Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Fence, vol. 4: Rivals by C.S. Pacat, Johanna the Mad, and Joana LaFuente
BOOM! Box / BOOM! Studios
Publication Date: June 30, 2020
Fence is back with a long-awaited volume four! In this installment, the King’s Row fencing team has been finalized. Up until this point, every fencer was playing for himself, but now they need to work as a team if they want to defeat other schools in competition. Seiji is training hard while Nicholas takes remedial lessons to focus his accuracy. Then, the King’s Row team has to face off against MacRobertson, the school that knocked them out of contention for the State Championship the previous year. It seems that MacRobertson knows all of the players’ fencing styles, and it looks like they could be unstoppable. Can King’s Row get it together to pull out a win?
Fence has always had a comfortable slip-yourself-right-into-it vibe and volume four is no exception. The art maintains its hyperrealistic style and well-developed individualized characters. Readers have been waiting for Jesse Coste to return to the story and for the competition between the top two ranked players to heat up; readers will be happy to see him drop by for a demonstration at the beginning of the story. Also, the delicious tension between Nicholas and Seiji continues to engage readers. Volume four is a fantastic continuation of a well-loved series.
Readers who enjoy this graphic novel series may like Bloom by Kevin Panetta, Check, Please! by Ngozi Ugazu, The Backstagers by James Tynion IV and Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, which all feature gay characters and engaging storylines. Readers may also want to check out the upcoming YA fiction novel based on the graphic novel series, Fence: Striking Distance by Sarah Rees Brennan.
Stephen McCranie’s Space Boy, vol. 6 & 7 by Stephen McCranie
Dark Horse Books
Publication Date: March 10, 2020; July 7, 2020
ISBN: 9781506714004, 9781506714011
In volume six, Amy tries to be friends with both Cassie and David after they break up while also trying to figure out Oliver’s secrets. In volume seven, Amy borrows Tammie’s drone camera to spy on Oliver and Dr. Kim and turns down an advance from Zeph.
While the plot can crawl along at times, these two books advance the story quite a bit. Teens will be eager to see what’s next for Amy. The colors are bold and colorful which will quickly grab the attention of teen readers. Readers can pick up these two volumes without reading the preceding volumes and still enjoy the story. Space Boy manages to be an edge-of-your-seat drama while engaging a big, loopy art style and sparse word bubbles. The $10.99 price tag on these volumes make Stephen McCranie’s Space Boy an easy fit into library budgets of all sizes.
Younger fans of Space Boy might also enjoy Snapdragon by Kat Leyh and Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Rey Terciero. Recommend The Avant-Guards by Carly Usdin and Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward books to older readers. Readers that are into the sci-fi aspect might appreciate Amazon’s The Expanse television series and the book series it’s based on by James S.A. Corey.