Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Reading: Graphic Novels

It's officially summer! What does that mean besides stupidly hot weather and tons of school children let loose upon an unsuspecting populous? It means it's time for lazy summer reading! Let me tell you, summer reading isn't just for kids anymore. Now is the time to lay outside with a cold drink and sink into a brand new book.

"But Meghan," you say, "I've read all the hot new books out there! I need something new!". Well, my friend, you are in luck! One of the hottest things to read this summer are graphic novels! This is going to be another great season for comic books and you should get in on the ground floor. Graphic novels are a great way to unwind and an interesting way to tell a story. If you're new to graphic novels, or haven't read any in awhile, you are missing out. There's been a recent surge in outstanding new graphic novel series and some absolutely mind bending stuff has been released lately. Everyone knows about The Sandman series or The Killing Joke. It's time to expand your horizons with the best new voices and artists in the medium!

Don't have a local comic book shop? Don't worry! The best part about graphic novels is that the bound volumes are easy to buy on Amazon or in your local Barnes & Noble. Most will feature the first five or sex issues of the comic and give you some extra art as well. It's the best way to read comics if you don't have a dedicated store near you. The first volume usually has a low introductory price to hook you in as well.

I have seven graphic novels series for you to dive into under the cut!

Saga is THE BEST new graphic novel in years. It's inventive, beautifully written and drawn. The characters nearly leap out of the panels and it's easy to get wrapped up in the adventure. Saga takes place in a science fiction future where two different races (one with horns and one with wings) have been fitting a huge and epic war. Marko and Alana have fallen in love despite all the odds and give birth to a daughter. The only problem is Marko and Alana are from warring factions and every group in the universe wants them and their baby dead. Add in snappy dialog, heartwrenching drama and some memorable side characters (Lying Cat!), you have a graphic novel that is sure to please. The first three volumes are out now!

Sex Criminals
Talk about creativity in graphic novels, Sex Criminals breaks the mold and bounces off the walls. Suzie has a very odd power. She can freeze time whenever she has sex. She believes she's a total freak, until a one night stand with a man named Jon changes everything. Jon can also freeze time during sexy times and together they fall in love. Then they decide to rob a bank. It's a completely bonkers story that works in amazing ways and manages to be completely charming and hilarious. The first volume is out now and it's completely NSFW.

Rat Queens
What do you get when you partner together a rockabilly elf, a hipster dwarf, an atheist cleric and a hippy thief? The answer is the righteously awesome Rat Queens. This graphic novels turns the tired trope of a D&D type of group on it's head and contains a collection of unique and memorable characters. I mean, come on, an atheist cleric! It's absolute gold. It's violent and snarky and gloriously demented. It's also been recently optioned to become a cartoon!

Pretty Deadly
A lush and violent wild west story that concerns Death's daughter on a mission of vengeance and retribution. It's a dreamy story that feels a little like Sandman and has been up for some prestigious graphic novel awards. The artwork is especially lovely and the story isn't for the faint of heart. It's an unflinching look at revenge and violence and the scars they leave upon people and places. It's spooky, macabre and thoughtful.

Another older title that is worth a look is the beautiful Unwritten. This graphic novel is a story within a story. Tom Taylor has had a massively weird life ever since his father made him the star character in a series of Harry Potter-esque children's books that became wildly popular. Soon fans of the books actually believe Tom is his character and harass him about details of the story. Exhausted and angry by the constant attention and obsession of his father's fans, Tom tries to distance himself from the books until something comes to light to make Tom reconsider his very existence. What if he really IS the boy wizard? He soon finds himself in the middle of a vast conspiracy theory that threatens all of literature. This story is just insane. The detail and work that went into the art and story are just amazing. Well worth adding to your summer reading list!

One of the oldest new graphic novels on the list, Chew has been around since 2009. It's a compelling and WEIRD as hell story about a man named Tony Chu, a detective who gets psychic information from whatever he eats. Cue Chu chowing down on murder victims to find their killers. It's darkly funny and the story expands gradually. The art style is just as quirky as the story. Chew takes place in a recent dystopia where the FDA has all the power in the government due to a bird flu pandemic that tore through the country. The entire tale is offbeat, weird, hilarious, gory and sometimes downright disturbing.

Extra credit: Lumberjanes
This series is so new it hasn't been collected into a single volume yet. If you have a comic book store nearby or don't mind turning to an online retailer, you should DEFINITELY check out Lumberjanes. There are three issues out right now and each one is chocked full of awesome female characters and weird things that go bump in the night. The Lumberjanes are a group of girls at summer camp who find themselves getting into dangerous adventures that somehow earn them merit badges. It's weird, it's wild, and it's awesome. This is going to be the big new thing, mark my words.

Did I miss a series? Tell me in the comments what other awesome new graphic novels are out there!

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  1. Saga and Rat Queens are two of my favorites of all time. I've read the first issue of Pretty Deadly and it looks to be pretty awesome. Will have to check out the others.

  2. I literally just got the first volume for Saga in the mail today and Rat Queens was on backorder. Guess this just proves I picked some good ones when I ordered. :D I've got Pretty Deadly on my wishlist but I might have to add Lumberjanes now. :D