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YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens list announced


The Young Adult Library Services Association has released a list of 73 Great Graphic Novels for Teens

The list of 73 titles, drawn from 127 official nominations, is presented annually at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. The books, recommended for those ages 12-18, meet the criteria of both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens. In addition, the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee created a Top Ten list. “There was a wealth of great titles to choose from this year,” said Eva Volin, committee chair. “This allowed the committee to create a well-rounded list that includes everything from European comics to manga, superhero titles to adaptations of classic literature. We think librarians will find this to be a very useful list.”

The Top Ten Graphic Novels are as follows:

Hardison, Jim and Bart Sears. The Helm. Dark Horse. 2009.

Igarashi, Daisuke. Children of the Sea, vol 1. VIZ Media. 2009.

Jensen, Van and Dusty Higgins. Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer. SLG Publishing. 2009.

Kelly, Joe and J.M. Ken Nimura. I Kill Giants. Image. 2009.

Lethem, Jonathan and Farel Dalrymple. Omega the Unknown. Marvel. 2008.

Love, Jeremy. Bayou, vol 1. DC Comics/Zuda. 2009.

Neufeld, Josh. A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge. Pantheon Books. 2009.

Siddell, Tom. Gunnerkrigg Court, vol 1: Orientation. Archaia Studios Press. 2009.

Urasawa, Naoki and Takashi Nagasaki. Pluto. VIZ Media. 2009.

Yoshinaga, Fumi. Ooku: The Inner Chambers, vol 1. VIZ Media. 2009.

These ten picks are emblematic of pretty much the whole list — one worth analyzing a bit in terms of the breadth of the selections — this is “the new mainstream” or whatever you want to call it now, a mix of manga, non-event superheroes, licensed adaptations and YA graphic novels from mainstream publishers. While it encompasses a few critically acclaimed titles, it’s really more middle-of-the-road, and suggests that if this is what today’s comics-reading teens are reading, the next decade of comics may be even better than the last, at least in terms of being open to a wide variety of material.

  1. Wow, what a complete surprise to be on the list! I didn’t even know we were among the nominees. It’s completely humbling to be placed alongside Urasawa, Dalrymple, Kelly, Love, Neufeld, Lethem and everyone else, all of whom I respect far too much to call a peer.

  2. While I too applaud the breadth of selections on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens list, I can tell you (as a Teen Services Librarian) this is not what teens are actually reading.

    As with most ALA/YALSA booklists, this reflects the tastes of the selection committee more than the tastes of teens who read.

    However, there are some excellent books on the list, and I hope this gets the small press titles some well-deserved attention.

  3. Robin Brenner provides some circulation figures for graphic novels:

    First off, here are the top circulators in terms of those volume numbers alone.

    Total Circs over the past two years (Top 30)
    Format: Title, Volume number (total circulations)
    1. Naruto, v. 30 (20)
    2. Naruto, v. 4 (19)
    3. Naruto, v. 2 (19)
    4. Naruto, v. 17 (19)
    5. Immortal Iron Fist, v. 1 (19)
    6. High School Debut, v. 1 (19)
    7. Skip Beat, v. 12 (19)
    8. High School Debut, v. 2 (19)
    9. High School Debut, v. 4 (19)
    10. Bleach, v. 2 (18)
    11. Beauty Pop, v. 2 (18)
    12. High School Debut, v. 3 (18)
    13. Beauty Pop, v. 7 (18)
    14. Beauty Pop, v. 8 (18)
    15. Naruto, v. 29 (18)
    16. Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War, v. 2 (18)
    17. Iron Man (Civil War) (18)
    18. High School Debut, v. 5 (18)
    19. Naruto, v. 3 (17)
    20. One Piece, v. 1 (17)

    Total by Series, circs per series in the last two years
    Title, Number of volumes (Total Circulations per series/Average Circ per volume)
    1. Case Closed, 30 volumes (259/8.6)
    2. Bleach, 27 volumes (254/9.4)
    3. Batman, 27 volumes (243/9)
    4. Inu Yasha, 38 volumes (217/5.7)
    5. Exiles, 15 volumes (200/13)
    6. Naruto, 44 volumes (175/4)
    7. Hana Kimi, 19 volumes (174/9.2)
    8. Flame of Recca, 31 volumes (167/5.4)
    9. Black Cat, 21 volumes (157/7.5)
    10. Kekkaishi, 18 volumes (153/8.5)
    11. Angel Sanctuary, 19 volumes (146/7.7)
    12. Fruits Basket, 27 volumes (146/5.4)
    13. Fullmetal Alchemist, 17 volumes (146/8.6)
    14. Bone, 13 volumes (145/11)
    15. Elemental Gelade, 10 volumes (143/14)
    16. Hunter X Hunter, 17 volumes (133/7.8)
    17. Dragon Ball Z, 14 volumes (130/9.3)
    18. One Piece, 21 volumes (126/6)
    19. La Corda D’Oro, 10 (125/13)
    20. Negima, 17 volumes (119/7)

    Brenner comments that the YA graphic novels are checked out more often than, say, the Twilight novels are, and are as popular generally as the bestselling adult prose novels.


  4. Circulation stats at our local library are probably similar to the ones quoted above, but I’m still confused by LadyBossyBoot’s comment: Even if I didn’t have an obvious vested interest in this year’s list (which I do!), I’d wonder whose taste you think a recommended reading list like YALSA’s should reflect, if not the nominating committee’s? Looking at the group, there are plenty of teen librarians on it, so I’d bet that they’re aware of the latest volume of Naruto as well…

    Regardless of who decides, basing any such list on what is already in libraries and circulating heavily is like automatically awarding the “Best Picture” Oscar to the top grossing film. That would sure make things easier, since in the case of movies you wouldn’t need to waste time with nominees: “Gone With the Wind” would have been the winner every year since 1939.

