Check It Out Category: Graphic Novels

John’s Pick: Here by Richard McGuire

Cover of HereJohn of Fiction/AV/Teen Services suggests Here by Richard McGuire

Richard McGuire’s inventive graphic novel Here is set in a single location for its entire duration: the corner of a room in a house.  However, each double-page image depicts this fixed space at a different moment throughout time, ranging the complete span of human history and beyond.   Grand changes play out over the years, juxtaposed against mundane still moments in the lives the home’s various inhabitants.  Events echo throughout time, such as when a window into the décor of 2014 is used to resonate with a scene from 1775.   Styles change, children grow older, and lives unfold in unexpectedly affecting fragments.  Here demonstrates that both the beautiful and ordinary qualities of life alike can remain strangely similar in any era.

For more formally complex graphic novels, try…

Cover of Ice HavenA series of stylistically diverse chapters mimicking comic strips collectively offer a multifaceted portrayal of a small Midwestern town in Ice Haven by Daniel Clowes.
Cover of An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True StoriesMcGuire’s original 1989 short story version of “Here” is featured in An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons & True Stories Volume 1 edited by Ivan Brunetti.


Cover of Building StoriesBuilding Stories by Chris Ware follows the dissatisfactions of a young woman and her neighbors across fourteen distinct printed comics.
Cover of BodyworldDash Shaw’s Bodyworld tells its futuristic tale of drug-induced telepathy as a vertical scroll of expressionistic imagery, illustrating a full range of sensory experiences.
Cover of Asterios PolypAsterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli concerns a story of architecture and design, mirrored in its own elegantly crafted visual construction.

Nonfiction: The Borden Tragedy by Rick Geary

Borden Tragedy graphic novel coverNow that the first photo of Christina Ricci as Lizzie Borden has been released, you will want to read about the legendary crime for yourself. The final days of Graphic Novels Month is an opportune time to delve into The Borden Tragedy: A Memoir of the Infamous Double Murder. The 21st Century has no monopoly on sensationalized true crime stories, and this volume of the Victorian Murder series illustrates the facts and questions as they are known. The heavy black frames and recurring use of patterned lines add to both the ominous tone and the historic feel. We may never know for certain who got away with murder that fateful day, but Rick Geary presents the case with startling clarity.

Fiction: Blankets by Craig Thompson

Blankets graphic novel coverFinding your place in this life can be a tricky proposition. Our upbringing leaves its mark, but ultimately we make our own choices. In the case of creator Craig Thompson, fulfillment might be found in religious faith, devotion to art, or intoxicating first love. The question is whether they have to be mutually exclusive. Multiple-award winner Blankets is a revealing autobiographical novel that celebrates the bittersweet. Stark black and white illustrations enhance this poignant coming-of-age story by adding layers that straight prose cannot offer. Wrap yourself in Blankets and be pleasantly surprised at how much a graphic novel has the power to tug at your heart.

John’s Pick: King City

John staff picks photoBrandon Graham’s quirkily unique graphic novel King City follows Joe, an aimless master of “cat-fu” (i.e., able to use his pet as an absurdly versatile weapon). Joe traverses through a densely pun-filled futuristic metropolis in this elaborate tale enhanced by a playful, high-energy style.