According to Heidi MacDonald of Publishers Weekly, graphic novels have made substantial gains in both literary status and artistic value over the last few years. Years ago, comics and graphic novels were considered lowbrow, but now they are one of the most read forms of novels by children, teens and adults alike. With a combination of stories, pictures and hard-hitting topics, graphic novels offer a unique experience everyone can enjoy.
2019 is right around the corner, and with the emergence of the new year comes new book lists. Here are six highly recommended graphic novels coming to the scene in the fall and spring of the coming year.
1. “New World”
BOOM! Studios recently announced the highly anticipated release from talented artist David Jesus Vignolli, “New World,” coming to stores in the fall of 2019. The story recounts moments of Vignolli’s own family ancestry; his black mother ended up in Brazil after Portuguese sailors captured her, his white father’s ancestry points back to Portugal and Italy and there’s even some Native American blood in the mix.
Set in the 16th century, “New World” follows three unlikely heroes connected by fate to fight off darkness creeping into the New World from the Old World. The story looks at the lives of a Native-American girl seeking revenge against those who plagued her land, an African musician seeking freedom from those who enslaved him and a Portuguese sailor searching for redemption for his own faults. The story blends fantasy with history, looking at how differences unite individuals when everything falls apart.
2. “BTTM FDRS”
“BTTM FDRS,” by writer Ezra Claytan Daniels and artist Ben Passmore, is set to release during the summer of 2019 by Fantagraphics. Daniels and Passmore create a satirical look at body horror in the hastily changing city of Chicago. The name is a play on the term bottom feeder, which indicates a low status and someone who benefits at the expense of others’ misfortune.
According to an interview with Daniels, the story touches on issues of cultural appropriation, gentrification and racial issues, such as representation, in the U.S. At its core the graphic novel is an allegory for cultural appropriation and the lack of personal consequences.
3. “A Fire Story”
Brian Fies’ graphic memoir “A Fire Story” comes to stores in spring 2019 and is based on the cartoonist’s own experience with the 2017 Northern California fires. His first draft began as an 18-page webcomic on his personal blog. The spring release will include the original 18 pages, but also will expand the work into a full-fledged comic with a limited color palate to create an experience within the graphic novel of continuity.
In his interview with Nancy Powell of Comicabeat, Fies said that the novel does not focus solely on tragedy. “There is humor in the book,” he said. “There is hope in that book. It’s about what matters, it’s about community and rebuilding.”
4. “Love and Rockets: Is This How You See Me?”
The Hernandez brothers’ comic book series, “Love and Rockets,” released its first issue in 1981. The 2019 series release of “Is This How You See Me?” marks nearly four decades of consistent stories published by Jamie, Gilbert and Mario. As the series released new stories following multiple characters lives, the characters aged along with the comics, creating a realistic timeline for readers and fights back against ageism that comic industries create.
Jaime Hernandez produced the comic “Is This How You See Me?, “ which is part of his massive volume within the series called “Locas.” Maggie and Hopey haved reached their middle-aged years and get their old punk rock band together. Set in present time, flashbacks to 1979 are skillfully interlaced into the narrative of the graphic novel. “Is This How You See Me?” juxtaposes the girls’ heartbreaks from their younger days with their current lives, which are accompanied by their own self-awareness, memories and age. The novel will be available in stores on Mar. 26, and is currently on pre-sale online.
5. “They Called Us Enemy”
“Star Trek” star, George Takei, recounts his haunting childhood in a U.S. Internment camp in his graphic memoir, “They Called Us Enemy.” The graphic novel follows a four-year-old Takei, along with 120,000 other imprisoned Japanese-Americans forced out of their homes into barbed wire camps from 1942 to 1945.
Takei attempts to answer the fundamental questions of what it means to be an America and who gets to decide, through his family’s personal accounts of legalized racism and the choices they have to make. Through collaboration with authors Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker, “They Call Us Enemy” is predicted to capture and break hearts of its readers.
Illustrator and comic artist, Kelsey Wroten, debuts her first graphic novel in the spring of 2019 with “Uncivilized Books.”
“Cannonball” follows the messy life of Caroline Bertram, a queer aspiring writer, art school graduate, practically an alcoholic and a tortured genius — at least she thinks so. Wroten tells the story of a struggling artist heading out into adulthood and the daunting task of feeling satisfied in one’s own work. The art style of the graphic novel is vivid and bright, with simple character design, similar (but different enough) to that of CalArts. The graphic novel pays homage to millennials and generation Z, especially as they rise to the challenge of adulthood.
The graphic novel is currently on presale online but will officially be published and available in stores on Apr. 23.