  5. Jim, she’s not saying they should give awards to the most popular titles. The orginal article said that this is what today’s teens are reading, which simply isn’t true. These books are selected because the nominating committee thinks they’re good, not because actual *readers* think they’re good.

    Comic awards are always given to highbrow elitest crap, stuff that no actual person would choose to read for pleasure. The Oscars do the same thing for movies. Children and teens aren’t reading the crap up there on that list, they’re reading fun manga.

  6. knobbyknees: I don’t see where the article says that this is what teens are reading. It’s phrased as a question. Granted, the list is comprised of what YALSA’s group thinks they might like, based on their experience, but not everybody will like every book they recommend.

    I’m a librarian by day, and though not a public or teen one I do get asked questions about what someone might want to read next. If my answer was merely “Well, if you like Naruto I guess you just have to wait until the next volume comes out. There’s nothing else out there.” you’d think I was dumb and bad at my job, and you’d be right!

    Regardless, characterizing a list that includes Iron Man, Buffy, Green Lantern, a book by Clamp and more than a dozen other manga series, Wonder Woman, Spider-man, etc. as highbrow elitist crap brings to mind Inigo Montaya in “The Princess Bride”: “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  7. Based on my observations of some GGNFT committee meetings, and on my experiences as a committee member on Best Books for Young Adults (years ago), I can tell you that the committee members do seek out teen input on the nominated titles. They get teens in their libraries to read the books and give their opinions on whether they like the books.

    As for what teens read, a lot also depends on how much the librarian works to get those books into teens’ hands. I run bi-weekly lunch time book clubs in my school, and half the books I promote are graphic novels. They get checked out and read like crazy! All kinds of gns, not just manga. So yes, this 2010 GGNFT list is great, and I’ll be using it.

  8. There are a lot more comics in libraries now than there were in 1998:

    Comic books and libraries do not seem to get along, at least not in North American libraries. Aside from a few dozen specialized, noncirculating research collections, retrospective comic book holdings remain virtually unknown as a library resource.1 Browsing collections of current comic books are equally rare in public, school, and college libraries. In a 1984 article, comic book bibliographer Randall Scott observed, “In most communities, if you want to read or refer to a comic book, you have to buy it.” Librarian Doug Highsmith concurred, writing in 1992 that public libraries carrying the latest issues of popular comics titles are “still the exception rather than the rule.” Both statements remain fundamentally true today.

  9. “Comic awards are always given to highbrow elitest crap, stuff that no actual person would choose to read for pleasure.”

    You obviously haven’t read The Helm, which is laugh-out-loud funny, but about as deep as a toothpick.

  10. “Comic awards are always given to highbrow elitest crap, stuff that no actual person would choose to read for pleasure.”

    You could say the same thing about any professional award that involves the word art and the terms creative or artistic. It’s all frippery. Nonsense is hailed as genius and used as measure for intelligence. If you look at the trends in the avante garde, they have purposely moved away from anything we would call the human experience (in art and film). The avante garde is an animal rolling around in its own droppings and content with that condition because it’s effortless. Self improvment is an anathema for some reason. There is harsh criticism but criticism ismostly aimed at “lowbrow” material.

  11. The “explosion” happened in 2002, that’s the year that YALSA held a graphic novel preconference at the ALA Annual Conference, and such people as art spiegelman, Jeff Smith, Colleen Doran, and Neil Gaiman found out a lot of librarians had a lot of love for comics.

    I’m only one of a whole bunch of librarians who conduct workshops for libraries on getting graphic novels and comics into their collections. In fact, I’ll be doing my third workshop in North Florida next week.

    BTW, Jim Ottaviani’s T-Minus is one of the books on the 2010 GGNFT list, and it is NOT elitist crap, but some of the best nonfiction ever about the Space Race.

    And my teenage son CHOSE to read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Edition and LOVED it. I’ve got kids at school checking out and reading Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood, and Frankenstein: the Graphic Novel – for fun!

    GGNFT is a LIST, not an award. Part of the charge for the list is that the books must have at least potential for popularity with teens. As I said before, the librarian’s attitude will have some effect on teens. I’ve seen it happen again and again in my 25+ years of working as a librarian with children and teens.

    Are all the books on this list going to circulate as crazy-busy as Twilight? No, of course not! But they will get read if librarians take a chance with some of them and share them with their teens. It has worked for me in three different states, in public and in school libraries.

  12. Since Jim isn’t plugging himself, I’ll do it!

    GT Labs publishing puts out wonderful comics about scientific subjects. They’re informative and entertaining, ably produced by Jim Ottaviani and some of the best artists in comics, including Zander Cannon, Kevin Cannon, Steve Lieber, Donna Barr, Paul Chadwick, Guy Davis, etc.

    T-Minus, covering the space race, came out this year and made the YALSA list (although it’s under fiction; I don’t know why).

    And to think, I learned all about them from my local library!
    Read ’em!

  13. Funny that some would refer to the ‘awards’ as elitest crap. This is usually a comment from those who would covet such awards. As Kat pointed out, the GGNFT is actually a list and yes, the books do end up circulating quite well. The other benefit of the GGNFT list is that the library market is now using this list as a purchasing barometer so it gets the books into more libraries.
    So Sabertooth and knobbyknees, get over yourselves. Be glad that the librarians are embracing the comics medium and the graphic novel format. If you cant be happy about it then find a nice spot in the snow and please dont wake up.

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