Not Just for Kids

Article by liz

“Comic books? Those are for kids.” The next time someone in your life tells you this, gently berate them for their close-mindedness and hand them one of these incredible works. Graphic novels cover as many different topics as traditional novels, and they’re nothing if not literary, challenging, and--as these new releases show--definitely for adults. The recent boom in graphic novel-inspired films has created a huge resurgence of interest in the genre, and fans of non-traditional storytelling have a plethora of choices available to captivate them. Whether you’re new to the genre or a longtime fan, here are five of the most thought-provoking, exciting, and straight-up weird graphic novels on our shelves.

Kill My Mother: A Graphic Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780871403148
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - August 25th, 2014

Jules Feiffer’s career has spanned decades. Since getting his start in comics working with Will Eisner, grandfather of the form, he’s written numerous books, plays, and screenplays. He won an Academy Award in 1961 for his animated short film MUNRO, and a Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for cartooning. His newest graphic novel, KILL MY MOTHER, brings all his talents to bear in this funny, frantic noir. Feiffer’s figures--all your favorite noir tropes, including the femme fatale and the cigar-chomping bruiser--move with outrageous expressions and chaotic lines that feel incredibly classic, yet still completely fresh. The vintage style of Feiffer’s art lends great atmosphere to this complicated story. Don’t miss it if you’re a fan of the classics brought to life in new, wonderful ways.

Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel: A Graphic Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143125242
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - July 29th, 2014

Anya Unlinich’s emotional story of family, immigrant identity, and the ups and downs of online dating comes to life in rough, powerful black and white drawings. LENA FINKLE’S MAGIC BARRELL is hilarious and in-your-face, confronting the emotional rollercoaster of defining oneself, in relationships and out of them, with perfect wit and a lot of heart. Ulinich fills her story with free-form text and speech bubbles that flow around and over pages. You'll need to do a lot more reading than you might expect in a graphic novel, but written by hand, the words are cathartic and confessional; you can feel how heartfelt Lena’s story is.

The Undertaking of Lily Chen Cover Image
ISBN: 9781596435865
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: First Second - March 25th, 2014

When Deshi accidentally kills his brother Wei, his mother sends him to find Wei a corpse bride--a recently deceased young woman to be buried with him, to accompany him into the afterlife. What Deshi finds is a woman named Lily Chen, who seems perfect: she’s beautiful, spirited, and--unfortunately for Deshi--very much alive. Novgorodoff paints Deshi’s conflict in gorgeous watercolors--the art seems simple at first, but the power of her incredibly complex uses of color and expression capture the painful, complicated emotions of this story without needing to be as literal as a traditional novel would be. THE UNDERTAKING OF LILY CHEN has a great sense of individual and cultural history, of personal desperation and conflicting motives. The humor and humanity of this story blend as seamlessly as the colors and lines of the art.

Seconds Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345529374
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Ballantine Books - July 15th, 2014

This full-color and gorgeous story is Bryan Lee O’Malley’s first standalone graphic novel after his epic series SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. There are a few shout-outs to the series for fans, but they’re not related works, which makes SECONDS perfect if you want to sample this artist’s work. In SECONDS, Katie's life is falling to pieces--she's losing control of the restaurant she helped start, and her personal life is a shambles. When a mysterious girl gives her some literally magic mushrooms with the power to give her unlimited do-overs, Katie gets the second chances she's always wanted. The madness that follows unfolds in O’Malley’s trademark cartoonish style, with panels full of action and emotion. O'Malley mixes some more traditional narrative elements with his own chaotic twists, making this graphic novel a wonderful hybrid of storytelling that’s sure to resonate with twenty-and-thirty-somethings, still trying to figure out what the heck they’re doing in life.

Nijigahara Holograph Cover Image
By Inio Asano, Inio Asano (Artist)
ISBN: 9781606995839
Availability: Backordered
Published: Fantagraphics Books - March 19th, 2014

Manga has always been one of the great innovators of the graphic novel form, and NIJIGAHARA HOLOGRAPH is no exception. Asano is one of the great manga-kas of the current crowd, and this manga is a great example of how graphic novels use the freedom of their form to be nonlinear. This psychological horror story takes place in two timelines, has a huge cast of characters, and uses its incredible art to balance amazing atmosphere and excruciating close-ups. Asano’s level of detail is insane, compared to the looser comic styles of American artists, and it lends a crushing sense of reality to this strange story of the end of the world. Dealing with the choices humans make in difficult moments, NIJIGAHARA HOLOGRAPH is cyclical and multilayered--definitive proof that comic formats are NOT just for kids. This story is complex, challenging, and confronts incredibly powerful themes of sexual abuse, suicide, and the darkest things of which humanity is capable. It’s a difficult book to read, but one of the best examples of how graphic novels have matured over the years. This book is a full sensory experience you'll have to pick up to understand.

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