuss the problems of holding on to the past and embracing change. Also, there's a ghost in this one. M wakes up not knowing she's supposed to be Maura, sister to the doctor who just revived her and fellow scientist. Unfortunately, M is not Maura, even with Maura's ghost following her and her sister trying to encourage old memories and habits to return.

Appeals to

This comic would be an ideal pick for readers who like a tinge of horror in their comics while also exploring topics of identity and expression, like Blackwater or Hollow, even readers of Nimona though of course there are minimal fantasy elements in M is for Monster.

Content Notes

Mild body horror

Creator Identities:

Chinese-American |

Queer |

Main Character Identities:

Assumed Asian |

Lesbian, Queer |

Nonbinary |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Poems to See By

Julian Peters

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In an unusual take on the idea of adaptation, Julian Peters tackled the task of taking poetry and creating comics from them. Each poem gets a distinct visual style to help tell the story, often pulling from the context of each poem (things like time period and poet's culture) to really cement the visual language being used to convey the text. It's a comic absolutely worth flipping through, picking a different comic/poem to study each time.

Appeals to

Poems to See By would make an excellent teaching text for parents or school librarians, since again there's so much to pull from to help students understand both comics and poetry, but it's also a great way to help introduce a child or teen to some of the great poets, using the visual element as a way to help understand some of the more difficult poetic language.

Content Notes

Some violence and blood, depictions of war and death

Creator Identities:

Canadian, Italian |

Main Character Identities:

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Prince of Cats

Ron Wimberley

Cover Image

Consider if Romeo & Juliet was retold from Tybalt's perspective, and also set in a hip-hop-inspired 80s style backdrop. That would be Prince of Cats, a comic awash in pinks, purples, and blues, combining the original lines of the play with more modern references but keeping to iambic pentameter. Of course, because it follows Tybalt the story ends a bit sooner than the classic play, but giving Tybalt his moment in the limelight really brings perspective and sympathy to his role, and maybe explains more fully just why he's called The Prince of Cats.

Appeals to

Having context from reading and enjoying Romeo & Juliet or one of its many adaptations can help and would certainly make this comic a good choice for those readers, but the comic is enjoyable without that. The art and the way the lines interweave Shakespearean English with much more recent forms of the language make it a great choice for anyone who enjoys that kind of play in language or an unusual take on comic art.

Content Notes

Some violence and blood.

Creator Identities:

Black |

Main Character Identities:

Assumed Black |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Sapiens: A Graphic History

Yuval Noah Harari

David VanderMeulen

Cover Image

In this graphic novel adaption of New York Times Best Seller "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind", author and historian Yuval Noah Harari becomes a character in their books, guiding us through the rise of Homo Sapiens as the only human species left on earth by explaining the big questions the book grapples with to his niece, with the help of other researchers who also appear in the book and more symbolic characters like Dr. Fiction and a "cave people" couple that show some of our false ideas about how early human's live. The third installment of this series will be released in October 2024.

Appeals to

Those interested in history, anthropology, or just wondered how humans as a race went from hunting large game in nomadic tribes to where we are today.

Content Notes

Brief discussion of cannibalism. Discussion of killing of the old and disabled, killing small children, ritual killings.

Creator Identities:

Israeli |

Main Character Identities:

Assumed Asian, Assumed Black, Assumed East Asian |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Slaughterhouse-Five: The Graphic Novel

Kurt Vonnegut

Albert Monteys

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In this humble features writer's opinion, there is not a book more ripe for a graphic novel adaption than Slaughterhouse-Five. With a main character described as "unstuck in time," it is easy to get lost in this non-linear narrative. See the juxtaposition of the different scenes of Billy Pilgrim's life smashed together on the page is a real delight, even if many moments of Billy's life are anything but delightful. Readers will experience time as Billy does as they make their way through this graphic novel.

Appeals to

For all Vonnegut lovers, an adaptation that the creator himself would have been delighted to see.

Content Notes

War and violence. Course language. Sexual situations. Discussions of death.

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Staff Picks: MANGA One and done

Introduction

Want to pick up a new manga but don’t want to end up committed to a 30+ volume story? Try a pick or two from this list, guaranteed to end with just the one book. 

