Image Comics: The Best of a Decade of Creator-Owned Books

Unique among publishers for allowing writers and artists to keep the rights to their work, Image Comics has been a haven for teams of comic writers and artists to do their boldest, strangest and most experimental comics, working in genres outside of the usual superhero fare like horror, crime, western, urban fantasy, and science-fiction.

The works recommended below have met commercial and critical acclaim; the biggest hits for the company being the massive multimedia hit The Walking Dead and the populist sci-fi epic Saga, while others are beloved by their own dedicated fandoms, like The Wicked + The Divine. A number of long-running Image Comics series wrapped up in 2019, and with the opening of Te Awe and our off-site collections, it’s never been a better time to catch up on some of the best comics of the past ten years.

The Walking Dead
The walking dead : compendium one / Kirkman, Robert
Though it began in 2003, the post-apocalyptic zombie comic by writer Robert Kirkman and artists Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard continued to be a hit all through the last decade, and was one of Image Comics longest running series, eventually spawning a hit television series in 2010. The comic unexpectedly wrapped up at issue #193 in July 2019, a rare shock in the modern comic industry where each issue is planned and advertised months in advance. Pick up the compendium collecting the first 48 issues at the link above or grab the first volume here.

If you liked The Walking Dead, check out this: Invincible, Robert Kirkman’s other long-spanning superhero series for Image, also wrapped up in 2018. You begin the whole series with the first Ultimate Collection here.

Saga
Saga. Compendium one / Vaughan, Brian K
Frequently cited as the comic book that got people into comics, Saga follows Alana and Marko, two soldiers on the opposing sides of a space war who decide to marry and raise a child together. They hop from planet to planet, trying to find a spot of peace while dodging bounty hunters, sentient planets, and their own in-laws. Written by Brian K Vaughan and drawn by Fiona Staples, Saga went on a hiatus in 2018 after hitting the midpoint of its story in issue #54, so now is the perfect time to catch up. Pick up the compendium with the whole series to date at the link above, or grab the first volume here.

If you liked Saga, check out this: Image Comics has become a haven for science fiction comics in the 2010s, including the Hugo-nominated Bitch Planet, Invisible Kingdom by the creator of Ms Marvel, gender-flipped mythological space epic ODY-C, the watercolour-painted robot adventure Descender, and the dimension-hopping Black Science, to name a few.

Other Image books by Brian K. Vaughan include the Hugo-nominated Paper Girls with Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson, about a quartet of paper girls from the 1980s who travel through time, and We Stand on Guard with Steve Scroce and Matt Hollingsworth, which depicts a war in the future between Canada and the USA.

The Wicked + The Divine
The wicked + the divine. Vol. 1, The Faust act / Gillen, Kieron
Every 90 years, twelve gods return to Earth to inspire humankind and gain followers, only to die after two years. In 2014, this ‘Pantheon’ of gods return as popstars. The Wicked + The Divine (or WicDiv to its fans) follows Pantheon super-fan Laura as she becomes embroiled in the god’s inner conflicts and tries to attain godhood for herself. Coming to a close with issue #45 in September 2019, The Wicked + The Divine has been praised for its nuanced portrayals of LGBTQ+ characters and its themes on fame, death, history, religion, and the purpose of artists.

If you liked WicDiv, check out this: Gillen and McKelvie’s foray at Image Comics begins with Phonogram, set in a world where ‘music is magic’ that explores similar themes to The Wicked + The Divine. You can read the complete collection here.

Gillen has recently started a new series, DIE, with artist Stephanie Hans, about a group of adult tabletop RPG fans being forced to return to the game they were trapped in as teenagers, Jumanji-style. Reserve the first volume here.

