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Destroy All Monsters

Phillips imbues the sun-drenched splendor of Southern California with a nostalgic mournfulness perfectly keyed to Brubaker’s script. Focusing on the fragile bond between Ethan and Anna exposes new depths in both of the characters, while building to a wrenchingly emotional climax.


Tacchia’s deceptively simple cartoonish portraits convey nuanced emotions through gesture, facial expressions, and color and combine with her biting wit to create an emotionally resonant, often hysterically funny debut.

The Waiting

A remarkably empathic tour-de-force crafted around testimony by Gendry-Kim’s mother and other Koreans who long to reunite with family in the North.


Shaw (Clue: Candlestick) eschews panel-to-panel storytelling in favor of overlapping images that flow across pages redolent of an artist’s sketchbook, overlaid with text and narration quoted from letters between Charlie and his sister.

Everyone Is Tulip

Baker (Night Hunter) creates a dramatic and engrossing tale of betrayal, self-absorption, and the tenuous nature of fame.


Recommended for readers seeking diverse, intergenerational stories that leave audiences thinking.

Gamma Draconis

Simmat’s (Wine: A Graphic History) script is somewhat convoluted, but the plot progresses at a thrilling pace, packing in plenty of action and enough big ideas about transhumanism and black magic to fill several volumes of manga. The real draw here are illustrator Yoshimizu’s (Ryuko) fascinatingly energetic page compositions, detailed architectural drawings, and skill at conveying movement through physical space.


Open-minded adult audiences might thrill to watch Hernandez (one of the comic book medium’s most revered storytellers) allow his imagination to run wild, without restrictions.

Squeak the Mouse

Mattioli (Joe Galaxy) pushes the raging libidinousness and exaggerated violence found in many classic cartoons to berserk extremes in this thoroughly demented, wildly entertaining dark comedy.

Meadowlark: A Coming-of-Age Crime Story

The second collaboration between Hawke (A Bright Ray of Darkness) and Ruth (Freaks of the Heartland) is an emotionally complex hard-boiled thriller.


Though it lacks the intense, visceral thrill of his best work, the latest manga from prolific creator Ito (Lovesickness) is still a chillingly unpredictable tale of cosmic horror that builds to an apocalyptic, yet strangely hopeful ending.

Ex Libris

Madden (99 Ways To Tell a Story) displays a keen mastery of numerous visual and narrative styles. A formally inventive, deeply emotional tale, reminiscent of Italo Calvino’s If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler.

Afternoon at McBurger’s

Galvañ presents this speculative fiction novella in oddly angular compositions filled out with bright blocks of pastel and primary colors, making it as visually distinctive as it is emotionally resonant.

Run: Book One

An unsentimental chronicle of a difficult period in United States history and in Lewis’s life. Lewis makes clear that creating meaningful change is a contentious, complicated, and, most importantly, continuous process.

Emotional Robots: A Question of Existence

This graphic novel is structured like a children’s picture book, which complements the genre well. The illustrations are simple in execution, but full of hidden gems which heighten the overall comedy significantly. The tone is a hybrid of A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, by John Oliver, and Pat the Zombie: A Cruel (Adult) Spoof, by Aaron Ximm. It tackles primarily political topics and contains mature content; it would be great for any adult graphic novel collection.

Good Night, Hem

Jason delivers an at times whimsical but overwhelmingly melancholic portrait, revealing reverence and sympathy for Hemingway without ignoring the author’s shortcomings. One of the best releases of 2021 so far.

1984: The Graphic Novel

Brazilian illustrator Fido Nesti employs a muted color palette and a tight nine-panel layout to stress the gloomy, hopelessly claustrophobic existence of those pinned under Big Brother’s thumb. An excellent adaptation of the novel.

Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness

An insightful and compassionate investigation of loneliness, which Radke convincingly calls “one of the most universal things any person can feel.”

Red Room: The Antisocial Network

While many readers may find the explicit violence displayed here repellent, aficionados of extreme horror and splatterpunk will thrill as nearly every page-turn reveals increasingly gruesome shocks.

No One Else

As he tracks a few days in the course of his characters’ lives, Johnson (Night Fisher) avoids the easy cliches typically deployed in tales that depict the grieving process; he eschews even catharsis in favor of conveying raw emotion with brutal realism.

