Staff Picks Updates: Pride 2024

Introduction

This year, we thought it might be good to reflect back on some of the great comics highlighted in previous years’ Pride lists while also sprinkling in a few new options. So enjoy this mix of newer and older LGBTQ+ titles for Pride 2024.

Be Gay, Do Comics

The Nib

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Though not the first of its kind, this is a well-built anthology of queer stories covering important moments in LGBTQ+ history, personal stories from the contributors, and jokes or satire stories, all at varying lengths, so some may be only a page while others are upwards of ten pages long. As usual with anthologies, not every story may be for everyone, but there's probably at least one story for everybody in here.

Appeals to

Anthologies are always great for people who prefer shorter stories or don't have time for longer options, and this one is especially great for those kinds of readers since it's such a mix of topics and lengths. Otherwise, this would likely appeal to readers of queer fiction comics such as Supermutant Magic Academy or Stone Fruit.

Creator Identities:

Black, Fijian-American, Puerto Rican |

Asexual, Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Pansexual, Queer |

Gender Nonconforming, Genderqueer, Intersex, Nonbinary, Trans |

Main Character Identities:

Asexual, Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Pansexual, Queer |

Gender Nonconforming, Genderqueer, Intersex, Nonbinary, Trans |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Fine: A Comic About Gender

Rhea Ewing

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Rhea Ewing was struggling to determine their gender identity, so they quickly interviewed some people to get a clearer picture and figure out where they fit in. Instead, they do over fifty interviews and the result is Fine. Part memoir, part documentary, Fine is an engaging, approachable read about people’s experiences navigating their gender identity in American society.

Appeals to

Readers looking for a nuanced discussion of gender that doesn’t get bogged down with a lot of terminology will want to pick up Fine.

Content Notes

Transphobia; queerphobia; discussion of suicide attempt; nudity (very brief and in a context where makes sense)

Creator Identities:

Nonbinary |

Main Character Identities:

Genderqueer, Trans, Two Spirit |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Heartstopper

Alice Oseman

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Charlie Spring is an anxious, nerdy teen trying to move on after being bullied for being gay; Nick Nelson is a well-liked rugby player. When homeroom brings them together, they start forging a friendship..and something more.

Appeals to

With its emphasis on character development and relationships, plus charming art, Heartstopper is perfect for fans of slow-burn romances and loving queer stories. The story has so many good points--a loving queer relationship with good communication and strong friendships to name a few! In addition to its following from its webcomic origins, the series now has a Netflix adaptation; therefore, having it on the shelves is essential!

Content Notes

Homophobia; biphobia; disordered eating; bullying; discussion of mental illness and self-harm

Creator Identities:

Asexual |

Main Character Identities:

Bisexual, Gay |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Kiss Number Eight

Colleen AF Venable

Ellen T Crenshaw

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Amanda has kissed a lot of frogs trying to find her prince, but her eighth kiss shows her that she might be interested in princes and princesses, but it also may break her friend group apart. On top of dealing with keeping her interest in girls a secret, she receives a mysterious letter in the mail promising her an inheritance from her paternal grandfather who she’s never met. As Amanda tries to discover more about this relative, she discovers that she may not be the only person in her family that her parents need to learn to accept.

Appeals to

Anyone who is looking for a sign that it indeed does get better. Young people who have people in their lives (family, friends, school) who are not accepting of their identity at first will feel seen by this story and given hope that they will find their people someday.

Content Notes

Transphobia and homophobia

Creator Identities:

Genderqueer |

Main Character Identities:

Bisexual |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Look on the Bright Side

Karen Schneemann

Lily Williams

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The highly anticipated sequel to Eisner-nominated "Go With the Flow Lily", Look on the Bright Side focuses on the quad of best friends from the first graphic novel, figuring out who they are and if they are brave enough to live as their true selves. The course of true love (and junior year) never runs smoothly, especially if you are crushing on your best friend, who may or may not be into girls.

Appeals to

Fans of the first volume will not be disappointed by this heartfelt follow-up, but even readers new to Schneemann and Williams's work who are fans of slice-of-life stories centered around navigating first love will find something to love here.

Creator Identities:

Chronic Illness |

Main Character Identities:

Assumed East Asian, Black |

Lesbian, Queer |

Chronic Illness |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Love Me For Who I Am

Kata Konayama

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Though they haven't figured out some aspects of their identity, Mogumo is at least certain that they aren't a boy or a girl, but somewhere in between, and that they also like to look cute. At first, they worry so much about how they're perceived that they avoid their fellow students, but Tetsu suggests they try working at a cafe his sister runs, all staffed by people along the gender spectrum. With time Mogumo gains confidence and starts opening up, even learning how to talk to their family about their identity.

Appeals to

The way this series highlights some of the harder and darker parts of working through an identity would make it a solid choice for readers that enjoyed Our Dreams At Dusk and Boys Run the Riot, or even nonfiction titles like Until I Love Myself and At 30 I Realized I Had No Gender. It highlights various experiences of gender and how that can look at different ages or in different relationships, even if those looks are brief.

Content Notes

Verbal abuse by family members, self harm, threats of self harm.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Queer |

Nonbinary |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Mooncakes

Suzanne Walker

Wendy Xu

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Nova Huang runs into her childhood crush, Tam, when investigating paranormal activity in her quaint New England town. The catch? Tam is a werewolf and unsavory forces are after their powers. This teenage witch will do everything in her power to protect Tam so that they can figure out if this old flame is worth rekindling.

Appeals to

Readers who love a friends-to-lovers story like The Prince and the Dressmaker will love this cozy occult love story.

Creator Identities:

Chinese-American |

Queer |

Genderqueer |

Hearing loss |

Main Character Identities:

Chinese-American |

Bisexual, Queer |

Gender Nonconforming, Genderqueer |

Hearing loss |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Other Ever Afters:

Melanie Gillman

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A young woman enlists the help of a trickster to escape an unwanted marriage. A princess tries to marry a commoner only to be confronted with her privilege. When a woman is declared bitter, she becomes the giantess’ latest victim. With gorgeous colored pencil illustrations, Melanie Gillman tells these stories and more in this collection of queer fairy tales.

Appeals to

This collection was one of my favorite reads the year it came out; the stories explore themes of belonging and injustice while still providing some comfort even in the darker tales. If you like queer, feminist fairy tales or are seeking a comfort read, pick up Other Ever Afters.

Creator Identities:

Nonbinary |

Main Character Identities:

Queer |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

She Loves to Cook and She Loves to Eat

Sakaomi Yuzaki

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Nomoto loves cooking, especially cute dishes she can post on social media, but isn't much of an eater. Kasuga, her next next-door neighbor, has a big appetite but not much interest in cooking. So naturally, Nomoto starts dropping off food for Kasuga, then coming over to cook with her, then going grocery shopping together, and even spending holidays together. Nomoto is slowly realizing that maybe her feelings for Kasuga are more than friendship, and exactly what she was looking for.

