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In the Library With a Comic Book Presents: 
The Top Graphic Novels of 2013/14 
by Jack Baur and Amanda Jacobs Foust 
ALA A...
Hatke, Ben. 
Zita the Spacegirl. First Second. 2011-2014. 3 volumes. 
An unsuspecting young girl turns into an intergalact...
Schwarz, Viviane. The Sleepwalkers. Candlewick. 2013. 96p. 978-0763662301. 
When children call for help from their nightma...
Superheroics, meta- experimentation, and good old fashioned teen angst are all in ample supply in this 
imaginative series...
multifaceted series, Battling Boy introduces a new hero: a young demigod sent to Earth as a test of his 
manhood and taske...
Yang, Gene. Boxers. First Second, 2013. 336p. 978-1596433595. 
Yang, Gene. Saints. First Second, 2013. 176p. 978-159643689...
dark, lush, and incorporating innovative panel layouts and multiple media, it adds a dream-like quality to 
the book and i...
surprising, this book deserves a spot on the shelf with other great comics about the legacy of war, such 
as Art Spiegelma...
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In the Library with a Comic Book, Best of Comics: 2014 (ALA)


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In the Library With a Comic Book Presents:
The Top Graphic Novels of 2013/14
by Jack Baur and Amanda Jacobs Foust
ALA Annual, June 29th, 2014

Note! This list is totally subjective and far from exhaustive!
Did we miss your favorites? Let us know!
Need more suggestions? Just ask!

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Listen to the podcast at!

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In the Library with a Comic Book, Best of Comics: 2014 (ALA)

  1. 1. In the Library With a Comic Book Presents: The Top Graphic Novels of 2013/14 by Jack Baur and Amanda Jacobs Foust ALA Annual, June 29th, 2014 Note! This list is totally subjective and far from exhaustive! Did we miss your favorites? Let us know! Need more suggestions? Just ask! Reach us at Listen to the podcast at! Children Castellucci, Cecil (auth.) and Sara Varon (illus.). Odd Duck. First Second, 2013. 96p. 978-1596435575. This sweet and charming tale of kindred spirits is a rare combination of picture book, early reader and comic. It clearly benefits from Castellucci and Varon’s previous comic outings, sporting whimsical artwork in soothing pastel palettes. It is sure to be a repeat favorite at bedtime, while also tackling such vital early childhood topics as first impressions, friendship and individuality. Dauvillier, Loic (auth.) with Greg Salsedo (auth.) and Marc Lizano (illus.). Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust. First Second, 2014. 80p. 978-1596438736. One night, a young girl discovers her grandmother crying and prompts her to share what is making her sad. What follows is her grandmother’s story of survival as a Jewish child in Occupied France during World War II. Told from her childhood perspective, this moving and emotional story conveys the loss of innocence and desperation forced upon children while also demonstrating the kindness of others and the power of the French Resistance. Beautifully illustrated using simple, straight-forward drawings and a soft color palette reminiscent of comic strips, this is a wonderfully accessible book to introduce young readers to the Holocaust, and an emotional tale full of a brave child surviving against impossible odds. Harrell, Rob. Monster on the Hill. Top Shelf, 2013. 192p. 978-1603090759. The residents of Stoker-on-Avon are a little miffed. Every other town in 19th Century England has a fearsome monster that terrorizes it, and that serves as a point of local pride for the townsfolk. But Stoker-on-Avon’s nerdy and depressed monster Rayburn leaves a lot to be desired. Enter a mad scientist and a plucky orphan, who befriend Rayburn and take him on a quest to find his inner hell raiser. Full of expressive illustrations and glorious monster designs, this hysterical tale also packs a positive moral about friendship and taking pride in your work, no matter what that work may be!
