Our Graphic Novel Selection has grown quite a bit in the last year here at the Denton Public Library. We have a Graphic Novel Adult section, a Graphic Novel Teen section and a Graphic Novel Junior section all of which are quite large. I have become quite a fan of many of the Graphic Novels we carry. Below are some favorites (with descriptions from various readers.)
Patience by Daniel Clowes
The book opens in 2012, with its eponymous heroine discovering that she is pregnant. Patience, who thinks of herself as “white-trash”, has had a rough life, marked by abuse, neglect, and poverty. Her relationship with Jack Barlow, the only man who has ever been nice to her, and the pregnancy, are her lifelines. Jack, too, thinks of their love as his salvation, but very soon inside this threshold of a new, better life, he comes home to find Patience dead, apparently killed by an intruder. His life goes into freefall: he is first accused of her murder but released after a year, whereupon he becomes obsessively focused on finding out who killed Patience.
Bright Eyed at Midnight by Leslie Stein
“Life is nonlinear and that takes a lot of courage to cope with,” writes Leslie Stein in her new book, Bright-Eyed at Midnight. Stein coped, in part, by sitting down at a blank page each night for a year to draw comics. Fueled by insomnia and prompted by characters she encountered while tending bar or traveling the city or by bittersweet childhood memories (her insomnia stretches back to juvenile night terrors), she produced twelve months’ worth of microstories that build a larger narrative through accumulation. In addition to diaristic recollections of everyday events, she meditates on collaged aphorisms and observations snipped from Jules Renard’s Journal, offers up doodled portraits of teen crushes, and returns again and again to the moment just before dawn, when she is alone, awake, and contemplating her art and her existential questions.
Boundless by Jillian Tamaki.
Jenny becomes obsessed with a strange “mirror Facebook,” which presents an alternate, possibly better, version of herself. Helen finds her clothes growing baggy, her shoes looser, and as she shrinks away to nothingness, the world around her recedes as well. The animals of the city briefly open their minds to us, and we see the world as they do. A mysterious music file surfaces on the internet and forms the basis of a utopian society–or is it a cult? Boundless is at once fantastical and realist, playfully hinting at possible transcendence: from one’s culture, one’s relationship, oneself. This collection of short stories is a showcase for the masterful blend of emotion and humour of award-winning cartoonist Jillian Tamaki.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Graphic novelist Tom Hart and his wife, Leela, lived through a horror story. Their baby girl, Rosalie, beautiful and vibrant, like all little children, died unexpectedly — and without explanation — in 2011, three weeks before her second birthday. It’s the kind of thing often too painful to consider, let alone experience. But Hart, the acclaimed author of the Hutch Owen series of graphic novels, wasn’t given a choice, nor did he have any option but to try to arrive at some sort of understanding — tenuous as it may be — by turning what happened into art. “There was a part of me,” says the soft-spoken, Gainesville-based Hart, “that realized I need to give my feelings some sort of form.”
The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S. A Love and Rockets Book by Jaime Hernandez
The 25th anniversary Love and Rockets celebration continues with this, the second of three volumes collecting the adventures of the spunky Maggie; her annoying, pixie-ish best friend and sometime lover Hopey; and their circle of friends, including their bombshell friend Penny Century, Maggie’s weirdo mentor Izzy—as well as the aging but still heroic wrestler Rena Titanon and Maggie’s handsome love interest, Rand Race. After the sci-fi trappings of his earliest stories (as seen in Maggie the Mechanic, the first volume in this series), Hernandez refined his approach, settling on the more naturalistic environment of the fictional Los Angeles barrio, Hoppers, and the lives of the young Mexican-Americans and punk rockers who live there. A central story and one of Jaime’s absolute peaks is “The Death of Speedy.” Such is Jaime’s mastery that even though the end of the story is telegraphed from the very title, the downhill spiral of Speedy, the local heartthrob, is utterly compelling and ultimately quite surprising. Also in this volume, Maggie begins her on-again off-again romance with Ray D., leading to friction and an eventual separation from Hopey.
-Juliana Dieterich, South Branch Library