Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2024) Featured Review: Belle of the Ball by Mari Costa

  • Belle of the Ball
  • by Mari Costa
  • Publisher: First Second
  • Publication Date: March 21, 2023
  • ISBN-13: 9781250784124

Quiet high schooler/mascot Belle has a crush on head cheerleader Gina. Gina, a high achiever, has an on-and-off relationship with her jock girlfriend, Chloe, who is currently failing her English class. In order for Chloe and Gina to be on the same ten year plan, Gina befriends Belle to convince her to tutor Chloe. After a rocky start, Belle and Chloe start to bond over their shared interests and childhood friendship. As Gina finds herself working more and more towards achieving her academic dream, and Chloe and Belle get closer, it becomes clear that the things these three initially thought they wanted may have changed.

Belle of the Ball by Mari Costa takes a simple premise, a high school love triangle, but develops it into a sapphic romcom story that sparks with humor and emotion throughout. All three protagonists feel realistic and likable in a way that makes you root for all three. The artist’s decision to provide distinct body types, hairstyles, and expressions for each character’s design is another way she successfully develops the character-driven story. The choice of a pink color palette gives the book a swoon-worthy vibe.  It successfully merges art and dialogue seamlessly in its narrative, and provides an enjoyable experience for readers who will definitely want more.

Hand this comic to fans of the graphic novel series Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, or The Girl From the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag, all books that share similarities in light romance stories with a strong emotional core. This is also a perfect book for fans of sapphic romance stories that follow enemies to lovers, such as the book She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen.

—Rachel Johannigmeier

Other Nominated Titles

Released: September 20, 2022
Released: September 27, 2022
Released: October 4, 2022
Released: October 11, 2022

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Nominations Round-Up, Winter

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Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.

The Apothecary Diaries, v.2. By Natsu Hyuuga. Art by Nekokurage. Square Enix Manga, $10.99 (9781646090716). 

Maomao’s adventures as the official royal test taster continue! In this volume, Maomao faces the intrigues of the royal court while dealing with poisoning attempts against the Emperor’s wives.

Asadora! v.4. By Naoki Urasawa. VIZ Media / VIZ Signature, $14.99 (9781974722969). 

A lighthouse has been attacked by something resembling a giant creature, and Asa is called in by the government to find the monster before the Tokyo Olympics. With the monster’s reappearance, Asa continues the search for her family.

Blue Flag, v.8. By KAITO. VIZ Media, $12.99 (9781974720941). 

The conclusion of Blue Flag sees almost everyone’s secrets revealed and concludes the main characters’ romantic arcs.

Blue Giant Omnibus, v.1-2. By Shinichi Ishizuka. 2020. Seven Seas Entertainment, $19.99 (9781645058649). 

Dai is graduating soon, and while his friends are all cramming for exams, he spends every day playing his sax. Dai is going to be the world’s greatest jazz musician, and to be the best, he will need more than just passion.

Continue reading Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Nominations Round-Up, Winter

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of Heaven’s Design Team, v. 1–4 by Hebi-zou, Tsuta Suzuki, and Tarako

Heaven’s Design Team, v. 1–4 by Hebi-zou, Tsuta Suzuki, and Tarako
Kodansha Comics / Kodansha USA
Publication Date: October 20, 2020; December 9, 2020; February 23, 2021; March
30, 2021
ISBN: 9781645611136, 9781646511297, 9781646511303, 9781646511310

Instead of creating every individual animal, God decided to outsource the work to a design team. The team of angels consists of six designers, an engineer who tests if the animals will function in the real world, and two liaisons who act as project managers. Volume one opens on new liaison Shimoda’s first day, and we follow along as he meets the team and learns how the designers work to create animals that fit God’s often vague specifications. Each chapter closes with a few short encyclopedia entries on the real animals that are featured.

Continue reading Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of Heaven’s Design Team, v. 1–4 by Hebi-zou, Tsuta Suzuki, and Tarako