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Posted on April 9, 2021 at 2:41 PM by Genesis Gaule
I remember the day I fell in love with graphic novels. On the walk home from school my older sister had told me all about a type of Japanese book genre called manga, and the cool stories of headband clad ninjas, flexible pirates, and sword wielding soul reapers that she had been reading with her “big kid” friends. As a kindergartener, I thought everything my sister thought was cool was the best thing in the world. When it came to manga, it turned out to be true; although wearing a dress over jeans, not so much.
Reading and rereading the first and only volume of Naruto we had until the pages were soft and worn was a ritual after school. Every trip to the library my sister and I would run right over to the small rotating bookshelves that housed the manga section and spend hours reading volume after volume standing up. Once I could navigate the internet, my obsession only grew. In addition to the mountains of traditional prose books I inhaled while at school, the manga I read was like candy that I couldn’t stop myself from getting a stomach ache from.
The diversity of genres that the storytelling medium offered broadened my horizons to ways of life, emotions, struggles I had never encountered in my day to day life. It wasn’t until I grew older that I learned about Western style graphic novels that went beyond the classic Marvel or DC superhero stories. While I will always hold manga near and dear to my heart, I have a newfound appreciation for western graphic novels.
If you are hesitant to jump into the deep end of teenager piloting fighting robots and brightly colored protagonists, here are a few western and eastern graphic novels to dip your toes into.
Maus: A Survivor's Tale
by Art Spiegelman
Our generation will soon become one of the last to hear first hand accounts of those that lived through the Holocaust. This meta story of the author listening to his father’s stories of life during this horrific time, is beautifully illustrated and will break your heart over and over.
The Magic Fish
by Le Nguyen Trung
The art itself is breathtaking, paired with riveting a narrative and take on identity struggles make this one of my all time favorites. Though marked as a junior graphic novel, this is a coming of age story for all ages.
by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
This autobiography graphic novel is a powerful story that tells the tale of comic book artist Jarrett Krosoczka’s upbringing with family addiction and how he found solace in art.
The Color of Earth
by Tong-Hwa Kim
This series is a Korean graphic novel, also known as a manwha, is about the daughter of a single mother and the budding romances they both experience. It is a look into Korean culture and a unique mother-daughter relationship they share.
The Prince and the Dressmaker
by Jen Wang
This award winning graphic novel is full of beautiful dresses, fleshed out characters, and life lessons for all ages.
Tag(s): World War II, Vanesa Gomez, romance, recommendations, nonfiction, lgbt, holocaust, graphic novels, gender identity, fiction, coming-of-age, autobiography
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