Book Talking Comics for Teens - YALSA 2015 Top Ten

So, a series of events today led me to unexpectedly book talking comic books to a handful of teens at my library.

The basis was YALSA's 2015 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten list.  Great start, but not enough about each title to really talk about it.  So time for research (and some quick reading).  I also wanted to see which titles we had available as ebooks.

Let's expand a little on that list and add in some additional recommendations.  Disclaimer, I have not read everything listed, this is based on a mix of what I have read combined with research.  In my defense, I had a few hours, not a few days, to prepare for this.

1. Afterlife with Archie / Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Francesco Francavilla

Jughead convinces Sabrina to resurrect Hotdog, after the beloved pet is run over by a car.  Unfortunately, meddling with dark forces has consequences, with Hotdog as a vector for a zombie outbreak, and the ever-hungry Jughead as patient zero.

Noteworthy is that this is the first post Comic Code Authority Archie title, and their first foray specifically into Teen+ comics.  The familiar cast is all grown up, with both some cross over (Sabrina) and adult themes.

Recommended reads:
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
  • The Walking Dead
  • Nailbiter
  • Locke & Key

2. Bad Machinery / John Allison

This one started out life as a webcomic, and is a follow up to the author's previous series Scary Go Round.  The on-going adventures can be found here:

Bad Machinery follows the lives, shenanigans, and investigations of two groups of schoolchildren attending school in a fictional West Yorkshire town.  The comic delivers comedy, mystery, and a slapdash of surreal.

Recommended reads:
  • Giant Days (by the same author)
  • Lumberjanes
  • Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

3. 47 Ronin / Mike Richardson and Stan Sakai
A graphic novel of one of Japan's most enduring legends.  47 ronin pursue justice and vengeance against those who fabricated their master's disgrace.

Recommended reads:
  • Usagi Yojimbo
  • Musashi
  • Lone Wolf and Cub
  • Cimarronin

4. In Real Life / Cory Doctorow
Two girls befriend each other through a MMO video game, one embracing the opportunity to take on the role of leader, warrior, and hero, the other a poor kid on the other side of the world making a living exploiting the in-game economy.  The rules start seeming a lot less black and white when someone's well-being is at stake.

Recommended reads:
  • Nimona
  • Rat Queens
  • Manly Guys Doing Manly Things

5. Ms. Marvel / G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
Being a teenager is difficult enough, and like most teens Kamala Khan is trying sort out her own identity while working through religion and parental expectations.  Developing shape shifting abilities falls a little outside the norm.

Recommended reads:
  • Cairo
  • Spider-Gwen
  • Princeless
  • Hawkeye vs. Deadpool
  • Jessica Jones

6. Seconds : a Graphic Novel / Bryan Lee O'Malley
A successful chef gets weighted down by a series of unfortunate events and is given the option to change the past with the aid of some magic mushrooms.  But as things go she is drawn by the promise of making life perfect, even if it breaks the rules, and learns about the costs of best intentions.

Recommended reads:
  • Scott Pilgrim
  • Lost at Sea
  • This One Summer

7. The Shadow Hero / Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
A young man is happy to continue working in his family's Chinatown grocery store, but his mother has bigger ambitions for her son.  So starts Yang's origin story for the Green Turtle, a 1940's comic about the first Chinese-American superhero.

Recommended reads:
  • Gaijin: American Prisoner of War
  • American Born Chinese
  • Green Turtle

8. Through The Woods / Emily Carroll
A collection of five sinister, spooky tales of things that live in the woods.  Gorgeously and darkly illustrated.

Recommended reads:
  • Anya's Ghost
  • Baba Yaga's Assistant
  • Beautiful Darkness

9. Trillium / Jeff Lemire
Twentieth and thirty-eighth centuries meet in a story of inter-dimensional time travel, romance, and the unraveling of the universe.

Recommended reads:
  • Saga
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  • Planetary

10. Wolf Children: Ame & Yuki / Mamoru Hosada and Yu
Hana found love after meeting a stranger attending class, accepting him no matter his secret.  However an accident leaves her to raise their two werewolf children on her own.

Recommended Reads:
  • Spice and Wolf
  • Usagi Drop


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