||[Feb. 23rd, 2010|11:39 pm]
Kelly J. Cooper
Originally a post over in bookish, thought people might like to read this here as well...
I work in a comic shop. These are my top picks for graphic novels:
THE ARRIVAL by Shaun Tan is a gorgeous piece of art. The story follows a man who leaves his homeland and his family to live in a new land. It's wordless, but tells a surprisingly intricate story. And Tan uses a number of different techniques to make you really feel like you might if you arrived in a new country with no idea of the customs or language. Plus it's a $20 hardcover, which is a ridiculously good price. Sample art on his web page under "Picture Books" - http://www.shauntan.net/
FUNHOME: A FAMILY TRAGICOMIC by Alison Bechdel is an amazing work of biography and autobiography. Bechdel, best known for her long-running comic strip DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR recounts her childhood with her strange family, particularly focusing on her father, whom she believes is a closeted gay man, and his death (which may or may not have been a suicide). Chock full of moments of pain and humor in a real family. It's also the most literate comic I've ever read. This book really deserved to be on the NYT bestseller list.
CASTLE WAITING by Linda Medley. It may be called volume 1. She's continued the story beyond this hardcover, but this book collects the various disparate tales Medley self-published for 15 years all in one place. And this is such a good thing. Imagine a fairy tale - or a whole pile of fairy tales - and get rid of the prince and princess. This story is what happens to the people on the fringes of the big stories. Sleeping Beauty's abandoned castle is turned into a sanctuary and an odd cast of characters gather there. There's an recurring theme of dealing with the abuse of women by husbands and men in general, but there's also very clever talking animals (not the cutesy kind), a lot of humor, and a series of smartly assembled stories.
GIRL GENIUS by Phil & Kaja Folio. Originally published in individual issues, the Folios switched to only printing collections and putting a new page of the comic up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It's a clever, witty, & cartoony alternative version of European History, steampunk style. Starring Agatha, the GIRL GENIUS in question, and her adventures in figuring out who she is when her world gets accidentally turned upside-down. There are 8? maybe 9 collections of trade paperbacks so far. You can also read the entire thing online: http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/
The FLIGHT anthologies, edited by Kazu Kibuishi (also a comics creator I highly recommend). There are 6 anthologies so far, full of strange and unique art, loosely tied together by the theme of "flight." If you don't like a story, skip ahead a few pages for something completely different. Samples from each anthology here: http://www.flightcomics.com/
I have a gazillion more, but that's probably enough for now.