Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Cosmoknights, vol. 1 by Hannah Templer
Penguin Random House/Topshelf Publishing
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Pan’s life isn’t anything to brag about. She works in her dad’s shop, hangs out with her best friend, Tara (who happens to be a princess), and occasionally stares up at the stars, wondering about other worlds. Then, one day, Pan’s whole world turns upside down when Tara runs away off-planet to escape an arranged marriage. And when a pair of space-knights land on Pan’s doorstep, finally SHE has the chance to see the world—and the darker side of some of her world’s traditions. Also, maybe, just maybe, Pan will have the chance to make some changes…
Cosmoknights, originally published as a webcomic, is a fast-paced, beautifully drawn, feminist space romp with a diverse cast of characters. The artwork, all purples, pinks, oranges and blues, really does a wonderful job making Pan’s world come alive. This story will resonate with anyone who has ever dreamed of exploring and changing the world—as well as those who just enjoy a gripping, action packed adventure story with queer folk in space.
Fans of fantastic-yet-realistic and gripping comics like Blackbird, Jem and the Holograms and Paper Girls will be enthralled with the richly drawn, unique, and captivating world of Cosmoknights.
Are You Listening? by Tillie Walden
Publication date September 10, 2019
27-year-old mechanic Lou can’t say no to Bea, an 18-year-old runaway with nowhere to run to. Lou’s tiny car and trailer become an oasis for the duo as they roadtrip across West Texas on a mission to return a lost cat to its home—a town called West, not on any map. As the two young women ever-so-carefully open up to each other, they find themselves pursued by menacing officials across a vast, unpredictable landscape that shifts and changes around them.
Walden uses the structure of page and panel to to focus on small wordless moments that land with impact, combined with a saturated jewel-toned color palette that’s just off-kilter enough to suggest a world that’s not completely normal. Rich in metaphor, seeped in magical realism, and with luminous artwork, Are You Listening? is a smart, sharp, atmospheric queer tale of connection in the midst of grief and trauma.
Fans of Walden’s previous works will love the challenge of Are You Listening?, and readers of Maggie Stiefvater’s brand of magical realism (The Scorpio Races, The Raven Cycle series) will find a home in these pages as well. Are You Listening? is also an obvious choice for anyone (ie, everyone) who likes books about magical cats.
Sea Sirens (Trot and Cap’n Bill Adventure 1) by Amy Chu
Viking Book for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Trot is a Vietnamese surfer who loves nothing more than catching waves with her grumpy cat, Cap’n Bill. Trot, who is responsible for keeping an eye on her elderly grandfather, loses him when he wanders off while she’s surfing. For their safety, Trot’s mother grounds both Trot and her grandfather. But when grandfather falls asleep, Trot cannot resist the call of the sea. When Trot and Cap’n Bill get sucked underwater, they discover a war raging between the Mermaid Queendom and the Serpent King and his followers. When grandfather joins them under the sea, Trot worries about getting them home, back to safety and her awaiting mother.
This story was inspired by Frank L. Baum’s Sea Fairies, which is considered to be his “underwater Wizard of Oz.” The art and coloring are gorgeous, evoking that vibrant Wizard of Oz feeling. Vietnamese mythology is seamlessly woven throughout the underwater sea adventures, giving new life to the underwater trope. Trot and Cap’n Bill are likable characters to root for, especially when you find out that sassy Cap’n Bill can talk.
Readers who enjoy this adventurous story should take a look at Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Paige, for a different siren/mermaid tale or try Hotel Dare by Terry Blas, for a fantastical plot where three siblings have adventures entering different realms.