Factory Summers

A carefully observed portrait of a time and place, as well as a deeply personal coming-of-age tale. Not to be missed.

Crisis Zone

Hanselmann (Seeds and Stems) proves the perfect author to capture American life in late 2020. His new volume escalates the depravity at a relentless pace and delivers both laugh-out-loud gags and genuine pathos, as his casts’ self-absorbed and self-destructive behavior reveals a desperate need for stability and a sense of belonging in an increasingly fractured and contentious culture.

Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts

Heartbreaking yet triumphant, Hall’s vivid reconstructions bore laser-like into a history long hidden. Her engaged scholarship adds back facts that have been stricken from many histories, and it empowers current lives and activism. Highly recommended for educators and for all adults and teens concerned about the United States’ promise, past, and future for its diverse peoples.


Christie has an engaging art style, reminiscent of Milton Glaser’s 1970s work. The satire may be too affectionate for this book to get a wide following. However, given the youth and melodramatic earnestness of the characters, which is treated with a kind humor, this may be a good choice for YA readers for whom neither American superheroes nor the spectrum of manga art styles hold any appeal.

The Strange Death of Alex Raymond

Written for readers wishing to learn about the history of the photorealist style in comic strips, this book may be dense for casual readers. Fans more familiar with the history of comics will rejoice in the depth of research and analysis provided within.



Thought-provoking elements fail to cohere in this underwhelming graphic novel.

Asadora!, Vol. 2

Answers remain elusive as to how Asa’s story connects to the modern-day kaiju rampage depicted in volume one of the series, but Urasawa’s masterful storytelling and brisk pacing result in an entertaining page-turner.

The Black Ghost

An appealingly gritty, hard-boiled tale reminiscent of classic pulp thrillers, featuring a charismatic, complex, and deeply human protagonist. This volume collects five issues originally available online through Comixology.

Fictional Father

Ollmann (The Abominable Mr. Seabrook) explores dysfunctional family dynamics and the sometimes complex motivations behind artistic expression with incredible empathy. An absorbing, enthralling work.

Little Victories: Autism through a Father’s Eyes

This charming depiction of a father’s quest to understand his son’s needs arrives having already garnered multiple awards, including the Best Biography Award from the Disability Fund and Society.

Seven Secrets, Vol. 1

Taylor (Suicide Squad: Bad Blood) provides a propulsive, action-packed plot without sacrificing character development, and builds to an unexpected cliffhanger ending that’s sure to leave readers excited for future installments.


This exploration of the isolation brought on by self-absorption is occasionally dark, but ultimately deeply moving and profound.


An imaginative and skillfully told story about characters and a world reeling from trauma but poised for a new beginning. Fior’s talent for conveying emotion evokes both heartache and awe.

Usagi Yojimbo: Homecoming

Sakai’s (47 Ronin) meticulous research and unparalleled storytelling have kept Usagi’s adventures compelling for nearly 40 years; the resonant, action-packed stories in this collection suggest the best may be yet to come. This volume collects issues 8–14 of the current full-color series.


The Stringer

Marc proves to be a charismatic protagonist, reminiscent of Breaking Bad’s Walter White, but he remains slightly underdeveloped. Rall’s (Political Suicide: The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party) real interest seems to be using international intrigue to deliver a pointed critique of how technological advancement has destroyed journalistic integrity.

Fist of the North Star, Vol. 1

Originally published in Japan between 1983 and 1988, this is one of the most beloved and bestselling manga of all time. Long out of print in English translation, this first volume of the reissued manga is sure to create legions of new fans

The Knights of Heliopolis

The story begins as a riff on The Man in the Iron Mask but quickly twists, turns, and defies easy categorization. It includes mystical rituals, a secret history of the world, talking gorillas, an exploration of sex and gender roles, and brutal brawls between superhuman combatants. Fun to read and epic in scope.


Ito’s boundless imagination and his skill for evoking dread and visceral terror are on full display in this collection, which is sure to be embraced by his wildly devoted and rapidly growing fanbase.

Stone Fruit

Lai presents a tender and emotionally raw examination of three women struggling to form and maintain their identities within and outside of their immediate family, illustrated in a loosely expressive style that conveys both bombastic catharsis and silent anguish with aplomb.