  2. 2. Hatke, Ben. Zita the Spacegirl. First Second. 2011-2014. 3 volumes. An unsuspecting young girl turns into an intergalactic heroine in this charming and adventurous series about friendship and bravery. Fans of fantastical monsters, aliens, and doomed planets will rejoice in the colorful inking and playful illustrations, including a giant mouse, “doorpaste”, and more robots than you can shake a stick at. Book 1: Far From Home. 2011. 192p. 978-1596434462. Book 2: Legends of Zita the Spacegirl. 2012. 209p. 978-1596438064. Book 3: The Return of Zita the Spacegirl. 2014. 240p. 978-1626720589. Lepp, Royden. Rust. Archaia Press. 2011-present. 3 volumes, ongoing. In gorgeous sepia-toned art, this series tells the story of a family and their struggling farm, the mysterious young man (who is actually a robot) that comes to stay with them, and the dangerous secrets that follow him. Lepp does a wonderful job creating a believable family dynamic and characters you can care about, but it’s the action where this book really shines. It is impeccably paced, full of cool; steampunk-esque robot designs, and carefully utilizes digital blurring effects that give everything a sense of incredible speed. The fourth and final volume is coming soon. Visitor in the Field. 2011. 192p. 978-1936393275. Secrets of the Cell. 2012. 200p. 978-1936393589. The Death of Rocket Boy. 2014. 224p. 978-1608864133. North, Brian (auth.) and various illustrators. Adventure Time. KaBOOM!. 2012-present. 4 volumes, ongoing. The ecstatically bizarre and enduringly popular Cartoon Network series gets a comic book! Unlike many adaptations, this series perfectly captures both the voice and the zany spirit of its source material, thanks in no small part to Eisner-winning writer Brian North, creator of Dinosaur Comics (go to and thank us later). The series is notable for its bold experimentation, with each issue containing secret messages and puzzles. One chapter is even a choose-your-own-adventure! Perfect for fans of the show. Vol. 1. 2012. 128p. 978-1608862801. Vol. 2. 2013. 112p. 978-1608863235. Vol. 3. 2013. 112p. 978-1608863174. Vol. 4. 2014. 128p. 978-1608863518. Rowe, Thereza. Hearts. Toon Books, 2014. 32p. 978-1935179597. Penelope the Fox has lost her heart and has set out on a quest to find it. This simple story is sparse on words and heavy on imagery. Her journey is set in a surreal and dreamlike atmosphere that will speak directly to preschoolers and early readers, allowing them to imagine and build upon Rowe’s unique and vibrant world.
  3. 3. Schwarz, Viviane. The Sleepwalkers. Candlewick. 2013. 96p. 978-0763662301. When children call for help from their nightmares, three magical sheep come to the rescue. Now, after a lifetime of work, they must train their replacements: a bear, Bonifacius, created from a quilt; a monkey created from socks; and a crow created from a fountain pen. Sleepwalkers is an action-packed, avant garde masterpiece filled with fantastical and imaginative dreamscapes; most notably the mythical safe house that travels through time and space to rescue children. And sweet Bonifacius, while terrified, bravely completes his training and serves as a touchstone and inspiration for children who must confront their fears. Whitley, Jeremy (auth.) and Emily Martin (illus.). Princeless. Action Lab Entertainment. 2012-present. 3 volumes, ongoing. Princess Adrienne was locked in a tower to await a princely rescue. However, she grew tired of waiting and disinterested in being rescued so, with her guardian dragon Sparky at her side, Adrienne saves herself and vows to rescue her sisters from a similar fate and fight for their freedom. Along the way, she picks up some proper gear and a best friend in blacksmith Bedelia. This fantastic adventure turns comics and fantasy tropes on their sides while spotlighting female heroes and a predominantly African- American cast. The first book of this engaging all-ages title is newly reprinted in trade paperback format and easier than ever to find. Book 1: Princless. 2014. 128p. 978-1939352545. Book 2: Get Over Yourself. 2013. 100p. 978-0985965242. Short Stories, Vol. 1. 2014. 128p. 978-1939352491. Teens Fraction, Matt (auth.) with David Aja (illus.) and various other illustrators. Hawkeye. Marvel Comics, 2013-present. 2 volumes, ongoing. As a member of the Avengers, non-superpowered bow expert Hawkeye holds his own fighting alongside the likes of Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man. When he’s off -duty, however, his life tends to be a bit more mundane… at least until he runs afoul of the Russian mob and puts the residents of his Brooklyn apartment building in harm’s way. Author Fraction’s dialogue crackles with funny asides and misunderstandings (people regularly mishear our hero’s name as “Hawkguy”) which serve to strip the overblown grandeur out of the superhero genre. And David Aja’s art is a revelation -- flat and iconographic, miraculously balancing experimental layouts with blistering action. Easily the best (and most fun!) superhero book of the year. Vol. 3: LA Woman (978-0785183907) is due out this August. Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon. 2013. 136p. 978-0785165620. Vol. 2: Little Hits. 2013. 136p. 978-0785165637. Gillen, Kieron (auth.) and Jamie McKelvie (illus.). Young Avengers. Marvel Comics, 2013-2014. 3 volumes.
