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A Day Full of Graphic Novels

On Friday, September 23rd, 2022, Lincoln City Libraries staff held their annual Staff In-Service Training Day. Part of the theme for that day was sharing information about Graphic Novels and Comic Books in the libraries. All staff were encouraged to read a graphic novel, and report on it in small discussion groups — all titles discussed were then collected in this Graphic Novel reading recommendation list, including the names and branches of staff making the recommendation if they were willing to provide them. Although broken up by age category, items are not in any particular order beyond that, in order to encourage you to browse this series of recommendations!

For an excellent look at the history of comic books and graphic novels, you might want to check out the three non-fiction books by Scott McCloud: Understanding Comics (1993), Reinventing Comics (2000), and Making Comics (2006). (The libraries own the first and last of these, but not the middle entry.)

You will find reviews of 100+ Graphic Novels or Comic Book compilations scattered throughout the history of the Staff Recommendations pages on the libraries’ BookGuide readers assistance site. You can find links to all of these on the Index Pages for past reviews:

  • Many appear under the call # 741.5 in the Non-Fiction Reviews.
  • Many appear under YA PB (Graphic Novel) _____ in the Youth and Teen (YA) Reviews.
  • There are several reviews of items only available in our Hoopla or Overdrive digital collections, which don’t have traditional Dewey Decimal call numbers.

Juvenile (“j” call numbers)

The Legend of Auntie Po
by Shing Yin Khor
jPB (Series) Khor, and Overdrive

Mai and her father ‘Mister Hao’ live at a logging camp in 1885 in the Sierra Nevadas. Mister Hao is the camp cook for the lumberjacks, including for the Chinese workers who do not receive lodging. Mai tells stories of Auntie Po, and her blue ox Pei Pei, to the children in the camp.

Best Audience: Grade school, anyone

Recommended by anonymous

When Stars Are Scattered
by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, art by Victoria Jamieson, coloring by Iman Geddy
j Biography Mohamed, and Overdrive, and Overdrive Audio

This is a true story of Omar Mohamed and his brother, Hassan, two Somali boys growing up in a refugee camp in Kenya. The illustrator is Victoria Jamieson (Roller Girl).

As a former classroom teacher, this story hit me hard — emotionally. Over the years, I taught hundreds of refugee students. This made me wonder about, and empathize with, their stories.

Best Audience: Middle school, early high school. Also adults who work with ELL families.

Recommended by Nancy P. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

The Periodic Table
by John Farndon and Shiho Pate
j 546.8 Far

Each element is depicted as an active character who displays the color and characteristics of each. Essential to help students learn each element and its unique properties.

Best Audience: Middle School/High School/Chemistry students

Recommended by Chery B. (Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries)

This Was Our Pact
by Ryan Andrews
jPB Andrews, and j741.5 And

A group of friends sets out on an adventure to discover where the lights in the river disappear to.

Best Audience: Children, kids on bikes, fans of Studio Ghibli.

Recommended by Laurie J. (Gere and South Branch Libraries)

The Tea Dragon Society
by Katie O’Neill
j O’Neill, and Hoopla

A charming fairy tale about Greta, an adventurous blacksmith apprentice, who discovers a lost Tea Dragon in the marketplace. She learns the dying art form of Tea Dragon caretaking, and meets some great friends along the way.

Best Audience: Older kids, teens and adults who love artwork and tea.

Recommended by Pamela C. (Eiseley Branch Library)

Salt Magic
by Hope Larson (writer) and Rebecca Mock (artist)
j Larson

A coming-of-age story about a young girl who has to save her brother from a witch, set in Oklahoma in the twilight of WWI. Feels like a classic fairy tale with a distinctly American flavor.

Best Audience: All ages, especially for those who love Studio Ghibli films and fairy tales.

Recommended by Regina M. (Gere and South Branch Libraries)

by Neil Gaiman, Colleen Doran and Todd Klein
j Gaiman, and Hoopla

An old lady found the Holy Grail in a thrift shop — Sir Galahad shows up at the door, tries to trade of the Grail. She doesn’t want more things. He comes back a few times, still doesn’t want more things.

Best Audience: Adults would appreciate the humor the most; also would appeal to King Arthur fans.

Recommended by anonymous

Lily Renée, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer
by Trina Robbins (author), Anne Timmons and Mo Oh (artists)
j Biography Renée

The biography of a young Austrian girl who escapes the Holocaust. She comes to America and eventually becomes a comic book pioneer.

Best Audience: Upper elementary and middle school age.

Recommended by Pat S. (Gere and South Branch Libraries)

Ham Helsing: Monster Hunter
by Rich Moyer (writer), Josh Lewis (artist)
j Moyer

Ham Helsing, a pig, and his group of unique friends find themselves unexpectedly in charge of a children’s summer camp. When campers begin to disappear, Ham and his crew realize there is a lake monster in their midst. Lots of laughs, including “mansplaining” and “pigsplaining”. Second in the series — the first is Vampire Hunter. The play on Van Helsing is funny, too.

Best Audience: Kids who love Dogman, Wimpy Kid, Lunch Lady, Max and the Midknights, etc.

Recommended by anonymous

The Bad Guys
by Aaron Blabey
jPB (Series) Blabey, and Overdrive

What happens when a wolf, a snake, a piranha and a shark want to become the good guys.

Best Audience: Upper grade school.

Recommended by Greg W. (South and Gere Branch Libraries)

Rendezvous in Phoenix
by Tony Sandoval
j Biography Sandoval

An autobiographical tale of the author’s attempts to enter the U.S. from Mexico without permission, for love and career. He is attempting to reunite with his U.S.-born fiance in Phoenix and the visa process is in the way. He is faced with blistering heat, vicious bandits, barbed wire, Border Patrol Agents and “Coyotes” that want to take his money with the promise to get him across the border.

The lives and struggles of several other immigrants he meets during his journey are also interwoven into the story. The author succeeded with his journey and is now a successful graphic novel writer in the U.S. He also witnesses a sexual assault by a Border Patrol Agent.

Best Audience: Fans of non-fiction and social politics.

Recommended by Jessica S. (Walt Branch Library)

The Lightning Thief
by Rick Riordan, adapted by Robert Venditti (writer), with art by Attila Futaki and Jose Villarrubia
jPB (Series) Riordan, and Overdrive

Condensed graphic novel version of the popular Percy Jackson kid series. Percy is a 12-year-old dyslexic who has all kinds of trouble in school. He is sent to a camp to stay safe from demons who hunt him. There, he learns that is father is Poseidon. Then he is sent on a quest with two friends to find Zeus’ Lightning Bolt to prevent a war between the gods.

Best Audience: Tweens to adult fans of the Percy Jackson series.

