One of the avenues discussed was comics. The following is a suggested list to get you started in comics. There are a host of different ages and genres to engage any reader.
Australia’s only full-time comic book writer, Tom Taylor‘s recommendations:
Super Dinosaur by Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard
10+ is the perfect age group for this. Derek, our protagonist, and SD (super dinosaur), fight evil and save the world. You know how it is.
Buffy Comics by Joss Whedon
Follows a ‘season 8’ storyline (season 7 was the last for the tv show). For all your students who love the Buffy tv series, it has the same sense of darkness with humour that Whedon is known for. Not to mention lots of fighting action scenes. Plus, who doesn’t love a strong female protagonist, ridding the world of evil?
X-Men by Joss Whedon
Much like the Buffy comics, Whedon’s X-Men series mixes dark issues, humour and action scenes to create a balanced reading experience.
I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly
A girl protagonist who escapes the reality of her life into a fantasy world filled with giants. Convinced she is meant to kill the giants and save the world, reality and fantasy begins to merge into something new. While the protagonist, Barbara, is in fifth grade, this would be more suitable to a slightly older audience, grade 6 up.
Joe Kelly is the creator of the Ben 10 series, should you need to ‘sell’ it a bit to your student.
Locke and Key by Joe Hill
Joe Hill is the son of the son of horror giant Stephen King. So he does suspense, horror and terror really well. Definitely for your older students, 15+.
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
A darkly gothic tale of Morpheus, the personification of Dreams. Captured and held prisoner for 70 years, Morpheus escapes. Left without his powers he goes on a quest to regain everything he lost during his years of imprisonment. There is violence, nudity and disturbing scenes, in The Sandman, so caution is recommended. The complexity of the world and it’s mythology also lends it to an older YA/Adult reading market.
Chew by John Layman
Chu, a cibopathic (a person who gets impressions from whatever they eat), is also a detective. He’s method of enquiry? Eating the flesh of his murder victims to find the killer. Bizarre, quirky and just a little bit gross, this is definitely one to pick up for any that have a bit of a black sense of humour.
Scott Pilgrim by Brian Lee O’Malley
Heard of the rather popular movie Scott Pilgrim vs The World? Well, it was in printed format first. Scott is a 23 year old who’s just trying to get by. He loves video games, and to win the heart of Ramona Flowers must defeat her seven evil exes, in less-than-ordinary battle.
Centre for Youth Literature’s recommendations:
20 000 Leagues Under the Sea meets The Incredibles, is its tag line. It was the Aurealis winner for graphic novels this year and is on the Inky Longlist. It’s our favourite graphic novel this year.
Tiny Titans by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani
Tiny Titans skews a little younger than the rest of our comics here; it sits comfortably in with your primary school students. It is a very cute comic with lots of visual elements, along with puzzles and mazes to keep the reader engaged, all through a traditional storytelling medium. It involves tiny superheroes and their adventures will in elementary school.
Goodbye Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson
Chunky Rice is a turtle. He carries his house on his back and longs to search the world for adventures. Dandel, a deer mouse, is his best friend. Both characters deal with the prospect of their separation, their heart break at it’s prospect and finally acceptance. A strong comic for your students moving from primary to secondary school, and may be forced to leave friends behind.
Korgi by Christian Slade
Korgi is an entirely illustrative endeavour. This would be a great book to give to your younger students that are adamant they ‘don’t read’. The comic is entirely wordless and would introduce your reluctant reader to ‘reading’ in a completely new way, whilst getting around that ‘I don’t read’ claim with honesty.
Top Shelf Productions
Sawbones by Jen Breach and Trevor Wood
Described by the creator as ‘extravaganza of adventure, humor and zombie fun,’ this is an oldie, but a goodie. It has lots of slapstick humour, cartoon-like illustrations and an undead pet sheep called Cheesy.
Sock Puppet Comics
Fables: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha and Graig Hamilton
All your favourite fairytale characters are in one place: New York City. Forced into exile, the characters inhabit modern day New York, and all it’s pitfalls. Quite a bit darker than the comics above, this comic is for your older readers
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Eric Shanower and Skottie Young
The success of this adaption lies in Shanower’s ability to take the essence in novel format and retell it so that it works both textually and visually. While Shanower remained true to the story, he added his own touch and spin to create a new layer to an known story.
Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona
Follows a group of teens who find out their parents are super villains and runaway. They band together to defeat their parents and recitfy the sins their parents caused. It’s solidly YA in terms of readership.
Mouse Guard by David Petersen
Set in the medieval era, this is a world populated by sentient mice. There are no humans. A brotherhood of mice, the Mouse Guard, set about conquering evil and righting wrongs. Ages 8+
Thor the Mighty Avenger by Roger Langridge, Chriss Samnee and Matthew Wilson
A reimaging of Thor that mixes the superhero and villain plot with romance and old-school mythology. Suitable for young adults.
Another great way to get reluctant readers from screen to page. This series is suitable for ages 8+, and so far there’s 9 volumes (and yes, the inimatable Tom Taylor is one of the writers).
Update: If you like this list, you may also like our graphic novels book list.