  4. 4. Superheroics, meta- experimentation, and good old fashioned teen angst are all in ample supply in this imaginative series. Picking up from the revelations in 2012’s Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, this volume starts with the magical hero Wiccan using his reality-warping powers to give his boyfriend Hulkling a family. But the mother that appears as a result of this spell is actually an interdimensional parasite bent on undoing reality! Now the Young Avengers (including Loki, who has been reincarnated as a teenage boy) are on the run. Believable dialogue, realistic relationships, and gorgeous clear-line artwork. Vol. 1: Style > Substance. 2013. 128p. 978-0785167082. Vol. 2: Alternative Cultures. 2014. 112p. 978-0785167099. Vol. 3: Mic-Drop at the Edge of Time and Space. 2014. 112p. 978-0785185307. Gownley, Jimmy. The Dumbest Idea Ever! Graphix, 2014. 240p. 978-0545453479. This autobiographical comic tells the story of how and why Gownley, author of the popular Amelia Rules series, became a teen comic book writer and author. While self -publishing and becoming locally famous, Gownley also bumbles through typical adolescent challenges, such as first love and growing up in a small town. Gownley’s love of comics and appreciation for his family, teachers and peers is evident in his retelling of his youth and his art is precise with a nostalgic color palette. A must read for the aspiring artists. Hicks, Faith Eric. The Adventures of Superhero Girl. Dark Horse, 2013. 112p. 978-1616550844. What’s a superhero to do with her powers in a low-crime city? Not even her near-invulnerability can save Superhero Girl from a mundane lifestyle, complete with laundry mishaps that shrink her cape! Hicks focuses her art in tight and colorful grids, leading to concise, gag-based storytelling. Her deadpan sense of humor is evident throughout, and fans of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series will particularly enjoy this title. Lewis, John (auth.) with Andrew Aydin (auth.) and Nate Powell (illus.). March. Top Shelf Productions, 2013-current. 1 volume. March is at once an autobiography of Congressman John Lewis -- the son of a sharecropper who became a leader of the civil rights movement -- and a moving history lesson. This compelling comic is framed by President Obama’s 2009 inauguration with flashbacks to Lewis’s childhood on an Alabama farm, raising chickens and dreaming of becoming a preacher. His move to Nashville for higher education, his exposure to non-violent practices (and an initial meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) and how he began working to end segregation are covered in this volume, the first in a planned trilogy. The saturated and somber tones of the art set the mood and the era. An essential and compelling read that truly brings history to life. Book Two will cover Lewis’ experiences from the Freedom Rides to the 1963 March on Washington, and is due out January 2015. Book One. 2013. 128p. 978-1603093002. Pope, Paul. Battling Boy. First Second, 2013. 208p. 978-1596431454. Pope, the iconoclastic force behind such classic comics for grown-ups as Batman: Year 100 and Heavy Liquid, finally brings his rock-and-roll-inflected stylings to kids comics! The first volume in a new
