Great Graphic Novels for Teens: Top Ten Comic Book Companions of 2023!

The votes are in and YALSA’s 2024 Great Graphic Novels for Teens list will be coming to you during Lib Learn X later this month! While you wait, the 2024 GGNT Committee are delighted to share with you our annual, and very important, TOP TEN COMIC BOOK COMPANIONS OF THE YEAR!

1st Place: Two (aka Marumi, aka Meowguin)

Insomniacs After School
 by Makoto Ojiro
VIZ Media

Companion Description: A (stray?) cat who wanders the school and steals lettuce from sandwiches.

Reason for Nomination: While Two comes and goes to various school clubs, he always has time for a cat nap in the astronomy tower with our two protagonists in this slice-of-life manga series.

2nd Place: Opossum

Cursed Princess Club 
by LambCat
Webtoon Unscrolled

Companion Description: This companion attaches to Princess Gwendolyn’s head via chomping. Typically found upon waking in the morning.

Reason for Nomination: While her sisters attract songbirds and cute forest creatures, Princess Gwendolyn can’t seem to shake these creatures of the night… literally; they’re stuck to her head!

3rd Place: Masaru

Dinosaur Sanctuary
by Itaru Kinoshita
Seven Seas Entertainment

Companion Description:  Masaru is a triceratops who is missing one horn. His keepers need to boost his popularity or he may be transferred to another facility!

Reason for Nomination: A dinosaur who sits like a kitty! One committee member claims that she “cares more about Masaru than any other character (human or dino) in the series.”

4th Place: Daisy

Danger and Other Unknown Risks 
by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
Penguin Workshop

Companion Description: Daisy is a talking dog!

Reason for Nomination: Daisy is a floofy, steadfast companion to our hero, Marguerite, and is a great source of comic relief in this perilous, wacky adventure from the creators of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

5th Place: El Jefe

Frontera 
by Julio Anta and Jacoby Salcedo
HarperAlley

Companion Description: A solitary jaguar

Reason for Nomination: El Jefe has a connection with teen Mateo and saves him from some truly bad actors. Your heart will break for El Jefe, based on a real jaguar in the Sonoran desert, a victim of the border wall separated from his pack.

6th Place: All the Familiars!

Unfamiliar 
by Haley Newsome
Andrews McMeel Publishing

Companion Description: Winston (a bunny), Marlow (a one-eyed cat), Ari (a bird), and Edgar (???)

Reason for Nomination: This quartet of adorable, opinionated, and sassy familiars will make you want to start practicing witchcraft.

It’s a Tie! 7th-10th place:

Percy

Cosmoknights 
by Hannah Templer
Top Shelf Productions

Companion Description: A fluffy space cat.

Reason for Nomination: Percy is an excellent judge of character when humans are not, and can transform into a giant warrior cat his princess can ride at the sound of a whistle.

Sena

The Infinity Particle 
by Wendy Xu
Quill Tree Books

Companion Description: An AI companion beloved by the MC, Clementine.

Reason for Nomination: SENA is the tiny, sassy AI caretaker every human needs.

Moby

Pearl of the Sea 
by Anthony Silverson,
Raffaella Delle Donne and Willem Samuel
Catalyst Press

Companion Description: Moby is a scrappy one-eyed dog who accompanies Pearl on her adventures

Reason for Nomination: Moby is up for all kinds of adventures and will defend Pearl if needed. He is not afraid to stand in Pearl’s way when she does questionable things… which is often.

Haley (aka Bitewing)

Nightwing
 by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo
DC Comics

Companion Description: Haley, otherwise known as Bitewing, is an adopted puppy with three legs.

Reason for Nomination: This is Bitewing’s second year on the list, and GGNT committee members are fiercely protective of this adorable blue-nosed pitbull puppy.

Stanley

Doughnuts and Doom
 by Balazs Lorinczi
Top Shelf Productions

Companion Description: Stanley is a snake who acts like a dog.

Reason for Nomination: Watch with delight as this steadfast and slinky companion steals doughnuts while humans are distracted.

Members of the 2024 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Blogging Team are: Kelley Blue (Coordinator); Meg Bowie; Jean Broughton; Jacqueline Bush; M’issa Fleming; Patricia Jimenez; Rachel Johannigmeier; Kaileigh Oldham; Ness Shortley; Mariela Siegert; Scot Smith; Cheyenne Sons; Lee Stokes; Adam Wheeler

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2024) Featured Review: Twelfth Grade Night by Booth, Strohm, and Green

  • Twelfth Night
  • by Holly Horton Booth, Stephanie Kate Strohm, and Jamie Green
  • Publisher: Disney Hyperion
  • Publication Date: October 11, 2022
  • ISBN-13: 9781368064651

Twelfth Grade Night is a graphic retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, set as a modern fantasy. Vi is starting high school at Arden High after attending private school for years with her twin brother. Arden High is located in the fairy realm where there are both magical creatures and mortals who attend. Vi feels lost without her twin brother at her side, but she quickly makes friends. She develops a crush on Orsino, a cute poet she befriends. Orisino wants Vi to ask Olivia, the most popular girl in school, to the big Twelfth Grade Night dance.