Heavy, Vol. 1

Bemis (Black Terror: Dark Years) provides a script rich with pathos and epic action, illustrated with jittery dynamism by Donovan (All We Ever Wanted). This volume collects issues 1–5 of the ongoing series.


A promising, playful sci-fi noir, this title isn’t perfect or particularly original, but it buzzes with neon energy that leaves readers eager for more.

Robotech Archives: The Masters Vol. 1

As Baron says in his introduction, the basic story is “a theme as old as fiction”--unfortunately, this means there’s a lot of competition. Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and Hideaki Anno’s Neon Genesis Evangelion tell the story better. Not recommended, except for serious Robotech fans.

And Now I Spill the Family Secrets: An Illustrated Memoir

An empathetic, uncommonly nuanced, and thoroughly brilliant family saga presented with real daring and true artistry.


Okay, Universe: Chronicles of a Woman in Politics

As Simone’s quest to win municipal office progresses, readers will find themselves unable to resist rooting for her victory, and even inspired to become more politically active.

Asadora!, Vol. 1

While this opening volume is largely devoted to worldbuilding and character development, Urasawa’s masterful storytelling, idiosyncratic plotting, and richly complex, empathetic characters combine for a thoroughly entertaining and intriguing introduction to what promises to be an epic story.


Crash Site

Readers willing to roll with the bawdy humor and gore on display will find themselves increasingly engaged in a legitimately suspenseful plot and anxiously awaiting follow-ups from this wildly talented debut author.

The Grande Odalisque

Readers will devour this action-packed, wildly sexy, witty, and ultra-cool crime story built around the complicated relationship between three charismatic women and rejoice to discover a note at the end promising they’ll return for further adventures in future volumes.


Tidhar (By Force Alone) propels an ensemble of historical figures and literary characters through a knotty and thrilling plot packed with intrigue and visceral action, illustrated with a keen eye for historical detail by McCaffrey (Anno Dracula–1895: Seven Days in Mayhem).

The Tankies

Ennis’s talent for revealing character through naturalistic dialogue combines with illustrations detailing the chaotic brutality of battle to emphasize the human cost and spiritual toll of war in this stirring, tragic trilogy.

Poison Flowers & Pandemonium

A genuinely fun, energetic collection, as well as a lasting testament to Sala’s distinct talent.


A fast-paced science fiction spin on "The Count of Monte Cristo" that adds jets packs, superhuman assassins, and flying motorcycles while retaining the spirit of the source material.



Bad Mother

A short five-issue story that is a must-read for mature readers. Fans of the common woman defying odds to save a loved one will enjoy.

When I Came Out

Both poignant and funny, Louise’s life-changing decision to leave her marriage and live as a lesbian evokes the classic coming-of-age tale, skewed older yet still universal. A readalike for fans of Tee Franklin’s Bingo Love.

The Philosophy of Spider-Man

This garishly eye-catching book is no doubt intended for well-meaning gift givers, but DK’s various Spider-Man books would better serve that purpose.

The Times I Knew I Was Gay

As Western culture becomes increasingly gay-friendly, Crewes’s experience will—fortunately—become more and more typical. The story of her journey will be much appreciated by young people who are curious about themselves and their friends.


Zdarsky (Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky. Vol. 4) delivers a richly imagined, action-packed story, in which artists Loo (Pitiful Human Lizard: Far From Legendary) and Alleyne deliver with vigorous flair. This collection included the entire five-issue series, originally published online and the winner of an Eisner Award for Best Digital Series in 2020.

Juliet Takes a Breath

Rivera (America. Vol. 2: Fast and Fueronta) adapts her own novel with artist Moscote, and while some sequences feel unsatisfyingly summarized, it’s difficult not to root for a character as empathetic as Juliet.

Billionaire Island

A riotous, scathing satire of the absurd excesses of the ultrarich and the broader culture that allows them to run rampant, from a creative team with a unique comedic sensibility rooted in equal parts exasperation and deep compassion for their fellow humans. [An LJ 2020 Best Book.

The Complete Hate

Bagge’s distinct vision of American life, conveyed through intense, exaggeratedly cartoony illustration and brilliant dialog, feel as revelatory and relevant as ever.


A perfectly paced page-turning meditation on the possibility of grace from a creator who grows more impressive with every release.