Recommended by anonymous

White Bird
by R.J. Palacio, and Overdrive, and Overdrive Audio
j Palacio

Holocaust story related to grandson via video chat when he has to do a school project. Tied in to the book Wonder, also by Palacio. Movie adaptation is due out in 2022.

Best Audience: 10 and up, with at least a passing familiarity with the Holocaust.

Recommended by Rebecca H. (Bookmobile)

The Secret Garden on 81st Street: A Modern Graphic Retelling of The Secret Garden
by Ivy Noelle Weir (writer) and Amber Padilla (illustrator)
jPB (Series) Weir

I remember being enchanted with the book The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett when I read it as a child. I figured I would give the retelling, The Secret Garden on 81st Street, a shot to see if it was any good. I was pleasantly surprised to find this new graphic novel version was a beautiful retelling, but with a fun modern twist.

Mary Lennox of Silicon Valley, California lives a very secluded life connecting to the world online. She eats ordering Uber Eats or smoothies, attends charter online school, and fills her days with video games and social media. When her parents die in an accident, she is taken to New York City to live with her Uncle Archie. There’s no television, no video games, no Uber Eats, no smoothies and nothing to do. Uncle Archie is never home, traveling for work, and Mary has to learn to fill her time in the real world. She discovers museums, local restaurants, and Central Park.

She also fills her time exploring her new home. That’s when she discovers a secret roof-top garden, once cultivated and loved by Uncle Archie’s late husband Masahiro. She also discovers a room with a cousin she never knew she had, Colin Craven. Colin suffers from anxiety and other mental health issues that makes him fear the outside world. Along with Colin, and a new friend Dickon, she discovers a love for gardening and connecting to people that she has never experienced before.

The graphic novel is beautifully illustrated by Amber Padilla. I was pleased to discover it is actually second in a graphic novel series called Classic Graphic Remix. The first copy was entitled Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy (based on Little Women), but was written by a different author and illustrator. All in all, The Secret Garden on 81st Street is an engaging book that puts the children’s classic in a relatable tale for kids today. I highly recommend it to children and adults alike.

Best Audience: The Secret Garden on 81st Street is an engaging book that puts the children’s classic in a relatable tale for kids today. I highly recommend it to children and adults alike.

Recommended by Cindy K. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

See a slightly altered version of this review from Cindy K. in the March 2022 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!

Bluffton: My Summers With Buster
by Matt Phelan
j 741.5 Phe

Gorgeous illustrations and minimalist dialog tell a fictionalized version of Buster Keaton’s life as a youth — as seen through the eyes of the central character, a boy growing up in a small Michigan town, where a troupe of vaudevillians spend their summer months. Really captures the sense of place, and sense of time, with almost dreamlike imagery.

Best Audience: Elementary school children and up. Buster Keaton fans. Fans of Ray Bradbury’s short stories.

Recommended by Becky W.C. (Walt Branch Library) and Scott C. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

See Scott C.’s review of Bluffton in the April 2017 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!

The Aquanaut
by Dan Santat
jPB Santat, and Overdrive

Sophia’s dad has been lost at sea for years, and her uncle is working hard to preserve his legacy at Aqualand – the marine life theme park they started. Sophie is having a hard time because her uncle is so focused on work that he’s missing all the important things in her life. Suddenly, an old diving suit shows up, seemingly walking around on its own, since whoever’s inside never speaks. Sophie discovers the secret inside the suit, but tries her best to keep it secret. Eventually, Uncle Paul finds out, too, and even more is revealed.

A little bit mystery solving, a little bit daring rescue, a little bit dark secrets, but more about friendship and love, this was a quick well-illustrated read.

Best Audience: Upper elementary and middle school students.

Recommended by Kolette S. (Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries)

Sunny Side Up
by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
jPB Holm, jPB (Series) Holm, and Overdrive

Sunny goes to spend the summer with her grandpa and learns the quirks of the elderly, makes a friend, has some adventures. Along the way, we get a glimpse of her brother’s troubles at home.

Recommended by Jill D. (Eiseley Branch Library)

Jr. High and above.

A Silent Voice, Volume One
by Yoshitoki Ōima
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Ōima

Middle School: Shoya (boy) is a bully, Shoko the new girl is deaf. Shoya gets everyone to torture Shoko in different ways. They steal and damage her hearing aids, so she leaves school. Shoya doesn’t grow up so after six years he becomes a loner and realizes what he’s done and tries to pay her back and apologize.

Best Audience: Young adults — middle-school age

Recommended by Christine N.

The Dire Days of Willoweep Manor
by Shannon K. Garrity and Christopher Baldwin
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Garrity

Gothic Romance obsessed teen falls into a pocket dimension straight out of Jane Eyre, and must use her knowledge of gothic tropes to save the universe. Clever, snarky, and hilarious!

Best Audience: Teens and adults familiar with gothic tropes, who have a deadpan sense of humor.

Recommended by anonymous

Dancing at the Pity Party: A Dead Mom Graphic Memoir
by Tyler Feder
YA 741.5 Fed, and Hoopla Audio

A book about death that is personal, funny, honest, thoughtful.

Best Audience: For anyone who has lost someone and anyone who wants to support them.

Recommended by Laura N. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle
YA PB (Grpahic Novel) Tokuda-Hall, and Overdrive

When Becca moves to a new school, she doesn’t expect to become friends with the popular girls, or become a member of their werewolf pack. She joins them in hunting the worst kinds of men, but when their secret is threatened, bonds are tested.

Best Audience: Teens

Recommended by anonymous

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me
by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Tamaki, and Overdrive

Toxic teen relationship leads to strained friendships and hurt feelings. Can Freddy find it in herself to end it with her girlfriend, who keeps breaking up with her?

Best Audience: Teens/New adults. Fans of Coming of Age stories.

Recommended by Ali B (Read Aloud Lincoln advocate)

Grand Theft Horse
by G. Neri (author) and Corbin Wilkin (artist)
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Neri

This graphic novel tells the story of Gail Ruffu, a horse trainer who does everything within her power to save her horse, Urgent Envoy, from abuse within the horse racing industry. The story is gripping, and Wilkin’s illustration brings to life the moments of agony and elation Ruffu experiences along her journey towards justice.

Best Audience: Readers who love a good underdog story or those with interest in horse racing, animal rights, or animal/human relationships.

Recommended by anonymous

Ms. Marvel — Stormranger
by Saladin Ahmed (writer), Minkyu Jung (art), with Alex Arizmendi and Joey Vazquez
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Ahmed

Kamala meets two new “big bads” — Monopoly, and when her suit turns against her — Stormranger. Nevertheless, she finds time for some snuggles with Bruno.

