From memoirs to friendship stories to neuroscience, check out these out-of-the-ordinary graphic novels. Curated by Willie Nettles.
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Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’ Malley
Scott Pilgrim’s life is totally sweet. He’s 23 years old, he’s in a rock band, he’s “between jobs,” and he’s dating a cute high school girl. Nothing could possibly go wrong, unless a seriously mind-blowing, dangerously fashionable, rollerblading delivery girl named Ramona Flowers starts cruising through his dreams and sailing by him at parties. Will Scott’s awesome life get turned upside-down? Will he have to face Ramona’s seven evil ex-boyfriends in battle? The short answer is yes. The long answer is Scott Pilgrim, Volume 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life.
Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist For Justice by Tommie Smith
On October 16, 1968, during the medal ceremony at the Mexico City Olympics, Tommie Smith, the gold medal winner in the 200-meter sprint, and John Carlos, the bronze medal winner, stood on the podium in black socks and raised their black-gloved fists to protest racial injustice inflicted upon African Americans. Both men were forced to leave the Olympics, received death threats, and faced ostracism and continuing economic hardships.
In his first-ever memoir for young readers, Tommie Smith looks back on his childhood growing up in rural Texas through to his stellar athletic career, culminating in his historic victory and Olympic podium protest. Cowritten with Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Honor recipient Derrick Barnes and illustrated with bold and muscular artwork from Emmy Award-winning illustrator Dawud Anyabwile, Victory. Stand! paints a stirring portrait of an iconic moment in Olympic history that still resonates today.
Banned Book Club by Hyun Sook Kim
When Kim Hyun Sook started college in 1983 she was ready for her world to open up. After acing her exams and sort-of convincing her traditional mother that it was a good idea for a woman to go to college, she looked forward to soaking up the ideas of Western Literature far from the drudgery she was promised at her family’s restaurant. But literature class would prove to be just the start of a massive turning point, still focused on reading but with life-or-death stakes she never could have imagined.
This was during South Korea’s Fifth Republic, a military regime that entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protestors. In this charged political climate, with Molotov cocktails flying and fellow students disappearing for hours and returning with bruises, Hyun Sook sought refuge in the comfort of books. When the handsome young editor of the school newspaper invited her to his reading group, she expected to pop into the cafeteria to talk about Moby Dick, Hamlet, and The Scarlet Letter. Instead she found herself hiding in a basement as the youngest member of an underground banned book club. And as Hyun Sook soon discovered, in a totalitarian regime, the delights of discovering great works of illicit literature are quickly overshadowed by fear and violence as the walls close in.
In Banned Book Club, Hyun Sook shares a dramatic true story of political division, fear-mongering, anti-intellectualism, the death of democratic institutions, and the relentless rebellion of reading.
Black Panther. A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nehisi Coates
A new era for the Black Panther begins as the kingdom of Wakanda enters its final days! Award-winning writer Ta-Nehisi Coates confronts T’Challa with dramatic upheaval in his homeland that will make leading the African nation tougher than ever before. When a superhuman terrorist group that calls itself The People sparks a violent uprising, the land famed for incredible technology and proud warrior traditions will be thrown into turmoil. As Zenzi, leader of The People, poisons the populace against their king, the former queen Shuri’s spirit makes an uncanny journey through the Djalia, and a new Crew is formed! If Wakanda is to survive, it must adapt – but can its monarch, one of a long line of Black Panthers, survive the necessary change? Heavy lies the head that wears the cowl!
Lore Olympus By Rachel Smythe
Persephone, young goddess of spring, is new to Olympus. Her mother, Demeter, has raised her in the mortal realm, but after Persephone promises to train as a sacred virgin, she’s allowed to live in the fast-moving, glamorous world of the gods. When her roommate, Artemis, takes her to a party, her entire life changes: she ends up meeting Hades and feels an immediate spark with the charming yet misunderstood ruler of the Underworld. Now Persephone must navigate the confusing politics and relationships that rule Olympus, while also figuring out her own place–and her own power.
This edition of Smythe’s original Eisner-winning webcomic Lore Olympus brings Greek mythology into the modern age in a sharply perceptive and romantic graphic novel.
Wash Day Diaries by Jamila Rowser
Wash Day Diaries tells the story of four best friends–Kim, Tanisha, Davene, and Cookie–through five connected short story comics that follow these young women through the ups and downs of their daily lives in the Bronx.
The book takes its title from the wash day experience shared by Black women everywhere of setting aside all plans and responsibilities for a full day of washing, conditioning, and nourishing their hair. Each short story uses hair routines as a window into these four characters’ everyday lives and how they care for each other.
Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith originally kickstarted their critically acclaimed, award-winning slice of life mini comic, Wash Day, inspired by Rowser’s own wash day ritual and their shared desire to see more comics featuring the daily lived experiences of young Black women. Wash Day Diaries includes an updated, full color version of this original comic–which follows Kim, a 26-year-old woman living in the Bronx–as the book’s first chapter and expands into a graphic novel with short stories about these vibrant and relatable new characters.
In expanding the story of Kim and her friends, the authors pay tribute to Black sisterhood through portraits of shared, yet deeply personal experiences of Black hair care. From self-care to spilling the tea at an hours-long salon appointment to healing family rifts, the stories are brought to life through beautifully drawn characters and different color palettes reflecting the mood in each story.
