Whether you are new to comics or are an Austin Books and Comics devotee, there’s a graphic novel for you and your mood! As the Texas Book Festival team shelters in our respective homes, I’ve been getting reacquainted with my bookshelves, specifically my shelf of comics (featuring several TBF authors!). Here are just a few of my recommendations, and feel free to share yours on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! Most of these are for adults and/or teens, unless noted. Links all go to Bookshop.org, which will help support local independent bookstores.
Let’s start easy…
Calvin and Hobbes. All of them. Read them with the family, by yourself, during a virtual happy hour, to your dog. It doesn’t matter which collection you choose or where you start or if you finish. Personal favorites are the strips with Rosalyn the babysitter, and when Calvin’s dad drags them on camping trips.
For that food love: Lucy Knisley’s Relish
A welcome read for anyone who ever felt more passion for a sandwich than is strictly speaking proper, Relish is a graphic novel for our time: it invites the reader to celebrate food as a connection to our bodies and a connection to the earth, rather than an enemy, a compulsion, or a consumer product.
For some dark laughs (and cries): Roz Chast’s Can’t we talk about something more pleasant? A memoir.
Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.
For that brassy survivor: Marisa Acocella Marchetto’s Cancer Vixen
In vivid color and with a taboo-breaking sense of humor, Marisa Acocella Marchetto tells the story of her eleven-month, ultimately triumphant bout with breast cancer—from diagnosis to cure, and every challenging step in between.
For finding survival in art: Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s Hey Kiddo
The powerful, unforgettable memoir from Jarrett Krosoczka, about growing up with a drug-addicted mother, a missing father, and two unforgettably opinionated grandparents.
For that YA angst: Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese
A tour-de-force by rising indy comics star Gene Yang, American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently unrelated characters: Jin Wang, who moves to a new neighborhood with his family only to discover that he’s the only Chinese-American student at his new school; the powerful Monkey King, subject of one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables; and Chin-Kee, a personification of the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, who is ruining his cousin Danny’s life with his yearly visits.
Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer
Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. it’s their getawy, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different.
For that adult angst: Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings
Lauded for its provocative and insightful portrayal of interpersonal relationships, Adrian Tomine’s politically-charged Shortcomings was one of the most acclaimed books of 2007.
Leslie’s Stein’s Present
Stein is a master storyteller, an urban explorer, and a loyal guide through dark days and simple, blissful encounters. Stein’s curiosity about and generosity toward the world around her come through powerfully: each colorful story flows with vivid watercolors and delicate ink lines.
Kristen Radtke’s Imagine Wanting Only This
A gorgeous graphic memoir about loss, love, and confronting grief.
To finally get the Bechdel Test reference: Allison Bechdel’s Fun Home
In this groundbreaking, bestselling graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father. In her hands, personal history becomes a work of amazing subtlety and power, written with controlled force and enlivened with humor, rich literary allusion, and heartbreaking detail.
For all the feels: Mira Jacob’s Good Talk
Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation—and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.