East of West
East of West [1] / Hickman, Jonathan
Written by Johnathan Hickman and drawn by Nick Dragotta and Frank Martin, East of West is an alternate history that marries the political intrigue of Game of Thrones with the “slap leather” cowboy action of the Dollars trilogy, set in a futuristic United States of America. In this world, there are only seven states existing in an uneasy peace. Unbeknownst to their citizens, the leaders from each state secretly meet in neutral territory to try and bring about the end of the world. Meanwhile, three horsemen of the Apocalypse roam the land, seeking the son of their missing horseman, Death.

If you liked East of West, check out this: For another Hickman-penned alternate history, there’s the The Manhattan Projects, which reimagines the real scientists who helped build the atomic bomb as amoral dimension-travelling jerks in the vein of Rick Sanchez. Start with the first volume here.

Fatale
Fatale. Book one, Death chases me / Brubaker, Ed
Writer and artist team Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips have been doing crime comics together for years, transferring dime store pulp stories to the world of comics, while also updating, humanising and deconstructing the character archetypes and tropes for a modern genre-savvy audience. After the success of their Icon Comics series Criminal, Brubaker and Phillips began their first Image Comics series Fatale in 2012, featuring a supernatural take on the ‘femme fatale’ archetype. Lasting 24 issues, the series was collected in five volumes, the first of which you can read at the link above.

If you liked Fatale, check out this: Criminal is the series that really put Brubaker and Phillips on the map; each volume is a self-contained crime story from the perspective of different characters within one city, making it incredibly accessible. My particular favourite is Last of the Innocent, which puts the classic Archie Comics characters into a lurid murder mystery, six years before Riverdale did it on television.

Chew
Chew : the omnivore edition. Vol. I / Layman, John
In a world where the FDA is granted greater judicial powers following a deadly bird flu, detective Tony Chu is brought in to crack down on illegal chicken dealers. Fortunately, he has one advantage that his fellow investigators lack; he’s a cibopath, a kind of food psychic who can gain mental impressions from anything that he eats. Written by John Layman and drawn with cartoony panache by Rob Guillory, you can take a big bite out of Chew with the first ‘Omnivore Edition’ (collecting the first ten issues) at the link above.

If you liked Chew, check out this: Chew’s artist Rob Guillory recently started a new comedy-horror series called Farmhand, which follows a family who grows replacement human body parts on their farm.

We also have the first two volumes of writer John Layman’s newest haunted space adventure series Outer Darkness with artist Afu Chan.

The 2020 Hugo nominees for Best Graphic Story

Since 2009, the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story has been given to comics, graphic novels and other illustrated works that best exemplify the possibilities of speculative fiction and the comics medium, and we have all six of the 2020 nominees available for you to catch up with!

The nominations are a stacked field this year. The final volumes of two beloved long-running Image Comics series, The Wicked + The Divine and Paper Girls, were nominated this year, the last chance for either creative team to get the award (Paper Girls having been nominated a previous four times!). Three-time Best Graphic Story Hugo winner Monstress has also been nominated for its fourth volume. But those three veteran series face some strong contenders in new books like the fantasy deconstruction DIE, witchy love story Mooncakes, and the sci-fi immigration tale LaGuardia by previous Hugo winner Nnedi Okorafor.

Who will win the Hugo? We won’t know until the award ceremony on August 1st, but till then, you can catch up on the nominated books below!

Die, Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker, by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, letters by Clayton Cowles (Image)

Die. Volume 1, Fantasy heartbreaker / Gillen, Kieron
Pitched as “Jumanji meets Stephen King’s IT”, DIE follows five embittered adults returning the fantasy world they were trapped in as teenagers to rescue their friend who stayed there, only to find he’s gone native and is subjecting them to a deadly adventure campaign. Gillen, a former game journalist, wrote DIE to both critique and celebrate tabletop games and the fantasy genre overall, while Stephanie Hans renders the imaginary worlds of DIE with lush, dream-like detail. This is Hans’ first Hugo nomination, and Gillen is also nominated against himself this year for The Wicked + The Divine. Will DIE roll a nat 20 for the critical win?

