Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, vol. 1: High School is Hell created by Joss Whedon; written by Jordie Bellaire; illustrated by Dan Mora; colored by Raul Angulo
Publication Date: May 2019
High School Is Hell collects the first four volumes of a rebooted Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Boom! Studios. The reboot uses the actor likenesses and Joss Whedon characters, but imagines them in high school in 2019, rather than 1997. Willow is out, Xander is on tumblr, and Cordelia is… nice. The writer has room to play with plot and timelines and the various ways our culture has changed in the last twenty years, but underneath it’s the same Scooby Gang, nursing crushes and slaying demons.
The art by Mora is lively and realistic—The way he’s able to capture Buffy’s many facial expressions is especially notable—and Angulo’s coloring feels like pop noir, making great use of light and shadow not just in black and blue but red and pink as well. Buffy purists might feel skeptical at first, but there is a lot to love in this volume for old fans and new ones alike.
Hotel Dare by Terry Blas
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Olive and her adopted siblings Darwin and Charlotte visit their estranged grandmother Lupe at the large, unoccupied hotel she calls home. Grandma Lupe asks the grandchildren to clean the house and not to go into her office. Of course, they go into the office. There they find a mask and a brooch. Charlotte presses a button on the brooch and the three teens find themselves transported to different fantastical dimensions. It turns out Grandma Lupe has travelled to these dimensions in search of her husband Justino who disappeared when her son Jorge (the children’s father) was young. Lupe finds a shard of the mask and her estranged daughter who has also been travelling between dimensions for many years. Olive, Darwin, and Charlotte work together with their grandmother as a family to take out the big bad, find Justino, and bring the family back together.
Claudia Aguirre (Kim & Kim) has created brilliant, colorful art to tell this fast-paced story of magical realism and the bonds of family. The bright colors and beautiful setting will appeal to readers. While the book is short, Blas skillfully tells the story with no downtime at all. This book is a standalone graphic novel perfected.
Graphic novel readalikes for this book include Blackwood by Evan Dorkin, 5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel, and the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi. Readers who have enjoyed the YA novel All of Us with Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil and the Netflix series Stranger Things will like this book as well.
Satoko and Nada, vol. 1 by Yupechika
Seven Seas Entertainment
Publication Date: October 9, 2018
Satoko and Nada are college students and roommates attending school in America. Satoko is from Japan and Nada is from Saudi Arabia. Told as short one-page vignettes, Satoko and Nada get to know each other’s cultures through food, religion, and custom leading to a great friendship.
Satoko and Nada is a great entry-level title for new manga readers. It’s a realistic story told in bite-size pieces ideal for readers who struggle. This book will also be appreciated by readers who like to learn about different cultures.Getting to know about Saudi Arabian culture is a pleasant twist on the usual manga and it’s fun to see Satoko and Nada’s friendship grow as the story progresses.
Teen readers who have enjoyed YA titles about everyday life such as Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell or To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han will appreciate Satoko and Nada.