Comics For Older Teens and Adults

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Yang, Gene Luen, and Lark Pien. American born Chinese. New York: First Second, 2006. Print.

Summary: In American Born Chinese, three stories are interwoven together to make one. The first story is about the Monkey King (Chinese Fable), the second is about Jin Wang, the title character and the struggles he is having trying to fit in at school, and the third is about Danny and his cousin Chin-Kee.

Appeal Factors:  

  • Cultural Heritage/Cultural Identity (American Culture and Chinese Culture)
  • Multiple-story graphic novel
  • One of the stories in this graphic novel is a retelling of the Chinese fable or myth the Monkey King
  • Anthropomorphic- the monkey
  • Coming of age story/self-acceptance   
  • Might appeal to fans of the fantasy genre
  • Humorous
  • Full color illustrations
  • 233 pages

Potential Readers:

  • Recommended Age Range: 12 – 17 years

Visual Style: 

  • Each character’s narrative has their own Chinese characters (stamped in red) that is shown on each page of their story 
  • Simple artwork
  • Cartoonish and modern anime
  • Different panel sizes
  • Stereotypes

Textual Style:

  • Dialogues is humorous, conversational, and expressive.
  • Drama (Culture and Stereotypes)
  • Various narrative styles (can be a bit confusing)
  • Lots of white space around the panels

Awards: 

  • National Book Award for Young People’s Literature Finalist, 2006
  • Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature Winner, 2007
  • Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album  New
  • Harvey Awards for Best Colorist Winner, 2007
  • American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults, 2007
  • Chinese American Libraries Association Best Book Awards, 2006 and  2007
  • The Reuben Award for Best Comic Book, 2007
  • School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
  • Publishers Weekly Comics Week Best Comic of the Year
  • NPR Holiday Pick
  • Booklist Top Ten Graphic Novel for Youth
  • Time Magazine Top Ten Comic of the Year
  • San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
  • YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens/Top Ten List, 2007
  • Amazon.com Best Graphic Novel/Comic of the Year

Additional Information: 

  • “Like Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Laurence Yep’s Dragonwings, this novel explores the impact of the American dream on those outside the dominant culture in a finely wrought story that is an effective combination of humor and drama.” –School Library Journal, Starred Review
  • Fans of American Born Chinese might also like Gene Luen Yang’s 2011, graphic novel Level Up 
  • Fans of American Born Chinese might also like the read-alikes  Drama by Raina Telgemeier, One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry, Good as Lily by Derek Kirk Kim, Dragonwings by Laurence Yep, and  The Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

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Brosgol, Vera. Anya’s Ghost. New York: First Second, 2011. Print. 

Summary: This extremely expressive graphic novel tells the story of Anya, who one day accidentally falls into a well and meets an unlikely friend, a ghost named Emily. Anya’s ghost is not only a ghost story, but also a coming-of-age story, as Anya deals with insecurities, relationships, school, and more.

Appeal Factors:

  • Immigrant families/family relationships
  • Fitting in/angst/social issues
  • Might appeal to readers of fantasy, horror, thriller, mystery, and/or crime stories
  • Ghosts/supernatural elements/creepy
  • Gritty and darkly humorous
  • Neil Gaiman endorsement on the front cover
  • Lots of panels per page
  • Medium amount of words per panel
  • Isn’t text heavy
  • 224 pages

Potential Readers:

  • Recommended Age Range: 12 – 17 years

Visual Style: 

  • Darkly humorous
  • Mostly monochromatic, has a limited palette of colors (black, white, and purple tones) 
  • Expressive illustrations

Textual Style:

  • Text is all capital letters
  • Text is conversational, expressive, and dramatic at times.
  • Different panel compositions
  • Medium amount of words per panel
  • Isn’t text heavy
  • Some panels are completely wordless (e.g., on pages 43 and 101).

Awards: 

  • Eisner Award Winner for Best Publication for Young Adults (ages 12-17)
  • Harvey Award for Best Original Graphic Publication for Younger Readers
  • A 2011 Kirkus Best Teen Book of the Year
  • A School Library Journal Best Fiction Book of 2011
  • A Horn Book Best Fiction Book of 2011
  • American Library Association Notable Children’s Books
  • American Library Association Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adults,
  • YALSA Great Graphic Novel for Teens,
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon Award

Additional Information: 

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Lemire, Jeff. Essex County (Vol 3): The Country Nurse. Marietta, Georgia : Top Shelf Productions, 2008. Print.

