Hoping to read more broadly in 2018? The library is hosting a version of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, and there’s plenty of time to hop on board! If you know me, you know I read tons of comics, so imagine my excitement to see that of 24 challenge tasks, three of them are comics-specific! Some of my favorites are single-creator, meaning the writing and illustrations result from a single person rather than from several collaborators. This is the subject of task #4: Read a book written and illustrated by the same person. Here are a few recommendations.
My most recent read in this category is “My Favorite Thing Is Monsters,” which is also a new favorite. The story follows 10-year old outcast Karen Reyes who is obsessed with all things horror and sees herself as a monster rather than a human girl. When her upstairs neighbor, a holocaust survivor is killed suddenly, a trenchcoat-clad Karen sets out to solve the murder, and in turn reveals the darkest secrets of those closest to her. In addition to the compelling story, the art is quite unique, with the book resembling the sketchbook diary of Karen herself. I’m highly anticipating the release of book two later this year!
It wouldn’t be a graphic novel post without Jeff Lemire, one of my all-time favorite comic book writers. His most noted work “Essex County” collects three intertwining stories of a young orphaned boy, two estranged brothers and an unappreciated rural nurse all set in the same isolated Canadian farm town, which is inspired by the author’s hometown. Lemire is frequently a solo comic creator and also brings his signature cartooning style to other standalone books such as “The Underwater Welder” and “Roughneck,” as well as the series Sweet Tooth and Royal City, all of which are excellent.
For a more humorous read, check out Sarah Andersen’s “Adulthood Is a Myth” or “Big Mushy Happy Lump.” Collectively known as Sarah’s Scribbles, these wildly popular comics depict introversion, anxiety, relationships and other relatable struggles of being a young adult human in the world. A quick and entertaining read, you could also knock out task #15 (a one-sitting book).
For the younger reader, try “Nimona,” a former webcomic released in graphic novel format. The titular character is a spunky young shapeshifter who becomes a sidekick to Lord Blackheart, a villain who is more than he seems. It’s a cute, heartwarming story for teens and adults alike.
Graphic memoirs are often the work of solo-creators, and the library has plenty of great titles in this category. Nicole Georges has multiple books in the genre including the recently published “Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home.” As a teenager, Georges was nearly forced to give up her ill-behaved dog named Beija, but the two formed an inseparable bond. While Beija’s behavior never really improved, she became a true support system throughout Georges’ tumultuous teens and 20s. It is a compelling story and one relatable to anyone with furry companions. Beija also features prominently in Georges’ previous book “Calling Dr. Laura.”
Speaking of graphic memoirs, for this task I plan to read Craig Thompson’s “Blankets,” a coming-of-age tale dealing with the author’s Christian upbringing and his first love. Or I may choose “Persepolis” which details Marjane Satrapi’s childhood and young adulthood in Iran during the Islamic revolution. Who am I kidding, I’ll probably read both!
Check out the library’s list for more single-creator comics, and happy reading!