Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2021) Nominees Round Up, March 19 Edition

Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare, vol. 4 by Yuhki Kamatani
Seven Seas Entertainment
Publication Date: December 17, 2019
ISBN: 9781642750638 

Volume four of Our Dreams at Dusk is the concluding volume of the series. Tchaiko, the eldest member of the drop-in center’s group reveals to Tasuku that his very sick partner is in the hospital. Meanwhile, Saki and her girlfriend start planning their wedding. Tasuku takes this opportunity to make amends with Misora and invite him to attend the wedding. Someone-san reveals her asexuality and the former pressures and societal expectations she faced to date and settle down with someone, which led to her cutting ties with most of the people from her past. Tsubaki continues to find his way and figure out his sexuality. In the meantime, he has become more kind to the drop-in regulars and more accepting of who they are. Saki’s parents are supportive of her marriage and even though Tchaiko has to leave early to say goodbye to his partner, they have a beautiful wedding with everyone in attendance.

Our Dreams at Dusk is a manga series that lingers with you. 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. Four volumes doesn’t seem long enough to accomplish what the series has done, introducing us to unique, fully-developed characters with individual concerns rooted in their sexuality or gender identity.

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 characters’ sexuality.

—Erin Durrett

Cub by Cynthia L. Copeland
Algonquin Young Readers / Workman Publishing
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
ISBN: 9781616208486

The year is 1972, and young Cynthia must navigate the prickly ins and outs of 7th grade at Litchfield Junior High School. When Cindy becomes a cub reporter for the local town newspaper, her views on the politics of the day expand and she sees herself, her school, and the grown-up world around her in a new way. This is a funny and heartwarming look at life in the 1970s.

With solid artwork that shows all the emotions and terror of fitting in at school, Cynthia gives us a look at navigating friendship while remaining true to oneself—once you figure out who that is! We also get to see a historical look into women’s and girls’ rights in a decade that was just starting to see a shift in its thinking.

This book is perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier’s books like Smile, Shannon Hale’s coming-of-age reads like Real Friends, and Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley.

—Tina Lernø

Wonder Twins, vol. 1: Activate! by Mark Russell and Stephen Byrne
Wonder Comics / DC Comics
Publication Date: November 19, 2019
ISBN: 9781401294649

Twin siblings Jayna and Zan have been exiled from their home planet and Superman has set them up to make a new life on Earth. The shape-changing aliens (Jayna turns into any animal and Zan turns into any form of water) stick together to navigate their internship at the Hall of Justice, the culture shock over the differences between their world compared to Earth, and the general awkwardness of life as a teenager attending an American high school. While the twins deal with typical hijinks from low-level villains in the League of Annoyance, the deep-seated influence of evil billionaire Lex Luther leads to their exposure to larger societal issues like the prison-industrial complex and class and income inequality.

Mark Russell has injected some serious topics into the world that the Wonder Twins are living in. Jayna and Zan, like many teenagers today, feel like it falls on them to fix the overwhelming systemic problems that they did not create. But despite this, there is a sense of hopefulness and the satire never goes too dark. Stephen Byrne’s animation-influenced style literally keeps it away from the dark with his use of bold, bright colors and the jokes and references integrated into the panel background.

Fans of the Adult Swim series The Venture Bros. might enjoy Wonder Twins’s subversive and self-referential humor, as well as Zan’s Hank-Venture-level of optimism and unearned confidence. There is also a natural crossover for fans of the Teen Titans Go! franchise, as Jayna and Zan were made temporary members of the team in a show episode and Beast Boy makes a quick appearance in this volume.

—Kacy Helwick

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Great Graphic Novels for Teens

Great Graphic Novels for Teens Blogging Team @ YALSA's The Hub.