Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
LaGuardia by Nnedi Okorafor, art by Tana Ford
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
In an alternate future where aliens have arrived and integrated into world society, Dr. Future, Nwafor Chukwuebuka, has just fled her home in Nigeria. Heavily pregnant and leaving her partner behind, Future lands at LaGuardia International and Interstellar Airport in New York with a secret: an illegal sentient alien plant named Letme Live, who is fleeing a genocide of his people. Future and Letme take refuge at the home of Future’s grandmother and settle in with a supportive community of human and alien immigrants and activists. But as the birth of her child grows closer, protests for and against alien immigration break out at home and abroad, and her partner searches for her from across the globe, Future must make choices that will change her world forever.
Nnedi Okorafor’s unique sci-fi genius is on display in this relevant, political, personal graphic novel. LaGuardia’s alternate near-future is fantastically recognizable, populated with weird wonderful alien life side-by-side with the everyday people who readers see in their own communities—all captured in the vibrant colors and innovative worldbuilding details of Tana Ford’s artwork. Okorafor taps into the pulse of modern society, using keen observation and a sly sense of humor to translate the current political situation into a showstopping, speculative vision that offers readers home, family, and a tantalizing glimmer of hope for the future. Give to fans of Okorafor’s other books (Shuri, Binti, Akata Witch), readers of smart sassy science fiction / speculative fiction (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Saga, or Grasshopper Jungle), and politically active teens on their way to the next protest.
Miles Morales: Straight Out of Brooklyn by Saladin Ahmed
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Miles Morales has been rebooted under the pen of Eisner Award-winning writer Saladin Ahmed. In this volume, Miles teams up with usual villain Rhino to help uncover who is snatching children off the street, as both Miles and Rhino know a child that has gone missing. Miles cozies up with his love interest Barbara and it’s hinted that Barbara knows Miles is Spider-Man—there will likely be a swerve somewhere with this not actually being the case. The school’s vice-principal has Miles pegged as a bad egg and goes in hard trying to catch him in the wrong.
Hot off the heels of Sony’s hit animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, teen readers will be eager to read this Miles Morales volume. Miles is a relatable, funny, and charming character who experiences a lot of the same situations as teen readers. Little brothers and sisters will like this one too, so it’s a great title for the whole family.
This book will go over well with fans of Ms. Marvel, Lion Forge’s Quincredible, and even fans of Jason Reynold’s Track series.
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks
First Second/Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
On their final night of work at DeKnock’s Pumpkin Patch, high school seniors and “Patch” friends Josiah and Deja decide to make their final shift an adventurous one as they explore the park’s many sights and tasty treats in search of the Fudge Girl, Josiah’s long-time, unrequited crush. The evening doesn’t quite turn out as the pair hopes, however, as obstacles, including a Freeto Pie thief, a succotash crisis, and a renegade goat, hinder their plans. As closing time draws near, Josiah makes one frantic final attempt to reach his dream girl, and he does: she’s just not who he—or the reader—is expecting.
A graphic novel penned by Rowell and illustrated by Hicks is the YA equivalent of Nutella and Marshmallow Fluff S’mores: you can’t wait to sink your teeth into the sweet concoction because you know it’s going to be so good, you’ll crave more, and this collaboration doesn’t disappoint. Rowell continues to write believable, relatable characters that teens can easily identify with, and within the pages, she touches upon common themes, such as friendship, love, the transition into adulthood, and the roles of fate, destiny, and chance in our lives that many young adults find themselves contemplating. The narrative is perfectly complemented and even extended by Hicks’s captivating artwork, be it in her expressive characters or the earthy, warm tones of a pumpkin patch in late autumn that evokes a sense of nostalgia for a sweeter, more innocent time; even the visual puns serve a purpose, adding an additional layer of festive humor to the lighthearted prose.
Fans of contemporary romance can check out Rowell’s works of fiction, including Fangirl, and Carry On, as well as Hicks’s Comics Will Break Your Heart. Hicks’s prolific graphic novel bibliography showcases her artistry through the years, and readers should check out Friends With Boys and the Eisner-winning The Nameless City: The Divided Earth, the concluding entry in The Nameless City trilogy.
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