What to Read Wednesday – Cool Graphic Novels

graphic novel graphic

I really enjoy graphic novels. I love how the illustrations and the text work together and I’m always amazing jealous of the graphic novel illustrator’s talent. I would love to be able to draw and I find the process of creating a graphic novel very exciting.  In today’s post I’m going to share with you a few of my favorite graphic novels that I’ve come across. Some are new and some have been around for a while. I hope you find something here that you like.

First I’d like to share a few resources with you. If you’d like help selecting graphic novels for you or your students, be sure to visit the No Flying No Tights website. There you can read reviews of graphic novels by category and genre. You can find graphic novels for KIDS, TEENS, and ADULTS about any genre you can think of.

Also, someone you need to pay attention to is Gavin Aung Than. He is the creator of Zen Pencils and creates some of the best comics today. He takes inspirational quotes from influential people and designs a comic around it. Currently, Gav has create 173 of these wonderful comics. You can purchase these as posters, canvases, totes, and pillows. Also, I’m very excited that he has just published his first book collection. The book contains 35 of his best comics from the first two years of the website. That’s over 170 pages for your view pleasure. You can order it online in paperback or electronic version. Here is the link to AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, and INDIEBOUND.

Gavin has put together a page on his website for New Readers. It is the Best Of: Essential Comics for New Readers. If you are new to Zen Pencils, this is definitely the place to start. If you want to bet to know Gav a little better, check out the “Day in the Life” video below. I loved seeing his work space and how he went about creating the beautiful comics.

Zen Pencils, Gavin Aung Than from anotherbeautifulstory on Vimeo.

Now, on to the graphic novels I want to share.

Two of my favorite graphic novel biographies are MY FRIEND DAHMER and ANDRE THE GIANT: LIFE AND LEGEND.

andre the giant

Andre Roussimoff is known as both the lovable giant in The Princess Brideand a heroic pro-wrestling figure. He was a normal guy who’d been dealt an extraordinary hand in life. At his peak, he weighed 500 pounds and stood nearly seven and a half feet tall. But the huge stature that made his fame also signed his death warrant.

Box Brown brings his great talents as a cartoonist and biographer to this phenomenal new graphic novel. Drawing from historical records about Andre’s life as well as a wealth of anecdotes from his colleagues in the wrestling world, including Hulk Hogan, and his film co-stars (Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, etc), Brown has created in Andre the Giant, the first substantive biography of one of the twentieth century’s most recognizable figures.



dahmerYou only think you know this story. In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer — the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper — seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, “Jeff” was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides.

In My Friend Dahmer, a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the deep recesses of his psyche — a shy kid, a teenage alcoholic, and a goofball who never quite fit in with his classmates. With profound insight, what emerges is a Jeffrey Dahmer that few ever really knew, and one readers will never forget.



Two of the most unique graphic novels I’ve come across lately are PINNOCHIO, VAMPIRE SLAYER and AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE.

pinnochio vampire slayerThis puppet may not be a real boy… but he just might be a real hero! When bloodthirsty monsters invade Pinocchio’s hometown and kill his father, Geppetto, Pinocchio discovers a new benefit to his magical nose: telling lies produces a never-ending supply of wooden stakes to combat the vampire hordes! Will Pinocchio be able to defeat these horrors, avenge his father, and save his friends? Now, for the first time, the complete trilogy is collected together in a single deluxe softcover edition. Jensen (Green Lantern Corps) and Higgins (Knights of the Living Dead) present a captivating blend of comedy, horror, romance, and adventure, rooted in the original Italian novel, but brought – as if by magic – to new life.




afterlife with archieThis is how the end of the world begins… Harvey Award-winning writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Carrie, Archie meets Glee) and Eisner-winning artist Francesco Francavilla (Batman, Black Beetle) take Archie and the gang where they’ve never been before-to the grave and back! A horrific accident sets off a series of grim events and Sabrina the Teenage Witch must try to repair the unspeakable evil her spell has unleashed. Gasp in horror as Riverdale faces an impending zombie Arch-pocalypse in this brand-new, spine-tingling ongoing series — but be warned, kiddies, this one’s not for the faint of heart! For TEEN+ readers.






One of my favorite graphic novelists is Gene Luen Yang.  He’s a cutie, soooo nice, and amazingly talented. He’ll have a new graphic novel come out in September 2015 called SECRET CODERS. It is a cool concept. Not only is he telling a great story, but he is also teaching kids about coding while they are reading it. 

secret codersWelcome to Stately Academy, a school which is just crawling with mysteries to be solved! The founder of the school left many clues and puzzles to challenge his enterprising students. Using their wits and their growing prowess with coding, Hopper and her friend Nikhil are going to solve the mystery of Stately Academy no matter what it takes!