Best Audience: Young teens

Recommended by anonymous

They Called Us Enemy
by George Takei, Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott (writers), and Harmony Becker (artist)
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Takei, and Hoopla, and Overdrive

Biographical telling of Takei’s experience as a little boy in internment camp (relocation center) with his family during WWII.

Best Audience: all ages, 4th grade and up

Recommended by Jen J. (Bennett Martin Public Library

They Called Us Enemy
by George Takei, Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott (writers), and Harmony Becker (artist)
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Takei, and Hoopla, and Overdrive

Powerful and emotional story that shines a light on a dark chapter in American history. By focusing on the experiences of actor George Takei and his family, this really personalizes and humanizes a horrific and dehumanizing moment in time.

Best Audience: Those interest in United States history; fans of the actor George Takei, who wish to learn more about his eventful life.

Recommended by Scott C. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

See Scott C.’s full review of They Called Us Enemy in the February 2020 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!

by Kiki Hughes
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Hughes, and Overdrive

Kiku is displaced in time to an internment camp during WWII. She lives alongside her grandmother and learns first-hand what life was like.

Best Audience: All, especially those interested in history and resistance movements.

Recommended by Jen J. (Bennett Martin Public Library

We Hereby Refuse: Japanese-American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration
by Frank Abe and Timika Nimura (writers), Ross Ishikawa and Matt Sasaki (artists)
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Abe

This serious and thought-provoking graphic novel explores the experiences of three young Japanese-Americans during the World War II years, following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war against the Empire of Japan. Hajime Jim Akutsu is a 22-year-old young man in a family that runs a shoe repair shop in Seattle, and is studying engineering in college. Hiroshi Kashiwagi is a 19-year-old young man living with his family on a farm just outside Sacramento, waiting to enroll in college. And Mitsuye Endo is a 21-year-old typist for a California state agency. She lives in Sacramento as well. Hastily made government decisions lead to these three (and their families) being sent to various Internment camps in the interior of the U.S. There, over time, they and hundreds of thousands of other Japanese-Americans face loyalty tests, restrictions of their freedoms, and the hatred and distrust of many Caucasian-Americans.

We Hereby Refuse does a tremendous job of showing the inhumane and un-American treatment afforded to both natural-born U.S. citizens and Japanese immigrants who had assimilated into American life and considered the United States to be their new country. The parallels to treatment of other ethnic groups in more recent years is painfully obvious. We Hereby Refuse is a cautionary tale that anyone unaware of our checkered past should read, to open their eyes to a dark chapter in American history.

There are two artists’ work represented in this volume — alternating different parts of the story. Their styles are considerably different, and I’ll have to admit that I found the edgy look of one of them a bit off-putting. Other readers may not have an issue with that. The inclusion of dozens of historical figures from the WWII era really brought the story to life.

Highly recommended, especially in an era when graphic novels like Maus, which explore uncomfortable historical truths, can face banning from school curricula!

Best Audience: Teens and Adults

Recommended by Scott C. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

See Scott C’s slightly-altered full review of We Hereby Refuse in the February 2022 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!

The Walking Dead, Book 1
by Robert Kirkman (writer) and Charlie Adlard (artist)
YA Kirkman

Follows a small-town southern Sheriff from the beginning of the zombie apocalypse to finding his family leading a group of survivors to a place of relative safety — a prison.

Best Audience: Upper level teens and adults

Recommended by Jen J. (Bennett Martin Public Library

Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio
by Derf Backderf
YA 741.5 Der, and Hoopla

Untold story of the shooting of students by National Guardsmen on a college campus. Extensively researched, heartbreaking and real. I learned a lot from this book. 50th anniversary.

Best Audience: Teens and adults

Recommended by Jen J. (Bennett Martin Public Library

Herding Cats
by Sarah Andersen
YA 741.5 And, YA PB (Graphic Novel) Andersen, and Hoopla

Witty, relatable comic with self-deprecating humor. Follows “Sarah’s Scribbles” as she navigates the mundane intricacies of modern life. As the name implies, “a futile attempt to control that which is inherently uncontrollable.” Brings lightheartedness and humor to being a conflicted, tormented soul.

Best Audience: Young Adults to Adults

Recommended by anonymous

Aasadora! Book 1
by Naoki Urasawa
YA PB (Graphic Novel)

A typhoon descends upon 1959 Japan hiding something more sinister. One girl, Asa, stands before it with her stolen plane, delivering aid to those stranded.

Best Audience: Young adults, and Godzilla fans.

Recommended by Laurie J. (Gere and South Branch Libraries)

Our Stories Carried Us Here: A Graphic Novel Anthology
by various authors/contributors
YA 305.9 Our

This book tells about some immigrants around the globe who came to the USA from their home countries. Some stories were sad, some suffered hardship based on their race and religion.

Best Audience: 18 and older

Recommended by Nahrin A. (Support Services)

by Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky
YA Locatelli-Kournwsky, and Hoopla

Grimm Brothers style retelling of Persephone’s story, except she don’t need no man. Lots of Easter eggs as well.

Best Audience: Tweens/teens and anyone who’s a fan of mythology and/or retellings.

Recommended by anonymous

The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food
by Joseph Tychonievich (author) and Liz Anna Kozik (artist)
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Tychonievich

A comprehensive beginner’s guide to starting a garden. Simple, amusing, easy to follow.

Best Audience: Young adults, teens, anyone new to the idea of growing food.

Recommended by Diane W. (Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors curator)

Fahrenheit 451
based on the novel by Ray Bradbury, adapted by Tim Hamilton
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Hamilton or 741.5 Bra

Within a few months’ time I happened, in this order, to: see the movie, read a graphic novel version and, finally, read the original book itself of Ray Bradbury’s modern American classic Fahrenheit 451. And this was just a few years ago, about the time I turned 50. It had never been an assigned book in my high school or college classes and, although I knew the subject matter and had seen bits and pieces from the film, it was never on my “must read” or “must watch” lists. I actually found it useful and challenging to approach the variations in this order, as I am primarily oriented to audio-visual depictions of stories. It was interesting to see what had been emphasized and/or omitted in the movie and comic book when I got back around to the novel.

I am not a big reader of comics or graphic novels, so I don’t have much of an opinion about the “authorized” comic book version but it’s certainly one way that the book might appeal to a young adult, or a reading-challenged person.

Best Audience: Young Adults and Adults, perhaps those with a prior awareness of the story.

Recommended by Becky W.C. (Walt Branch Library)

See Becky W.C.’s reviews of the book, graphic novel and film versions of Fahrenheit 451 in the June 2012 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!

Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen, adapted by Stacy King, with art by Po Tse
YA PB (Graphic Novel) King

The description on the cover says this is “faithfully adapted” from the original, but I found it annoyingly less than faithful, with anachronisms (e.g. “gold digger”) and spurious incidents (Darcy stepping on Elizabeth’s toes, Elizabeth bidding Wickham a tearful “farewell forever”). I would find it hard to recommend this version.

Best Audience: Someone who enjoyed the slightly-less-appalling 1940 film adaptation.

Recommended by Peter J. (Virtual Services)

Needle and Thread
by David Pinckney
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Pinckney, and Hoopla

Two teens, one likes video games, one likes sewing, parents have other ideas. They persevere for their dreams.

Best Audience: Young adults struggling for acceptance.

Recommended by anonymous

Strange Fruit, Vol. 1
by Joel Christian Gill
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Gill

Short narratives of lesser known African Americans.

Best Audience: Teens and Adults

Recommended by Katie M. (Support Services)

The Batman ’66 and Wonder Woman ’77 crossover titles
by various creative teams
various YA PB (Graphic Novel) _____ call numbers, also Hoopla

The Batman ’66 and Wonder Woman ’77 comic books attempt to tell graphic stories in the styles/flavors of the the Adam West Batman TV series (1966-68) and the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman TV series (1976-79 — Wonder Woman’s first TV season was set during WWII before a time jump into a second season set in 1977). Both of these comic books came out with standard storylines, and the Batman ’66 title features “BAM!” “POW!” effects and pompous, stentorian speeches about morality by Batman. There are numerous issues and/or collections of these basic comic book stories in the libraries’ collection. But what I’d really like to recommend are the various “crossover” stories that both series specialized in. Batman ’66 crosses over with Archie, John Steed and Emma Peel (the original British Avengers), The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Green Hornet and Kato. Wonder Woman ’77 crossed over with The Bionic Woman. And the ultimate crossover occurred when Batman ’66 actually crossed over with Wonder Woman ’77, in a storyline that started in the 1960s and concluded in the 1970s. The artwork in all of these can vary in quality, but the sheer audacity of crossing over such wildly different media properties deserves kudos!

Best Audience: Fans who grew up on the 1960s and 1970s TV shows that these comics attempt to recreate, or who are merely fans of kitschy pop culture.

Recommended by Scott C.

See Scott C.’s review of Batman ’66 Meets The Greet Hornet in the March 2016 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!
See Scott C.’s review of Wonder Woman ’77 Vol. 1 in the July 2017 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!
See Scott C.’s review of Wonder Woman ’77 Meets The Bionic Woman in the December 2017 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!
See Scott C.’s review of Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77 in the June 2019 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!

Andre the Giant: Life and Legend
by Box Brown
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Brown

In a sport that bills itself as larger than life, Andre Roussimoff (a.k.a. “Andre the Giant”) truly was larger than life in every way. This graphic novel gives us a biographical look at key events in Andre’s life. It’s not comprehensive or definitive, but it is a fun, engaging look at one of pro wrestling’s greatest legends.

Best Audience: Fans of pro wrestling. Fans of The Princess Bride. Or anyone curious about a larger-than-life personality.

Recommended by Corey G.

The Magic Fish
by Trung Le Nguyen
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Trung, and Overdrive

A young queer boy uses fairy tales to connect with his Vietnamese-speaking mother. A language story. A gender story. A family love story. Threaded together with fairy tales. The boy speaks English as his first language, while his mother speaks Vietnamese. The boy is queer and he’s scared to tell his mother/parents. Mom uses a fairy tale to reassure him that they can write their own ending. Together.

Best Audience:

Recommended by Carrie K. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

Fangirl Volume 1
by Rainbow Rowell, adapted by Sam Maggs with art by Gabi Nam
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Maggs

Twin sisters from Omaha begin freshman year at UNL. Cath is a writer of fan fiction, but when she turns in a fanfic story for her creative writing class, her professor accuses her of plagiarism.

Best Audience: Young Adult.

Recommended by Paul B.

by Craig Thompson
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Thompson or 741.5 Tho

The author writes/draws about his childhood, memories about his parents and brother, his first love, his self-evaluation, and about what his faith means to him. Pictures are black & white. 582 pages.

Best Audience: Young Adult and Adult (General appeal for both these age groups).

Recommended by Jodi R. (Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries)

Redbone: The True Story of a Native American Rock Band
by Christian Staebler, Sonia Paoloni, and Thibault Balaly
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Staebler

If you know the songs “Witch Queen of New Orleans” and “Come and Get Your Love”, you probably want to read this. Especially if you like graphic novels and American culture and history. An English translation of the original French, this volume is divided into chapters, much like individual issues of a comicbook series. It recounts the history of Pat and Lolly Vegas, American Indian musicians from California, and how they came to form the rock/native band Redbone. Thanks go to Jimmy [Jimi] Hendrix for the group’s name. Oh, and, the Brothers Vasquez [AKA Vegas] helped open the doors to commercial success for The Doors! The setting is contemporary, wherein surviving brother Patrick is visiting with his children and they start asking him to repeat stories of “the old days”. The content touches on their musical journey as a sibling duo and on into the group years but also their all-too-familiar challenges of identity and equality as Native people in modern America. Frustratingly, Redbone enjoyed much more fame in Europe than the U.S. but, gladly, they have left a considerable body of work behind. And gave the world an earworm tune that most recently was refreshed in pop culture consciousness in the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy”. p.s. I’m not crazy about the artwork but it is evident that the entire production team feels great respect and appreciation for the Redbone legacy.

Best Audience: Teens and Adults, especially those who can remember when Redbone’s music was common over the airwaves.

Recommended by Becky W.C. (Walt Branch Library)

See Caitlin L.’s review of Redbone: The True Story of a Native American Rock Band in the August 2021 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!
See Becky W.C.’s review of Redbone: The True Story of a Native American Rock Band in the January 2022 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!

by Rainbow Rowell (writer) and Faith Erin Hicks (artist)
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Rowell

This is an absolutely charming little “graphic” novel by Omaha author Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, Attachments, Fangirl), with art by fan favorite Faith Erin Hicks (Friends With Boys, The Nameless City, Comics Will Break Your Heart). Though set in a nameless city, it is based on Rowell’s experiences in pumpkin patches in the Omaha area where she lives.

Josiah and Deja are two high school seniors who are seasonal workers at DeKnock’s World Famous Pumpkin Patch & Autumn Jamboree, a temporary theme park open only in September and October. He (Josie) and she (Deja) dress in plaid shirts and overalls — the uniform of “Patch” workers, and look forward all year to working with each other (they don’t attend the same school). But today is the last day of this year’s “patch”, and being seniors, they both anticipate moving on to college and perhaps losing touch with the other. Deja has a plan, though — she’s going to help her rather shy and introverted friend finally strike up a conversation with the “Fudge Girl” (from the Patch’s fudge shoppe), whom he’s had a crush on for all the years they’ve worked together.