Summary: The Essex County (Vol 3): The Country Nurse  graphic novel is the final installment in the Essex Country trilogy. Each installment is centered around the  title character or characters. In the last title, we follow the life of Anne Quenneville, the town’s traveling nurse.

Appeal Factors:

  • Volume 3 of the Essex County trilogy
  • Orphans/farm life
  • Black-and-white illustrations
  • Sparse dialogue and illustrations
  • Reads fast, 127 pages

Potential Readers:

  • Recommended Age Range: 16-18 years and older

Visual Style: 

  • Minimalistic
  • Expressive and detailed
  • Sparse illustrations
  • Some panels hardly have any illustrations
  • Jagged, loose, and shaky line art style
  • Black-and-white illustrations

Textual Style:

  • Dialogue is simple and sparse
  • Some panels are completely wordless (e.g., on pages 5, 21, 30, 41, and 91).

Awards: 

  • Named one of the year’s Top 10 Graphic Novels by Booklist 
  • Jeff Lemire was nominated for a Harvey Award in 2008 for Best New Talent for Essex County Vol 1: Tales From the Farm.
  • Jeff won the Schuster Award for Outstanding Canadian Comic Book Cartoonist in 2009 and 2013.
  • Winner of the Doug Wright Award for Canadian Cartooning’s Best Emerging Talent
  • Winner of the American Library Association’s/YASLA Alex Award
  • Essex County in 2010, was named as one of the five Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade.
  • Jeff has been nominated for multiple Eisner Awards, Harvey Awards, and Schuster Awards.

Additional Information: 

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Modan, Rutu. The Property. New York: Drawn & Quarterly, 2013. Print.

Summary:  A moving and beautifully illustrated story that chronicles the time spent between a grandmother (Regina Segal) and her granddaughter (Mica), traveling  from Israel to Warsaw, Poland to claim property lost to her family during WWII.

Appeal Factors:

  • Family secrets/hidden family connections/search for family property
  • Multi-generational story
  • Complex relationship story/loss of love/loss of family
  • Post WWII story
  • Travel/Poland
  • Detailed endpapers
  • Good pacing
  • Full color
  • 222 pages, this graphic novel is not split into chapters, but rather  is split by days (takes place over seven days).

Potential Readers:

  • Graphic novel meant more for adults

Visual Style: 

  • Expressive-emotive
  • Realism-clear lines
  • Full color-delicate or subtle color palette. The only things in the story that are in bright colors are the end papers (beautiful landscapes), sound effect speech bubbles, clothing,  candles (e.g., on the front cover and on pages 191-207), and the flowering trees in the “Wistula river, May 1939” scene on pages 56 and 57.
  • The drawing style is similar to the art style in The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé.

Textual Style:

  • Simple dialogue and witty at times
  • Sometimes the thought bubbles go outside of the panel (e.g., on pages 72 and on page 111).
  • The sound effect speech bubble’s in this particular graphic novel, lack punctuation such as, “Bang” (page 180) or “Slam” (page 146). These particular speech bubbles have a jagged outline, yellow background, as well as, large, red, and bold lettering (text is all caps).

Awards: 

  • One of Amazon.com’s Best Graphic Novels of 2013
  • Rutu Modan, won an “Award of Excellence” at the 2014 International Comics Festival in Angouleme, France.

Additional Information: 

  • Fans of The Property might also like Rutu Modan’s 2007, graphic novel Exit Wounds.
  • Fans of The Property might also enjoy Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.
  • “My comic book of the year, by a mile, is Rutu Modan’s The Property… in which Mica Segal, a young Israeli woman, travels to Warsaw with her irascible grandmother to help her reclaim the apartment building she and her family were forced to give up in 1940…This, believe me, has everything you could possibly want in a comic: great pictures, a multilayered story, mystery, sharp wit.”—The Guardian’s Graphic Books of the Year
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