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Best of 2019: Graphic Novels

Updated: January 31, 2020

The best books of the year, as selected by Los Angeles Public Library staff. This is the first year our staff is recommending graphic novels, for children, teens and adults. The category of graphic novels is a genre that includes fiction and non-fiction. Perfect for holiday gift-giving!

More books can be found at LAPL Reads; Kids' Path; Teen Web.

Book cover for Are you listening?
Are you listening?
Walden, Tillie, 1996-
Call Number: 740.9999 W162-3

Tillie Walden, Eisner Award winner, presents this surreal and dream-like story about two young women and their developing friendship on a road trip across rural Texas. On their journey they'll confront grief and loneliness, and save a magic cat that is being hunted by mysteriously sinister men in suits.

Book cover for The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
Mackesy, Charlie
Call Number: 741.5 M157

An allegorical story that is perfect for our day and age. Charlie Makesy's drawings and story will make you stop and think about, "What is the bravest thing you have ever done?"

Book cover for The crossover : a basketball novel
The crossover : a basketball novel
Alexander, Kwame,
Call Number: x GN

Grades 5 - 8

Dawud Anyabwile brings Kwame Alexander's Newbery Medal winning work to life in this new graphic novel adaptation. This great story is made even more incredible.

Book cover for A fire story
A fire story
Fies, Brian, author, artist.
Call Number: 740.9999 F466-1

Important read for anyone who lives in Southern California. A heartbreaking and harrowing first-person account of the author’s experience surviving the wildfires in Santa Rosa, California in the Fall of 2017. After losing his home and everything in it, Fies, an artist, originally published the first 18 pages of this vivid graphic novel online at the time of the fire. This expanded novel includes his family’s continuing “fire story” and that of others affected.

Book cover for Gender Queer: A Memoir
Gender Queer: A Memoir
Kobabe, Maia
Call Number: 740.9999 K75

Summary: Maia Kobabe (who uses e/em/eir pronouns) writes this moving autobiography of finding eirself. Covering everything from  crushes, how to come out to family and the world at large, and explaining what it means to be non-binary and asexual. A wonderful memoir on what it means to find and live as your most authentic self.

Book cover for Kid gloves : nine months of careful chaos
Kid gloves : nine months of careful chaos
Knisley, Lucy,
Call Number: 740.9999 K71-6

Lucy Knisley's autobiographical graphic novel about her difficult pregnancy is charming and wrenching. Mixing history and reproductive health with her personal journey leads to a graphic novel that is informative and personal.

Book cover for Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me
Tamaki, Mariko
Call Number: 740.9999 T1535-3

Summary: Laura Dean is the most popular girl in high school, but maybe not the best girlfriend to Freddy. Following the latest breakup Freddy gets some advice from a medium, but try as she might Laura Dean keeps coming back. As their relationship spirals out of control Freddy has to confront herself to figure out if it’s really Laura Dean that is the problem.

Book cover for Max and the Midknights
Max and the Midknights
Peirce, Lincoln, author, illustrator.
Call Number: x

Grades 3 - 6

An evil king usurps the throne from his brother and puts the kingdom of Byjovia under a hateful spell. Meanwhile Max dreams of becoming a knight and saving the day. Will it happen? Find out in this laugh-out-loud funny, fast-paced medieval adventure filled with wizards, magic, sword-play and a cast of lovable characters. 

Book cover for Mister Miracle
Mister Miracle
King, Tom
Call Number: 741.5 M6785Ki

In this mind-bending, psychedelic story, Eisner Award winner Tom King takes the classic superhero, Mr Miracle, and twists reality around him while addressing issues of family and fame. He is the super hero who can escape from anything, from the hellish planet Apokolips to the intricate traps that are part of his stage show, but not from his family in all of their hyperbolic glory. An essential, adult graphic novel not to be missed.


Book cover for New Kid
New Kid
Craft, Jerry
Call Number: 740.9999 C885

Middle schooler Jordan Banks had hoped to attend art school, but mom sends him to a private prep school where he is one of a handful of black kids. No one at Riverdale Academy Day School is openly hostile towards him for his race, but he deals with a series of microaggressions, like being called the name of another black student, or everyone looking at him when the teacher is discussing students on financial aid. Craft mixes humor with heart in this hilarious yet thoughtful graphic novel.

Book cover for Okay Witch
Okay Witch
Steinkellner, Emma
Call Number: x GN

Moth Hush, a 13-year-old from Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts, discovers that not only is she a witch, but that her magical family has a long and complicated history in her hometown. The story is fun and light-hearted, with adorable illustrations, while also delving a bit deeper into the ways we create our personal, family, and communal identities. And who doesn’t love a talking cat? —Grades 4 - 7

Book cover for Pumpkinheads: A Graphic Novel
Pumpkinheads: A Graphic Novel
Rowell, Rainbow
Call Number: 740.9999 R881

It's the last night that Deja and Josiah will be working together at the best pumpkin patch in Omaha, and Josiah's last chance to talk to the girl he's had a crush on for years and never spoken. On their quest to find her, Deja and Josiah eat lots of food, spot an escaped goat and make their way through an epic corn maze. Will it all be worth it? 

Book cover for Queen of the sea
Queen of the sea
Meconis, Dylan.
Call Number: 740.9999 M487

Margaret is a young orphan who lives on a tiny island, off the stormy coast of Albion, with a small group of nuns. Through her eyes we see not only a richly imagined cast of characters, but also well drawn details of life in a medieval society. When newcomers arrive on the island, everything that Margaret thought she knew about her life is thrown into question. Beautifully illustrated and well plotted, this is a book that will leave you yearning for a sequel. 