Thus begins an adventure as the two friends explore all the nooks and crannies of the Autumnal theme park, eating caramel apples, Frito pies, kettle corn, apple cider slushies and “pumpkin bombs” as they race from one park attraction to another in search of Josie’s dream girl. Along the way, they share their thoughts and feelings, and discover things about themselves they hadn’t been aware of.

Josie and Deja sound (and look) like real people — with all their imperfections and flaws, but with all their emotional highs and lows as well. By the end of the story, I felt like I really knew and cared about these two individuals. And the local flavor of the pumpkin patch theme park really felt like the world we live in here in Eastern Nebraska. And with it being Fall right now, this is appropriately seasonal! Highly recommended!

Best Audience: Young Adults and Adults. Fans of Nebraska authors. Those interested in seeing a graphic novel story set in the Omaha/Lincoln area.

Recommended by Scott C. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

See Scott C.’s full (slightly different) review of Pumpkinheads in the October 2019 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!

Superman Smashes the Klan
by Gene Luen Yang, with Janice Chiang
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Yang, and Hoopla

Acclaimed Asian-American graphic novelist (American Born Chinese) Yang provides his take on one of the giants of the comic-book industry — Superman. Yang took the plot of an early 1940s-era 16-episode Superman radio serial, “The Klan of the Fiery Cross”, and beefed it up with additional subplots and a stronger sense of social justice.

This storyline is set in the early days of Superman’s existence — it is a late 1930s setting, and Superman as a hero has only recently begun his exploits. In fact, he still hasn’t fully realized the full range of his own powers — he can’t fly, use heat beams or x-ray vision from his eyes, or exhale frost breath.

The story of Superman Smashes the Klan focuses on the Lee family, who are moving from Chinatown into Metropolis proper, and who begin to face both outright and subtle racial discrimination. One of the fellow baseball team members of the “Unity House” baseball team that a Lee teenager joins, turns out to be nephew of the Grand Dragon of the local branch of the Klan of the Fiery Cross (a thinly veiled version of the KKK). The plot involves the Lee family getting further and further involved in a disturbing battle against racists, and Superman learning about his own true alien nature and the abilities he’s never been aware that he had.

I anticipated not liking this, but exactly the opposite was true — the storytelling and artwork here were superb, and Yang’s extensive afterword notes helped to explain a lot of the time-period-sensitive references in the story. This isn’t really a “superhero” story — it’s more a story illustrating how anyone can stand up to racism and fascism. I enjoyed this one so much after reading the library copy, I went out and bought a copy for my own collection!

Best Audience: Teens and Adults.

Recommended by Scott C. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

See Scott C.’s review of Superman Smashes the Klan in the January 2021 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!

Ms. Marvel
by G. Willow Wilson (writer) and Adrian Alphona (artist)
YA PB (Graphic Novel) Wilson

Kamala Khan is a delight and a joy to spend time with. Alphona’s art is vibrant and fill with fun surprises.

Best Audience: Young Adults.

Recommended by Michelle P. (Support Services)

Adult (anything other than “j” or “YA” call numbers)

The Contract With God trilogy
by Will Eisner
741.5 Eis

This was one of the first books to be marketed as a “graphic novel” — longer, more extensive than comics.

Modern day awards for creative achievement in American comics are called the Eisner Awards after Will Eisner.

Collection of four different stories that all connect to the same tenement housing on Dropsie Ave. 1930’s Depression-era New York City. There are two more later yet separate follow-ups that form a trilogy — all connected to the tenement over time.

Graphics are black and white on yellow paper, striking graphics. Adult and mature themes, but done in a tasteful way. Sometimes it isn’t clear who the good guy/bad guy are…things just “happen”.

Recommended by Jeremiah J. (Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries)

The Joe Shuster Story: The Artist Behind Superman
by Julian Voloj and Thomas Campi
741.5 Vol, and Hoopla

The back story of the creators of Superman. Shows how authors’ and illustrators’ real-life experiences influence the content of their craft. Ideas don’t happen in a vacuum; an author/illustrator’s work is influenced by their environment.

Recommended by anonymous

Becoming Unbecoming
by Una
741.5 Una, and Hoopla

An English woman’s memoir about cojing to age under the shadow of the hunt for the Yorkshire ripper serial killer.

Best Audience: Middle to upper teens.

Recommended by Garion

See Scott C.’s review of Becoming Unbecoming in the March 2020 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!

Free Speech Handbook: A Practical Framework for Understanding Our Free Speech Protections
by Ian Rosenberg and Mike Cavallaro
323.443 Ros

Traces the history of free speech law by reviewing the Supreme Court cases and compares the results to current events. An adaptation of Rosenberg’s book The Fight For Free Speech.

Best Audience: Teens and adults seeking an understanding and entertaining overview of free speech legal history.

Recommended by Wyatt P. (Gere and South Branch Libraries)

Death Wins a Goldfish: Reflections From a Grim Reaper’s Year-Long Sabbatical
by Brian Rea
741.5 Rea, and Hoopla

Using a combination of absurdity and poignancy, this tells the story (in single- or two-panel cartoons) of a year in the “life” of a Grim Reaper who is forced to take a sabbatical from harvesting souls, relax, and engage in self-enrichment activities. Encouraged to keep a daily journal of the activities the Reaper engages in during his time “off the job”, we get small peeks into his personal growth as he connects with the kinds of experiences that “make life worth living” (including winning a goldfish at a fair). Charming, amusing, thoughtful, and touching.

Best Audience: Teens and Adults; although the artwork may appeal to pre-teens, they may not “get” the subtle humor.

Recommended by Scott C. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

See Charlotte M.’s review of Death Wins a Goldfish in the February 2021 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!

Big Black: Stand at Attica
by Frank “Big Black” Smith, Jared Reinmuth, Ameziane
741.5 Smi, and Hoopla

A chronicle of the 1971 Attica State Prison Riot — which was really more of a massacre — and the life of Frank Smith, an inmate and participant.

Best Audience: Those interested in U.S. history, race and the Civil Rights movement — for mature teens and adults.

Recommended by Cal H. (Gere and South Branch Libraries)

Big Black: Stand at Attica
by Frank “Big Black” Smith, Jared Reinmuth, Ameziane
741.5 Smi, and Hoopla

This book tells the true story of Frank “Big Black” Smith, who was incarcerated at Attica State Prison during the Nixon administration. Prisoners were treated poorly, tortured and subjected to inhumane treatment. Everything came to a head in September 1971.