  5. 5. multifaceted series, Battling Boy introduces a new hero: a young demigod sent to Earth as a test of his manhood and tasked with protecting a city from giant monsters! But will sleazy politicians co-opt his achievements for their own gain? And what of the daughter of Haggard West, the fallen hero whose shoes Battling Boy hopes to fill, who seems to have ambitions of her own? This book’s incredible aesthetics, relatable characters, and crackling energy are sure to win over readers. And fans of Battling Boy should look for its upcoming prequel: The Rise of Aurora West, due out in September 2014. Ruth, Gregg. The Lost Boy. GRAPHIX, 2013. 192p. 978-0439823319. Nate discovers an old reel-to-reel audio recorder below the floorboards of his new house that contains the key to unraveling an urban legend about a boy who disappeared decades before, and pulls him into a dark fantasy world. Ruth’s illustrations in this nightmarish tale evoke nothing so much as Stephen Gammell’s classic illustrations from the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, with their dark shadows and grotesque creatures derived from everyday things. A perfect spooky read for brave middle school fantasy fans. Tamaki, Mariko (auth.) and Jillian Tamaki (illus.). This One Summer. First Second, 2014. 320p. 978- 1596437746. In this gorgeous, lyrical graphic novel, the creators of 2008’s Skim deliver another moving coming-of-age tale. Two young teen girls, Rosie and Windy, have spent every summer that they can remember together in the quiet lakeside town of Awago where each of their parents rent cabins. This summer though, their simple girlhood games don’t seem to satisfy Rosie as her parents fraying marriage takes a toll on their family, and her own young adulthood looms just around the corner. Instead of goofing around, Rosie is more interested in the dramas of the group of townie teens that hang around the local convenience store, putting strain on her friendship with Windy. This simple story casts a perfect melancholy mood, contrasting the timelessness of summer with a childhood that is quickly running out. Mariko’s deft characterizations and pitch-perfect dialogue are matched by her cousin Jillian’s beautiful images. You’ll remember the heat of the sun, the shock of the cool water from a jump in the lake, and the singular sensation that summer will never end. Williams III, J.H. (auth. and illus.) and W. Haden Blackman (auth.). Batwoman: World’s Finest. DC Comics, 2013. 168p. 978-1401242466. Batwoman’s comic book series has always had an air of the fantastic about it: after all, her main enemy is the Church of Crime, which is always sending some monster or another her way. But with the inclusion of Wonder Woman things get positively mythic, as the two team up to hunt down Medusa! J.H. Williams III is a powerhouse illustrator and delivers some of the most gorgeous layouts here that you are likely to ever see. Also of note is the romantic relationship between Batwoman and Gotham City Det. Maggie Sawyer, which takes a big leap in this volume. Never before have two female superheroes kicked more ass, or done it more beautifully.