Appeals to

This series is ideal for readers that enjoy slower-paced manga featuring queer romance focused on the quiet moments of daily life, like Doughnuts Under a Crescent Moon, The Moon On a Rainy Night, and I'm Kinda Chubby and I'm Your Hero. The relationships feel genuine and don't get too heavy-handed with the usual tropes that can happen in queer manga, and the series is short so far at four volumes, making it great for readers who prefer not to commit to a long series.

Content Notes

Some portrayal of toxic family relationships, heteronormative expectations in work and family, and discussion of homophobia.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Lesbian |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Snapdragon

Kat Leyh

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After Snap finds some orphaned possums, she befriends Jacks, a mysterious elderly individual. As Jacks teaches her the finer points of animal anatomy, Snap discovers that she has a bit of her own magic. Snapdragon is a sweet and funny story of self-discovery and the rekindling of an old romance.

Appeals to

Fans of Raina Telgemeier's work and Molly Ostertag’s Witch Boy series; readers looking for a story about found family and self-discovery. Also great for readers who like a little spooky magic in their stories.

Content Notes

Implication of a bad boyfriend, but very little shown on the page.

Creator Identities:

Queer |

Main Character Identities:

Multiracial |

Lesbian, Queer |

Trans |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Super Late Bloomer

Julia Kaye

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In "Super Late Bloomer" and her follow-up "My Life in Transition" Julia Kaye's diary-style webcomics chronicling the ups and downs of her gender transition are collected into physical graphic novels. She shares her struggles and her newfound joys with honesty and humor, 3 panels at a time.

Appeals to

Anyone who follows the hourly comic hashtag every February 1st to see what their favorite artists' lives are like will enjoy Kaye's intimate diary-style comics.

Content Notes

brief mentions of transphobic family, internalized transphobia

Creator Identities:

Trans |

Main Character Identities:

Trans |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

The Girl from the Sea

Molly Ostertag

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When 15-year-old Morgan is saved from nearly drowning by the mysterious Keltie, who seems to be more at home in the water than on land, her plan to keep her head down and wait to live as her authentic self once she leaves for college starts to fall apart. As both girls become closer they learn that neither of them can keep their secrets hidden forever.

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Readers who have outgrown Ostertag's Witch Boy series will be excited to check out her sapphic take on the selkie myth.

Creator Identities:

Queer |

Main Character Identities:

Korean-American |

Lesbian |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Deya Muniz

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Lady Camembert does not want to marry a man, but she can’t inherit from her father without a husband. After her father’s death, Cam moves to the capital, where she starts a new life as Count Camembert and meets Princess Brie. Cam bonds with Brie and her friends over their shared interest in fashion, and she and Brie quickly develop crushes. However, Cam’s secret and social rules keep getting in the way. Can Brie and Cam get their happy ending?

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With delightful illustrations and a story with a hearty dash of chaotic comedy, The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich should appeal to readers looking for a fun romantic comedy.

Creator Identities:

Brazilian |

Main Character Identities:

Lesbian |

Gender Nonconforming |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

The Tea Dragon Society

K. O'Neill

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When Greta rescues a tiny dragon, she meets the dragon’s owner, Hesekiel, who offers to teach her about tea dragons. As Greta learns more about the dragons’ care through spending time with Hesekiel, his partner Erik, and her new friend Minette, Greta reflects on what the slower crafts mean for their lives.

Appeals to

The concept of the tea dragons--dragons that grow leaves that retain memories--is just delightful, and O’Neill delivers a gentle story that contemplates big questions and coming-of-age themes. The artwork is gorgeous, capturing the adorable tea dragons just as well as the other characters and setting. The Tea Dragon Society is perfect for cozy fantasy fans and Miyazaki lovers of all ages. For the readers who want more, never fear: there are sequels and they are just as sweet and thoughtful!

Creator Identities:

Queer |

Main Character Identities:

Gay |

Wheelchair User |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Cover Image

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

Cover Image

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

Staff picks: Top Comics of 2023

Introduction

 Another year has come and gone, and the Features Team is proud to share our favorite titles from 2023. We hope you have a chance to revisit some favorites and discover new ones! 

Bea Wolf

Zach Weinersmith

Boulet

Cover Image

Generations of kids have helped build the kingdom that leads to the haven known as Treeheart, a perfect paradise for kids away from adults. But then Grindle, a hater of children, invades their country and starts cleaning house and turning kids into teens. Only the heroic Bea Wolf can stand against Grindle's threat, bearing her brave face against his bold maneuvers. Yes, this is a re-telling of Beowulf set in the modern day, about kids versus adults, and yes it is as delightful as that sounds.

Appeals to

Readers who enjoy tabletop games or adjacent media might enjoy Bea Wolf for the obvious heroic overtones, and the comedy of this comic can appeal to fans of sillier stories. This comic has a pretty wide range of appeal because younger kids might enjoy just looking through the pictures while adults and older kids can appreciate the story and how effectively it adapts the original poem.

Creator Identities:

French |

Main Character Identities:

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Boys Weekend

Mattie Lubchansky

Cover Image

Sammie is trans femme and has been out to most of her friends and family for a year when she gets an invite to join her closet college friend Adam on his bachelor party trip to El Campo. At this dystopian Las Vegas-like destination, people can indulge their most hedonistic and aggressive desires with little consequences. The worst part, Adam has named Sammie his best man. Since Adam was Sammie's best man at her wedding, she feels as though she needs to be a good sport to return the favor and try to maintain one of her longest friendships. When Sammie arrives in El Campo, she has to endure rude, dismissive, and sometimes downright transphobic comments from the rest of the groomsmen. To top off an already emotionally fraught weekend, it seems like the group is all getting sucked into this weird cult holding a convention at the hotel they're staying at, and Sammie seems to be the only one clear-headed enough to see what's going on.

Appeals to

Everyone who likes their commentary on toxic masculinity with a side of eldritch horror.

Content Notes

Transphobia, Some scenes containing gore

Creator Identities:

Nonbinary, Trans |

Main Character Identities:

Trans |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Brooms

Jasmine Walls

Teo DuVall

Cover Image

In an alternate United States, people of color are forbidden from practicing magic, unless they manage to secure official permission. Yet many secret practitioners enter unsanctioned flying races, where high risks can result in a big reward. Billie Mae and her teammates Loretta and Cheng Kwan enjoy the races' community while having big dreams. When Mattie and Emma, Black-Choctaw girls who have recently accessed their magic, join the Night Storms, they all have a chance to make their dreams come true.