Best Audience: Adult; Difficult themes; Nudity; Graphic violence.

Recommended by Kim J. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

Thirsty Mermaids
by Kat Leyh
741.5 Ley

Mermaids Tooth and Pearl and sea witch Eeezy are considered a pod of misfits as Tooth and Pearl are merfolk with no magic skills at all, and Eeez does have powerful magic but sea witches do not belong in pods.

When they drink the last of the alcohol on a sunken ship, they decide that to get more, they must go to the source: Dry Land. Eeez has recently learned a transformation spell that turns them into humans, but being human is complicated. Legs are wobbly, money and clothes are necessary, and fish in fish tanks are pets not lunch. They are befriended by Vivi, a bartender at the “Thirsty Mermaid”, who doesn’t believe their story about being mermaids but also isn’t sure where these three came from. Vivi takes them in and tries to teach them how to “human”, because while Eeez was able to cast the spell to make them all human, she has no power on land and does not know how to break the spell. Tooth and Pearl thrive as humans but Eeez is increasingly distressed and nothing is ever right. Will Eeez ever figure out how to break the spell? Can a human join their pod of misfits? To answer all these questions, you will have to read Thirsty Mermaids to find out!

Weird and humorous, yet also touching. This was one of my favorite graphic novels of all time!

Best Audience: Adults, although older teens would also appreciate it.

Recommended by anonymous

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir
by Thi Bui
Biography Bui, and Hoopla, and Overdrive

It’s a memoir of Thi Bui and her family that came to the USA to escape the Vietnam War. Thi finds out what her parents went through before and during the war through the interviews that she had with them.

Best Audience: Young adults and adults who love to read biographies, or graphic novels, or world history books.

Recommended by anonymous


by R. Crumb and Zane Mairowitz

This is a brief, inclusive biography of Franz Kafka and summary of many of his works, all illustrated by R. Crumb.

Best Audience: Young Adult and Adult

Recommended by Matt N. (Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries)

by Sarah Andersen
741.5 And

Funny outlook on dating, and life, showing acceptance of differences.

Best Audience: Adults

Recommended by Rio B. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

Paper Girls
by Brian K. Vaughn (author) and Cliff Chiang (artist)
741.5 Vau, and Hoopla, and Overdrive

In the late 1980s, a group of four paper girls set out on their routes and encounter time travelers, supernatural beings and their future selves, in this nostalgic graphic novel series consisting of 6 volumes. Now made into an Amazon TV series, reminiscent of Stranger Things, but with a group of hard-core young women.

Best Audience: Great for adult and teen readers, for people with a rebellious sense of adventure.

Recommended by Jackie S. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

Stitches: A Memoir–
by David Small
Biography Small

Small tells the story of his life beginning at age 6 when an operation and medical treatment drastically changed his life. Takes place in Detroit and highlights relationships with family that include an angry frustrated father, and a supremely unhappy mom who runs the home with severity and silence. Illustrations are amazing and contribute and offer insight into the psyche of Small as a young boy through adolescence in dealing with traumatic events of his life.

Best Audience: Adults – those who like story, medical, biographies/memoirs, family relationships, wonderful illustrations.

Recommended by Brenda E. (Gere and South Branch Libraries)

Akira: Book One
by Katsuhiro Otomo
741.5 Oto

Thirty years after WWIII, two members of a Japanese motorcycle gang butt heads with a shadowy organization.

Best Audience: Adults, futuristic motorcycle fans, fans of children who look like old people.

Recommended by Nathan H. (Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries)

Blood Work
by Kim Harrison (writer), Pedro Maia Gemma Magno (artist)

Prequel to Blood Crime and Dead Witch Walking gives a look into the year of Intership “witch” Rachel Morgan partnered with living vampire Ivy Tamwood as a supernatural cop.

Best Audience: Fans of the “Hollows” series.

Recommended by anonymous

Glenn Gould: A Life Off Tempo
by Sandrine Revel

Life of eccentric pianist, Glenn Gould.

Best Audience: Classical music lovers, artists, illustrators.

Recommended by anonymous

Octavia Butler’s Kindred
by adapted from Octavia Butler’s novel by Damian Duffy and John Jennings

A time travel story following a young woman from the 1970s back to the plantation run by her ancestors. Powerful and emotional.

Best Audience: Mid-teens and adults.

Recommended by Jen J. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

Wolverine Origin: The Complete Collection
by Paul Jenkins and Kieron Gillen (writers), and Andy and Adam Kubert (artists)

Origin story of James Howlett and how he became Wolverine. Traditional comic book graphic novel.

Best Audience: Wolverine fans.

Recommended by Jen J. (Bennett Martin Public Library

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
by Mannie Murphy
741.5 Mur, and Hoopla

The author analyzes Portland’s historical relationship with race and the misunderstood by analyzing River Phoenix’s relationship to the town and Gus Van Zant.

Best Audience: Adults

Recommended by anonymous

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
by Lucy Knisley
Biography Knisley

Lucy Knisley loves food — the daughter of a chef and a gourmet. This is a forthright, thoughtful and funny memoir. She traces key episodes in hr life — framed by what she was eating at the time, and lessons learned about food, cooking and life. Each chapter is book-ended with an illustrated recipe — many of them treasured family dishes — yummy!

Best Audience: Adult, teen, people who like to cook!

Recommended by Pamela C. (Eiseley Branch Library)

by Will McPhail
741.5 McP

Will McPhail is a cartoonist and contributor to the New Yorker magazine.

An aging, lonely millennial (Nick) visits (hilariously-named, and satirical) coffee shops in an attempt to reach out and connect with people — to combat his work-from-home loneliness. He goes through the same surface-level interactions in his daily life. (Hi, How are you, Fine thanks and you, What can I get you, …)

He feels that there is more to life he is missing out on, and he decides to stop playing by the same script and tries to heartfully open up to others. Sometimes it works; sometimes it hilariously doesn’t. When people do let him “in” — the black and white graphics change to metaphorical and colorful illustrations (think Dorothy in Oz).

A few emerging storylines mesh together in a dark twist of a clever yet poignant ending. Hilariously funny at times, contrasted with serious life issues that creep in. Completely relatable to modern-day post-COVID times.

With all this technology and social media “bringing us together”, why are we all still so distant?

Best Audience: Millennials, introverts, shy people, coffee drinkers.

