Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
By Night, Volumes 1 & 2 written by John Allison and illustrated by Christine Larsen and Sarah Stern
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
In Volume 1, we meet Jane and Heather who used to be high school besties, but after a falling out have found themselves finding each other again where they grew up in Spectrum, South Dakota. What starts out as a casual hang session at the bar turns into a multi-dimensional travel journey that will either bring Jane and Heather together, drive them apart or keep them together forever…in another dimension!
Would you forgive your ex-best friend for dropping you into a hole filled with vampires? Maybe if you got the extra-dimensional footage the two of you took stolen by a desperate co-worker (who you now have to rescue from the mob). These are some of the problems Jane and Heather face in Volume 2. Meanwhile, in the Otherworld, their troll-like friend Gardt is facing consequences for welcoming the humans into their world.
Christine and Sarah do a great job of bringing John’s whimsical sci-fi/fantasy story to life with giant owl type creatures looking just as normal as our two main gals. The coloring is pretty fantastic with creative uses of depth perception and lighting to show Earth and the otherworldly dimension to which they travel seem similar yet different. Each issue builds on and strengthens character backstories, relationships, and world-building. Jane and Heather are 23, post-college, and living with parents, but this story of finding yourself, reconnecting with past friends, getting to know your parents as adults, and feeling out of place are all part of the teen experience, and readers will definitely lose themselves in this great new series (and hopefully not the Eidolon). We recommend By Night for fans of John Allison (Giant Days, Scary Go Round) and a Stranger Things/Friends crossover!
—Traci Glass & Becky Standal
Ao Haru Ride, vols. 3-5 by Io Sakisaka, Viz Media
- 3- ISBN: 978-1974702671: Publication Date: February 5, 2019
- 4- ISBN: 978-1974702688: Publication Date: April 2, 2019
- 5- ISBN: 978-1974702695: Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Futaba Yoshioka knows that even though her middle school crush and first love, Kou Tanaka, is a different person than the one she knew, she still has feelings for him. But when she realizes one of her new best friends, Yuri, also likes Kou, Futaba does not know what to do. How can she be true to herself and not lose her friendship with Yuri? As her knowledge and understanding of the difficulties Kou has experienced since middle school grows, Futaba is placed in the difficult position of wanting to be a supportive friend to both Kou and Yuri, but at the same time can’t change how she feels about him. Meanwhile, Futaba keeps running into the sweet and studious Toma Kikuchi. As Toma gets to know Futuaba, he begins to have feelings for her. Should Futuaba give up on Kou? Is Kou too late to tell Futuaba how he feels?
As this series continues, Io Sakisaka continues to capture the challenges of forming and maintaining true friendship in high school, especially when romantic feelings come between friends. Both Futaba and Yuri confront their mutual feelings for Kou with empathy and maturity. As more of Kou’s history is revealed in volume 4, the reader begins to understand why he has changed so drastically and roots for his relationship with Futaba even more. The gentle and whimsical illustrations perfectly match this sweet, gentle story. Hand to readers who enjoy shojo manga and anime, such as Waiting for Spring by Anashin.
The Iliad written and illustrated by Gareth Hinds
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
This lyrical and vibrant retelling of the epic poem by Homer takes readers from the argument between Achilles and Agamemnon in the final year of the Trojan War to the death of Hector while emphasizing the roles the Greek gods played in the conflict. Told with pencil and watercolor illustrations that give the story new life, Hinds’ version is terrific for those familiar with the tale, as well as for new readers who have yet to discover The Iliad and are looking to find out more about their favorite Greek heroes and gods. The detailed notes, cast of characters, glossary, and sundry other bonus elements make this a wonderful retelling for readers who don’t feel up to the task of reading the full epic poem in its hundreds-and-hundreds-of-pages entirety but want to know the full story. The well-researched retelling is faithful to the original, yet brings it to life with full-color artwork, dialog and captions that will capture the attention of a new audience.
This is a beautiful graphic novel that will appeal to fans of classics, as well as readers looking for adventure. The heavy book might need an initial push from librarians, but once they dive in, readers will want to revisit the tale again and again to absorb all of the details. Fans of Rick Riordan’s many series will find much to love in this action-filled story, as will aspiring artists and illustrators.