At times touching, quiet, triumphant, and laugh out loud funny, the stories of Wash Day Diaries pay a loving tribute to Black joy and the resilience of Black women.
Two Heads: A Graphic Exploration of How Our Brains Work with Other Brains by Uta Frith
This “charming and addictively accessible introduction to neuroscience” (Steven Pinker) takes us on a highly entertaining tour through the wonders and mysteries of the human brain–from a renowned husband-and-wife team of cognitive neuroscientists.
Professors and husband-and-wife team Uta and Chris Frith have pioneered major studies of brain disorders throughout their nearly fifty-year career. Here, in this “pleasing mix of wonder, genial humor, and humility” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), they tell the compelling story of the birth of neuroscience and their paradigm-shifting discoveries across areas as wide-ranging as autism and schizophrenia research, and new frontiers of social cognition including diversity, prejudice, confidence, collaboration, and empathy.
Working with their son Alex Frith and artist Daniel Locke, the Friths delve into a wide range of complex concepts and explain them with humor and clarity . You’ll learn what it means to be a “social species,” explore what happens when we gather in groups, and discover how people behave in pairs–when we’re pitted against each other, versus when we work together. Is it better to surround yourself with people who are similar to yourself, or different? And, are two heads really better than one?
Black Manta by Chuck Brown
The scourge of the seven seas takes the starring role for the first time, as Aquaman’s archnemesis embarks on a mission all his own!
After decades plaguing Aquaman and the rest of the DC Universe, Black Manta stars in his own story for the first time!
Black Manta is chasing a rare metal with incredible powers, and he’s not the only one who wants to get his hands on it, friend and foe alike! Torrid is a former ally who has escaped hell (literally!) to answer the call of the metal, but can Manta trust her? Hopefully so because he might need her help to fend off Devil Ray, a new competitor for the role of the biggest villain underwater.
Discover Black Manta’s secret connection to Atlantis-and witness his surprising act of heroism! Will he stay on this path, or does ice water continue to run through his veins?
The events of Black Manta and Aquaman- The Becoming lead directly to new series Aquamen, starring both Arthur Curry and Jackson Hyde!
Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Katie’s got it pretty good. She’s a talented young chef, she runs a successful restaurant, and she has big plans to open an even better one. Then, all at once, progress on the new location bogs down, her charming ex-boyfriend pops up, her fling with another chef goes sour, and her best waitress gets badly hurt. And just like that, Katie’s life goes from pretty good to not so much. What she needs is a second chance. Everybody deserves one, after all–but they don’t come easy. Luckily for Katie, a mysterious girl appears in the middle of the night with simple instructions for a do-it-yourself do-over:
1. Write your mistake
2. Ingest one mushroom
3. Go to sleep
4. Wake anew
And just like that, all the bad stuff never happened, and Katie is given another chance to get things right. She’s also got a dresser drawer full of magical mushrooms–and an irresistible urge to make her life not just good, but perfect. Too bad it’s against the rules. But Katie doesn’t care about the rules–and she’s about to discover the unintended consequences of the best intentions.
From the mind and pen behind the acclaimed Scott Pilgrim series comes a madcap new tale of existential angst, everyday obstacles, young love, and ancient spirits that’s sharp-witted and tenderhearted, whimsical and wise.
Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke
There is a silent epidemic in America: loneliness. Shameful to talk about and often misunderstood, loneliness is everywhere, from the most major of metropolises to the smallest of towns.
In Seek You, Kristen Radtke’s wide-ranging exploration of our inner lives and public selves, Radtke digs into the ways in which we attempt to feel closer to one another, and the distance that remains. Through the lenses of gender and violence, technology and art, Radtke ushers us through a history of loneliness and longing, and shares what feels impossible to share.
Ranging from the invention of the laugh-track to the rise of Instagram, the bootstrap-pulling cowboy to the brutal experiments of Harry Harlow, Radtke investigates why we engage with each other, and what we risk when we turn away. With her distinctive, emotionally-charged drawings and deeply empathetic prose, Kristen Radtke masterfully shines a light on some of our most vulnerable and sublime moments, and asks how we might keep the spaces between us from splitting entirely.
The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History by David Walker
WINNER OF THE EISNER AWARD . A bold and fascinating graphic novel history of the revolutionary Black Panther Party.
Founded in Oakland, California, in 1966, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was a radical political organization that stood in defiant contrast to the mainstream civil rights movement. This gripping illustrated history explores the impact and significance of the Panthers, from their social, educational, and healthcare programs that were designed to uplift the Black community to their battle against police brutality through citizen patrols and frequent clashes with the FBI, which targeted the Party from its outset.
Using dramatic comic book-style retellings and illustrated profiles of key figures, The Black Panther Party captures the major events, people, and actions of the party, as well as their cultural and political influence and enduring legacy.
Invincible by Robert Kirkman
Start here with a massive hardcover collecting the first 13 issues of the greatest superhero comic in the universe, from visionary creators Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), Cory Walker (ScienceDog), and Ryan Ottley (Amazing Spider-Man), including with all the extras from the softcover collections.
When MarkGrayson inherits superpowers at seventeen, it’s a dream come true – until he learns that being a hero isn’t as black and white as the comic books he read as a kid.
INVINCIBLE comic issues #1-13