Hana-chan and the Shape of the World

Ryotaro Ueda

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This manga features a series of vignettes about a young girl named Hana living in a rural Japanese village in the 80s. The title follows the adventures of Hana, her cat, and her best friend Uta. Some of their exploits include journeying through a storm at night to get a stash of chocolate hidden in a tree, and an attempt by their village to remove weeds from abandoned rice paddy causing some strange changes to the people in the village. While this manga was not originally intended for children, younger readers who like magical realism which is sometimes absurd and sometimes a little scary will enjoy this manga.

Appeals to

Fans of Goosebumps or other stories that are scary with a dash of silly will find this manga right in the wheelhouse.

Content Notes

Mild body horror, Death of a side character implied.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

I Had That Same Dream Again

Yoru Sumino

Idumi Kirihara

Cover Image

This manga is a meditation on the meaning of happiness through the eyes of a grade-schooler. This young girl is not your ordinary young student, her closest friends are a single woman in her 20s, a high schooler who loves to write, and an old woman living out the end of her life alone. When she is given an assignment at school to present on what happiness is, she looks to her unique acquaintances to help her figure it out, and along the way learns a lot about the different people in her life and what can lead someone to unhappiness as well as happiness.

Appeals to

Anyone looking for a though provoking slice-of-life story with a touch of magical realism.

Content Notes

Depictions of self-harm, discussions of suicidal ideation

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Mermaid Scales and the Town of Sand

Yoko Komori

Cover Image

After her parents separate, Tokiko and her father move to her mother’s hometown by the sea. Tokiko wants to find the mermaid who saved her life when she was four years old, but Yosuke, a boy from her class, warns her against talking about it with others. Soon, Tokiko discovers that the town has multiple mysteries.

Appeals to

With lovely black-and-white illustrations and a story that slowly builds, Mermaid Scales and the Town of Sand will appeal to fans of stories that focus on a strong sense of place, big feelings, and blurry realities. I would especially give this title to readers who enjoy Studio Ghibli’s attention to setting details and quiet, yet expansive stories.

Content Notes

Brief nudity, but nothing is really visible

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Never Open It: The Taboo Trilogy

Ken Niimura

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In this manga split into three parts, Niimura explores the Japanese folk tales he was told as a child and what it means for something to be taboo. With inspiration from popular Japanese tales like Urashima Taro and The Crane Wife, Niimura uses his unique storytelling style to explore why there are rules around keeping certain things hidden.

Appeals to

Fans of folklore and literary comics will enjoy this title.

Content Notes

Violence and blood, Death of a parent, Animal cruelty, Manipulation, Kidnapping

Creator Identities:

Spanish-Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Sand Land

Akira Toriyama

Cover Image

It's the distant future and the Earth is now almost entirely a desert, with a small supply of water under the control of a self-styled king. To try and find another source of water and fight back, all things demons are enlisted to help. Thus begins the adventures of Beelzebub, the demon prince, and the ragtag crew cruising the desert for water and fighting the king's army.

Appeals to

First: yes, this manga is out of print. However, the ebook is available, and there have been a lot of recent developments around it (an anime, a game, and a sequel) so it's likely to get a reprint soon.
As a manga recommended for kids, Sand Land falls outside the norm because it does have high drama and darker story points, but it also shows that sometimes bad people can change, and expectations don't always match reality. This is a great read for kids who enjoy series like Dragon Ball because it's the same creator so it has a lot of the same kind of humor, but also for kids who like post-apocalyptic stories or just stories with a little more bite and action.

Content Notes

Though there's no blood or guts, there are a lot of guns, tanks, and fighting, as well as some partial nudity (the main character mostly just wears shorts and no shirt) and depictions of smoking.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Solanin

Inio Asano

Cover Image

Twenty-something Meiko despises her unfulfilling office job and struggles to feel part of the world; her boyfriend Naruo lives with her as he pursues music and works part-time as an illustrator. Follow Meiko as she figures out her life alongside Naruo and her other friends.

Appeals to

With excellent art and a story that skillfully moves between reflective, sad, and funny, Solanin is a powerful coming-of-age story. I first read Solanin in my twenties and found it relatable and comforting as I was also in the process of figuring out my own life. While rereading it for this list, I still found it relevant and especially enjoyed the quirky, funny, and little quiet moments that built up the characters' relationship. Teen and adult readers who enjoy coming-of-age stories and/or are going through a transition period may want to pick up Solanin.