Recommended by Jeremiah J. (Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries)

Fahrenheit 451
based on the novel by Ray Bradbury, adapted by Tim Hamilton
741.5 Bra or YA PB (Graphic Novel) Hamilton

Within a few months’ time I happened, in this order, to: see the movie, read a graphic novel version and, finally, read the original book itself of Ray Bradbury’s modern American classic Fahrenheit 451. And this was just a few years ago, about the time I turned 50. It had never been an assigned book in my high school or college classes and, although I knew the subject matter and had seen bits and pieces from the film, it was never on my “must read” or “must watch” lists. I actually found it useful and challenging to approach the variations in this order, as I am primarily oriented to audio-visual depictions of stories. It was interesting to see what had been emphasized and/or omitted in the movie and comic book when I got back around to the novel.

I am not a big reader of comics or graphic novels, so I don’t have much of an opinion about the “authorized” comic book version but it’s certainly one way that the book might appeal to a young adult, or a reading-challenged person.

Best Audience: Young Adults and Adults, perhaps those with a prior awareness of the story.

Recommended by Becky W.C. (Walt Branch Library)

See Becky W.C.’s reviews of the book, graphic novel and film versions of Fahrenheit 451 in the June 2012 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!

Pinball: A Graphic History of the Silver Ball
by Jon Chad
794.75 Cha

A history of pinball.

Its cultural staying power & imports.

More than a game.

How the game works and changes through time.

Best Audience: Those who are already fans of graphics, gamers, history lovers, someone with no prior knowledge of pinball.

Recommended by Aubrey S. (Gere and South Branch Libraries)

Flung Out of Space: Inspired by the Indecent Adventures of Patricia Highsmith
by Grace Ellis (writer) and Hannah Templer (artist)
741.5 Ell

Fascinating and provocative graphic novel biography of famed author Patricia Highsmith, best known for her dark psychological thrillers as well as the ground-breaking lesbian novel The Price of Salt (a.k.a. Carol). This novel telescopes some of the events, and uses composite characters in place of some of the real people in Pat’s life. However, at its core, it appears to accurately portray Highsmith and the difficult relationships she had with nearly everyone in her life. She was notoriously prickly, living as a conflicted lesbian at a time when her psychoanalysts attempted to use early conversion techniques to turn her into a heterosexual (unsuccessfully). She was a hostile, arrogant, creative type, who resented having to write comic book stories — there are scenes in this graphic novel in which someone tries to set her up on a date with Stan Lee — but even after achieving success with the mainstream novel Strangers on a Train (which was then adapted to film by Alfred Hitchcock), she continued to remain unhappy. Her thrillers are iconic (including The Talented Mr. Ripley), with the amoral villains often the central characters. But she, herself, was known to be an avowed racist and anti-semite. For this graphic biography, Ellis and Templer somehow manage to make her a sympathetic character, despite all the negative personality traits. I found this to be a fascinating read — the artwork is beautiful, using a limited color palette emphasizing orange, black and peach colors, and the reader is encouraged to understand the difficulties in Highsmith’s life.

Best Audience: Adults; anyone interested in learning more about the fascinating but troubled author of The Talented Mr. Ripley, Strangers on a Train and The Price of Salt.

Recommended by Scott C. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

This review by Scott C. of Flung Out of Space originally appeared in the July 2022 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!

Alice in Borderland, Vol. 1 & 2
by Haro Aso
741.5 Aso

Eighteen-year-old Arisu hates his life. He is bored with school, his family, and living each day in reality. All he wants to do is hang out his friends and play video games. One day his wish comes true and he and his friends are forced to compete inside a video game in a parallel world that is not only dangerous and vicious but deadly too. Be careful what you wish for, cause you just might get it.

Best Audience: Young Adults

Recommended by Nancy E. (Eiseley Branch Library)

Saga, Volume One
by Brian K. Vaughn (writer) and Fiona Staples (artist)
741.5 Vau, and Hoopla

One couple, from opposite sides of a never-ending war, fall in love, illegally marry, and have a baby. We follow them (and other characters) as they try to stay in hiding and escape against the backdrop of social commentary on war, bigotry, social order, and every other topic you can think of. A 2013 Hugo Award winner.

Best Audience: Adult, New Adult

Recommended by Charlotte M. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

by Grant Morrison (writer) and Frank Quitely (artist)
741.5 Mor

Domestic animals turned cyborg test subjects. When threat of dismantlement, WE3 are set loose by scientist. The hunter is hunted. They must work as a team to find “home”.

Best Audience:

Recommended by anonymous

My Favorite Thing is Monsters
by Emil Ferris
741.5 Fer

Part murder mystery, part classic Monster Movie, part historical fiction. A tale of love and loss but mostly loss.

Best Audience: Fans of horror and crime fiction.

Recommended by Maddie O. (Gere and South Branch Libraries)

Something is Killing the Children
by James Tynion IV (writer) and Werther Dell Edera (artist)
741.5 Tyn, and Hoopla

James is having a sleepover soon after telling ghost stories. All his friends are killed. In really gruesome ways. Erica Slaughter soon shows up to hunt down the monsters that are attacking the children of Archers Peak, Wisconsin.

Best Audience: Adult fans of horror or dark mysteries.

Recommended by Marcy G. (South and Gere Branch Libraries)

The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century
by Frank Miller
741.5 Mil, and Hoopla

A dystopia where Martha goes from the projects to head the Pax group, but then joins the scientists to fight for a better world.

Best Audience: Adults, Teens

Recommended by Susan S. (Eiseley Branch Library)

by Jordan Morris and Sarah Morgan
741.5 Mor

Gig economy monster hunting! Based on a popular podcast. Bubble is actually laugh out loud funny!

Best Audience: Adult

Recommended by Michelle P. (Support Services)

Black Hole
by Charles Burns
741.5 Bur

Suburban teens in 1970s Seattle become victims of a plague that cause them to grow tails, second mouths and other mutations, in an AIDS allegory.

Best Audience: Teens and adult

Recommended by Susan S. (Eiseley Branch Library)

Star Trek: New Visions
by John Byrne

Comics legend John Byrne (X-Men, Superman, Fantastic Four, She-Hulk and many more) is extremely creative in using still-frame screen captures from the footage in all 79 episodes of Classic Star Trek and the six feature films starring the Classic Trek cast, combined with computer/digitally-created new backgrounds and special effects, to effectively tell an entire season’s worth of “new” episodes of the original Trek series. This is basically a modern-day equivalent to the series of Star Trek Fotonovels that were released in the early 1970s by Bantam, only in this case, Byrne is creating episodes that were never seen on TV. Really creative storytelling, with lots of nods to the original Star Trek, including “sequels” to actual existing episodes.

Best Audience: Fans of Classic Trek, especially those who loved the old Fotonovels.

Recommended by Scott C. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

See Scott C.’s review of the Star Trek: New Visions series in the June 2018 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!

The Hip Hop Family Tree
by Ed Piskor
Music 789.1649 Pis, and Hoopla

A fantastic and thorough account of the early developmental years of hip hop. The history is solid, the narrative is engaging, and the art is fantastic. There are four volumes that cover the 1970s to 1985.

Best Audience: Teens, adults

Recommended by Scott S. (Polley Music Library)

How to Fake a Moon Landing
by Darryl Cunningham
001.9 Cun

In-depth take-down of some of the biggest pseudo-science conspiracies still out there. Despite being almost 10 years old, the graphic novel remains relevant due to its factual, rational analysis of each of these conspiracies — and sadly because they haven’t gone away and are only bigger than ever.

Best Audience: Anyone open-minded enough and willing to learn how these conspiracies got started and what the truth really is.

Recommended by Corey G.

See Scott C.’s review of How to Fake a Moon Landing in the March 2015 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!

by Craig Thompson
741.5 Tho or YA PB (Graphic Novel) Thompson

The author writes/draws about his childhood, memories about his parents and brother, his first love, his self-evaluation, and about what his faith means to him. Pictures are black & white. 582 pages.

Best Audience: Young Adult and Adult (General appeal for both these age groups).

Recommended by Jodi R. (Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries)

Lon Chaney Speaks
by Pat Dorian
741.5 Dor

This was a fascinating graphic novel format biography of the legendary silent movie actor Lon Chaney, master of transforming himself into other people via early cinematic make-up effects and the way he held his own body. As the author/artist says, Chaney “chose to keep his personal life hidden, he rarely gave interviews, preferred not to be photographed without [character] makeup”. Therefore, the biographical elements of this short, intriguing work are, in part, supposition on Dorian’s part.

Dorian intersperses chapters in Lon Chaney Speaks dealing with Chaney’s childhood and early vaudeville career, then his superstar motion picture career, with side chapters focused on the films he’s best known for, including Shadows, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the Phantom of the Opera, among others. Each “movie” chapter goes into detail describing the work Chaney had to do to create his distinctive and memorable characters.

This was a fascinating read, and the “cartoon”-like illustrations don’t take away from the serious story of Chaney’s life. I’ll have to admit, I really didn’t know much about him, beyond his famous roles, and this book gave me a good picture of the hard, sometimes difficult and complicated life, he led. Highly recommended!

Best Audience: Teens to Adults; especially for fans of classic “silent” films!

Recommended by Scott C. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

Scott C.’s review of Lon Chaney Speaks originally appeared in the February 2021 Staff Recommendations here on BookGuide!

I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir
by Malaka Gharib
741.5 Gha, and Overdrive

Graphic memoir about being half-Filipino, half-Egyptian — and 100% American

After her parents’ divorce, debut author Gharib spent her school years with her Filipino relatives in Cerritos, California, and summers with her father and his new family in Egypt. She honestly recounts the challenges she faced as a biracial child trying to appease both sides of her family.

Best Audience: Young Adults.

Recommended by Sharon S. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

Government Issue: Comics for the People, 1940s-2000s
by Richard L. Graham
741.59 Gra

Since the 1940s, federal and state government agencies have published comics to disseminate public information. Comics legends Will Eisner and Milton Caniff produced comics for the army. Li’l Abner joined the navy. Walt Kelly’s Pogo told parents how much TV their kids should watch. Bert the Turtle showed them how to survive a nuclear attack, and Dennis the Menace took “A Poke at Poison.” Smokey Bear had his own comic and so did Zippy, the postal mascot. Dozens of artists and writers, known and unknown, were recruited to create comics about every aspect of American life, from jobs and money to health and safety and sex and drugs. Whether you wanted the lowdown on psychological warfare or the highlights of working in the sardine industry, the government printed a comic for you, sometimes with a little help from commercial comic book companies or private enterprises. (this blurb comes from the book’s front flyleaf)

Best Audience: Adults.

Recommended by Carrie K. (Bennett Martin Public Library)

NOTE: Richard L. Graham, from UNL, was one of the guest speakers on this Graphic Novel-themed staff training day.

Always Never
by Tony Cliff and Natalie Riess (colors)
(not in the libraries’ collection)

Always Never is a love story told in reverse. The art is beautiful. The characters are endearing. The story is moving.

Best Audience: Adult.

Recommended by Michelle P. (Support Services)

Additional titles recommended by Garren H.

Additional titles recommended by Jen J.

  • The Locke & Key series written by Joe Hill with art by Gabriel Rodriguez (741.5 Hil, and Hoopla)
  • My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf (jPB Armstrong, and Overdrive) (Biography Dahmer, and Overdrive, and Hoopla)
  • Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and art by Brian Bolland (YA PB (Non-Fiction) Amano) (741.5 Moo, and Hoopla, and Overdrive)
  • Wolverine: Old Man Logan by Mark Millar & art by Steve McNiven (jPB (Series) Stephens) (Hoopla)
  • X-23: Innocence Lost by Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost & art by Billy Tan (jPB (Series) Stephens) (Overdrive)
  • Green River Killer: A True Detective Story by Jeff Jensen & art by Jonathan Case (jPB (Series) Stephens) (741.5 Jen, and Hoopla)
  • Here’s Negan! by Robert Kirkman & art by Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn and Dave Stewart (jPB (Series) Stephens) (Hoopla)
  • Wolverine: Logan by Brian K. Vaughan & art by Eduardo Risso (jPB (Series) Stephens) (741.5 Vau)
  • Civil War series by Mark Millar & art by Steve McNiven (jPB (Series) Stephens) (YA PB Millar, and Hoopla)

Additional titles recommended by Laurie J.

  • Uzumaki by Junji Itō (741.5 Ito)
  • The Sign of Dreams by Naoki Urasawa (YA PB (Graphic Novel) Urasawa)
  • Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun by Izumi Tsubaki (YA PB (Non-Fiction) Tsubaki)
  • Spy X Family by Tatsuya Endo (not in the libraries’ collection)
  • Kamisama Kiss by Julietta Suzuki (not in the libraries’ collection)
  • Monster by Naoki Urasawa (not in the libraries’ collection)
  • Chainsaw Man by Tatsuki Fujimoto (not in the libraries’ collection)

Additional titles recommended by Regina M.

Additional titles recommended by Melanie N.

I have a few titles I’d like us to include under the heading “Graphic Medicine”. According to, Graphic Medicine is the “interaction between the medium of comics and the discourse of healthcare.” It can include many types of books, from stories about individual diagnoses and conditions to the healthcare system at large. is a great place to start to learn more. There is also a list of Essential Graphic Medicine books compiled by contributors to the site located here: Essential Graphic Medicine. Here are a few Graphic Medicine titles in the Lincoln City Libraries’ collection:

Additional titles recommended by Michelle P.

Additional titles recommended by Scott C.