Appeals to

Brooms captivated me with its action-packed story following a tight-knit group ready to defy the oppressive laws that try to keep them down. The fantastic artwork and worldbuilding work together to convey a well-developed setting. There are little decisions, like using Native American sign language and including a sort of afterward for the main story, that make the whole experience immersive. If you are a fan of witchy stories, you don’t want to miss Brooms.

Content Notes

Mistreatment at a residential school; racism; some violence

Creator Identities:

Mexican-American |

Queer |

Main Character Identities:

Black, Chinese-American |

Queer |

Trans |

First Nations or Indigenous |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

But You Have Friends

Emilia McKenzie

Cover Image

Emilia McKenzie writes about her relationship with her friend C, whom she eventually loses to suicide. Throughout the book, she reflects on her relationship with C, her grief, and all the baggage that comes with loss and grief.

Appeals to

I loved this book for how McKenzie built up the relationship between her and C; she has a knack for showing the little moments that make up a dear friendship and weaves them with her reflection on grappling with the loss. The simple art, which often portrays these little moments and actions, *really* works. If you pick this up, make sure you’re in a place where you can cry freely. I don’t cry much when I read, and I was tearing up!

Content Notes

Suicide; drug overdoses

Creator Identities:

British |

Main Character Identities:

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Buzzing

Samuel Sattin

Rye Hickman

Cover Image

Sometimes, it's hard for Isaac to hear much outside of the bees getting in his way. They tell him about his crooked face and nose, about bad things that are going to happen to people he loves, and the noise escalates sometimes. It doesn't hurt that his mom treats him like a time bomb and his sister is frustrated at being ignored while mom continually checks in on Isaac. When Micah enters his life things finally start to look brighter again for the first time in a while, but then Isaac's grades slip. He'll have to learn balance and trust to get through this, and so will his mom.

Appeals to

Since a lot of the story centers around the game Swamps & Sorcery (a parody of Dungeons & Dragons), readers who enjoy comics featuring tabletop games like Just Roll With It or Dungeon Club: Roll Call will likely enjoy Buzzing. The themes of learning trust and making friends might appeal to readers of Freestyle, and the art is so wonderful at setting scenes and showing emotion, it could also be a solid choice for readers new to comics.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Family Style: Memories of an American from Vietnam

Thien Pham

Cover Image

Pham uses food, both Vietnamese and American, to take the reader through his family's journey from Vietnam to America as refugees. It begins with their boat ride out of the country and continues with the author's finally becoming a citizen in his middle age. In between is the families' struggle to learn English, get steady work, and achieve the American Dream. Along the way, the author struggles with not feeling American enough to fit in when he first arrives here, to not feeling connected enough to his Vietnamese heritage as he matures into an adult completely in America. This graphic memoir is a moving depiction of what it's like to be an immigrant in America.

Appeals to

Fans of American Born Chinese and The Best We Could Do will enjoy this food-focused take on the immigrant experience.

Content Notes

Racism and Xenophobia

Creator Identities:

Vietnamese, Vietnamese American |

Main Character Identities:

Vietnamese, Vietnamese American |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

In Limbo

Deb JJ Lee

Cover Image

Deb has struggled to find her place in life, feeling caught between identities and obligations. To complicate matters further, Deb's mother is controlling and volatile, sometimes lashing out physically or emotionally. By the time Deb graduates high school, she's managed to communicate her desire to do art, quit music, and learn her own way, but she's also attempted suicide twice. It takes time and work, but Deb starts to become someone she doesn't hate. In Limbo doesn't give easy answers or a neatly wrapped-up ending, but that's part of what makes it great.

Appeals to

Limited color, and dreamy art paired with heavier topics make In Limbo a solid choice for fans of Tillie Walden's work. How candidly the story handles its complexity and darkness could be a good pick for readers who enjoy graphic nonfiction, like Dancing at the Pity Party or Banned Book Club.

Content Notes

Depictions of physical and emotional abuse by a parent, discussions of depression and suicide

Creator Identities:

Korean-American |

Nonbinary |

Main Character Identities:

Korean-American |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Monstrous: A Transracial Adoption Story

Sarah Myer

Cover Image

Korean adoptee Sarah Myer tells their story of self-acceptance as they wrestle with their origins and their identity while dealing with difficult, often racist school and social settings.

Appeals to

Thanks to Myer’s powerful drawings that mix reality and images of their imagination and mental state, I found myself sucked into their story. Myer also frames their story well, tracing a trajectory to a better place and ultimately using their story to share a message of hope. It was a difficult read in parts, but I also appreciated the message and the fact it let me reflect on some of my own experiences.

Content Notes

Racism; homophobia; bullying; mental health struggles

Creator Identities:

Korean-American |

Nonbinary |

Main Character Identities:

Korean-American |

Nonbinary |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

The Infinity Particle

Wendy Xu

Cover Image

After moving to Mars to study artificial intelligence with her hero Dr. Lin, Clementine meets Kye, a humanoid robot and Dr. Lin’s assistant As Kye and Clem grow closer, they soon have to contend with Dr. Lin's disapproval and possessiveness and Kye's sudden glitches. As Clem and Kye rush to get to the bottom of the glitches, they find so much more than they expected.

Appeals to

The Infinity Particle is a tender and romantic story about two people finding agency together against a backdrop of questions about AI and what it means to be human. The rich setting details brought me into the story, and I adored Xu’s adorable character and robot designs. Readers who enjoy thoughtful and romantic sci-fi stories like Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeam and Fiona Ostby's Space Story will likely enjoy Infinity Particle.

Content Notes

Egotistical and bullying boss/parental figure; implied death of a child; abusive parent-child relationship

Creator Identities:

Chinese-American |

Main Character Identities:

Assumed Asian |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

The Ojja-Wojja

Magdalene Visaggio

Jenn St-Onge

Cover Image

Lanie and Val are best friends, and ready to weather any storm for each other, but Val's obsession with all things supernatural leads her to find out about a local myth of the Ojja-Wojja. Naturally, they end up accidentally summoning it, and things are worse than expected. That is, until Val trusts her instincts about this creature and the host it chooses: the super popular Andrea, who used to be friends with them but lately bullies them instead. Horror but also heartwarming, there's a lot to love in The Ojja-Wojja.

Appeals to

This story's mix of small-town legends and the presence of the supernatural is likely a hit with fans of comics like The Hills of Estrella Roja, Another Kind, or All My Friends Are Ghosts. Because the main cast is queer, it's also a great choice for younger readers looking for queer horror and likely finding stories geared toward older audiences that they may not be ready for yet.