Content Notes

Depictions of alcohol and drinking; character death (with blood); brief discussion of depression and grief

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

The Bride Was a Boy

Chii

Cover Image

In this heartwarming story, transgender woman Chii tells the story of her transition and marriage. Within the story's bite-sized chapters, Chii uses adorable drawings of herself and loved ones to tell her story and educate readers on various vocabulary surrounding the transgender experience.

Appeals to

Readers looking for a positive story featuring a transgender character will enjoy The Bride Was a Boy. Readers who are curious about transition stories set in other countries will also be interested.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Trans |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Trans |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Wolf Children

Mamoru Hosoda

Yu

Cover Image

This story begin with Hana meeting a mysterious stranger in one of her college classes. They are quickly enraptured with each other, but this man has a secret, he is a wolfman and can transform into a wolf at will. Hana is undeterred by her lover's secret, and they start what is looking to be a wonderful life together. But soon after the birth of their second child, the wolfman dies in a tragic accident, leaving Hana to raise two children, who are part wolf themselves, on her own. This story is a portrait of the joys and hardships of motherhood.

Appeals to

Anyone who knows a mother who has had to make sacrifices for her children, but still loves them fiercely will enjoy this story.

Content Notes

Depiction of character death, depiction of a dead animal

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

How to Comic: Comics that teach you something

Introduction

When we typically think of comics and manga, we think of fictional stories. A dog who’s a cop or a pirate who can stretch his limbs like rubber. If you are more familiar with comics you’d likely read a graphic memoir, or a comic that is about someone’s real life experiences. But the world of comics is also filled with lots of informational nonfiction, from cookbooks to how-tos there are many comics out there that can help you learn.

A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns

Archie Bongiovanni

Archie Bongiovanni

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In the theme of comics that teach, the Quick & Easy Guide series are great, and the Guide to They/Them Pronouns in particular breaks down the idea of pronoun options and how to use them in an approachable format. It's like a conversation with friends that happens to help people better understand the existence and usage of pronouns beyond she and he. Though it's focused of course on they, the lessons it teaches can easily be applied to neopronouns and other gender-neutral pronouns like xie or ey.

Appeals to

This series and this comic in the series in particular is great to have on hand in a classroom, especially since it's available as a bundle, as a resource for anyone with questions on how to be better allies or build empathy, or start learning about a topic they may not want to ask someone about just yet. The smaller size of these comics makes them unobtrusive and approachable as well since it's not a giant academic-looking book. None of the guides are exhaustive, of course, but they have further resources at the back of each comic and can serve as ways to get conversations started.

Creator Identities:

Gay |

Nonbinary |

Main Character Identities:

Gay |

Nonbinary |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Embrace Your Size

hara

Cover Image

In an autobiographical story, hara chronicles her struggles with accepting her body and fighting against society's standards of beauty. It's part guide for anyone reading to help them along their own journeys and part confessional of how hara's fight has had its ups and downs. Hara goes over harmful dieting and the mental side effects of being treated as less for her size and is expected to get thinner, but she also shows her process of turning that around and finding joy in her size.

Appeals to

There are few people who wouldn't benefit from reading about how harmful beauty standards are and how important it is to embrace the bodies we have, but this is especially helpful for teens and adults who are facing these struggles. Hara's illustrations are sweet and sad, and though of course there's not one easy answer to these problems, seeing hara's process is beautiful.

Content Notes

Discussions of extreme dieting, mental breakdowns

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Graphic Novel

Cynthia Levinson

Ally Shwed

Cover Image

What’s up with the Electoral College? What powers does the president actually have? Why can it be so difficult to pass laws? These are just a few of the questions Fault Lines in Our Constitution covers! With examples throughout U.S. history up through Trump’s term, Fault Lines in the Constitution explains the framers’ rationale behind the Constitution and the impact their decisions have had on the American government, and, by turn, American society. Fault Lines in the Constitution asks how effective the Constitution has been and what changes might improve our system.
Fault Lines in the Constitution is part of First Second’s World Citizen series, a series of graphic novels focused on political and civic issues, such as voting rights, misinformation, and immigration.