Twelfth Grade Night is a humorous take on a classic Shakespeare story. The art captures the fairy high school perfectly, with beautiful, sparkling color and characters. There is plenty of diversity and LGBTQ+ representation in this story. Vi missing her brother protrays authentic feelings siblings have when they grow apart.

Twelfth Grade Night will appeal to readers who enjoy graphic novels set within a fantasy world, such as Other Ever Afters and The Montague Twins.  Librarians should recommend this graphic novel to readers who are fans of fantasy authors such as Holly Black or Melissa Marr. Hand this to readers who are looking for positive LGBTQ+ characters, or even fans of modern Shakespeare movie adaptations such as Ten Things I Hate About You. Twelfth Grade Night is the first book in the Arden High series, with King Cheer expected later this year.

-Jacqueline Bush

Other Nominated Titles

(September 27, 2022)
October 15, 2022
(November 29, 2022)
(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 (#GGN2023) Featured Review of The Well by Jake Wyatt and Choo

The Well by Jake Wyatt and Choo
First Second / Macmillan Publishers
Publication Date: May 24, 2022
ISBN-13: 9781626724143

Li-Zhen (Lizzy) lives a simple life: helping her grandfather raise goats, flirting with the woman who runs the ferry, and selling cheese and milk at the market. But she finds her life upended when she steals coins from a magical wish-granting well in order to cover a debt. Now Lizzy must find a way to pay the well back—but it won’t be satisfied with just coins. Instead, it needs wishes. Lizzy will have to find a way to grant the wishes she stole and break the curse, lest she be dragged down into the deep.

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of Nightwing Vol. 1: Leaping into the Light by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo

Nightwing, Vol. 1: Leaping into the Light by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo
DC Comics
Publication Date: December 14, 2021
ISBN-13: 9781779512789

Leaping Into the Light is the first collected edition of Tom Taylor’s current run on DC Comics’ Nightwing. After surviving a gunshot wound in the head and developing amnesia, Dick Grayson, former Robin and sidekick to Batman, is back and once again fighting crime in Bludhaven as the vigilante Nightwing. After coming into a significant inheritance, Dick wants to use the money to help the citizens of Bludhaven, and decides to create a charitable foundation for the city. However, old enemies resurface as well as a powerful new one, and Dick Grayson, along with his persona of Nightwing, finds his life threatened, while learning surprising information about his family and his past.

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of Seven Secrets, Vol. 2 by Tom Taylor

Seven Secrets, Vol. 2 by Tom Taylor
Boom! Studios
Publication Date: November 2, 2021
ISBN: 9781684157396

Picking right up after the events of volume one, the members of The Order now find themselves surrounded by the chaos and destruction unleashed by the First Secret. The Keepers and Holders are forced to go into hiding in the Faerie realm, where Casper gets a chance to discover a hidden aspect of his complicated origins, and new leadership is chosen. With the change in command comes the further unraveling of The Order’s secrets and a new objective for the remaining members.

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of Lore Olympus: Volume One by Rachel Smythe

Lore Olympus: Volume One by Rachel Smythe
Del Rey
Publication date: November 2, 2021
ISBN: 9780593160299

Lore Olympus is a modern retelling of various Greek myths that gained fandom on WEBTOONS and is now available as the first in a series of bound volumes. In this story, the Greek gods and goddesses are no different than anyone today-they use cell phones, post to social media, and attend lavish parties on Olympus in their spare time. It’s at one of these parties where Hades sees Persephone for the first time and becomes instantly attracted to her. Persephone, however, has chosen a life of purity along with her roommate, Artemis, and is uninterested in any kind of romance. When the other gods and goddesses decide to meddle with Hades after hearing of his attraction, things become complicated. In addition to Hades and Persephone, Eros, Psyche, Hera, and other gods have storylines of their own.

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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.

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of Cyclopedia Exotica by Aminder Dhaliwal

Cyclopedia Exotica by Aminder Dhaliwal
Drawn & Quarterly
Publication Date: May 11, 2021
ISBN: 9781770464377

In this thought-provoking and humorous comic, six cyclopes negotiate love, life, and the pressures of being “other” within the dominant “two-eyed” culture. Readers are introduced to characters including Etna, a ground-breaking cover model; Pol and Latea, lonely cyclopes looking for love; Bron, whose self-hatred led him to failed eye surgery; and Pari, a young woman with a two-eyed spouse who’s about to become a mother. The stories take place in everyday spaces of interaction, ranging from dog parks to doctors’ offices, highlighting the subtle bigotry hidden in even the most mundane of places. 

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2021) Nominees Round Up, June 18 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for Their Rights by Mikki Kendall and A. D’Amico
Ten Speed Press / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
ISBN: 9780399581793

Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists examines the long history of women and activism through an intersectional lens, highlighting the women integral to progressive movements like abolition, labor, and LGBTQ+ rights. The story begins with women’s rights in antiquity and moves expansively through past centuries into present day. The framing device of a hologram instructor/narrator helps move the story along and connect the chapters, serving as an useful entry point for teen audiences.

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