Creator Identities:

Queer |

Trans |

Main Character Identities:

Queer |

Trans |

Autistic Spectrum |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

There Is No Right Way to Meditate

Yumi Sakugawa

Cover Image

Have you read a book on meditation, or listened to a recorded guided meditation and felt like you still weren't quite "getting it"? You are not alone. Sakugawa responds to the confusion, frustration, and judgment that many people bring with them when first trying to establish a meditation practice with "There Is No Right Way to Meditate" She frames the exercises presented in the book as "offerings and invitations" that allow the reader to explore what a meditation practice might look like for them. With an artsy style and sparing use of color, reading this book feels like a meditation in and of itself.

Appeals to

Anyone who is curious about meditation but feels like self-help books are boring and stuffy.

Creator Identities:

Japanese-American |

Gender Nonconforming, Nonbinary |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese-American |

Gender Nonconforming, Nonbinary |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Comics that started as Webcomics

Introduction

In the age where you can read comics from an app on your phone, it’s no surprise that many well-known comics get their start online as webcomics. Comics that started out on Webtoons, Tapas, or sometimes even published on the creator’s own website rise to such popularity that they get a publishing deal and get to have a new life in print. This list includes some of the features team’s favorites.

Crumbs

Danie Stirling

Cover Image

Ray is a seer whose unique gift allows her to clearly see the present, and she dreams of using her abilities to work for the Council. Laurie works at Ray's favorite bakery and has dreams of making it big as a musician. As the couple pursues their dreams, they will have to figure out their obstacles and personal challenges. Can they both reach their dreams and keep their relationship intact?
I was completely taken with Crumbs when I first read it on Webtoon. The artwork is charming, with a warm palette that works to set the overall cozy mood. The worldbuilding creates a magical setting that captures some degree of modernity (cell phone sprites!) that feels both familiar and fresh. Ray and Laurie both have their good and bad points, and their dynamic is handled in a way that emphasizes communication over drama. The result is a story that feels grounded but with plenty of warm whimsy to make you feel cozy and happy.
You can also read Crumbs online at Webtoon: https://www.webtoons.com/en/romance/crumbs/list?title_no=1648

Appeals to

Fans of gentle, healthy romance and cozy fantasy will want to pick up Crumbs.

Content Notes

Brief discussion of parental death

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Fangs

Sarah Andersen

Cover Image

From the mind of Sarah's Scribbles, Fangs started on the popular webcomic website Tapas. In a series of sweet and humorous vignettes, it follows the romance between vampire Elsie and werewolf Jimmy. Though their supernatural experiences are very different, they find common ground and fall in love in a way that will be very relatable to us mere mortals. Read Fangs on Tapas at tapas.io/series/fangscomic/info.

Appeals to

Anyone looking for a sweet romance with a supernatural twist.

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Heartstopper

Alice Oseman

Cover Image

Charlie Spring is a sweet and anxious openly gay teenager who is still grappling with the aftermath of being outed. Nick Nelson is a rugby player whose sweeter, more reflective nature places him a bit at odds with his friend group. When they are seated together in their form, Nick and Charlie quickly develop a friendship and then deeper feelings. Follow their ups and downs as Charlie and Nick get through their final years of high school together.
As of publication, the series is still ongoing, and you can read it here: https://www.webtoons.com/en/canvas/heartstopper/list?title_no=329660

Appeals to

With an excellent queer cast, Heartstopper will appeal to readers looking for stories with positive queer relationships; fans of sweet romance that do not place a lot of emphasis on sex will want to pick up this series as well. Oseman succeeds at striking a balance between difficult topics and portrayals of wonderful moments of friendship and romance. Add charming artwork (with adorable fur babies), and you can't go wrong!
A note to libraries: Given the popularity of the Netflix show, I would recommend trying to have at least the first couple of volumes on the shelf.

Content Notes

Discussion/portrayal of an eating disorder, mental illness, homophobia, and bullying

Creator Identities:

Asexual |

Main Character Identities:

Bisexual, Gay |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Hooky

Míriam Bonastre Tur

Cover Image

Twin witches Dani and Dorian have something of a talent for mischief; this time, instead of getting on their way to magic school they maybe steal a dragon's egg and get declared traitors of their kind. But obviously, they can't just go home and admit what happened, so instead they decide they just need to find someone to be their magic mentor and lay low for a while. And as to be expected with these two, things just aren't that simple.

Appeals to

With the central theme of magic and mischief, Hooky can appeal to readers of all kinds of magical stories, such as Sorceline, and the unusual adventure aspect could appeal to readers who enjoy comics like Cursed Princess Club or Misfit Mansion. Hooky could be much darker considering it deals with family and societal secrets, but it mixes in adventure and other hijinks to keep things varied. Hooky is currently available on Webtoon and is considered completed.

Creator Identities:

Spanish |

Main Character Identities:

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Magical Boy

The Kao

Cover Image

Max is doing his best to get through life as a trans teen in high school with an unsupportive mother and a quiet but supportive father, and he doesn't need the added complication of coming from a long line of magical girls. But it turns out this is true, and he has to transform to help save the world from monsters that feed on negative emotions. Now he has to juggle his normal life and being magical, and in that, trying to figure out how to be truly Max in all of that.

Appeals to

Magical Boy's exploration of the magical girl genre is one of a kind, but themes of magic and gender or defying expectations is a theme in comics like The Witch Boy series, Galaxy: the Prettiest Star, and Snapdragon, so there's definite cross-appeal to those readers. And of course, because Magical Boy deals with the tropes of magical girl anime, it could be a great pick for readers of series like Cardcaptor Sakura, Sailor Moon, or Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Magical Boy is currently available on Tapas and is considered completed.

Content Notes

Because Max's mother is unsupportive, she frequently misgenders him and refers to him by his dead name, which is blurred out in the comic.

Creator Identities:

Taiwanese-American |

Queer |

Main Character Identities:

Gay |

Trans |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Nimona

ND Stevenson

Cover Image

Ballister Blackheart, former hero turned villain, has his life shaken up when he gets a new sidekick. Although she is extremely impulsive, Nimona is a powerful shapeshifter, and together they start pulling off things Ballister could have never done before. When they discover the mysterious Institute is up to no good, they hatch a scheme to save the people. But then Ballister finds out Nimona might not be what she appears to be…

Appeals to

With its mix of science fiction and fantasy, laugh-out-loud humor, and exciting action, Nimona will appeal to readers who love monstrous girls and fantasy stories with powerful symbolism and adventure, such as The Owl House.
Given the positive reception of the Netflix adaption, libraries will want to have Nimona on the shelves. While the show and book diverge, both are great in their own way, and some readers may want to see the source material.

