With all the news of embattled libraries across the nation, it’s great to remember that we still have libraries, and our librarian friends are still doing the hard work of making books accessible to readers of all ages.
And libraries and comics are still a dynamic duo. The ALA’s Graphic Novel and Comics Roundtable (GNRCT) just announced its two annual reading lists, one for adults and one for children.
As I’ve written before, the Best Graphic Novels for Adults Reading List (BGNA) is a huge deal in helping librarians navigate the vast offerings in adult comics, and one of the main goals in founding the GNCRT a few years ago. There are existing librarian resources for kids’ graphic novels, but a reading list for adults has long been needed, and helps justify purchases for librarians in a category that is often misunderstood. As the PR for this year’s list explained:
The Best Graphic Novels for Adults Reading List Selection Committee is made up of GNCRT members with a background in graphic novel selection and their use in adult programming and services. Jessica Jenner, wrapping up her second term as selection committee chair said, “The selected titles display themes and characters who face difficult challenges in life and rise above them, in a humbling and human way. As with the 2020 list, this year’s list highlights underrepresented voices and elevates the place of graphic novels for adults by exploring concepts and stories intended for mature audiences. I am proud of the work we produced this year, and I am looking forward to the inspirations the authors and artists will bring to the table.”
The complete 2021 Best Graphic Novels for Adults Reading List, including a Top Ten, is available online. GNCRT President Matthew Noe said of this year’s list, “The amount of work that goes into the selection of a best-of list is enormous, far more than most people imagine, and this year our committee had to do it while also navigating a comics scene radically disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite publishing delays and access troubles, our members read an incredible number of comics throughout the year, selecting the very best for this year’s BGNA list. The breadth of the comics landscape is on display here. From reimagined superheroes and exciting book adaptations to emotionally complex memoirs and health narratives, there’s never been a better time to be an adult comics reader!”
Of making this all-new list, Noe wrote:
“Launching a new, carefully curated list of the best comics for children would have been a daunting task even during the best of times – and we have certainly not been in those over the last two years. But thanks to the expertise, attention, and passion of this year’s committee, we can now present to you GNCRT’s addition to the recognition of children’s comics: our inaugural Best Graphic Novels for Children Reading List! There’s a comic here for every reader, from PreK to Grade 6, and in the Top 10 alone we’ve got witchcraft, friendly animals, and a story of finding the courage to be one’s true self that will leave even adult readers teary-eyed.”
Both lists are extensive (as is the variety of materials to choose from) but there is a top ten for each.
Ballad for Sophie
Filipe Melo, Juan Cavia, Gabriela Soares; 2021 – Top Shelf Productions
Department of Truth, Vol 1: The End Of The World
James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds; 2020 – Image Comics
Dune: The Graphic Novel, Book 1
Brian Herbert, Adapted by Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson, Art by Raúl Allén, and Patricia Martín; 2020 – Abrams Comic Arts
N. K. Jemisin, Jamal Campbell; 2021 – DC Comics
The Good Asian, Volume 1
Pornsak Pichetshote, Alexandre Tefenkgi, Lee Loughridge, Dave Johnson; 2021 – Image Comics
Julie Dachez, Mademoiselle Caroline; 2020 – Oni Press
My Alcoholic Escape from Reality
Nagata Kabi, Translated by Jocelyne Allen, Adapted by Lianne Sentar; 2021 – Seven Seas
diagnosed with pancreatitis, she must learn to survive without it.
Norse Mythology, Vol. 1
Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russel, Jerry Ordway, Mike Mignola, Jill Thompson, David Rubin, Dave Stewart, Lovern Kindzierski; 2021 – Dark Horse
Run: Book One
John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, L. Fury, Nate Powell; 2021 – Abrams Books
Lee Lai; 2021 – Fantagraphics
Arlo & Pips series. Written by Elise Gravel. Art by Elise Gravel. HarperCollins
The Golden Hour. Written by Niki Smith. Art by Niki Smith. 2021. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, $12.99 (9780316540339).
Just Roll with It. Written by Lee Durfey-Lavoie. Art by Veronica Agarwal. 2021. Random House Graphic, $20.99 (9781984897008).
The Magic Fish. Written by Trung Le Nguyen. Art by Trung Le Nguyen. 2020. Random House Graphic, $23.99 (9781984851598).
Measuring Up. Written by Lily LaMotte. Art by Ann Xu. 2021. HarperAlley, $12.99 (9780062973863).
Pawcasso. Written by Remy Lai. Art by Remy Lai. 2021. Holt Books for Young Readers, $21.99 (9781250774484).
Salt Magic. Written by Hope Larson. Art by Rebecca Mock. 2021. Holiday House, $21.99 (9780823446209).
Twins. Written by Varian Johnson. Art by Shannon Wright. 2020. Scholastic, $24.99 (9781338236170).
Unsolved Case Files series. Written by Tom Sullivan. Art by Tom Sullivan. HarperCollins
The Witches of Brooklyn series. Written by Sophie Escabasse. Art by Sophie Escabasse. Penguin Random House
Again these are the Top Ten but lots of great selections on both lists, so check them out. And a huge thank you to the GNCRT members and all the librarians who are on the front lines of literacy when it is most needed.
Nominations for the 2022 lists are now open.