Book cover for Runaways. Rainbow Rowell ; artists, Andres Genolet, with Niko Henrichon ; color artists, Triona Farrell, Michael Garland, Chris O'Halloran, Matthew Wilson ; letterer VC's Joe Caramagna. Volume 4, But
Runaways. Rainbow Rowell ; artists, Andres Genolet, with Niko Henrichon ; color artists, Triona Farrell, Michael Garland, Chris O'Halloran, Matthew Wilson ; letterer VC's Joe Caramagna. Volume 4, But
Rowell, Rainbow,
Call Number: 740.9999 R9395Ro v.4

Superpowered teenagers grow up in Los Angeles while also dealing with:  an evil(ish) robot; a romantic triangle between a time traveler, a cyborg head, and a well-meaning roboticist; and the difficulty of finding crime when you're fighting crime. This is not an epic story, but is more about teens and their friends, trying to understand the world and their place in it. The dialogue and character development shine.


Book cover for Rusty Brown
Rusty Brown
Ware, Chris, 1967- author, artist.
Call Number: 740.914 W267-9

A wincingly comic and unerring truthful saga of the passive aggressive horrors of public education. Point of view shifts with a fluidity and visual excitement rarely seen. 

Book cover for Sanity & Tallulah: Field Trip
Sanity & Tallulah: Field Trip
Brooks, Molly (Molly Grayson), author, illustrator.
Call Number: x GN

The stakes are even higher in the thrilling second installment of the Sanity & Tallulah graphic novel series. The best friends are excited to leave their space-station home for a field trip to a nearby planetoid, but space pirates, secret miners, and a rogue asteroid threaten to ruin their good time! Parents who grew up on sci-fi books and TV will enjoy introducing their kids to this hi-tech vision of the future. —Grades 4 - 6.

Book cover for Self/made. writer, Mat Groom ; artist, Eduardo Ferigato ; colorist, Marcelo Costa ; color flats, Mariana Calil ; letterer, A Larger World Studios' Troy Peteri. Vol. 01, The inciting accident
Self/made. writer, Mat Groom ; artist, Eduardo Ferigato ; colorist, Marcelo Costa ; color flats, Mariana Calil ; letterer, A Larger World Studios' Troy Peteri. Vol. 01, The inciting accident
Groom, Mat,
Call Number: 741.5 S4655Gr v.1

The protagonist is a non-playable character in a computer game, who decides not to play the part she was cast in, either in the game world, or the real world, or any of the other strange places where she ends up. This story uses computer simulations to ask big questions about free will, morality, and the nature of reality. 

Book cover for Snow, glass, apples
Snow, glass, apples
Doran, Colleen, 1963- adaptor, artist.
Call Number: 741.5 D693-1

Snow White is an unusual fairy tale princess because her skin is "as white as snow," and she spends a fair amount of time in a coffin. In this new adaptation of an old classic tale, with breathtaking art by Colleen Doran and story by Neil Gaiman, Snow White is not all that sweet and  displays an intense interest in blood. No wonder her step mother is so worried. 

Book cover for Stargazing
Wang, Jen
Call Number: x GN

Although Moon and Christine share a Chinese-American heritage, Moon is nothing like the kids Christine is used to be being around. Moon is creative and funny and she has visions of celestial beings. They learn how to be friends and what friendship means, especially after tragedy strikes. An absolute gem about a friendship with the new kid, accepting differences, and learning to love ourselves.

Book cover for They Called Us Enemy: A Graphic Novel Memoir
They Called Us Enemy: A Graphic Novel Memoir
Takei, George
Call Number: 812.092 T136-1

George Takei, of Star Trek fame, recounts his childhood memories of his family's imprisonment in Japanese internment camps across the United States. Moving between the past and present, it features stark black and white illustrations, and is a heartbreaking, stunning look at familial love, strength and the events that shaped Takei's life as an actor, artist, and activist. The book effortlessly presents the larger societal implications of those in the camp, as well as the aftermath this country still hasn't fully processed. This book joins the likes of Maus and March.

Book cover for This Was Our Pact
This Was Our Pact
Andrews, Ryan
Call Number: x GN

Grades 4 - 7: A unique graphic novel that is beautifully written and illustrated with pencil drawings. You wonder if you are in a dream, surrounded by lanterns, water, fish and stars, as two boys set out on a quest during the Autumn Equinox to find out where the lanterns sent down the river end up. Along the way they run into a series of magical creatures including a bear that is very particular about his scarf. This is a story about the true meaning of friendship.

Book cover for The wicked + the divine. Kieron Gillen, writer ; Jamie McKelvie, artist ; Matthew Wilson, colourist ; Clayton Cowles, letterer. Vol. 9, Okay
The wicked + the divine. Kieron Gillen, writer ; Jamie McKelvie, artist ; Matthew Wilson, colourist ; Clayton Cowles, letterer. Vol. 9, Okay
Gillen, Kieron,
Call Number: 741.5 W6365Gi v.9

This is the conclusion to the story of gods (who look and act suspiciously like teenage pop stars), who are reincarnated every ninety years, and given two years of celebrity and power before dying. While this is a wild ride with explosions, makeovers, revelations, and old girlfriends, the resolution calls into question our ideas about what artistic genius is, and who gets to have it. 

Book cover for Witch Hat Atelier: Volume 1
Witch Hat Atelier: Volume 1
Shirahama, Kamome
Call Number: 740.9999 W8195-3 v.1

Coco wants to be a witch so badly, but she wasn't born with magic. She soon discovers that magic can be learned, and she has a knack for it. In this beautifully illustrated manga, Coco becomes an apprentice magician and the reader follows along on her adventure while she learns (and makes plenty of mistakes).