Content Notes

Violence, with some blood; death

Creator Identities:

Queer |

Nonbinary, Trans |

Main Character Identities:

Queer |

Prosthesis |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

On a Sunbeam

Tillie Walden

Cover Image

Tillie Walden (Spinning, The End of Summer) began publishing On a Sunbeam online in 2016 and completed it the following year. It was published physically in 2018 by First Second. You can read the comic online at www.onasunbeam.com.
This atmospheric sci-fi story follows Mia, in the present-day where she has just joined the crew of the Aktis, and during her days at an all-girls boarding school, where she experiences the bittersweet tastes of first love. In a cold and sometimes harsh universe, is there a way to have a second chance at true love?

Appeals to

Sci-fi fans will enjoy beautifully rendered space exploring the future.

Content Notes

Alcohol use, Bullying, Death, Misgendering, Violence

Creator Identities:

Lesbian |

Main Character Identities:

Lesbian, Queer |

Nonbinary |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

The Tea Dragon Society

Kay O'Neil

Cover Image

Kay O'Neil's (Princess Princess Ever After and The Moth Keeper) world of Tea Dragons started as a webcomic in 2016. A year later it was published physically by Oni Press. In 2018 it won two Eisner's for Best Publication for Kids and Best Webcomic. Read it online at teadragonsociety.com.
In the first installment of this gentle fantasy, we meet Greta, a blacksmith apprentice who discovers a rare creature in the marketplace one day. This leads her to meet the creature's owner, a tea shop proprietor named Hesekiel. Hesekiel offers to teach her all about the care and keeping of these rare creatures, the tea dragons. Along the way, she grows closer to their ward, Minette, who helps her appreciate how her talents with blacksmithing can help the world around her.

Appeals to

Those of all ages looking for a cozy fantasy with cottage-core vibes will delight in this series.

Creator Identities:

Gender Nonconforming |

Main Character Identities:

Queer |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Witchy

Ariel Slamet Ries

Cover Image

Nyneve's people are witches, and their power is dictated by the length of their hair, and their futures are dictated by that strength. Out of hope for Nyneve to have freedom of choice, her mother helps her keep Nyneve's real hair length hidden until one terrible day when the true length is discovered. Now Nyneve is on the run, her mother is under house arrest, and a weird talking crow won't leave Nyneve alone. Follow this renegade witch through the woods and towards some big realizations and take in the beautiful visuals along the way.

Appeals to

With its unusual magic system and gorgeous environments, Witchy is a solid choice for fans of Wynd and The Moth Keeper. So much of Witchy is spent with Nyneve going on a journey to understand herself and her people so while this might seem like a strange parallel, readers of Garlic & The Vampire may find themselves falling for Nyneve just like Garlic. Witchy is currently available to read at witchycomic.com though is on hiatus while the creator wraps up another project.

Creator Identities:

Australian, Indonesian |

Main Character Identities:

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Staff picks: Body image

Introduction

Accepting your body can be hard, especially when it doesn’t match your self-image or fit society’s ideals. The Features Team has compiled this list of comics where the characters navigate their relationship with their bodies, often while also figuring out how to handle other life challenges and society’s judgement. Discussions around body image often involve difficult topics, such as eating disorders, mental illness, dysphoria, and bullying, so we have written descriptions that describe the titles’ overall tone and provide content warnings. Please use the entries to select the titles that are best for you. We hope you find titles that meet your needs, whether you need a mirror to self-reflect or a guide to help you on your journey.

About Betty's Boob

Vero Cazot

Julie Rocheleau

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After breast cancer takes her left breast, Elisabeth finds herself without a job and partner. As she struggles to come to terms with her changed body, she meets a cabaret group that sets her on a journey to self-acceptance.

Appeals to

About Betty’s Boob touches on some tough topics, yet its vibrant art and playful, often humorous, storytelling, ultimately give the story a hopeful, joyous tone. It is perfect for readers who want stories that explore body acceptance and will be especially relevant to those who want to explore body acceptance in the wake of illness.

Content Notes

Betty’s Boob has some nudity (much of it contextually appropriate), scenes leading up to intercourse, and some dream sequences that might unnerve some readers.

Creator Identities:

Canadian, French |

Main Character Identities:

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Be Gay Do Comics!

Matt Bors (Ed.)

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In this comics anthology from The Nib (RIP), many of the authors grapple with complicated feelings about their bodies that are wrapped up in their queer identities. For comics dealing with big feelings about bodies, check out "Gender Isn't a Binary and Neither is Anatomy"; "Off the Rack"; "Boobs Aren't Binary"; "I Am More Than My Chromosomes"; and "It's All for the Breast".

Appeals to

Anyone looking for thoughtful and deeply personal pieces about the good, the bad, and the so bad you just have to laugh of the queer experience will find something in this anthology.

Content Notes

Discussions of Homophobia and Transphobia. Discussions of Gender Dysphoria.

Creator Identities:

Asexual, Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Pansexual, Queer |

Gender Nonconforming, Genderqueer, Intersex, Nonbinary, Trans |

Main Character Identities:

Asexual, Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Pansexual, Queer |

Gender Nonconforming, Genderqueer, Intersex, Nonbinary, Trans |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Chunky

Yehudi Mercado

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Hudi's got a lot going on, with doctors telling him to lose weight and parents pushing him to try sports he has no interest in, on top of other health problems and his parents' money issues, oh and also being the only kid in his small town who's Jewish and Mexican. He discovers an imaginary friend who cheers him on through the various attempts, but each sport makes him feel more and more discouraged about his body. But he finally discovers what works for him and his parents learn to trust his instincts on what makes him happy and whole.

Appeals to

Chunky is less specifically about eating disorders and more about being comfortable and healthy in your body, but I feel that this is a great introduction to talking about disordered eating and body dysmorphia with children, among other things. As such, this comic is something for families to read together and discuss, or for children who feel left out by society for who they are.

Creator Identities:

Mexican |

Jewish |

Main Character Identities:

Mexican-American |

Jewish |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Eat, and Love Yourself

Sweeney Boo

Cover Image

Mindy has tried just about any diet or promise a magazine has given her for weight loss, and it always crashes and fails. One lonely night, she finds an odd chocolate bar in the convenience store called "Eat and Love Yourself". Each time she eats a piece, she remembers a moment in her past and with it, slowly heals her relationship with her body and with accepting love from others.

Appeals to

This comic isn't as in-depth or as emotionally difficult as some of the others in this list, so this might be a good starting point for someone wanting to try reading about eating disorders but isn't quite ready for the heavy hitters. It's unusual too in that it has a more magical solution for the very real issues of eating disorders, but the message of learning to love yourself and reflecting on your past to help heal is great.

Content Notes

Discussions of eating disorders, depictions of depression

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Embrace Your Size: My Own Body Positivity

hara

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In this collection, artist Hara describes her own journey toward body acceptance as a plus-sized person. Over the course of the book, she details her own struggles with her weight and society's pressures, the effects her poor body image had on her mental health and art, her sources of inspiration, and recommendations for positive plus-sized representation. With its mix of topics and approachable style, Embrace Your Size feels like you're in a conversation with a friend. Hara's adorable illustrations are an added bonus!