Appeals to

Teens and adults curious about modern politics and civics--specifically the Constitution and its impact on modern politics--will want to check out Fault Lines in the Constitution.

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Free Speech Handbook: A Practical Framework for Understanding Our Free Speech Protections

Ian Rosenberg

Mike Cavallaro

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Everyone, whether they are correct or not, feels they know what the First Amendment is and what rights it protects, but how many of us actually understand those protections and the Supreme Court cases that have both defined and refined what "free speech" means? Frequently using contemporary comparisons to frame the discussion, this graphic novel takes the reader through 10 Supreme Court cases throughout American history that have shaped how we as a nation understand and interpret the First Amendment.

Appeals to

Required reading for anyone who wants to better understand, defend, and uphold the First Amendment.

Content Notes

Occasional use of profanity.

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Hidden Systems: Water, Electricity, the Internet, and the Secrets Behind the Systems We Use Every Day

Dan Nott

Cover Image

Every day, people use the Internet, get water from the tap, flush the toilet, and power all of their gadgets with electricity. But how much do you know about these systems? With illustrations that capture these systems’ massive scale and individual details, Dan Nott tells the story of these three systems and their impact on wider issues such as social inequality and climate change.

Appeals to

Older tweens, teens and adults interested in these essential services’ history and current impact will want to pick this approachable guide.

Creator Identities:

Queer |

Main Character Identities:

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Let's Make Dumplings: A Comics Book Cookbook

Hugh Armano

Sarah Becan

Cover Image

When was the last time you read a cookbook cover to cover? Probably never, right? Well with "Let's Make Dumplings" you won't want to miss any of the colorful illustrations or interesting tidbits about dumplings across Asia. This cookbook meets graphic novel not only depicts the food, but all the steps along the way, making things like intricate folding techniques easy to understand. Ten Speed Press has put out two other Let's Make titles: "Let's Make Ramen" and Let's Make Bread as well as "Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes".

Appeals to

Aspiring chefs and food lovers of all kinds!

Creator Identities:

Japanese-American |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese-American |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Maker Comics: Draw a Comic!

J P Coovert

Cover Image

Young readers can learn how to bake, make a costume, survive outdoors, and so much more with the Maker Comics series! In Maker Comic: Draw a Comic, Cooverts uses the medium of comics to show reading what goes into making a comic. This title covers planning and storyboarding, creating thumbnails, inking your work, what supplies you'll need to get started, and how to copy your work to share with others. It also encourages readers to practice along with the characters in the book, so by the time they finish they will have made a comic themselves.

Appeals to

Comic fans will love this behind-the-scenes peek at how they are made, whether they are interested in drawing their own or not.

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up

Marie Kondo

Yuko Uramoto

Cover Image

Have you been curious about The KonMari Method but the idea of reading a book on cleaning sounds a little...dry to you? Now you can enjoy the wisdom of organization guru Marie Kondo in the form of a manga. In each chapter, our author and tidying consultant takes us from deciding to tidy up our space to keeping our space orderly once we've organized everything. There is even a narrative element to this how-to guide. Marie is helping 20-something Chiaki Suzuki tidy her space so that she can feel better when she's home and even make room in her life for romance.

Appeals to

Anyone who is looking for a little more order in their lives in 2024.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

What the Font?!

Kuniichi Ashiya

Cover Image

Marusu is a sales rep who suddenly has to take over designing logos at her company with no experience dealing with fonts or anything relating to logos. A personification of the Helvetica font appears to guide Marusu through the world of fonts, introducing her to different fonts often used in graphic design or visual art. The reader learns alongside Marusu about the history of different fonts, terminology for typography, and all kinds of factoids about the history of printing, publishing, and design. Learn about serif versus sans serif, what serif even means, and what difference those fonts have when used on a page.

Appeals to

While of course this book can be a helpful way for students of graphic design or visual art to learn a bit more about fonts and maybe more easily remember things about them with the anthropomorphized characters, it can also be a great pick for people who enjoy learning more of the technical side of font choice in comics and manga, or anyone interested in learning more about the history surrounding printing and publishing.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Hidden Gems: history

Introduction

In this latest installment of Hidden Gems, the Features Team has pulled together a list of history comics. We hope this list will introduce some unknown historical figures and titles that you may have missed.

