Talk about a book that hits you right in the feels. McCloud's latest is not only gorgeous, it's evocative and dramatic enough to physically hurt. In cinematic illustrations (I could almost hear the overwrought indie soundtrack), he deconstructs the stereotypical archetypes of the starving artist and the manic pixie dream girl in two incredibly flawed protagonists who are possibly worse together than they are alone... and they're pretty awful alone. Pretend you've got the bad-idea love story of Romeo and Juliet, add some art, and then set it in modern New York with a deceptively dark urban fantasy twist. That's The Sculptor. Pick this one up if you want to spend half a day marveling over McCloud's art, and the other half feeling sad. --Jennie
Admittedly, I was a little behind in reading Brian Lee O'Malley. I read Seconds only after digging my heels into the ground following several recommendations from a handful of people and didn't read Scott Pilgrim until long after it had been made into a movie and became the cult classic it is today. Lost at Sea was the last thing I read of O'Malley's, but it is arguably my favorite. The way O'Malley portrays social anxiety is realistic and far from sugar coated. Rarely do I connect so well with a book, but this is one that has stuck with me, and Raleigh can only be described as a spirit animal of mine. --Heather H.
This is the graphic novel for the design enthusiast or those with a creative eye. Spanning millions of years both back into the past and ahead into the future, Richard McGuire examines different happenings that take place in one particular space. With precision, McGuire marries story lines that would never cross otherwise. A man in 1954 talks about a dog barking at the mailman, while a dog in 1986 barks at the sound of a doorbell. A mammoth beast lies on the grass of the forest in 10,000 B.C.E. while a girl lies on a rug reading her book in 1970. This is a fascinating graphic novel chock full of gorgeous art, details and different stories to tell. Read it again and again, and you'll be able to find new details with each visit. --Heather H.
As a longtime book lover, I am also a longtime (and long distance) fan of The Strand, one of the biggest and brightest bookstores in New York City. I managed to fit in four excursions to my book mecca on a weekend trip to New York and ended up having to pay extra for all the books weighing down my luggage, and it was completely worth it! But until reading On the Books, I had no idea of the behind-the-scenes drama. In his fantastic graphic novel, Greg Farrell outlines the labor struggles of a few years ago, the ongoing battles between owners and management and the employees and their union. Not only was it a fascinating insider's look at the mechanics of the Strand, it's a relatable chronicle of the highs and lows of working retail, and absolutely hilarious. I may or may not have snorted with laughter on the bus while reading it. I'd recommend this to any comic reader, book lover, or wage slave! --LAUREN
All I've ever known of Jules Feiffer is the simple, yet vivid illustrations he did for The Phantom Tollbooth. Kill My Mother blew my mind! In his frenetic pencil drawings he brings together multiple storylines, from Annie, jitterbugging right off the page and shoplifting from department stores to her mother, Elsie, in over her head working for a piggish private eye. Along the way there's a mute giantess--a grasping, scheming femme fatale--a dancing boxer, and so much more. Kill My Mother combines the hard-boiled noir of Dashiell Hammett and the macabre creepiness of Edgar Allen Poe with a plain weird genius that is all his own--a beautiful, psychotic read! --LAUREN
Sticking with the video game references to real life, Brian Lee O'Malley's follow up to the Scott Pilgrim series uniquely muses on the extra life mushrooms found in the Super Mario Bros. universe. A struggling chef looking to open a new restaurant has many mistakes in her life she wishes she could correct. Who doesn't wish they could go back and fix their life with the gift of hindsight? When she finds magic mushrooms in her dresser and beneath the floorboards that have the ability to give her a second chance, Katie goes a bit overboard. The story is twisty but accessible and full of retcons inviting multiple re-reads to get the full scope. A great yarn, perfect for comics aficionados and those just stepping into the medium. --JEREMY
Farel Dalrymple has a propensity for the macabre and it's on full display in this latest offering from the creator of It Will All Hurt and Marvel's Omega the Unknown. Many of his illustrations resemble something close to the bizarre close-up stills featured in a Ren & Stimpy cartoon, just without the laughs. Dalrymple's creations can be downright weird in the best way. Inside here is an existential coming-of-age fantasy story--in a desolate future wasteland, a gang of teenagers stumble upon a comic that bears the same name as their crew, The Wrenchies. A mind-bending trip, you'll want to read this one again and again. --JEREMY
This is not normally a book I would find myself picking up, but after hearing all the buzz surrounding it, I decided to give Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant a chance. I am so glad that I did. This book takes a topic that as the title describes, might not be so pleasant and gives readers an insightful, humorous look into the issues that one may face when having to take care of their aging parents. The story is told through Roz Chast's simple, but effective, illustrations, making this memoir one that is not to be missed! --Heather H.