Appeals to

Although Hara addresses difficult topics like disordered eating and bullying, the warm tone and the fact that she focuses on reflections about her journey make Embrace Your Size an overall hopeful read. I would give this to readers who are interested in exploring body acceptance and body positivity but are looking for a gentler read.

Content Notes

Portrayal of bullying, struggles with shopping and clothes as a plus-sized person, and mental health struggles; discussion of disordered eating behaviors

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Galaxy The Prettiest Star

Jadzia Axelrod

Jess Taylor

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On the outside, it would seem that Taylor Barzelay had it all. Brains, good looks, and a basketball star, he's what most awkward adolescents dream of being. But on the inside, he's an alien princess hiding as a boy on Earth to escape an intergalactic war that killed the king and queen and ravaged their home world of Cyandii. When Taylor meets the cute and fun Kat, she starts to realize that sacrificing her identity for safety may have been too high of a price to pay. This graphic novel explores the pain of wearing your body as a mask and the joy of being your full and authentic self.

Appeals to

Anyone waiting for a transfemme superhero, she's here and interstellar.

Content Notes

xenophobia and transphobia

Creator Identities:

Trans |

Main Character Identities:

Trans |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Horse Trouble

Kristin Varner

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Kate is completely in love with horses and riding, even though some of the barn girls are mean because she keeps falling off! If her barn woes aren’t enough, she is also struggling with being chubby and dealing with bullies and boys. Kate’s riding instructor starts preparing her for a prestigious horse show. Can Kate rise to the occasion?

Appeals to

In addition to being a great read for horse lovers, Horse Trouble also highlights the importance of learning to thrive even if your body is not “perfect”. Even though she struggles with her body image, Kate has friends and acknowledges her own abilities. Horse Trouble could be a great book to help young readers get ideas about managing body insecurity.

Content Notes

Bullying, body insecurity, dieting

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Hungry Ghost

Victoria Ying

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All of Valerie's careful control of her life, grades, and most importantly her body, goes out the window when tragedy finds her family. In the wake of loss, things first get worse especially as her mother's toxicity towards Valerie and her body gets more invasive. Her relationships crumble as she lashes out, but with time and reflection Valerie realizes she needs help and the way she lives isn't normal, her mother's attitude isn't normal, and Valerie reaches out for help. Hungry Ghost ends not with a perfect happily ever after, but instead that recovery is a process.

Appeals to

What makes Hungry Ghost particularly great is that it shows how pervasive the thoughts around eating disorders are, and how normalized it can all be for people dealing with them. The way Valerie is written feels true to teens, and with the story being serious and not overly happy, I could see this being a great recommendation for teens. There's also resources in the back, so if they want to do more research they can without having to ask someone.

Content Notes

Depictions of binging and purging, disordered eating

Creator Identities:

Chinese-American |

Main Character Identities:

Chinese-American |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

I'm Kinda Chubby and I'm Your Hero

Nore

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Ponjirou is an actor trying to get his big break but is worried his weight will get in the way of his dreams. Mysterious gifts of sweets from a local shop give him a needed pick-me-up. When he meets his secret fan--Konnosuke, a local pastry chef--the two start forming a deep friendship. With each supporting the other, can they achieve their goals?

Appeals to

With a sweet, light plot centered around a great relationship, I’m Kinda Chubby and I’m Your Hero is a charming story that is perfect for readers looking for a positive story featuring a chubby lead. I would especially recommend this to readers who love warm character dynamics similar to those found in Heartstopper.

Content Notes

Some fatphobia and intoxication

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

My Body in Pieces

Marie-Noëlle Hébert

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Written first in her native French and translated for English-speaking audiences by Shelley Tanaka, Marie-Noëlle Hébert's graphic memoir, My Body in Pieces, is an unflinching look at a girl trying to break free of her own self-destruction while those around her only reinforce negative opinions and stereotypes.
Like many young girls, society has convinced young Marie-Noëlle that the solution to all of her problems (her family making fun of her eating habits at the dinner table, the girls at school calling her ugly, the boy she likes not paying her any attention) is to be thin and beautiful. But when she starts a fitness routine to try to change, it sends her down a spiral of obsession with her weight and appearance, and into bouts of depression and suicidal ideation. When a close friend convinces her to try therapy, though, her journey starts to take a turn in the direction of healing and self-confidence.
Hébert's graphite pencil illustrations in a variety of art styles depict both intensely difficult, potentially triggering subjects and the beauty of finding and becoming unapologetically yourself. Told in language easily approachable to teen readers, My Body in Pieces is a moving, important coming-of-age tale,

Appeals to

Teen readers who have enjoyed other graphic memoirs about mental health and/or memoirs about teens in difficult situations who have survived and found their own strength. Also would appeal to adults who enjoy graphic memoirs.

Content Notes

Mentions of suicidal ideation, depression, eating disorder, body dysmorphia.

Recommended by

Maddi Ranieri

Nervosa

Hayley Gold

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In this raw memoir, Hayley Gold explores her quest to make an impact while battling her anorexia.

Appeals to

Nervosa will appeal to readers who like frank narratives that don’t follow conventional narrative patterns for a topic. Gold doesn’t sugarcoat her emotions or condition, and I appreciated her honest discussion of the physical and psychological impacts of her struggle with the disease and the often cruel medical system in which she was a frequently frustrated and reluctant participant.

Content Notes

Nervosa includes several hospital scenes and medical treatments; there are incidents of cruel treatment from staff, including one molestation. It also frankly discusses anorexia’s mental aspects as well as the physical conditions that can result from having the disease. Calorie numbers, as well as eating disorder behaviors (hiding food, tactics to change weight, etc.), are also portrayed. Nervosa also addresses Gold’s difficult upbringing, including Gold’s father’s frequent putdowns of her mother and Gold herself.

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Short and Skinny

Mark Tatulli

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This graphic novel is based on the author's experience growing up in the late 70s as a comic-loving kid who dreams of a growth spurt and big muscles. Right before summer vacation, Mark finds an ad that promises all of this with the help of a miracle cure that claims to make you taller and/or stronger in the back of a Mad Magazine. He thinks this is the boon he's been waiting for and sends away for it, hoping to go back to school in the fall completely changed. This is all happening in the summer of 1977, the same summer that the first Star Wars movie came out. Mark quickly falls in love with the movie and wants to create a parody movie. With the help of his friends and family, he spends the whole summer planning, prepping, and filming his Star Wars parody film and learns that people like him for his humor and creativity, even if he didn't get those instant muscles or grow 5 inches taller.

Appeals to

Lovers of Dairy of a Wimpy Kid will love this underdog story.