  6. 6. Yang, Gene. Boxers. First Second, 2013. 336p. 978-1596433595. Yang, Gene. Saints. First Second, 2013. 176p. 978-1596436893. Yang delivers the proper follow-up to his beloved National Book Award-nominated American Born Chinese, a diptych whose two volumes tell the story of China’s turbulent Boxer Rebellion -- in which China’s peasants led a bloody incursion against Western imperialism and the influence of Christianity -- from both sides. What’s amazing is the way that Yang manages to create sympathetic portraits of all the players involved without vilifying anyone, making the story that much more complex and wrenching. The heroes of one group are the villains of the other, but isn’t that how war always works? Yang’s illustrations are crisp and inviting, belying the tragedy the books contain. The art is aided by longtime collaborator Lark Pien’s vivid colors which give each volume a distinct feel. Taken together, Boxers and Saints create an absolute masterpiece that is sure to provoke emotion and thought in all readers. Adult Brown, Box. Andre the Giant: Life and Legend. First Second, 2014. 240 p. 978-1596438514. Andre Roussimoff, better known professionally as Andre the Giant, grew up in the French countryside before becoming an international professional wrestler and going on to star as Fezzik in the modern film classic The Princess Bride. Weighing in at over five hundred pounds and seven feet four inches tall at his peak, Roussimoff suffered from acromegaly, a syndrome that causes extreme growth. His condition caused him great discomfort and constant pain, yet he was a dedicated professional who worked nonstop at the expense of familial relationships until his death at 46. Brown does an outstanding job conveying the excitement and drama of professional wrestling, and it is clear that he has exhaustively researched his subject. His affection for Roussimoff specifically and wrestling in general is evident, yet he does not sentimentalize his life. Roussimoff drank constantly, mistreated his friends and fans, only saw his daughter four times, and long denied her mother child support, despite his wealth. Brown's artwork is spare and clean yet conveys the energy and drama of the wrestling ring. Cliff, Tony. Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant. First Second, 2013. 176p. 978-1596438132. Delilah Dirk is a force to be reckoned with: consider her the 19th Century’s Indiana Jones, minus the academics but plus a flying boat. Selim is a mild-mannered Turkish lieutenant with a penchant for making a fantastic cup of tea. Together, they form an unlikely partnership that leads them on swashbuckling, globetrotting adventures. Cliff's jewel-toned coloring enhances his vibrant art while infusing his storytelling with quiet moments and humorous touches. This is a refreshing comic for adults: not full of salacious content or foul language, but featuring grown-up characters with grown-up concerns. It’s also tons of fun, and is perfectly suitable for younger audiences as well! DeConnick, Kelly Sue (auth.) and Emma Rios (illus.). Pretty Deadly. Image Comics, 2014. 120p. 978- 1607069621. The skeleton of a rabbit tells a butterfly a story. A story about Death, the woman he once loved, and their daughter. This spellbinding comic combines lyrical magical realism with Old Western grit. The greater story touches on many themes: motherhood, vengeance, devotion. Rios’ artwork is amazing;
  7. 7. dark, lush, and incorporating innovative panel layouts and multiple media, it adds a dream-like quality to the book and incorporates a strong and unusual color palette of pinks and purples. Fraction, Matt (auth.) and Chip Zdarsky (illus.). Sex Criminals: One Weird Trick. Image Comics, 2014. 126p. 978-1607069461 Suzie and Jon meet and hook up at a party, only to discover they share a special talent: the ability to stop time when they orgasm. Now that they’ve discovered each other, they decide to use their powers for good, robbing banks in order to save the local l ibrary. Too bad the Sex Police are hot on their trail and about to cause Suzie and Jon some serious trouble. This is a filthy, funny, powerful, and wonderful comic about the joys and mysteries of sex. Fraction gets the nuances of all the relationships just right, whether it is parental, friendship or a budding romance. Comics’ newcomer Zdarsky’s artwork is a wonder. His use of live models for Suzie and Jon adds authenticity to the artwork, and the sex scenes are always handled respectfully. His covers and his depiction of the ‘refractory period’ when time has stopped are particularly gorgeous while his background panel gags are hilarious and plenti ful. This is a don’t miss title that is clearly for grown-ups. Georges, Nicole J. Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir. Mariner Books, 2013. 