Bomb: The Race to Build -- And Steal -- The World's Most Dangerous Weapon

Steve Sheinkin

Nick Bertozzi

Cover Image

In this graphic adaptation of the novel of the same name, Bertozzi and Sheinkin work to emphasize the danger to all involved and the horror of so many parts of the process of creating the atomic bomb. The comic includes perspectives from other countries and breaks down some of the complex espionage that was so much a part of this story and includes a page at the end discussing where some of the major players went after 1950.

Appeals to

A recent movie release might be increasing interest in learning about the atomic bomb, and Bomb is a great way to start their research with something more simplified that still gets a lot of the story across effectively. It's also a good way to help younger readers start to understand the complexity of this moment in history; when they're ready they can then read the novel this is based on, which goes into more depth on aspects of the story.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Ms. Davis: A Graphic Biography

Sybille Titeux de la Croix

Cover Image

In a saturated art style that harkens back to the golden age of comics, French cartooning duo Améziane and Titeux de la Croix tell the story of Angela Davis, scholar, and political activist for the rights of black Americans. They begin by describing Angela's roots, growing up in Birmingham, Alabama and the novel culminates with her wrongful imprisonment for her suspected involvement in the 1971 Marin County courtroom gunfight and the fight by her and other activists to get her out of prison. This graphic novel shows why Ms. Davis's name should be on the lips of all who want to discuss those who fought to bring about justice for Black America.

Appeals to

Fans of Améziane and Titeux de la Croix's Muhammad Ali will love this new addition to their chronicling of Black leaders.

Content Notes

Gun Violence, Racism, Discussions of conditions in the US prison system

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Queer As All Get Out: 10 People Who've Inspired Me

Shelby Criswell

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Cartoonist Shelby Criswell introduces the reader to ten queer historical figures that have inspired them. As they introduce the reader to more famous figures such as Pauli Murray and Dr. Magnus Hirschfield as well as individuals barely present in the historical record, Criswell reflects on their own journey and the state of queer rights.

Appeals to

Readers looking for an uplifting look at queer historical figures should pick this up. Another plus is that Criswell incorporates a range of nationalities and queer identities, so this is a great read for people who want to learn about non-American queer historical figures!

Content Notes

Mentions of trauma around racism, homophobia, and anti-queer bigotry come up, but Criswell generally keeps things positive and does not dwell on negative images. There is also some violence in some of the chapters and brief nudity intended to humiliate a queer person (although nothing is really visible).

Creator Identities:

Queer |

Main Character Identities:

African-American, Black |

Queer |

Trans |

First Nations or Indigenous |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History

Joel Christian Gill

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A Black Union soldier rescues his child from slavery. Bass Reeves was one of the United States' most skilled marshals. These are just a few of the stories from Black history that Joel Christian Gill covers in his collection, Strange Fruit. With humor and expressive, impactful artwork, Gill brings to life these relatively unknown stories of African American success and triumph in the face of great adversity.

Appeals to

Teenage and adult readers who are interested in lesser-known American history and positive Black representation will find much to enjoy here.

Content Notes

Racism; violence

Creator Identities:

African-American |

Main Character Identities:

Black |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler

John Hendrix

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In a dangerous and unjust situation, how should individuals of faith respond? That is the question German priest Dietrich Bonhoeffer must answer when confronted with Adolf Hitler and his atrocities. Vividly drawn and richly researched, illustrator John Hendrix traces Bonhoeffer's personal journey and eventual involvement in the conspiracy to assassinate Hitler.

Appeals to

Readers looking for historical stories of resistance will find much to enjoy here.

Content Notes

Discussion of death and violence, but little actual violent imagery--Hendrix relies a lot on powerful symbolic imagery to tell Bonhoeffer's story and discuss the historical elements.

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

This Place: 150 Years Retold

Alicia Elliott

Natasha Donovon

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Reconsider the last 150 years of Canadian history through an Indigenous lens with This Place, and not just one tribe but Métis, Inuit, Dene, Cree, Anishinaabe, Mi’kmaq, and Haudenosaunee perspectives. Each comic takes a different point in history and zooms in, focusing on a particular person or moment, whether external or internal, giving context the history books likely aren't. There's also a bibliography and works cited in the back of the book, for readers interested in taking deeper dives into these moments.