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After multiple readings I can’t stop thinking about Michael Deforge’s Ant Colony--It’s completely insane and one of the coolest comics I have ever seen. Unsurprisingly this is the story of a group of ants all existing in the same colony, and outside a few bureaucracies of the daily lives of ants, Deforge’s characters are essentially human--with all the foibles that come along. When a foreign tribe of ants--high on spiders’ milk--threatens the colony, the lives of everyone are affected in different and embarrassing ways. For fans of Brandon Graham, Daniel Clowes, Charles Burns and fractal images. --JEREMY
In a long forgotten time, a young man from the North Pole and a young woman from the South Pole meet and instantly fall in love, only to find that they cannot come within two feet of each other due to their opposing polarities. So begins Isabel Greenberg's enchanting graphic novel The Encyclopedia of Early Earth. What follows is the journey of what brought these two together, told through a series of interconnected stories. Greenberg has crafted a unique tale infused with mythology, magic, humor, and love, but most of all she has created a tale about the power and significance of storytelling. Each intriguing story leads into the next one in an intricate pattern until it all comes full circle in the last several pages. Greenberg's mostly black and white illustrations are rustic, yet beautiful, highlighted with touches of yellows, blues, and reds. It's difficult not to be captivated by Greenberg's artwork and by her delightful stories. --Megan
Following his all ages fantasy comic, Bone, Jeff Smith has now finished RASL—the tale of an art thief crossing between parallel universes to procure the rarest of pieces. Developing his technology using the lost journals of a famous scientist, Nikola Tesla, Rasl is now on the run after discovering a dangerous element to the journals and his work. Despite the high concept Smith is able to keep the story human and relatable. Like Bone, Smith has also self-published the entirety of RASL through his own Cartoon Books imprint. However, the erratic publishing schedule of this series during its initial run caused many would-be fans to miss out, so I’m glad to see this excellent edition of the entire thing is available—and now in full color! --Jeremy
I like the Cannes. I like graphic novels. So when I heard an adaptation of a graphic novel had taken the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, I had to read it. Blue is the Warmest Color lives up to the hype and more. Maroh's art is emotive, but sparse, managing to convey the terrible burden of a life, and a love, in the margins. Veering between the raw operatic tragedy of teenage passion and the subtle, somber adversities of adulthood endings, Clementine's coming-out manages to be familiar, yet exotic–woven as it is with the many shades of blue Morah chooses to represent mercurial Emma. This is a timeless, beautiful graphic novel–one I'm sure to read again and again. --Jennie
Boxers and Saints, Gene Luen Yang's most ambitious project to date, tells the story of Bao and Four-Girl, two Chinese peasants from the same village who wind up on opposite sides of the Boxer Rebellion. In Boxers, Bao follows the hopes and desires he finds embodied in the Chinese pantheon to lead the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist. Yang's art blends historical fact with Chinese mythology to depict the steep price Bao pays to become a hero. This theme is carried into Four-Girl's story, Saints, painted in more muted colors. Never given a name (being fourth-born is an omen of death), Four-Girl is mistreated by her family her entire life. She finds acceptance in the encroaching Christian missionaries, who baptize her Vibiana. Abandoning Chinese culture, she finds inspiration to defend her beliefs through the story of Joan of Arc. Boxers and Saints left me deeply affected; Vibiana and Bao will stay with me a long time. Just as American-Born Chinese, Yang's Boxers and Saints is a triumph of graphic novels. --Jennie
In the world of comics, Paul Pope’s art and work philosophy are unparalleled, so it’s no surprise his first major work in years is being met with some much deserved buzz. This one’s for all ages too which is a first for Pope yet still keeps his sense for storytelling and humor. Rendered in his usual kinetic and energetic style, the first volume of Battling Boy introduces the city of Acropolis–overrun with monsters and other night terrors that haunt the local children. When Acropolis’s vigilante, Haggard West, is abruptly defeated by the merciless Sadisto, the city is left searching for a new champion. Enter Battling Boy, a 12-year-old demigod tasked by his godly father to rid Acropolis of its foes as a rite of passage. The young hero quickly learns the monsters are not to be taken lightly and is unsure if he can do this alone–he is going to need help. I only wish this first volume was longer as the world Pope opens to us is one I want to stay in much longer. Eagerly awaiting volume two. --Jeremy
Super Graphic combines two of my very favorite things: graphic design and unapologetic geekiness. Flipping through this book is like viewing a collection of the very best cutting-edge design pieces, except every single one references the parts of pop culture you like best. Here, there's almost 200 pages of clever, hilarious, and genuinely informative, scatterplots, bar graphs, pie charts, and more. Leong's use of color, scale and sparse text to convey massive amounts of information about the confusing, wonderful worlds (sorry, *universes*) of comics make this the kind of gift nerds of all stripes would be ecstatic to receive. This is the kind of coffee table book, without the coffee table price, that any comic aficionado should be proud to display alongside stacks upon fire-hazard stacks of Superman, X-Men or Avengers back issues. And if you're more of an indie comic fan, like me, then there's plenty in here on indie favorites like Persepolis, Y: The Last Man, and The Walking Dead. Super Graphic is seriously beautiful and serious about comics. --Jennie
Vaughan is the kind of guy nerdlings like me should know – he produced LOST, wrote Runaways (an excellent X-Men spinoff) and is the genius behind Y: The Last Man, one of my favorite indie comic series. So when I heard he was working on another indie sci-fi comic, my response was "yes please," followed shortly by, "shut up and take my money." Saga is what happens when you combine Star Wars and Romeo and Juliet, and then add a dash of genre-savvy absurdism. Fiona Staples' artwork – a beautiful mix of extreme detail and abstract shading – fleshes out giant talking cats, space pirates, forests of spaceship trees, men with television sets for heads and lots of gritty battles. Here's the bottom line: Saga is just really nifty, and the reason why indie comics should be on your radar. --Jennie
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As Damon Lindelof’s (LOST) forward in this book suggests, you have likely already read this wonderful collection of comics and They have wiped your memory of it to protect themselves. Their agents are everywhere, after all. Writer/Illustrator Matt Kindt’s new series is an excellent fusion of high concept thriller and existential roller coaster. Meru is an investigative journalist who is tracking Henry Lyme, a missing person linked to a major amnesia event. As she gets closer things become stranger — hasn’t she done this before? This first volume tackles such heavies as emotional authenticity and what effect our cognition can have on reality. All of this with an engaging plot and beautiful, ethereal lines and watercolors. This book will mess with your head, at least until they put it back together for you. - Jeremy
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Characters commonly thought of as dispenable have recently been getting their due. Furthering this tradition of Jon Scalzi’s Red Shirts or Stan Nicholl’s Orcs we now have Orc Stain by James Stokoe, and it is awesome. This story begins with a nameless orc (because all orcs are nameless) who is being hunted after an encounter with a former partner turned bloody and disabling. Make no mistake, by adding more depth to the orcs does not mean Stokoe makes them the good guys. The creatures here are smelly, mean-spirited and drug-addled the way orcs should be. This comic is equal parts hilarious, vulgar and action-packed. Stokoe’s illustrations are meticulously detailed and the final pages look beautiful. It is a rare treat that he writes, draws, inks, colors and letters the entire comic himself when a majority of comics are made on “assembly line” nowadays. - Jeremy
These two have quietly been producing some of the greatest comics of the last ten years. Brubaker writes noir/crime stories often with a supernatural twist and Phillips’ art compliments him wonderfully. Their latest series, Fatale, blends classic crime with the occult and it may turn out to be their best collaboration yet. The series sprawls across time and amasses an impressive cast of characters; however, the series centers on a cursed woman named Jo and the violent cultists trying to find her. The first two collections are available now and there will be a total of 4-5 when it concludes. Brubaker has said he has an ending in sight but continues to get more ideas, so pick it up today because it could expand more if the sales remain strong! - Jeremy
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This artbook is a fantastic endcap to Avatar: The Last Airbender, (in my opinion) the most epic American cartoon series ever made. DiMartino and Konietzko include hundreds of sketches that really make you appreciate the effort, artistry, and research chops was put into, of all things, a children's cartoon. I definitely don't regret splurging on this one — the huge art spreads that detail the world building behind the show are worth the price of the book ten times over. It might be massively dorky to own, but hey, you gotta give respect where respect is due. There aren't a lot of television shows, let alone cartoons for children that are as finely crafted as Avatar, and this book proves it. - Jennie
Anya -- teenage Russian immigrant, self-conscious about her body, and on the outs with her only friend -- is not fitting in very well at school. She's going to need a new BFF to help her cope. The one she finds, however, just happens to be dead and haunting the bottom of a well. Vera Brosgol captures all the teenage angst and paranormal murder-mystery misadventures of her protagonist in a strong, unique style that even hardcore graphic novel readers will appreciate. There's a strong message here too: it's best to embrace what makes us different, even if sometimes all you want to do is turn invisible and assimilate. Even Neil Gaiman loves it, calling it a “masterpiece of YA literature and of comics.” - Jennie
I was not surprised to learn Brandon Graham was a graffiti and street artist as a youth while he was learning how to create comics. Many of King City’s jokes and laugh out loud moments come from studying all the small details placed on the walls and overpasses of this dystopian future metropolis. Graham’s minimal and expressive lines show streets full of life. He makes the city just as much a character as its inhabitants. This bizarre story follows Joe the Cat Master and his cat Earthling, who is highly intelligent and very lethal. After returning to King City, Joe spends most of his time performing small crimes until he stumbles onto something big. What follows is an epic story spanning the entire city including alien prostitutes and the men who fall in love with them, drug addicted zombies, and an explosive fight to save the city from a demon. Remember, the cat is a weapon! - Jeremy
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Take the psychedelic brilliance of Grant Morrison and throw in a splash of "The Neverending Story" and you have this small masterpiece. 13 year old Joe's trip to find the soda that will keep him out of a diabetic coma quickly turns into a hallucinated epic adventure that he's not sure isn't actually real. As Joe's body begins to shut down, everything that haunts him begins to come to life. You'll find yourself reeling as this work constantly shifts between fairytale and sledgehammer to the heart. - Kyle
Every once in a while there’s some new sappy sounding graphic novel that everybody raves about but I just can't make myself read it right away because I’m already embarrassed that Blankets still makes me feel all weak inside and that I secretly always still read the new Jeffrey Brown. Well, I finally made myself read Daytripper. I teared up three times. If you want to make fun of me, I'm the balding guy with the beard. - Kyle
For Garth Ennis fans, Crossed, will not disappoint. It's everything one would expect his zombie storyline to be. But for anyone else (especially those with taste, morals, and the slightest sense of decency), please move on to the next book—this is not for you. Seriously, this is the most disgusting zombie story you'll every read. These things are worse than zombies. They're like John Wayne Gacy zombies—and they're winning. I'm not kidding. Don't open this book. If you complain to management, I'll get in trouble. - Kyle
Out of fear of being bludgeoned with a phone book and skinned alive, Simon and his fat ugly cat flee their cruel teacher and ascend a staircase leading to adventure in the clouds. Outrageously fun and unforgettably tender, this beautifully illustrated graphic novel is suitable for all ages and sure to be loved by graphic novel fans, kids book readers, and pretty much anybody who can appreciate the finer things. Just open it up and take a look. Even if you don't buy it, I bet you go find a seat and read the whole thing here! - Kyle
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Now in a single paperback volume, there is no excuse not to have read this graphic fiction masterpiece. Set in a not-so-distant future, Pope weaves together three powerful stories all connected through a Manhattan nightclub. Best known for his work on Batman and Heavy Liquid, this storyline shows a much more human side of Pope. We get down to the real nitty-gritty of his characters' notions of love, fear, art, and forgiveness. This is one you'll read over and over. - Kyle
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This past decade Death Note has established itself as a classic among Japanese comics. However, it didn’t find a home on my shelf until the release of this special edition. The sleek design fits perfectly with the tone of this dark, psychological masterwork. This is a great series for serious readers who would normally be turned off by "Manga." I recommend it to anyone looking for a change of pace and long nights spent in suspense. - Alli
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This book slapped me in the face—who am I? Why do I participate in a consumer culture that disgusts me? How does anyone break free & live outside society? And how do those people who succeed at going off the grid keep their sanity? Tim Lane’s collection of graphic short stories, Abandoned Cars, is a brutal, gritty examination of the American Myth and what it’s become, as well as a portrait of a consummate outsider and how he lives—perfect for those of us who question our 9-to-5 existence. - Sarah B.
Wanna read an intense, epic, funny, bloody, wild graphic novel series? Try The Preacher. Take one hell raisin' brawler of a good ole' boy preacher, add his sexy gun toting girl and their hard drinking Irish vampire friend, and set them on a quest to find God and kick his ass—now that's entertainment! - Sarah B.