Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
A Quick & Easy Guide to Sex & Disability by A. Andrews
Limerence Press / Oni Press
Publication Date: June 23, 2020
Debut author/cartoonist A. Andrews does their part to counter the lack of sexual education resources for disabled individuals in this inclusive and all-body positive Quick & Easy Guide. This book dispels myths about disabled bodies, stresses the importance of self-love and communication (with partners as well as doctors and personal care attendants), and covers the basics of sex toys and positioning furniture.
Andrews, “a totally queer, totally complete, incomplete paraplegic,” is our narrator character, speaking directly to the audience in a conversational and joyful tone. While this title is specifically for disabled individuals and their able-bodied partners, the practical suggestions contain useful information for anyone. The expressive, cartoon art style positively depicts many different types of bodies, and the illustrations stay on the suggestive side rather than venturing into “graphic.”
Pair A Quick & Easy Guide to Sex & Disability with other inclusive sex education books like Doing It! by Hannah Witton and You Do You: Figuring Out Your Body, Dating, and Sexuality by Sarah Mirk. Two other useful sex-ed comic titles are Limerence Press’s title for younger tweens and teens Wait, What? A Comic Book Guide to Relationships, Bodies, and Growing Up by Heather Corinna, Isabella Rotman, & Luke B. Howard, and Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf: A Sex Education Comic Book edited by Saiya Miller & Liza Bley.
The Phantom Twin by Lisa Brown
First Second / Macmillan
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Isabel and Jane are twins—not fraternal or identical, but conjoined. Under the name “Extraordinary Peabody Sisters,” they travel with a carnival as part of its “freak show.” A surgeon finds the twins and convinces them that he can successfully separate them. Jane really wants to live a normal life, not constrained by the circus. Unfortunately, when the surgeon operates, he saves Isabel, but loses Jane. Isabel, the shy and meager twin, feels guilty for being the twin to survive and now has the problem of trying to make it alone in the world. Her old circus friends will harbor her as long as they can, but the ghost of Jane, her “phantom twin,” and other circumstances have her making choices to try to gain the independence that Jane always wanted.
Phantom Twin is haunting and mysterious. At the core of this graphic novel is the relationship between the twins Isabel and Jane, and how Isabel has to create a new life for herself without her other half. But the backdrop of the narrative tells us about circus culture and the exploitation of the vulnerable and visually disparate. The story is engaging as the reader wants to find out what will become of Isabel without her sister. The art is unique, and the coloring really sets the tone throughout the title. This quick read is spooky and enchanting in its storytelling as well as its art.
This title is highly recommended for readers that have interest in early circus culture. Younger readers may enjoy the creepy atmosphere of The Weirn Books by Svetlana Chmakova, while older readers may enjoy the graphic novel Grimoire Noir by Vera Greentea.