Related Reading

DIE Volume 2. Split The Party — If you’re hooked on DIE after the first volume, check out the second volume ‘Split the Party’.

The Wicked + The Divine Volume 3. Commercial Suicide —  Stephanie Hans has also worked with Kieron Gillen on a issue of his series The Wicked + The Divine, collected in this volume.

The Adventure Zone Volume 1. Here there be gerblins — If you’re after more comics about Dungeons and Dragons, check out the first comic adaptation of the beloved roleplaying podcast ‘The Adventure Zone’.

LaGuardia, written by Nnedi Okorafor, art by Tana Ford, colours by James Devlin (Berger Books; Dark Horse)

LaGuardia : a very modern story of immigration / Okorafor, Nnedi
In a world where extraterrestrials regularly emigrate to Earth, a controversial travel ban goes into effect in America and separates a Nigerian-American couple who are expecting their first child. LaGuardia is a refreshingly sensitive science-fiction take on immigration and citizenship; Nnedi Okorafor has thought out every aspect of this all-too-familar sci-fi Earth, and Ford and Devlin depict the world and characters in lovingly dense detail, particularly with the alien designs. This is Ford and Devlin’s first nomination, while Okorafor has already won a Hugo for her novella Binti. Can LaGuardia net Okorafor her second Hugo win?

Related Reading

Black Panther: Long Live the King — Okorafor and Ford also worked together on this Black Panther series for Marvel Comics.

Binti — Check out Okorafor’s Hugo-winning series Binti here or on Overdrive.

The Green Lantern Vol 1. Intergalactic Lawman — This sharp new take on the Green Lantern character sees him as an intergalactic beat cop, where even ordinary crimes happen on intergalactic scales.

Monstress, Volume 4: The Chosen, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda (Image)

Monstress. Volume four, The chosen / Liu, Marjorie M
A fusion of a war diary, a horror manga, and young adult fantasy, Monstress has been a critical and fan-favourite since it began in 2016. Set in a war-torn land inspired by 20th century Asia, Monstress follows the adventures of Maika Halfwolf, a magical ‘Arcanic’ who is hunted by an order of sorceresses who use her species as magical fuel for their spells. Every volume of Monstress has won the Hugo for Best Graphic Story for the past three years running. Will Volume 4 continue Liu and Takeda’s winning streak?

Related Reading

Monstress Volume 1. Awakening — Start reading Monstress from the beginning with the first volume here, or for download it on Overdrive.

The iron hunt — The first book in Marjorie Liu’s urban fantasy series Hunter Kiss, which follows a demon hunter trying to rescue her beloved from a bloodthirsty army.

Calamity Kate — In an urban fantasy world, a monster hunter moves to LA to find the ultimate bounty: the Seven Fabled Beasts of Yore.

Mooncakes, by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker, letters by Joamette Gil (Oni Press; Lion Forge)

Mooncakes / Walker, Suzanne
Young witch Nova and her werewolf friend Tam have reunited after ten years apart, but their reunion brings forth struggles both mundane and magical, including family conflicts, maturing to face new responsibilities, and battling weird horse demons. Originally a webcomic, Mooncakes was published as a a graphic novel by Lion Forge in 2019, earning praise for centering on the romance of its queer Chinese-American protagonists. This is Walker, Gil and Xu’s first Hugo nomination; could Mooncakes cast a spell on the Hugo judges?

Related Reading

For more young adult comics about witches, check out:

The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag

SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

Spell on Wheels by Kate Leth and Megan Levens.

Paper Girls, Volume 6, written by Brian K. Vaughan, drawn by Cliff Chiang, colours by Matt Wilson, letters by Jared K. Fletcher (Image)

Paper Girls. 6 / Vaughan, Brian K
Four paper girls in the 1980s get embroiled in a war between rival factions of time travellers, facing cavemen, mutants, pterodactyls, robots, and their own future selves as they attempts to find a way home. Recently concluding after 30 issues and this sixth collection, Paper Girls has been nominated four times for the Graphic Story Hugo. Will the last volume finally deliver a win for its creative team?

