Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch by Kelly Thompson and Veronica Fish
Publication Date: December 10, 2019
In this reboot of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sabrina Spellman has just moved to Greendale with her aunts Hilda and Zelda and their sassy talking cat (and former wizard), Salem. Sabrina blondes up her naturally white hair in an attempt to fit in better, but this falls to the bottom of her priority list when she is attacked by monsters outside of the high school. As Sabrina works to solve the mystery of the monsters and the surging magic in Greendale, she also catches the attention of love interests Harvey and Ren, makes friends with Jessa, and incurs the wrath of mean girl Radka. The magic system in Sabrina the Teenage Witch is by no means complex; Sabrina is a very powerful witch who seems to be doing magic by making up rhymes on the spot. But like the Sabrina’s that have come before it, most strongly the classic Archie comics and the Melissa Joan Hart starring TV show, Sabrina’s story is how magic complicates an otherwise normal life. Secondary characters have added dimensions as Sabrina tells Harvey and Ren she intends to date them both and discovers that siblings Radka and Ren live in poverty. The art is lively and fun, with lots of nods to the Archie house style. Recommended for fans of Sabrina, Archie, and the new Riverdale.
The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkeller
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Thirteen-year-old Moth Hush loves spooky stories, Halloween, and all things witchy. So when she discovers her own magical powers, it’s a dream come true. Witchcraft runs in the family and Moth is finally coming into her own! But being a witch is not the cure-all to eighth-grade angst that Moth hoped it would be. Moth learns that her family has a complicated history with her small hometown of Founders Bluff, and her mother doesn’t want to talk about magic at all. So with a history-loving new kid and a talking cat at her side, Moth sets out to reconcile her cozy ordinary life with her mysterious magical destiny. Packed with action, wit, and a charming heroine who is impossible not to root for (plus that talking cat!), The Okay Witch is anything but “just okay.”
Moth is all big earnest eyes and awkward long legs freewheeling across the pages. The richly colored, lively art is balanced by dialogue that is natural and easy, especially between Moth and her mother. The story tackles big themes (inclusion, persecution, history and the power of storytelling) through relatable experiences (bullying, making new friends, navigating family expectations), all while immersing readers in a magical middle school adventure. Give The Okay Witch to fans of other trendy witchy graphic novels like Hex Vet, Mooncakes, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and The Midwinter Witch.
Grimoire Noir by Vera Greentea, illustrated by Yana Bogatch
Publication Date: July 23, 2019
In the town of Blackwell, only girls can become witches. Fifteen-year-old Bucky Orson always hoped he could become a witch regardless of gender. When Bucky’s younger sister goes missing, he puts his ambitions aside to try to find her. Bucky knows his sister is coming into her powers and she is said to be one of the most powerful witches around. Who would want to kidnap her? What would the kidnappers want to harness her powers for? Bucky enlists the help of his former best friend, who left him once she gained her powers and started hanging out with the local witch coven. As Bucky gets closer to finding his sister he unveils secrets about how the witchcraft in the town of Blackwell works.
Grimoire Noir is charming and mysterious. At the core of this graphic novel is the main mystery of what happened to Bucky’s sister. The story also considers a town where witches can only be female, and that these women can only practice their magic within Blackwell. The story is engaging as the reader wants to find out the answers to the mysteries they are presented with. The drawings are beautiful and the coloring really sets the tone throughout the title. The forbidden mansion Bucky sneaks into is darker and more sinister than the rest of the town. The coloring helps get the reader ready for what or who comes next. This quick read is spooky and enchanting in its storytelling as well as its art.
2019 has seen many other witchy and magical titles. Readers that enjoy this graphic novel may also enjoy Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries, the Witch Hat Atelier series by Kamome Shirahama, Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker, and Blackwood by Evan Dorkin.
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