From graphic novel superstar (and high school computer programming teacher) Gene Luen Yang comes a wildly entertaining new series that combines logic puzzles and basic coding instruction with a page-turning mystery plot!






Next up is the illustrator Zack Giallongo. He’s worked on three graphic novels that I’ve enjoyed recently. (Here is a link to his blog post series titled “How a Graphic Novel is Actually Made.”)

stratford zooThe Stratford Zoo looks like a normal zoo… until the gates shut at night. That’s when the animals come out of their cages to stage elaborate performances of Shakespeare’s greatest works. They might not be the most accomplished thespians, but they’ve got what counts: heart. Also fangs, feathers, scales, and tails, in The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth.

Ian Lendler’s hilarious tale of after-hours animal stagecraft is perfectly paired with the adorable, accessible artwork of Zack Giallongo (Broxo, Ewoks). And with Romeo and Juliet coming in book two, this is a promising new series of graphic novels for young readers.




stratford zoo 2The Stratford Zoo looks like a normal zoo . . . until the gates shut at night. That’s when the animals come out of their cages to stage elaborate performances of Shakespeare’s greatest works. They might not be the most accomplished thespians, but they’ve got what counts: heart. Also fangs, feathers, scales, and tails.









If you want a good sampling of the most popular graphic novelists for young people, you need to pick up COMIC SQUAD: RECESS. 

comic squadA bust-your-gut-laughing graphic-novel anthology with original contributions from the most beloved names in the genre! * Jennifer Holm & Matthew Holm * Jarrett J. Krosoczka * Dav Pilkey * Dan Santat * Raina Telgemeier * Dave Roman * Ursula Vernon * Eric Wight * Gene Yang *
Wowza! Calling all kidz! Do you like comics? Do you like laughing till milk comes out of your nose?! Look no further—do we have the book for you! All your favorite comic creators are right here in this handy-dandy hilarious book! This all-star tribute to classic Sunday comics includes eight sidesplitting, action-packed stories about every kid’s favorite subject—RECESS! With popular characters from Babymouse and Lunch Lady and brand-new soon-to-be favorite characters from superstars including Dav Pilkey! Raina Telgemeier! Gene Yang! and many more! Comics Squad also features Pizza Monsters! Secret ninja clubs! Aliens! Talking desserts! Dinozilla! Death-defying escapes! Bad guys! Good guys! Medium guys! Superheroes! Bullies! Mean girls! Epic battles! True love! Outlandish schemes! Evil plans! Fun! Jokes! Terrible puns! And other surprises that will tickle your funny bone! WARNING: THIS BOOK MAY CAUSE EXCESSIVE LAUGHTER AND POSSIBLE SILLINESS. No assembly required. (Pizzatron 2000 not included.)

Finally, for the adults out there. This is a graphic novel that I’ve been hearing about for a while and decided to give it a try. I was hooked right away. If you like Science Fiction and Fantasy, you definitely want to give SAGA a try.

sagaWhen two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

Star Wars-style action collides with Game of Thrones-esque drama in this original sci-fi/fantasy epic for mature readers, as new parents Marko and Alana risk everything to raise their child amidst a never-ending galactic war.

From New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.




So, see anything you like? Have any graphic novel recommendations for me? If so, share them in the comments. Happy reading!

Author: Karin Perry

Assistant Professor of Library Science at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX. She loves reading YA Lit in her spare time.

Categories: Blog Topics, Collection Development

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4 replies

  1. Why is it that most graphic novels have nudity and inappropriate content for middle school?

  2. When Dahmer came out, I wondered if it was just somebody trying to make a buck of the name, and I didn’t give it a look. I will now! Thanks for the recommendations.

  3. Okay, Karin, you talked me into it! I have never been a fan of graphic novels because I don’t know which panel to read next. I even struggle with the Sunday funnies! But I am going to try My Friend Dahmer on your recommendation! I will let you know how I did.

  4. Terri – here is a presentation I did about graphic novels for some teachers last summer. It has some slides taken from Get Graphic that explains how to read the pages. http://www.slideshare.net/karinlibrarian/graphic-novels-conroe-1

    Leyla – The Manga style graphic novels do have more nudity than American graphic novels. It is a cultural difference.

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