I kind of binge on graphic novels.
Every 3-4 months I’ll get it in my head that I need to read not a graphic novel, but 5 or 6 graphic novels. And thus my circulation librarian is subject to my whims, carving out several inches on the holds shelf so there’s room for graphic novels big and small, from Habibi to Here. I pack my sturdiest tote when I go to pick them up, and I clear out my own bookshelves to make sure they are heavy duty and ready to receive such big, thick graphic novels.
It’s kind of amazing.
Fall 2015 is going to be one sick time for new graphic novels. A few have already been released in September. I’m going to take you through some of my most anticipated graphic novels of fall 2015, a guided tour, if you will, of some of the highlights of the fall publishing season. So without further ado, these are some of the graphic novels I have already preordered or put a hold in for in my library system. They are graphic novel gold.
(PS: If you click on the author and/or illustrator’s name, you get a link to their website where you can find tons of goodies like excerpts from these books and webcomics and cool stuff like that. Check it out!)
Prison Island by Colleen Frakes (September 1). In this memoir Colleen Frakes recounts her childhood growing up on McNeil Island in Washington State, home to a prison and about 50 families, including her parents who were both employed by the prison. Accessible only by air or sea, McNeil had a sort of cut-off-from-the-world isolation. Frakes’ childhood and adolescence are a fascinating study in living outside the norm. Both a celebration and a critical look at Frakes’ environment, Prison Island is a poignant memoir rich with self-reflection and atmospheric drawings.
Ann Tenna: A Novel by Marisa Acocella Marchetto (September 1) Marchetto, cartoonest at the New Yorker, follows Ann Tenna, a gossip columnist and New York media darling. The graphic novel depicts Ann as she takes stock of her life after a tragic accident. An insightful satire, Ann Tenna critically explores the cult of celebrity and the dangers of living a shallow and vapid life.
Honor Girl: A Graphic Novel Memoir by Maggie Thrash (September 8). This novel was promoted hard over on Book Riot, and not without reason. Maggie Thrash’s new memoir focuses on her summers spent at Camp Bellflower, especially the summer of her fifteenth year. Maggie unexpectedly falls in love with her older camp counselor, a woman named Erin. Constrained by the conservative restrictions of the Appalachian-set camp, Maggie struggles not only with her newfound queer identity, but also the restrictions on her desires in an environment unfriendly towards homosexuality. Out September 8th, Honor Girl is a bittersweet end to the summer fling season as we move towards the reflective period of fall.
Lady Killer by Jamie S. Rich and illustrated by Joelle Jones (September 15). This was amazing, and it was my top pick of best book I read in September for Book Riot’s monthly roundup. Lady Killer focuses on Josie Schuller, a not-so-desperate housewife in mid-20th century America. Josie can make cookies for the bake sale and cook dinner for her family like the best of them, and she can also kick your ass like no other. A lethal undercover assassin, Josie goes rogue when her boss tries to knock her off. She teams up with another female assassin, and the climactic scene at the Seattle World’s Fair is Black Widow-level good. I also loved Joelle Jones’ art direction here, with the illustrations that look like they are from my mom’s paper dolls from the 60s or my grandma’s old catalogs. It’s mega good.
Chicago by Glenn Head (September 19). Glenn Head is an icon, an Eisner and Harvey-award-winning underground cartoonist and the brains (and hands) behind Hotwire Comics and Zero Zero. In his memoir, Chicago, Glenn Head remembers his time as a young man navigating 1970s Chicago, the alternative art scene and street crime alike. This one is not to be missed.
Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia (September 20). On her website, Liz Suburbia describes her work by saying: “Pretty much all of my comics are about dogs and punks.” Sacred Heart is her webcomic collected in one full-length graphic novel. A group of small-town teens are left to fend for themselves when their parents go off on a four year religious pilgrimage. Imagine growing pains without oppressive adults and you’ve got Sacred Heart. The scary thing is it’s totally convincing.
