Recommended Reading: Graphic Novels For All Ages
Graphic novels are one of my favorite things to read. The very first graphic novel series I read was Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto back in middle school; but it is still one of my favorite series to this day and I have re-read it several times. The series is about a young boy who is hated by his ninja village because of a demon sealed inside of him. Despite this, he is an overall cheerful kid who has dreams of one day being respected by his village and becoming the village leader. He spends the series working hard in attempts to achieve this goal. In total there are 72 volumes in this series but one of the pros of graphic novels is that they are usually a quick read.
There are a few different kinds of graphic novels. The most popular are called manga and they are graphic novels that originate from Japan that are translated into English. Naruto would be an example of manga along with My Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi which is one of the most popular manga series currently. Other forms of graphic novels include comics or essentially any type of book with sequential art that tells a story. Picture books or books with just general art in them are typically not considered graphic novels. Some graphic novels are meant to be more lighthearted for a simple and enjoyable read while others will have a more intense plot to follow. The ones with a more intense plot will often have an overarching plot that the characters are working toward along with smaller plot arches. There are also several genres available to appeal to many different readers. Below are some series that I and other staff members have read and recommend.
Catwad by Jim Benton is a simple, more comedic read about two cats named Blurmp and Catwad. Blurmp is happy and silly while Catwad is serious and grumpy, so naturally they make the perfect comedic duo. The books are made up of short snippets that show their many adventures and daily life, making it a good choice when you want a lighter read and a bit of laughter. It’s aimed more toward younger readers, but adults can enjoy it as well. Reading it almost reminded me of the Sunday comics that I used to enjoy as a kid as it follows a similar kind of style.
Trigger Warning: bullying and thoughts of self harm
A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Oima is a shorter graphic novel series with only 7 volumes. It follows two main protagonists, Shoya and Shoko who meet in elementary school when Shoko transfers to Shoya’s school. Shoko is deaf and uses hearing aids. Shoya learns this and begins to bully Shoko, going so far as to destroy her hearing aids. This forces Shoko to eventually leave school and Shoya faces the ramifications, including being bullied himself. The series picks up again when the two meet up again by chance six years later. Shoya uses this chance to try and make up for his past actions and make amends with Shoko. This is another one of my favorite series for the representation of deaf culture and how it shows the ramifications of bullying for both the bully and the victim. It also shows self-growth and making the effort to change as a person and make up for past deeds.
Trigger Warning: homophobia/transphobia, bullying, eating disorders, thoughts of self-harm, and mental illness
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman is an LGBTQIA+ teen romance series perfect for anyone who may be questioning their sexuality or gender identity. The series follows Charlie and Nick who become friends after being sat together in one of their classes. Charlie develops a crush on Nick but doesn’t believe he has a chance. After spending time with Charlie and doing some self-reflecting, Nick realizes that he has stronger feelings for Charlie than he initially thought. The series follows them as they navigate their life and relationship and all the ups and downs that come with it. It offers a bunch of representation as it includes a trans character and other same-sex couples and the author is even non-binary. It also handles bullying, eating disorders, and depression in teens. On the surface it is a cute romance series but below the surface it handles a bunch of important situations that many teens face.
Content Warning: This series is written for an adult audience. Contains violent and sexual content
Berserk was written and illustrated by Kentaro Miura before his passing in 2021. The series has recently been picked up by his colleague and childhood friend, Kouji Mori. It follows Guts, a swordsman, and Griffith, the leader of a mercenary band named the “Band of Hawk”. Guts joins the mercenary band after losing a fight to Griffith, but things don’t settle from there. The series is full of action and violence as Guts and Griffith each fight to get stronger and reach their own goals. It’s full of twists and turns that leave the reader wondering what will happen next. There are also various monsters and archdemons to really add to the plot and give the characters plenty to fight.