288p. 978-0547615592. Don't let the book’s title or the description of Nicole -- a vegan lesbian who learns from a psychic that her father is alive after thinking he’d been dead her whole life -- keep you from picking up this engaging comic. After her sisters confirm the psychic's story, Nicole must confront the stress and damage done by decades of secret-keeping while determining whether to maintain an ongoing relationship with her mother and to share her own secrets of her. This coming-of-age and coming-out comic was originally published in zine format and Georges tight and heavy art is at once personal and evocative of the zine reading experience. Thankfully, the Dr. Laura portion is limited and enters late in the narrative; instead, the story’s focus on Nicole, her childhood experiences, and her familial and romantic relationships. A perfect match for fans of Allison Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2007. 232p. 978- 0618871711.). Knisley, Lucy. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen. First Second, 2013. 176p. 978-1596436237. Knisley was born to food-loving parents and raised in both Manhattan and upstate New York amidst farmers and famous chefs. As a result, she loves food. In this engaging comic memoir -- complete with detailed, illustrated recipes -- Knisley recounts her lifetime of learning about, preparing, and loving food, and celebrating the community that can grow around it. Her warm, soft coloring evokes a nostalgic feel that perfectly suits this love letter to the joy of eating. Modan, Rutu. The Property. Drawn and Quarterly, 2013. 232p. 978-1770461154. A young Israeli woman accompanies her grandmother to Poland to see about recovering a building the family owned before they had to flee the country during World War II. However, it turns out that grandmother has more personal reasons for making the trip. Through the story, author/illustrator Modan explores the different ways that the long shadow of the Holocaust hangs over several generations of Jews, and pokes gentle, knowing fun at Jewish life and culture. Romantic, moving, and
  8. 8. surprising, this book deserves a spot on the shelf with other great comics about the legacy of war, such as Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. Very highly recommended. Rucka, Greg (auth.) and Michael Lark (illus.). Lazarus: One. Image Comics, 2013. 96p. 978-1607069454. The divides between classes have never been sharper than in the dystopian vision of Lazarus. 16 families control more than 99% of the world’s resources, leaving… well, everyone else to fight over the scraps. Each family maintains their own “Lazarus,” a nearly invulnerable technically modified soldier who acts as the head of security and deadly enforcer. Forever is the Lazarus for the Carlyle family, and she has just discovered a deadly plot that threatens to tear her family apart. Will she do what’s right in a world where so much is wrong? Rucka’s writing is -- as usual -- smart, sensitive, and mad as hell. His nightmarish vision of ultimate inequality is perfectly matched by Lark’s gritty and realistic art. Forever is one of the best-designed female characters in all of comics, realistically communicating strength, intelligence, and vulnerability thanks to Lark’s flawless command of the human form. Tiwary, Vivek (auth.), Andrew C. Robinson (illus.) and Kyle Baker (illus.). The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story. Dark Horse, 2013. 144p. 978-1616552565. This is the story behind the story of the biggest band ever, as well as a sensitive, personal tale about the harsh reality of facing isolation in a society that doesn’t accept you. Brian Epstein was a budding young record store mogul when he heard the Fab Four and KNEW that they had a huge future that he was going to be a part of. Epstein became the band’s first manager and this graphic novel tells of their meteoric rise in the Swingin’ Sixties… but that’s only half the story. The other half painfully illuminates Epstein’s struggles suppressing and hiding his homosexuality at a time when anti-gay laws were strictly enforced in England, which poignantly counterpoints the carefree fun of seeing the biggest band in the world come into its own. The whole thing is feverishly drawn by Andrew C. Robinson (with an assist from the legendary Kyle Baker), whose surrealist flourishes expose the human heart of this larger than life story. Wiebe, Kurtis (auth.) and Roc Upchurch. Rat Queens: Sass and Sorcery. Image Comics, 2014. 128p. 978- 1607069454. This self-aware, hyper violent and utterly hilarious riff on the swords and sorcery genre centers on a team of bawdy lady adventurers who would rather get drunk, get laid, and brawl then save the town from goblins. But when mysterious assassins start picking off other guilds, the Rat Queens have to get to the bottom of the conspiracy against them, and fight off an orc army. Much eyeball -stabbing ensues. Rat Queens is ridiculous fantasy fun, but what makes it special are the deeply developed characters. Each of the Queens feels like a living, breathing person, with sharp dialogue and believable relationships, brought to life through Upchurch’s brilliantly expressive pencils. It’s a rare book that can deliver a diverse cast of lovable women alongside action and uproarious humor, but Rat Queens puts it all together effortlessly.