While obviously inspired by classic characters such as Travis McGee and Jack Reacher, Brubaker and Phillips’s (Cruel Summer) Reckless transcends the creators’ influences in this complex portrait of the heartbroken melancholy of a disillusioned idealist who can’t quite give up on his fellow man.


While comics featuring casts consisting of characters crafted to pay homage to classic pulp adventure heroes aren’t exactly rare, few exude the genuine affection for the genre and originality displayed on every page of this twisty, consistently surprising romp.

Infinitum: An Afrofuturist Tale

Fielder’s (The Day Chronicles: The Secret Life of Mary Day) boldly painted illustrations exhibit raw power on every page of this staggeringly ambitious epic.


Ito (Venus in the Blind Spot) is internationally renowned as a master of creeping terror and surrealistically nightmarish imagery, and while this new volume lacks in the former, it raises the bar when it comes to the latter, presenting unforgettable images that range from a gruesome crucifixion to a lascivious tongue lashing a continent-sized groove across the planet. A berserk thrill.

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen?

This dazzlingly unpredictable, pleasantly surreal celebration of Silver Age comics is one of the most purely enjoyable, unashamedly fun, and funny mainstream releases in years. [An LJ 2020 Best Book.]


Dune: The Graphic Novel. Bk. 1

Illustrators Allén and Martín (both, Harbinger Wars 2: Deluxe Edition) enliven this extremely faithful adaptation with cleverly designed pages that highlight various characters’ inner turmoil and deliver satisfyingly awe-inspiring depictions of the gargantuan sandworms native to Arrakis and central to series iconography.

The Pull

Orlando (Martian Manhunter: Identity) introduces a steady stream of heady sf concepts, perfectly suited to Ortiz’s (Black Panther vs. Deadpool) lively, anime-inspired illustration.

Adventureman. Vol. 1: The End and Everything After

An immensely engaging cast, compelling mystery, and intriguing cliff-hanger ending will have readers excited for future volumes in this ongoing series.

Wonder Woman: Dead Earth

At a glance, it may seem as though Johnson’s thrilling battle sequences are the main draw here, but he quickly establishes his profound understanding of what makes Wonder Woman a unique and enduring character. Grand adventure infused with real emotion

The Butcher of Paris

While chapters covering the investigation feel slightly underdeveloped, a final sequence detailing Petiot’s trial is truly captivating.

Mickey All-Stars

A total delight with high appeal for children and adult readers alike.

Lonesome Days, Savage Nights. Vol. 1: The Manning Files

Illustrator Kudranski’s (Superman: Action Comics. Vol. 3: Leviathan Hunt) use of eerie red and purple tones to highlight otherwise murkily dark scenes is truly stunning. Otherwise, this is a relatively stock noir story line enlivened, but not quite redeemed, by an infusion of horror tropes.

Dracula, Motherf**ker

Amazing neonoir expressionistic art by Henderson (Unbeatable Squirrel Girl) is unfortunately fatally drained of lifeblood by undernourished characters and the uneven narrative of de Campi (Archie vs. Predator). Still, die-hard Dracula fans and enthusiasts of the award-winning creators may want to give this a try.

Paul at Home

A darker addition to the Paul canon, this slice of midlife feels achingly true for long-time fans, but might be a tricky place to start in the ongoing saga of one man’s unassuming, yet richly realized, life.

Blackwood: Vol. 1: The Mourning After

With this second in an ongoing series, veteran scribe Dorkin (Beasts of Burden) unleashes his trademark humor and honest humanity in a spellbinding horror adventure, while Veronica and Andy Fish’s (Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Something Wicked) evocative and impressionistic art uses a blacklight color scheme that perfectly complements the carnival atmosphere and graveyard thrills.


Andersen’s knack for macabre banter and focus on how intimacy is established through an aggregate of grandly romantic moments and relatively mundane exchanges result in a funny, sweet volume about two uncommonly endearing supernatural predators.

The Book Tour

Watson’s adeptness at capturing body language and facial expressions combines with nuanced dialog and a keen sense of irony to create a hugely entertaining page-turner. After having spent several years creating work for younger readers, the author’s long-anticipated return to more mature themes dazzles.

Lon Chaney Speaks

Dorian evokes Chaney’s personality in richly detailed scenes made even more impressive by the fact that an introductory note stresses that his subject’s extreme aversion to divulging details of his private life necessitated that this be “an imagined biography…inspired by real events and research.”