Content Notes

Bullying

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Smaller Sister

Maggie Edkins Willis

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Lucy loves and looks up to her big sister, Livy, but lately, Livy has been acting differently. Soon Lucy discovers Livy has an eating disorder, and she can’t help Lucy with her problems at her new school. Lately, Lucy has been wondering if her own problems would go away if she changed her body…

Appeals to

This warm story about two sisters wrestling with school challenges and disordered eating strikes a perfect balance of hopeful and honest, and middle-grade and tween readers dealing with the complicated challenges of tween/teen life and body image will want to pick this up. The sisters’ bond is a wonderful centerpiece of the book, and the vibrant art brings the story to life. As a bonus, Edkins Willis offers some resources for those going through similar struggles in her afterword.

Content Notes

Smaller Sister portrays eating disorder thought patterns and behaviors as well as bullying.

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Must Have: Dungeons & Dragons

Introduction

Dungeons & Dragons (or D&D) is a game powered by imagination. It allows a group of friends
to enter a fantasy world controlled by a Dungeon Master and interact with this world through
characters born from imagination. They fight monsters, save villages, and make life-changing
(or life-ending) choices based on dice rolls. Any fantasy archetype is available for players, from
the stalwart fighter to the cunning rogue, from a monk who throws hands to a wizard who throws
fireballs. Those who grew up playing D&D currently have a lot to celebrate as their hobby has
now firmly entrenched itself into the cultural zeitgeist, thanks to YouTube shows like Critical
Role that demonstrates how the game is played and how much fun it is to play with friends. The
game’s popularity means that media like graphic novels are bound to be influenced by the game
and its fantasy world.

Critical Role: The Chronicles of Exandria The Mighty Nein.

Critical Role

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Season two of Critical Role features a whole new group of adventurers calling themselves the Mighty Nein, which are featured in Critical Role: The Chronicles of Exandria The Mighty Nein. This group includes a human wizard and goblin rogue who partnered together to perform cons as well as a tiefling cleric with a devilish appearance and a half-orc warlock who serves an ancient sea creature. They travel the high seas smiting sea monsters and avoiding death. Their individual stories are divided up into different books like Critical Role: Origins–Mollymauk Tealeaf written by Jody Houser and Critical Role: Origins–Jester Lavorre written by Sam Maggs.

Appeals to

Older teens/adults who are fans of Critical Role and D&D

Content Notes

Here is the link for the first book:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_Role_(campaign_one)

Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins Library Edition: Series I & II Collection

Matthew Colville

Olivia Samson

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A name that is quite synonymous with D&D is “Critical Role.” This YouTube series went from a group of voice actors showing off their D&D game to becoming a phenomenon that has spawned books based on the group’s characters and the world they inhabit. Season 1 of the series features the adventuring group Vox Machina, who even have their own animated show on Amazon Prime. Graphic novels retelling their adventures include Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins Library Edition: Series I & II Collection. This group runs the gamut of archetypes and characters familiar to anyone who’s played D&D, from a massive ax-wielding barbarian to a promiscuous gnome bard. This unlikely group of heroes must save their world from eldritch gods and terrifying dragons.

Appeals to

Older teens and adults who are fans of Critical Role and D&D

Delicious in Dungeon

Ryoko Kui

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Those who like low-stakes, low-stress fantasy adventures while also loving food, should get a taste of Delicious in Dungeon, Vol. 1, a manga written and illustrated by Ryōko Ku. In this world, the fantasy monsters are not only dangerous, but they’re delicious if prepared the right way. Laios and his company are having a tough dungeon crawl. A member of their party has been captured and they are running low on provisions. Luckily, there are plenty of monsters that turn out quite edible. Mixing the fun of D&D and cooking, Delicious in Dungeon is a light-hearted but stomach-filling adventure.

Appeals to

Teen readers who love cooking, manga, and D&D (not necessarily in that order)

Content Notes

Translator's name is Taylor Engel

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

DIE

Kieron Gillen

Stephanie Hans

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Die by Kieron Gillen, author of The Wicked + The Divine series, is a more serious dark fantasy story for adults. The story follows seven friends who many years ago played a magical roleplaying game and barely escaped it with their lives. Now that they are adults who are barely surviving their mundane jobs and distant children. Soon, they are all once again pulled into that world and must defeat it once and for all. There are some unique reimaginings of D&D tropes, such as a paladin/knight who uses sadness to power up his attacks and a cleric who bargains with various gods rather than just worship one, and the fantasy world is a combination of science and sorcery. It’s also interesting to see these former friends with their cynical adult sensibilities coming to terms with their very real effects on this world.

Appeals to

For adult fans of D&D but who might not be fans of adulting.

Main Character Identities:

Gender Nonconforming |

Dungeon Critters

Natalie Reiss

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However, there are plenty of D&D-like stories that have a lot of fun with their tropes, even taking them into unsuspecting and adorable places. A great adventure for middle-grade readers, Natalie Riess and Sara Goetter’s Dungeon Critters finds a squad of anthropomorphic animal adventurers fighting fantastic monsters with swords, magic, and heart. These critters follow all the archetypes of wizard, rogue, and barbarian, but they are quick with the one-liners and they even proclaim that the true magic is friendship. Plus, the simple animation style helps add to the childlike appeal of this book, making it perfect for middle-grade readers wanting to dip a toe into the sometimes intimidating world of D&D.

Appeals to

Middle graders who are interested in D&D and any fans of cute animated critters.

Creator Identities:

Lesbian |

Main Character Identities:

Gender Nonconforming |

Dungeons & Dragons: Evil At Baldur's Gate

Jim Zub

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Apart from Critical Role, Wizards of the Coasts (the owners of D&D) have licensed the game to publisher IDW for stories that tell different types of fantasy worlds. One of the most popular worlds is the Forgotten Realms, which was featured in the movie Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and features a great deal of high fantasy. Dungeons & Dragons: Evil at Baldur’s Gate, written by Jim Zub, takes place in that world which has a group of adventurers trying to navigate a port town full of intrigue and monsters. Like many stories that have an ensemble cast of eclectic characters, there is one standout for their comedic relief: the physically powerful yet eternally naive ranger Minsc. Whether it’s his earnest yet confusing proclamations or his conversations with his hamster Boo (who he claims is a space hamster), Minsch’s antics are a great reminder of D&D games where the participants come together to battle monsters and have fun.

Appeals to

Younger teens who love D&D (and possible space hamsters)

Staff Picks: Haunted Places

Introduction

Are there places that give you chills or make you want to leave, for fear of what you will meet? In this newest list, the Features team introduces you to comic about haunted places. From a ghost at a shopping mall to an entity fueled by xenophobia, the list consists of titles with cute and spooky hauntings to those that are downright terrifying. Read on…if you dare!

A Guest in the House

Emily Carroll

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Abby knows she's no catch, but she is ready to do her best with her new husband, David, and stepdaughter, Crystal; they live together in a lake house all trying to make a fresh start after the death of David's first wife, Sheila. As she works to support a grieving Crystal, Abby discovers that some things David told her don't add up. Then Sheila starts haunting her.

Appeals to

Carroll's stunning visuals bring to life this twisty, unnerving tale that manages to echo old stories yet be something new. Readers who enjoy horror where plenty is left to interpretation will want to pick up A Guest in the House, perhaps with a warm blanket and beverage to stave off the inevitable chills. Fans of Carroll's previous work will also want to pick this up.

Content Notes

Violence; images of a corpse

Creator Identities:

Lesbian |

Main Character Identities:

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Beetle & the Hollowbones

Aliza Layne

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It's hard being stuck in the middle; Beetle is a goblin witch, and as much as she loves her grandmother, she desperately wants to go to the fancy magic school which means learning "real" magic instead of just goblin magic. But it's okay because she has her bestie Blob Ghost (BG) over at the mall! At least, until it turns out that the mall is going to be demolished, and Beetle can't help BG relocate if she can't find the source of BG's haunting. And then even worse, Beetle's old friend and kind of crush Kat is back in town, and acting oddly. How can she save BG, find out what's wrong with Kat, and learn real magic all in the next week?

Appeals to

Beetle's story is likely to resonate with readers who enjoyed The Witch Boy series, Snapdragon, and the Okay Witch series: stories of protagonists pulled between different worlds and desires, trying to be true to themselves. Though we're dealing with goblins and ghosts and skeleton cats, the story and art aren't particularly scary so it's also a great pick for younger readers who like Halloween, but don't want especially spooky or grim stories.

Creator Identities:

Lesbian |

Main Character Identities:

Queer |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Home Sick Pilots

Dan Watters

Caspar Wijngaard

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Take the 90's punk scene of California, add some disenfranchised youth and secret organizations, and stir in haunted objects: this unlikely combination creates Home Sick Pilots. It's also kind of a mech series, but to explain that would be spoilers. Just know that the story follows Ami, who's been missing and may be dead, her bandmates who aren't very good friends, and some interesting mysteries from Ami's past. Regardless, this series is beautiful and strange and sad, and the art helps nail this unusual combination of elements, making it one to absolutely have on the library shelf.

Appeals to

Though they're very different formats, Home Sick Pilots could be a great pick for fans of the surreal horror manga The Summer Hikaru Died. The mix of references to the past with sci-fi tech and an ensemble cast of complicated people means readers of Paper Girls might want to pick this one up too.

Content Notes

No sex or nudity, but plenty of gore and some drug use, as well as cursing.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Infidel

Pornsak Pichetshote

Aaron Campbell

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Aisha, an American-Muslim woman, is struggling. Her partner is suspicious of his mother, her fellow tenants are afraid after the bombing in their building, and she is getting little sleep because of the monstrous creatures that keep appearing. Even as Aisha tries to find her way, the monsters she keeps seeing are here to feed upon and stoke the racial tensions in the building.

Appeals to

Fans of thought-provoking horror like Jordan Peele's Get Out will want to snap up Infidel; the story will also appeal to horror fans who like twisting tales that don't play out how you would expect.

Content Notes

Violence and gore; xenophobic language; demonic monsters

Creator Identities:

Thai-American |

Main Character Identities:

Pakistani-American |

Muslim |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Secrets of Camp Whatever

Chris Grine

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Willow is reluctantly attending summer camp in her new town; Camp Whatever is on an island, which is said to be crawling with dangerous creatures. As Willow begins to explore, she learns more about the true nature of the inhabitants, putting herself on a collision course with the camp director, who has his own ambitions.

Appeals to

Readers who want some spooky, but not too scary fun; fans of the curious, chaotic kid energy in Gravity Falls

Content Notes

Some violence and blood but is not too graphic

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

The Autumnal: The Complete Series

Daniel Kras

Chris Shehan

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There have been many stories written about haunted houses, but what about a haunted town? Kat left her hometown of Comfort Notch, N.H., home of the most picturesque fall, at just 9 years old. Now, following her mother's death, she and her daughter Sybil make their way back to Comfort Notch. Although this town looks like a quintessential New England small town at the height of its fall-time glory, there is something dark and sinister hiding under the fallen leaves.

Appeals to

Fans of atmospheric horror will find the mix of the fall colors of the leaf motif and the gripping, violent plot a chilling delight.

Content Notes

Violence, Course Language, Body Horror, Drug Use

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

The HIlls of Estrella Roja

Ashley Robin Franklin

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Estrella Roja is a small town where few outsiders come and mysterious red lights overlook the town. Kat, a college student with a podcast on the paranormal, shows up to investigate Estrella Roja's mysteries just as Mari, who hasn't been in town in years, arrives for her abuela's funeral. The two team up to investigate, but things become more serious when they discover Mari's family is tightly intertwined with Estrella Roja's secrets.

Appeals to

With illustrations that capture charming characters and creepy scenes alike, The Hills of Estrella Roja is a spooky adventure full of family and queer friendship! Give this to readers who enjoyed the adventure and characters in Emma Steinnkellner's The Okay Witch or Molly Ostertag's Witch Boy series and are ready for some reads from the teen section.

Content Notes

Some close-ups on scorpions and bugs

Creator Identities:

Queer |

Main Character Identities:

Assumed Hispanic or Latine |

Queer |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

The Me You Love in the Dark

Skottie Young

Jorge Corona

Cover Image

Artist Ro rents a country house to find her new artistic voice, but she gets a lot more than she bargains for when she starts interacting with the entity that haunts the house.

Appeals to

Fans of horror stories that explore art and creativity and/or a good haunted house tale will enjoy the atmospheric art and creeping, shifting monster.

Content Notes

Violence and gore, including manipulation of a corpse

Creator Identities:

Venezuelan |

Main Character Identities:

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Unfamiliar

Haley Newsome

Cover Image

Planchette is the new witch in town, excited to own her very own house! At least, until she starts moving in and realizes why it was so cheap: it's super haunted. But she's a kitchen witch and though she tries a few tactics to get rid of the ghosts, nothing sticks. So she starts asking around town for help from other witches and ends up helping a witch who thinks she doesn't have much power, a cursed girl, and a siren who hates her powers. What could be more bonding than fighting problems together, after all?

Appeals to

The cute and spooky style is ideal for readers who enjoy stories like Creepy Cat or Hooky, both of which also happen to be webcomics with print runs. There's something about it that reminds me of Invader Zim or The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, so I could see Unfamiliar being a hit with readers who prefer a darker story with a sense of humor and distinctive style.

Creator Identities:

Bisexual |

Main Character Identities:

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop