Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Fence: Volume 3 by C.S. Pacat
Publication Date: August 20, 2019
In the third volume of Fence, Nicholas known for his speed not his grace nor technique has his final few bouts to gain a spot on the King’s Row fencing team. Seiji Katamaya continues to destroy his rivals with his flawless technique and expert speed. But, while bouting against each other and other candidates for the team, they begin to change; Nicholas making friends at King’s Row and Seiji realizing he needs to understand Nicholas’s fencing if he ever wants to become number one in the sport.
Once again the art rendered by Johanna the Mad is beautiful, realistic and modernly colored and helps not only drive the story, but with the individualization of each of the characters. C.S. Pacat writes a story that readers will not be able to put down. Fence is of course known for the diversity found within its cast of characters; possessing characters with dissimilar backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender identities.
Readers who enjoy this story may like Bloom by Kevin Panetta, Check, Please! by Ugazu Ngozi, The Backstagers by James Tynion and That Blue Sky Feeling by Okura, which all feature LGBTQ characters and engaging storylines. Volume Three contains the last four digital comics published by C.S. Pacat for the Fence series.
Middlewest Book One by Skottie Young and illustrated by Jorge Corona
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
After suffering one final abuse at the hands of his violent father, young teen Abel flees his home but not before his father transforms into the monster he truly is: an anthropomorphic storm that razes the trailer park in Farmington where they live. Barely escaping the destruction but not without suffering an unusual yet grievous injury, Abel, accompanied by a talking fox, sets out on a quest across Middlewest in search of a cure for the affliction that grows more powerful and hard to control with each passing day. It may not matter, though, if his father, who’s tracking him, finds him first.
Young delivers a coming-of-age story that will resonate with many readers, especially those teens with parents or family members who are emotionally distant or with whom they have strained relationships. Mixing contemporary realism with a healthy dose of fantasy, the story’s alternate reality never feels far-fetched but instead plausible—the Oz to Dorothy’s Kansas—where talking foxes and tornado dads are the norm. Much like in the MGM version of Oz, the graphic novel’s use of such strikingly vibrant colors is both breathtaking and otherworldly, perfectly complementing the visual narrative of the artwork while drawing the reader into Abel’s world.
Until Book Two arrives in November, fans eager for more may want to seek out Young and Corona’s individual comics or films such as the aforementioned The Wizard of Oz as well as The Neverending Story, The Dark Crystal, and pretty much anything from Studio Ghibli to pass the time.
Mech Cadet Yu Vol 2 & Vol 3 by Greg Pak and Takeshi Miyazawa
Publication Date: October 28, 2018/April 16, 2019
An alien invasion results in the Mech Cadets being called up to fight with their robos to defend the planet. In volume two, main character Stanford Yu and his fellow first year cadets are prohibited from fighting but they train in secret to make sure they are ready in case they need to help. In volume 3, the first year cadets find themselves on the front lines using their secret training to fight their mysterious enemies.
Pak presents this fast paced story in a world that builds itself as the story progresses. No space is wasted and every part of the story feeds the plot—all killer, no filler. Miyazawa’s wonderful art brings this story to life. These graphic novels will appeal to teen readers of all ages and each volume can be read independent of the other volumes without losing major story points.
Readers who enjoyed the Pacific Rim and Star Wars films and comics will enjoy these graphic novels. These books have universal appeal so younger readers who enjoy the work of Ben Hatke and older readers who like Jeff Lemire’s books will both ease right into this quick story.