This exquisitely illustrated epic bursts with emotion, insight, and empathy. Five decades into his already influential career, Windsor-Smith has created his magnum opus.

American Terrorist

The Bourne Identity meets The Fugitive à la Noam Chomsky? As smart and edifying as that, but with greater entertainment value and gravity. Essential for mature readers interested in American politics, race relations, civics, and ethics.

Gung Ho: Vol. 1

Von Kummant’s illustration is stunning and matches the lively tone of von Eckartsberg’s script, which puts a new spin on dystopian survival tales in the Walking Dead vein by focusing the narrative around a teenage cast. A refreshingly original, promising start to the series.

We Saw Scenery: The Early Diaries of Merrill Markoe

Markoe’s reflections and interrogation of her memories are hilarious and presented with a surrealistic flair in scenes depicting everything from an interview of a hippopotamus representing her own hippocampus to a commiserating of her modern and adolescent selves.

Batman. Vol. 2: Curse of the White Knight

This sequel expands on the already massive scope of its predecessor and builds to a genuinely exciting final twist that will have readers clamoring for future installments.


Chasin’ the Bird: A Charlie Parker Graphic Novel

Chisholm’s compelling creative college presents a portrait of Parker that reveals the lasting influence of a vital artist.

Basketful of Heads

Hill (Full Throttle: Stories) packs this wildly entertaining debut release from his new horror imprint, Hill House, with plenty of twists and turns, as June’s journey results in a dark secret coming to light and many, many more decapitations.

Ghosted in L.A. Vol. 2

Filled with likable, sensitive characters, this spookily romantic tale from Grace (Iceman), combined with Keenan’s (Jem and the Holograms) luxurious and expressive art, makes this second in an ongoing series a scrumptious, séance-like delight.

Constitution Illustrated

This creative and playful tribute makes reading the Constitution a more engaging experience. Of interest to those tasked with explaining government and civic concepts to younger audiences and, tangentially, to those interested in the history of comics.

The Big She-Bang: The Herstory of the Universe According to God the Mother

A perfectly imperfect read for a moment of existential reckoning with masculine conceptions of spirituality, this book gleefully reminds us how much feminine energy lies bubbling underneath patriarchal systems, barely concealed, and nearly ready to burst free.

Orphan of the Moon: Notebook of a Girl in a Moscow Station | Spotlight Review

Libin’s lyrical, short prose poems are consistently bleak and sometimes maddeningly vague, but she occasionally hits on an evocative image that transports readers straight to the frigid midnight streets of Moscow. The book’s design will appeal to fans of zines and other DIY literature, making it a good fit for edgier, experimental adult collections.

The Contradictions

Yanow’s voice is pointed, her cartooning delightfully specific without being precious or showy. This debut subtly, effectively challenges readers to dig into their own internal dissonance.


Offering a unique account of contemporary Korea and the world from the perspective of women who might otherwise be overlooked, this is a fresh entry that would be a solid addition to any adult collection.


Carpinteri’s imaginative worldbuilding and astonishing illustration more than compensate for a relatively slight plot. Recommended for larger graphic novels collections.

The Sky Is Blue with a Single Cloud

A long overdue and revelatory collection of masterfully crafted and deeply affecting stories.

Slaughter House-Five

Wih this work, North and Monteys have created the best, and most effective, graphic novel adaptation of a literary novel in recent memory.

Spellbound: A Graphic Memoir

Som’s experimental approach to autofiction is intriguing, and her illustration and composition bring a sense of dynamism to short, diary-style chapters that coalesce into a fascinatingly complex portrait.


Skelly (The Agency) reveals the horror of the Papin sisters’ crimes on the very first page of this tense gem, but her perceptive examination of the complex bond between Catherine and Lea evokes incredible sympathy for the two nonetheless.

Sweet Time

Pixin’s compassion and artistic ambition are evident on every page of this memorable debut.

I Want You

A brilliant collection from an audacious and boldly inventive cartoonist with a distinct and necessary perspective.


Gfrörer’s deliberate pacing creates a sense of creeping dread and impending tragedy in this memorably disturbing, sexually charged ghost story.

Artful Impact: Teaching and Investigating Comics in Higher Education | Comic-Con@Home 2020


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