Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Making Comics by Lynda Barry
Drawn & Quarterly
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
In gorgeous full-page spreads, cartoonist and professor Lynda Barry welcomes readers into her comics classroom, teaching the creative joy and freedom that can be found through drawing. Readers are invited to abandon perfectionism and embrace expressive communication as a necessary cornerstone of life.
Vibrant images sprawl across every page of this sketchbook-style composition notebook. Barry’s distinctive mark-making is present throughout, veering from philosophical meditations to exploratory exercises to quiet, affecting glimpses into her past. This book is a refreshing change from typical how-to books that often rely on rigid process and strict representation.
Readers looking for similar titles may enjoy the expressive line work of Ebony Flowers’s brilliant Hot Comb, the empowering poetry of Jason Reynolds’s For Every One, and the niche ruminations found in Hugh Amano’s Let’s Make Ramen!
Go With the Flow by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann
First Second / Macmillan
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Sasha is a new student at Hazelton High School. A couple weeks in, Sasha starts her first period, which shows up on her white pants. Fortunately, fellow sophomores Abby, Brit, and Christine invite her into the bathroom to help her out. While trying to get a pad for Sasha to wear, Brit checks the machine in the bathroom, to no avail. Spearheaded by the passionate Abby, the girls try to get the school to do something about the empty tampon and pad dispensers. After the school says their hands are tied and they have no funding to help, Abby adds more posts to her period-focused blog, writes letters with her friends to local politicians and school officials, and even starts an online funding campaign to provide free tampons and pads for all of Hazelton High School.
Go With the Flow is cleverly rendered in black and white, with red the only additional color. Every aspect of this graphic novel is a call to everyone to join the menstrual health movement and to make sure women, transgender men, and intersex individuals that menstruate have access to clean and safe menstrual hygiene products. It also notes that periods are experienced differently for everyone who menstruates, like Brit, who has to miss a lot of school since her cramps are so severe that she is unable to get out of bed.
While this book is centered on sophomores in high school, it has appeal for teens of all ages. Readers that have enjoyed titles such as Guts by Raina Telgemeier and Swing It, Sunny by Jennifer L. Holm, will enjoy that this graphic novel is more than about growing up but also delves more deeply into a serious topic.