Appeals to

Readers who prefer nonfiction and are getting into comics may find this an approachable way to start, since it is an anthology so each story is told by a different author and artist or art style, so if they don't love one they can move on to another. Readers who already enjoy graphic memoirs will appreciate this entry into the world of nonfiction comics that while still giving a personal perspective, is less focused on one person's story and is instead the chorus of many voices on a similar topic. Also, feels like required purchasing for any school library in North America, to make sure students are getting as many perspectives on what they're learning as possible.

Creator Identities:

Anisinaabe, Cree, Dene, Haudenosaunee, Inuit, Metis, Mi'gmaq |

Anisinaabe, Cree, Dene, Haudenosaunee, Inuit, Metis, Mi'gmaq |

Main Character Identities:

Anisinaabe, Cree, Dene, Inuit, Metis, Mi'gmaq |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Tokyo Rose-Zero Hero: A Japanese American Woman's Persecution and Ultimate Redemption after World War II

Andre Frattino

Kate Kasenow

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If you were stranded in an enemy country, what would you do? Iva Toguri was forced to remain in Japan after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. She refused to renounce her American partnership, and she put a defiant spin on her role as one of the women known as Tokyo Rose, a radio personality intended to demoralize American soldiers fighting the Japanese. When she returned to the United States, Iva was tried for treason.

Appeals to

Readers interested in stories of ordinary people confronting injustice and difficult odds should pick up Tokyo Rose.

Content Notes

Use of a racial slur

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice

Tommie Smith

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This graphic memoir tells the story of Tommie Smith, who at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City decided to peacefully protest the treatment of black athletes and black Americans as a whole. This narrative covers Tommie's rise to fame as a track star, his path to the '68 Olympics, and the fallout from his discussion to protest.

Appeals to

Sports fans, young activists, and fans of graphic memoirs will find something to enjoy here.

Content Notes

Racism

Creator Identities:

African-American |

Main Character Identities:

African-American |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts

Rebecca Hall

Hugo Martinez

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In this compelling graphic novel, historian Rebecca Hall describes her experiences tracking down the history of women-led slave revolts. Readers follow Rebecca's journey as she struggles to locate resources and reconstruct these brave Black women's stories all the while wrestling with the slave trade's legacy.

Appeals to

Readers who are interested in "hidden" history and the process of researching and reconstructing history will be engaged with Wake. Readers who are interested in stories of Black resistance and the legacy of slavery will also want to read this as well.
Teaching resources and lesson plans are available on Rebecca Hall's website, https://rebhallphd.org/

Content Notes

Frank discussion and portrayal of slavery and the slave trade and the resulting emotional trauma; the portrayal of violence

Creator Identities:

African-American |

Main Character Identities:

Black |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

We Served the People: My Mother's Stories

Emei Burell

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Emei Burell's mother was sixteen when she was sent to the countryside as part of China's Down to the Countryside Movement. In We Served the People, Burell shares her mother's stories of life during Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution--including working in the countryside before finally returning to her hometown, Beijing, to navigate complicated social pressures and work dynamics and fight for the education she desperately wanted.

Appeals to

We Served the People will appeal to teen and adult readers looking for stories about the Cultural Revolution and/or stories of women who overcame the odds.

Creator Identities:

Swedish |

Main Character Identities:

Chinese |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Yummy: A History of Desserts

Victoria Grace Elliott

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Peri, a sprite with a passion for food and excitement for the history of it, guides the reader through the history of some of the most popular desserts with the help of some of her fellow sprites. They wander through each dessert, providing commentary and looking into myths surrounding the desserts, giving readers a wider perspective of where modern desserts came from and how things can happen simultaneously across the world. It's cute, fun, and even has kid-friendly recipes.

Appeals to

Yummy is such a fun comic for young readers, making history approachable and a little silly as well as hands-on since they can try making things they're reading about. This would be a great choice for school libraries, as it could be used in history and science classrooms potentially, or for in-library programs partnering with those classes. It's not comprehensive, but it doesn't try to be; Yummy is focused on a few iconic desserts, and it does that well.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Lone Wolf and Cub

A samurai epic of staggering proportions, the acclaimed Lone Wolf and Cub begins its second life at Dark Horse Manga with new, larger editions of over 700 pages, value priced. The brilliant storytelling of series creator Kazuo Koike and the groundbreaking cinematic visuals of Goseki Kojima create a graphic-fiction masterpiece of beauty, fury, and thematic power.

(Publisher Description)

This title has not (yet) been reviewed by our staff, but it is a title that we highly recommend for the majority of libraries building collections for this age range.


Lone Wolf and Cub
By Kazuo Koike
ISBN: 9781616551346
Dark Horse, 2013
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)
Volumes available: 12 (Series complete)


Akira

Akira is set in the post-apocalypse Neo-Tokyo of 2019, a vast metropolis built on the ashes of a Tokyo annihilated by an apocalyptic blast of unknown power that triggered World War III. The lives of two streetwise teenage friends, Tetsuo and Kaneda, change forever when dormant paranormal abilities begin to waken in Tetsuo, who becomes a target for a shadowy government operation, a group who will stop at nothing to prevent another catastrophe like that which leveled Tokyo. And at the core of their motivation is a raw, all-consuming fear: a fear of someone — or something — of unthinkably monstrous power known only as…Akira. And Akira is about to rise.

(Publisher Description)

This title has not (yet) been reviewed by our staff, but it is a title that we highly recommend for the majority of libraries building collections for this age range.


Akira
By Katsuhiro Otomo
ISBN: 9781569714980
Dark Horse, 2000
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)
Volumes available: 6 (Series complete)


La Voz de M.A.Y.O.: Tata Rambo

LA VOZ DE M.A.Y.O: TATA RAMBO is based on the oral history of Ramon Jaurigue, an orphan and WWII veteran who co-founded the Mexican, American, Yaqui, and Others (M.A.Y.O.) organization, which successfully lobbied the Tucson City Council to improve living and working conditions for members of the Pascua Yaqui tribe, paving the way to their federal recognition. Meanwhile, Ramon’s home life suffered as his focus was pulled from his family to the wider community, and from domesticity to the adrenaline of the campaign. A resonant, neglected slice of American history is brought to life for the first time with art by J. GONZO, letter art by BERNARDO BRICE, editing by CLAIRE NAPIER, and a script by HENRY BARAJAS—the great-grandson of Ramon Jaurigue, a.k.a. Tata Rambo.

(Publisher Description)


La Voz de M.A.Y.O.: Tata Rambo
By Henry Barajas
Art By J. Gonzo
ISBN: 9781534313637
Image, 2019
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)


Our Review

La Voz de M.A.Y.O.: Tata Rambo

Fruits Basket

After a family tragedy turns her life upside down, plucky high schooler Tohru Honda takes matters into her own hands and moves out…into a tent! Unfortunately for her, she pitches her new home on private land belonging to the mysterious Sohma clan, and it isn’t long before the owners discover her secret. But, as Tohru quickly finds out when the family offers to take her in, the Sohmas have a secret of their own–when touched by the opposite sex, they turn into the animals of the Chinese Zodiac!

(Publisher Description)

This title has not (yet) been reviewed by our staff, but it is a title that we highly recommend for the majority of libraries building collections for this age range.


Fruits Basket
By Natsuki Takaya
ISBN: 9780316360166
Yen Press, 2016
NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16)
Volumes available: 12 (Series complete)


Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

Charlie’s the laid-back captain of the basketball team. Nate is the neurotic, scheming president of the robotics club. But they are friends, however unlikely?until Nate declares war on the cheerleaders and the cheerleaders retaliate by making Charlie their figurehead in the ugliest class election campaign the school has ever seen. At stake? Student group funding that will either cover a robotics competition or new cheerleading uniforms, but not both.

Bad sportsmanship? Sure. Chainsaws? Why not. Running away from home on Thanksgiving to illicitly enter a televised robot deathmatch? Let’s do this!

(Publisher Description)


Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
By Prudence Shen
Art By Faith Erin Hicks
ISBN: 9781250779618
First Second, 2021
NFNT Age Recommdnation: Teen (13-16)


Our Review

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong