Welcome to Staff Picks! This month, in celebration of the Graphic Novel Making Contest and Graphic Novels in Libraries Month, San José Public Library bloggers have chosen their favorite graphic novels of all time. These include include biographies, adventures, sci-fi, realistic fiction, and more. Enjoy some classics, find some new favorites, and enjoy the stories and art with these selections!
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, is a beautifully written memoir by Marjane Strapi in graphic novel form. Marjane discusses her childhood in Tehran before the Islamic revolution and what life was like growing up in an Islamic state. As a child, Marjane remembers her incessant questioning of the world changing around her, standing up for what she believes is right and fighting for the her sense of normalcy before the war.
What I enjoyed about this book was that at times Marjane can seem outright defiant of these changes, angry at the world around her, when in fact she was actually grieving. Marjane tells this love story about her home country while showing readers her grief in losing the traditions of home when war comes. If you enjoy Persepolis be sure to check out Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return or the animated DVD.
My favorite graphic novel(s) is the Amulet series by Kazu Kabuishi. This is a children's graphic novel series that currently has eight books in it. In Book I, The Stonekeeper, we meet the Hayes family just before a car accident that kills David Hayes. After his death, David's wife, Karen and their two children, Emily and Navin, move to live with Karen's grandfather in a strange old house. The disappearance of their mother leads to Emily and Navin discovering an entry from the house to an underground world.
The books not only have beautiful illustrations, they have an intriguing and well-layered story line. The series is best read in order to better follow the time line and events that build upon one another. Fortunately, San Jose' Public Library has all 8 books in physical form and in eBook format on Overdrive so you won't have to wait long before reading the next part of the adventure. - Dana L
Many years in the future, a genetic condition dramatically reduces male birth rates, ultimately wiping out the planet's entire population of men. While you may imagine a dystopian horror, this sweet and silly comic follows several women (doing just fine) in a town named after the strongest thing they can think of, Beyoncé's Thighs. Only Grandma remembers the distant past: a civilization of segway-riding mall cops, Blockbuster movie rental shops, and “That’s What She Said” jokes.
These comics are HILARIOUS as these women, who have never met a man, look at the remnants of society through a very different lens while providing commentary on gender and pop culture. I kept texting my favorite panels to friends who had to subsequently read this and all loved it. This comic collection is a delightful and charming read for teens and adults that will be an instant favorite. - Jessica N
My favorite graphic novels are Rick and Morty. These novels focus on wacky adventures of a boy and his mischievous grandfather. Although these are colorful comics found in YA, they have adult content that might make Family Guy blush. Someone described them as a hybrid of Futurama and Family Guy, which is pretty accurate.
All the adventures are random and there is no real story line, so jump right in and you will be entertained by the wild ideas generated when one is not bound by physical limitations or earthly beings.
A few years ago my teenage daughter convinced me to read Smile, an autobiographical graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier, because it was it her favorite book in middle school. I found myself reading it in one sitting, and now I consider it one of my favorite graphic novels as well. The novel is based on young Raina’s life as a 6th grader growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She battles countless dental surgeries as a result of getting her front teeth knocked out after a nasty fall. We witness the myriad of emotions that plague Raina as she endures countless painful and grueling surgeries to correct her missing teeth. If being a tween isn’t awkward enough, imagine having to wear embarrassing headgear with fake teeth!
Raina also goes through the more typical tween tribulations ranging from boys and crushes to sticking up to bullies. Despite such hardships however, the author inserts plenty of humor throughout her tale, not to mention a heartwarming ending which shows her maturity, grace, and wit. - Lisa M
American Born Chinese alternates through three interrelated stories about the problems of young Chinese Americans trying to participate in the popular culture, presented in comic book format.
Why I Like it: This graphic novel won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature and it definitely shows. It ends with a revealing twist and is a great diverse read.
Fun Fact: Did I also mention that years ago Gene was actually a Guest Speaker at our Graphic Novel Making Contest Ceremony? - Alyssa M
Alex Barnaby, an auto mechanic, and Sam Hooker, NASCAR driver, visit their friend Rosa Florez at her job at Rey Gato Cigars, but she’s not there. At her cigar rolling station, they discover a ransom note and a voodoo doll that kind of looks like her. The doll explodes. Nobody is hurt, but everybody is wondering what kind of trouble has Rosa gotten herself into?
Rescuing their friend will be a wild adventure through southern Florida involving chases, bar fights, and one angry chicken. - Monique M
With so many great graphic novels to choose from, Sleepless written by Sarah Vaughn and illustrated by Leila del Duca is a recent standout series. In this two-book series, Vaughn drops the reader into a beautiful fantasy world with a long, complicated history.
The graphic novel follows Lady Poppy, a fallen princess filled with grief and worry after the loss of her father. Unsure of who to trust in her country's new regime, Lady Poppy relies on her loyal guard Sleepless Knight Cyrenic. By taking the Vow of the Sleepless, knights give up their need for sleep allowing them to always been on hand to protect and serve. The catch - all that missed sleep will eventually catch up with each knight causing them to enter an endless sleep ultimately leading to death. Devoted to Poppy, this is a risk Cyrenic is willing to take.
With time, the two survive dangerous and thrilling adventures and even find time for a little romance making this a story with something for everyone. - Diana L