I recently put the call out for recommended graphic novels for teens and the response was incredible. I’ve chosen to highlight a few of the repeatedly mentioned titles with further suggestions listed below.
Smile – Raina Telgemeier
Subtitled ‘A Dental Drama’ this title has an immensely strong online following from teens and education professional alike.
“Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth, and what follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.” GR
This title was the first graohic novel to be awarded the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor title. Smile was also selected as a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2010, a 2011 ALA Notable Children’s Book, a 2011 YALSA Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens pick, and a Children’s Choice Book Award Finalist. This year, the book won the Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens.
Anya’s Ghost – Vera Brosgol
This debut title from Vera Brosgol struck a chord with those new and old to the graphic novel format. Brosgol was a storyboard artist for the animated adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (he also blurbed this title), she integrates teen angst and alienation with potent visual style.
“Anya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn’t kidding about the “Forever” part . . .
Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century.
Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs.
Or so she thinks.” GR
Cowboy Bebop – Hajime Yadate & Yut ada Nanten (older teens)
This manga title was released in 2002 through TokyoPop, this brand has wide recognition through the televised anime Cowboy Bebop series that launched in 1998.
“What’s money between friends? But, wait who said they were friends? The lone wolf – the wizened vet – the femme fatale – the smart-mouth kid when Spike, Jet, Faye and Ed get together; it can mean only one thing: carnage is about to ensue. In keeping with the popular but off-beat anime, the manga begins a series of original stories that take the action to a whole new level. Spike, Jet and Faye all end up after the same bounty, Spike goes after a convict who’s already in prison, and Faye (the con-artist she is) ends up the victim of a con not once, but twice.” Amazon
Lola: A Ghost Story – J. Torres
This sepia-toned graphic novel debuted in 2010. It follows Jesse as he travels to the Phillippines after the death of his beloved grandmother, Lola. Supernatural themes, self-discovery with a concluding twist.
“Jesse sees dead people, monsters, demons, and lots of other things that go bump in the night that no one else can see. No one except his ailing grandmother, a woman who used her visions to help those living in her small town. The same rural community in all the scary stories Jesse’s heard as a child. Man-eating ogres in trees. Farmhouses haunted by wraiths. Even pigs possessed by the devil. Upon his grandmother’s passing, Jesse has no choice but to face his demons and whatever else might be awaiting him at grandma’s house.” Onipress
- Courtney Crumrin by Ted Naifeh – creepy / paranormal.
- Happyface by Stephen Emond – is a graphic novel/book hybrid.
- Bryan Lee O Malley’s Scott Pilgrim.
- Jeff Smith’s Bone series
- When a Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
- The Good Neighbors Series – Holly Black and Ted Naifeh (older teens)
- Asterix is always a crowd pleaser – asterix.net.au
- Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade – Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones
- CLAMP – successful anime series, great gateway from further reading (older teens)
- Kimi ni Todoke (manga) – Karuho Shiina
- Cardcaptor Sakura (manga) –
- New re-releases of Sailor Moon (manga)
- Rosario + Vampire by Akihisa Ikeda – very popular
- Bleach – Tite Kubo
- George O’Connor’s Olympian series.
- Yummy by Greg Neri
- Will Supervillains Be On The Final? by Naomi Novik
- Thor the Mighty Avenger. SO MANY! Try
- Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge
- American Born Chinese by Gene Yang,
- Skim – Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
- Emma by Kaoru Mori – a young Victorian maid and her romance with a gentleman
Graphic Novel adaptations of previous works:
- Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin
- Anne Frank by by Elizabeth Hudson-Goff, Jonathan A. Brown and Guus Floor
- The Babysitter’s Club by Raina Telgemeier
- Percy Jackson – Rick Riordan, Rick Venditti & Attila Futaki
- Stormbreaker – Antony Johnston, Anthony Horowitz, Kanako Damerum and Yuzuru Takasaki
- Bartimaeus by Jonathan Stroud, Andrew Donkin, Lee Sullivan and Nicolas Chapuis
- Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, Leigh Dragoon and Emma Vieceli
- YALSA’s comprehensive list of great graphic novels for teens
- Dr. Matt Finch’s month long coverage of New Zealand comics education on his blog, Books and Adventures.
- Classical comics – classic texts in comic form
- Classics Illustrated – old series but still good
- Manga Shakespeare – popular in some schools
What have you found in your graphic novel travels?