Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare, vol. 2 by Yuhki Kamatani
Publication Date: July 23, 2019
Having finally come to terms with his sexuality, Tasuku starts visiting the drop-in-center more often and begins feeling more at home there. Through insults and prying questions, Misora Shuji (who also frequents the drop-in-center) wrangles into an unlikely friendship with Tasuku. Misora enjoys dressing in girls clothing, wigs and makeup. Not sure what this means for Misora’s gender identity, he lashes out at others as he wrestles with figuring out if he just enjoys dressing up as a girl or if he identifies as female. Tasuku, who understands Misora’s struggles is kind to him and they soon become friends. However, during one evening festival where Misora is encouraged by Tasuku to dress in girl’s clothes, Misora is inappropriately touched and lashes out at Tasuku, calling him names and revealing secrets Tasuku would rather keep private. Misora stops visiting the drop-in-center altogether, while the classmate Tasuku is crushing on just might have found out Tasuku’s secret.
Our Dreams at Dusk is a manga series that lingers with you. The story continues to weave in the elements of reality and mysticism with the character Someone-san, the unknowable host of the drop-in-center. The art is beautiful and gives you an otherworldly feeling and at the same time relates the real struggles of its characters and their reality.
Readers wanting to identify with other LBGTQIA characters may enjoy reading the manga That Blue Sky Feeling by Okura and standalone graphic novel Bloom by Kevin Panetta. Both graphic novels take a deeper look into their character’s sexuality.
West Coast Avengers, vol. 2: City of Evils by Kelly Thompson
Publication Date: July 9, 2019
A love triangle! A brand new hero! Jeff the baby land shark! Quentin Quire jokes! West Coast Avengers Volume 2 has all the ingredients that make a fun and engaging graphic novel that teens will love. In this volume, America gets kidnapped by a cult and the West Coast Avengers have to save her. Ramone, who we learn is America’s girlfriend, has powers just like her brother and she has never tapped into them because the consequences of harnessing that power are irreversible. The Gwenpool and Quentin Quire ship sails at full speed while Kate’s ex Noh-Varr shows up to help the team and initiate a love triangle. And we can’t forget about the newest member of the team, Jeff the baby land shark, and his contributions! Such a good boy!
Kelly Thompson’s writing of the West Coast Avengers continues to be top-notch. Don’t let Marvel’s premature cancellation of this book (this is the last volume, send angry letters) deter you from buying this for your YA collection. Teens will eat up the fun yet haphazard adventures of this unlikely team. Despite three different artists over the six issues in this volume, the art still feels tight and polished.
Fans of Thor: Ragnarok and Amazon’s The Boys will love this comic series. Readalikes include Eve Ewing’s Ironheart, the Jim Zub, and Mark Waid runs of Champions, and naturally Kelly Thompson’s run on the Kate Bishop solo book Hawkeye.
The Lonesome Era written and illustrated by Jon Allen
Iron Circus Comics
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Camden the cat is terribly in love with his prankster and bad influence best friend Jeremiah. Camden is also terribly kind and unfortunately gets roped into a lot of dicey situations with Jeremiah which he is not okay with. But, how can you say goodbye to a friend—a friend who you secretly love? Now, both Camden and Jeremiah are involved in a serious incident and Camden doesn’t want to live this life anymore. Plus, he’s met someone pretty interesting at a punk show he’d like to know more about. Camden decides he needs to make a decision—keep living a lie or start living his real life.
In this melancholy story of friendship, coming of age, and discovering yourself, readers will empathize with Camden and his quest to be accepted for who he is. The question Camden has to ask is—can he be his true self with Jeremiah in his life? Writer and illustrator Jon Allen has created a beautiful story that teens will resonate with from questioning your friends to questioning yourself and everything in between. His rounded, cartoonish black and white illustrations bring a fun, whimsical nature to this serious and thoughtful story. The panels are intricately illustrated with all the characters drawn uniquely different and beautiful.
Readers will immediately see themselves in Camden and his struggle to be himself. Great for fans of Kiss Number 8 by Colleen AF Venable, Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki.