“All-Action Classics” Series:
Bram Stoker and Michael Mucci. Dracula. (Sterling, 2007)
Mark Twain, Tim Mucci, and Rad Sechrist. Tom Sawyer. (Sterling, 2007)
Jeffrey Brown. Darth Vader and Son. (Chronicle Books, 2012)
“It is pointless to resist, my son. It’s bedtime.” There are things dads say and do that are so different when that dad is Darth Vader. There are things Darth Vader does that mean so much more when he is a dad. Read this collection of comics featuring Darth and Luke with a Jedi you love.
Frank Cammuso. “Knights of the Lunch Table” (Series): [Graphic Novels]
The Dodgeball Chronicles. (Scholastic, 2008)
The Dragon Players. (Scholastic, 2009)
Scott Chantler. “Three Thieves”. (Series)
Tower of Treasure. (Kids Can Press, 2010)
The Sign of the Black Rock. (Kids Can Press, 2011)
The Captive Prince. (Kids Can Press, 2012)
The King’s Dragon. (Kids Can Press, 2014)
Fantasy comics for the younger crowd. What to read when they finish Jeff Smith’s Bone!
Erik Craddock. “Stone Rabbit” (Series): [Graphic Novels]
B.C. Mambo. (Random House, 2009)
Pirate Palooza. (Random House, 2009)
Deep Space Disco. (Random House, 2009)
Another wild ride from the floppy-eared flunky with the worst luck in history, and pre-history, and post-history apparently as he gets caught up in a futuristic farce. Galactic meanies, clueless earthlings, space cops, and deadly smoothies for everyone.
Superhero Stampede. (Random House, 2010)
Ninja Slice. (Random house, 2010)
Dragon Boogie. (Random House, 2012)
A Molasses-breathing dragon? Seriously?
Timothy Decker. For Liberty: The Story of the Boston Massacre. (Calkins Creek, 2009)
Ricardo Delgado. “Age of Reptiles” (Series):
Tribal Warfare. (Dark Horse Comics, 1993)
The Hunt. (Dark Horse Comics, 1997)
Carol & Matt Dembicki. Mr. Big: A Tale of Pond Life. (Sky Pony Press, 2012)
A monster lurks in the shadows. A new and unknown horror has slithered into the world. More doom circles above. Even if the nightmares battle each other, who will get caught in the middle? And will the one left standing be all the more frightful, free from all challengers? … Life sure is tough when you’re a frog!
Maxwell Eaton. “The Flying Beaver Brothers” (Series):
The Evil Penguin Plan. (Random House, 2012)
The Fishy Business. (Random House, 2012)
Ace and Bub are surfing, aeronautical beavers who live on Beaver Island, an island entirely habitated by beavers. Then it starts getting silly.
Glenn Eichler and Joe Infurnari. Mush: Sled Dogs With Issues. (First Second, 2011) Hair-brained philosopher, reluctant hero, conniving backstabber, blue-blood snob, hey, dogs are people too!
Jonathan Fetter-Vorm. Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb. (Hill and Wang, 2012) Look through the eyes of the men who changed the world. See the dawn of a new age. Look on a world that is changed forever. How better to explore the making of the first atomic bomb?
Jeff Kinney. Diary of a Wimpy Kid. (Amulet Books, 2007)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. (Amulet Books, 2008)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw. (Amulet Books, 2009)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book. (Amulet Books, 200)
Jarrett J. Krosoczka. “Lunch Lady” (Series)
Everyone complains that there are not enough graphic novels for younger readers. Well here is a new series just aimed at those 9-12 year olds. Its high adventure in a school setting with villainy and triumph and goofy gadgets. Just what to give kids who have read “Captain Underpants” twelve times.
Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute. (Knopf, 2009)
Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians. (Knopf, 2009)
Lunch Lady and the Author Visit Vendetta. (Knopf, 2009)
Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown. (Knopf, 2010)
Lunch Lady and the Bakesale Bandit. (Knop, 2010)
Lunch Lady and the Field Trip Fiasco. (Knopf, 2011)
Lunch Lady and the Mutant Mathletes. (Knopf, 2012)
Even Lunch Lady and the Breakfast Bunch aren’t enough to stop the superhuman mathletes of Willowby Academy. Could there be another secret superhero at Thompson Brook Elementary School?
Stan Mack. Taxes, the Tea Party, and Those Revolting Rebels: A History in Comics of the American Revolution. (Nanter, Beall, Minoustchine, 2012) [Nonfiction] Hey, maybe the people who decided that a bunch of backwater colonists could defeat the greatest army ever really were cartoon characters. Their stories seem far more real in this comic history than they ever did in a textbook.
Stan Mack and Susan Champlin. “The Cartoon Chronicles of America” (Series)
Road to Revolution. (Bloomsbury, 2009)
Fight for Freedom. (Bloomsbury, 2012)
It’s the Civil War, near the frontlines, and everything about life on a southern plantation has been thrown into chaos. The slaves aren’t free, but they aren’t really slaves either. Proper southern women can no longer be proper southern women. You can’t tell “us” from “them” because nobody knows who we are and who they are. Two children, one white and one black, who grew up together in the old world will have to find a way to make it in a whole new world in this comic book story.
James Patterson and NaRae Lee. Maxium Ride: The Manga. (Yen Press, 2009)
Maximum Ride might be the perfect book for adaptation to Manga. All the action, the visual splendor, the wonder of kids on the wing, it all pops right off the page. This very quick read is the perfect intro to the series for struggling readers and a fantastic addition to the series for those who already know and love Max.
Lincoln Pierce. “Big Nate” (Series):
Big Nate: In a Class By Himself. (Harper, 2010)
Getting a detention slip from a teacher who doesn’t even bother to write your name, just “Kid with the wierd hair”? That’s a bad day! Wet stains on your gym shorts, 148 servings of green beans, and having your teacher find your list of nicknames for her, that’s a world record bad day.
Big Nate Strikes Again. (Harper, 2010)
Dav Pilkey. The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future. (Blue Sky Press, 2010) …and a barfing lizard saves the day!
Dav Pilkey. “Captain Underpants” (Series):
The Adventures of Captain Underpants: an Epic Novel. (Little Apple, 1997)
Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets. (Little Apple, 1999)
Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies From Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds). (Little Apple, 1999)
Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants. (Blue Sky, 2000)
Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman. (Blue Sky, 2001)
The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby. (Blue Sky Press, 2002)
Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets. (Blue Sky Press, 2003)
Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 2: Revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-Boogers. (Blue Sky Press, 2003)
Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People. (Blue Sky Press, 2002)
Captain Underpants Extra-Crunchy Book o’ Fun. (Blue Sky Press, 2001)
The All New Captain Underpants Extra-Crunchy Book o’ Fun 2. (Blue Sky Press, 2002)
Dav Pilkey & Martin Ontiveros (illustrator). “Ricky Ricotta” (Series):
Ricky Ricotta’s Giant Robot. (Blue Sky Press, 2000)
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. the Mutant Mosquitoes From Mercury. (Blue Sky Press, 2000)
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. the Voodoo Vultures from Venus. (Blue Sky Press, 2001)
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. the Mecha-Monkeys from Mars. (Blue Sky Press, 2002)
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. the Jurassic Jack Rabbits from Jupiter. (Blue Sky Press, 2002)
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. Stupid Stinkbug from Saturn. (Blue Sky Press, 2003)
Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. the Uranium Unicorns from Uranus. (Blue Sky Press, 2005)
Michael Rex. Fangbone: Third Grade Barbarian. (Putnam, 2012)
He’s a mighty warrior on a sacred quest… but first he has to learn to read.
Darren Shan, art by Takahiro Arai. “Cirque Du Freak” (Series) [Manga]
Jeff Smith. “Bone” (Series)
Out From Boneville. (Scholastic, 2005)
The Great Cow Race. (GRAPHIX, 2005)
Eyes of the Storm. (GRAPHIX, 2006)
The Dragonslayer. (GRAPHIX, 2006)
Rock Jaw: Master of the Eastern Border. (GRAPHIX, 2007)
Old Man’s Cave. (GRAPHIX, 2007)
Ghost Circles. (GRAPHIX, 2008)
Treasure Hunters. (GRAPHIX, 2008)
Crown of Horns. (GRAPHIX, 2009)
Hudson Talbott. Safari Journal: The Adventures in Africa of Carey Monroe. (Silver Whistle, 2003)
Masashi Tanaka. Gon. (Kodansha Comics. 2011) One little dinosaur is the last of his kind; that wouls make anyone cranky, and he’s taking it out on any creature that gets in his way. Gon is all additude, and with no words his story is all action in this Manga for all ages.
Doug TenNapel. Bad Island. (Graphix, 2011) A sci-fi riff on Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island? In comic book form? By Doug TenNapel? With flying robots? That’s just not fair.
Doug TenNapel. Cardboard. (Graphix, 2012) It’s Pinocchio! Well, with self-replicating monsters bent on destroying the world and replacing it with their own demonic cardboard reality. Bwahahaha!!!
Doug TenNapel. Ghostopolis. (Graphix, 2010)This riff on The Wizard of Oz supercharges everything: The wizard isn’t some benign old man behind a curtain, he is a mighty sorcerer who is not about to give up control of his kingdom. There is no Glenda the good witch but a twelve foot black man with a Jesus complex. No flying monkeys, just demonic man-sized bugs. And Toto is a skeleton horse. No Garth, you aren’t in Kansas anymore, this is the afterlife!
Ursula Vernon. “Dragonbreath” (Series):
Dragonbreath. [Book 1] (Dial Books, 2009)
Attack of the Ninja Frogs. [Book 2] (Dial Books, 2010)
Curse of the Were-Weiner. [Book 3] (Dial Books, 2010)
Lair of the Bat Monster. [Book 4] (Dial Books, 2011)
No Such Thing as Ghosts. [Book 5] (Dial Books, 2011)
Revenge of the Horned Bunnies. [Book 6] (Dial Books, 2012)
When Fairies Go Bad. [Book 7] (Dial Books, 2012)
Danny Dragonbreath, the breathing fire-delayed elementary school dragon, faces down a freakish Frank in a cafeteria smackdown for the ages, takes the bus to Fairie land and ancient Japan, battles Jackalopes and Ninja frogs, and generally does the whole scary/funny routine in this hybrid graphic/text series for the younger crowd.
Drew Weing. Set to Sea. (Fantagraphics Books, 2010) A huge lug of a man struggles to find the words to tell a story, and instead finds a story to tell, all told with very few words at all. This is why people read comics.
Chris Wooding. Malice. (Scholastic, 2009) Come get pulled into a dark world of mechanized evil, a comic book hell that is all too real for those kids who dare to escape the deadly monotony of daily life. Told both in words and comic-style pictures, this first tale in a new series just jumps off the page.
Chris Wooding. Havoc. (Scholastic, October 2010)
Primarily for Teen Guys:
Ken Akamatsu. Negima!: Master Negi Magi. (Del Ray, 2004- ) [Manga]
Derf Backderf. My Friend Dahmer. (Abrams ComicArts, March 2012) Yeah. THAT Dahmer.
Joseph Bruchac, art by Will Davis. Dawn Land. (First Second, 2010) A sweeping epic by the greatest living Native American storyteller, retold brilliantly as a graphic novel with very few words. A journey, both physical and spiritual, to challenge the deep terrors that stalked the footsteps of ancient man for the future of the world. Mesmerizing.
Geoffrey Canada, adapted by Jamar Nicholas. Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence. (Beacon Press, 2010) “Possessing a gun feels like the ultimate form of protection. On the streets of a big American city, having this kind of personal protection may even seem to some to make sense.But it doesn’t.I know from personal experience. In 1971, well before the explosion of handguns on the streets of New York City, I bought a handgun.”
Jason Ciaramella, Joe Hill, and Zach Howard. The Cape. (IDW, 2012) Power isn’t good or evil, but those who wield it are. Which is more dangerous, power in the hands of an eight year-old boy? Or power in the hands of the man that boy would become after he tasted power and was robbed of it?
Mark Crilley. “Brody’s Ghost” [Series] (Dark Horse, 2010- ) From the streets of a futuristic city rises a new hero. Brody has to let go of everything to gain the one thing he needs, a destiny. Aided by a ghost tasked to do a “life task” before she can move on to the afterlife, and a spirit that is himself haunted by a distant failure, he must strike a blow for the good against a serial killer who prays on the innocent.
Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir. New Moon. [Bad Medicine, Volume 1] (Oni Press, 2012) There are dark and mysterious things in this world, but they are still science, they just can’t be explained… yet. At least that’s what Dr. Randal Horne keeps telling himself as he and his team from the Centers for Disease Control grapple with a headless corpse and a teenager that becomes a real animal on a date, under a full moon. Classic horror fodder with a decidedly modern twist.
Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido. Blacksad. (Dark Horse, 2010) It’s comics noir, dark and rich and edgy and smart.The characters have their human weaknesses, but their animal nature shows in their faces.Life in the big city really is a jungle, and the bad guys would do well to fear the big black cat.
Tohru Fujisawa. Tokko: Devil’s Awaken. (Tokyo Pop, 2008- ) [Manga] Tokko is a special section of the Tokyo Police charged with fighting off an invasion of demons and spirits. This is a dark and heroic storyline about those who stand between an unsuspecting human world and a terrifying other world, with a few not-quite humans standing in the breach.
Gareth Hinds. Beowulf. (Candlewick, 2007) “Be of good comfort, my lord king. ‘Tis better for a man to avenge his friends than to spend his days lamenting. Verily for every one of us there is an ordained end; let us therefore take such occasion as God may give us of winning renown while life remains to us. Come, then, let us go and track this foul creature to her lair.”
Junya Inue. Btooom! [Manga] (Yen Press, 2013- ) Hunger Games a bit too tame for you? Waiting for the next installment of Cage of Eden? Here is one intense new manga about a video game wiz who finds himself inside a real life version of his favorite game, and you guessed it, it’s not Donkey Kong! It is kill or be killed in a battle where the only weapons are sophisticated explosives. If you are squeamish, stick with the softer stories where the most dangerous weapons are bows, arrows, and poisonous berries.
Anthony Johnston, illustrated by Sam Hart. The Coldest City. (Oni Press, 2012) The already dangerous world of international spies in the shadow of the Berlin Wall is teetering on chaos as The Wall teeters on the verge of collapse. It is 1989, and all the secrets they have fought to keep are about to come out. In the scramble to “clean house”, you may not know who the traitor is until there is only one left standing.
Derek Kirk Kim. “Tune”. (Series)
Vanishing Point. (First Second, 2012)
Andy Go is living every nerd’s nightmare – outcast, unsocial, unemployable – until a pretty girl shows his life to be a dream. Then he is offered every nerd’s dream; but could that turn out to be the nightmare?
Yuuki Kodama. Blood Lad. (Yen Press, 2012- ) [Manga] Oh yeah, a snarky teenage vampire lord of a demon realm obsessed with manga and Japanese video games gets let lose in OUR world! If you like your vampires shiny, just move along. Paranormal romance fan? Next aisle over. Like Christopher Moore (Bite Me and Bloodsucking Fiends)? Have I got a Manga for you.
Dean Koontz and Queenie Chan. In Odd We Trust. (Ballantine Books, 2008)
Roland Laird, Taneshia Nash Laird. Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African Americans. ( Sterling , 2009) [Nonfiction]
John Layman & Rob Guillory. “Chew” (Series)
Taster’s Choice. [Volume One] (Image Comics, 2009)
International Flavor. [Volume Two] (Image Comics, 2010)
Just Desserts. [Volume Three] (Image Comics, 2010)
Flambé. [Volume Four] (Image Comics, 2011)
Major League. [Volume Five] (Image Comics, 2012)
Tony Chu is a psychic who gets his readings by tasting things. That gets a bit gross when he becomes a homicide detective. You do the math. This series is, well, unique.
Barry Lyga and Colleen Doran. Mangaman. (Houghton Mifflin, 2011) A scifi/manga retelling of Romeo and Juliet? With a nod to Flat Stanley? If you are a manga fan, try to imagine a manga character rocketed into our world from the two dimensional pages of a comic book world. Every thought bubble actually appears beside his head. Motion lines appear when he runs, then fall to the ground. And that thing they do with their eyes! Clever, fun, and beautifully drawn.
Motoro Mase. Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit. (VIZ Media, 2009- ) [Manga]
For all dystopia fans, here is a society that teaches the value of life, by randomly taking the lives of its young adults. If you were told you had 24 hours to live, what would you do? No simple answers here; one of the most innovative Mangas in recent years.
Sharn E. McKay and Daniel LaFrance. War Brothers: The Graphic Novel. (Annick Press, 2013) “Where does the victim end and the criminal begin? Whom do we punish? Who is accountable?” There are a quarter of a million child soldiers in the world, children kidnapped and forced to fight. Are they killers or kids? Walk a mile in their shoes through the jungles of Uganda and see if you can answer.
Jordan Mechner, LeUyen Pham, & Alex Puvilland. Templar. (First Second, 2013)
The Knights Templar, just the name brings up adventure, honor, mystery, conspiracy, treasure. Templar brings it all out in vivid color and high action in all it’s medieval glory.
Christopher Moore & Ian Corson. The Griff. (William Morrow, 2011) It is Jurassic Park, falling from the sky! In this graphic novel of alien invasion, the little green men are huge green dragon creatures, and the ET’s aren’t being cuddled by a cute little six-year-old Drew Barrymore. The heroine is The Game Goddess, and who better to fight alien invaders than the woman who designed the video games where they, well, you know?
James Patterson. Daniel X: Alien Hunter. (Little, Brown Young Readers, 2008)
Moro Rogers. City in the Desert: The Monster Problem. (Archaia Entertainment, 2012) Irro fights monsters for his isolated desert city. It’s dangerous, and unglamorous, but it is a fulfilling life that supported, and claimed, his parents before him. But when a religious sect appears claiming to be able to end the monsters, Irro has to wonder how much of his life is tied to this great evil. Unfortunately, everybody else in his unsuspecting city should be doing the same.
Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, and Scott Kowalchuk. Down, Set, Fight! (Oni Press, 2014) He punched out a mascot? With the felt suit and the comically huge foam head? All they do is backflips and run the bases against giggling kids and let them win and throw buckets of confetti that you think is really water and do really weak pushups for every point your team scores and take pictures with the cheerleaders with their hands in places they would never get away with if they weren’t anonymous behind their masks and dance to bad 80′s pop music on top of dugouts and get to bounce on those cool trampolines and do amazing slam dunks and get to see every game from the sidelines when they never scored a point in their miserable lives and… and… and… yeah, he deserved it.
Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, Stephen King. American Vampire. (Vertigo, 2010) “Here’s what vampires shouldn’t be: pallid detectives who drink Bloody Marys and only work at night; lovelorn southern gentlemen; anorexic teenage girls; boy-toys with big dewy eyes.What should they be? illers, honey. Stone killers…” (from the intro by Stephen King)
Jame Sturm and Rich Tommaso. Satchel Paige: Striking out Jim Crow. (Hyperion, 2007)
Bryan Talbott. “Grandville” Series:
Grandville. [#1] (Dark Horse, 2009)
Mon Amour. [#2] (Dark Horse, 2010)
Bete Noir. [#3] (Dark Horse, 2012)
Steampunk, alternate history, dark noir, and our animal natures portrayed in stunning comics. If you loved Blacksad, by Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido, you can’t miss “Grandville”.
Craig Thompson. Habibi. (Pantheon, 2011) Epic. Mystic. Mythic. Powerful visual storytelling with no holds barred. Dodola and Zam are buffeted and abused. Cultures, races, even epochs colide and explode the world around them. In a world where the “other” is so feared and misunderstood, there is no more human way to see behind the veil of the Muslim world than to see two desperate people holding onto all they have left, Habibi, “my beloved”.
Naoki Urasawa. 20th Century Boys. (Viz Media, 2009- ) [Manga]
Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples. “Saga” Series.(Image Comics, 2012- ) Fantasy creatures, scifi cyborgs, intergalactic warfare and an epic journey in this comics-style space opera. A young man and woman, from opposite sides of the greatest war the universe has ever seen, have everyone to fear and nowhere in all the worlds to hide.
Boaz Yakin, and Joe Infurnari. Marathon. (First Second, 2012) 192 Athenians died on the plains of Marathon that day, and 6,500 Persians. Still, Athens would have fallen if not for the heroism and sacrifice of a few brave soldiers and the original Marathon champion. Here is their epic story, told brilliantly in comics.
Futaro Yamada & Masaki Segawa. Basilisk. (Del Rey, 2006- ) [Manga]
Yoshinobu Yamada. Cage of Eden. (Kodansha Comics, 2011- ) [Manga] High school survivors of a plane wreck find themselves stranded on an island that never existed, with creatures that shouldn’t exist, and controlled by rules that no longer exist. It’s Lord of the Flies meets The Mysterious Island in a thrilling manga.