The New Deal (http://amzn.to/1L0bRGB) by Jonathan (October 6). October 6th is going to be epic. I have about 6 or 7 or more pre-orders arriving on my porch that day, and one of the ones I’m anticipating the most is The New Deal. Published by the ever-reliable Dark Horse comics, The New Deal focuses on, well, New Deal-era 1930s America, in particular the Waldorf Astoria. If you like Downton Abbey or Boardwalk Empire you’ll love this graphic novel’s story of class politics, as relevant today as they were nearly a century ago. I am reading Eisner-winner Case’s Green River Killer right now and wondered if there was anything out by him. Good thing I only had to wait two weeks.
Killing and Dying (http://amzn.to/1FwDU05) by Adrian Tomine (October 6). Remember when I said October 6th is going to be epic? Well Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine is one of the reasons why it’s going to be epic. A few years ago I wrote to Tomine and asked him if the white books with the rainbow stripes in the upper left corner which you could always see in his New Yorker covers were Salinger novels. He wrote back and said yes. I’ve been a fan of his ever since. Killing and Dying, his latest, is getting some serious press. A collection of short stories or vignettes, slice of life type of stories, Killing and Dying pairs humanity with astute observations about the raw realness of life.
The Best American Comics 2015 ed. Jonathan Lethem and Bill Kartapoulous (October 6). Okay, okay. I know that a lot of people have issues with this kind of anthology knowing how people inevitably get left out, it doesn’t reflect all trends, doesn’t do enough to highlight etc etc. But at the end of the day, The Best American Comics is one thick, gorgeous hardback book that is always interesting. I’ve been exposed to new artists here, and for some this is a preview of their full-length work to come. A potpourri of voices edited by author Jonathan Lethem.
Snapshots of a Girl (http://amzn.to/1L0Cr2p) by Beldan Sezen (October 13). A little bit, Alison Bechdel, a little Marjane Satrapi, a lot completely original? That would be Beldan Sezen’s memoir of coming out as a lesbian while navigating Islamic culture and growing up all over the world. What is it about the graphic novel medium that makes it so perfect for memoirs about one’s identity and sexuality? Perhaps it’s because we can see how the protagonist sees the world. We can literally see through the eyes of another in a way that prose does not allow. Reading Snapshots of a Girl is eye-opening and forces you to question what you believe in.
Lumberjanes Vol. 2 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke A. Allen, and Shannon Watters (October 13). I am in the minority because I did not love Nimona. Nearly everyone else on the planet (well, on my Goodreads’ friends list…and the National Book Award committee) adored it. However, I thought Lumberjanes Vol. 1 was amazing, a real achievement that I talked up to everyone I knew. What I loved was the comic’s way to show an effortless mix of young women’s personalities (and, well, superpowers). As a mosaic of female friendships, Lumberjanes succeeds as the comic you want to give your daughter/niece/student/young female patron, etc. I made sure I was on the Lumberjanes Vol. 2 hold list as soon as I finished the first volume.
Bitch Planet Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine Sue De Landro (October 22). Dystopian sci-fi Orange is the New Black? Maybe? Or something entirely unique and unprecedented? Yeah, probably the latter. Forget what people have told you about Bitch Planet or whatever comparisons they may make. It’s like nothing you’ve seen before: prison culture in a society where women prisoners cage match. A bunch of new prisoners have to navigate the politics of a, well, bitch planet in order to survive or maybe even thrive in DeConnick (Captain Marvel) and De Landro’s cartoon. October 22
Two Brothers by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba (October 27). Moon and Ba’s graphic novel about two twin brothers is surely informed by their own history as twin brothers to each other. Following Brazilian brothers Omar and Yaqub over the course of many years, Two Brothers is a sobering look at brotherhood, family, and identity. Sure to be one of the most talked-about graphic novels of the fall publishing season.
Okay, well at about 1,650 words I think that’s a good start to highlighting some of the major comics and graphic novels coming out this fall. Check some out and let me know what I’ve left off the list!