 

Related Reading

Paper Girls Volume 1  — Start Paper Girls from the beginning here or for download on Overdrive

Wonder Woman Volume 1: Blood — Check out the Paper Girls art team’s (Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson) recent work on Wonder Woman here, or download it on Overdrive.

Saga Volume 1 — Writer Brian K Vaughan won the Best Graphic Story Hugo for Saga‘s first volume in 2013.

The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 9: “Okay”, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, colours by Matt Wilson, letters by Clayton Cowles (Image)

The wicked + the divine. Vol. 9, “Okay” / Gillen, Kieron
Every 90 years, twelve gods return to Earth in the form of teenagers to inspire humankind and gain followers, only to die after two years. In 2014, this ‘Pantheon’ of gods return as popstars. The Wicked + The Divine (or WicDiv to its fans) follows Pantheon super-fan Laura as she becomes embroiled in the god’s inner conflicts and tries to attain godhood for herself. Long-time comic collaborators Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson, and Cowles conclude the long-running series in this final volume, which has been a commercial and critical hit for its resonant themes on fame, death, religion, art, and artists. Volume 9 of the Wicked + The Divine is Jamie McKelvie’s first Hugo nomination and Gillen’s second with DIE, also nominated this year. Will this final offering be enough to sway the Hugos in their favour?

Related Reading

The Wicked + The Divine Volume 1. The Faust Act Start WicDiv from the beginning here or for download the first volume on Overdrive.

Young Avengers Volume 1. Style > substance  See how the WicDiv team first got together on the second iteration of Marvel’s teen superteam, the Young Avengers.

God complex: Dogma. Volume one — Another modern comic book take on the gods of antiquity, this cyberpunk thriller sees a forensic investigator meeting the god-like beings that secretly run the world.

StayAtHomeFest: Comic Creators #1!


The moment has come. You know what we’re talking about: your secret dream of writing and drawing a graphic memoir of your childhood, full of precise, personal details, bright, expressive imagery and a bold title that sums up the first 18 years of your life in a single sentence. It won’t be easy. Many have tried, and many have failed. But we believe in you. You can do it! Just take that work notepad and scribble out all those old meeting minutes; steal the felt-tip pens from your child or flatmate’s bedroom. Then settle down and get started–we’re waiting to read it!

(You could also check out these interviews with some of our favourite cartoonists and associated resources first, if you need inspiration–or a distraction…)


JILLIAN TAMAKI

Most cartoonists have a FAQ section on their website, but not all FAQ sections have the question “What is it like to have a banned book?” But that’s exactly what happened to Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer, a coming of age story of two teenage girls that was one of the most challenged books of 2016. It’s also been called an “emotional tour-de-force of a comic, a perfect snapshot of the strange purgatory that lies between childhood and adulthood.” Enjoy!

Overdrive cover This One Summer, by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki (eBook)
“Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. One of the local teens – just a couple of years older than Rose and Windy – is caught up in something bad…” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Discover More:

Overdrive: Did you know Jillian Tamaki grew up reading Archie comics, and is a big fan of Riverdale? Have a look at Archie–and the Riverdale comic adaptions–through Overdrive!

RBdigital: As well as her illustration, comic and blogging work, Jillian Tamaki also does embroidery. Take up your own crafting via RBdigital’s craft magazine selection.


THI BUI

Cartoonist and lecturer Thi Bui was born in 1978, just three months before the end of the Vietnam War. Bui and her family fled to America, and it is this story of escape, as well as the difficulties faced upon arrival in the States, that became the focus of Bui’s acclaimed 2017 graphic novel The Best We Could Do. The Best We Could Do has been described as “one of the first great works of socially relevant comics art of the Trump era.”

Overdrive cover The Best We Could Do, by Thi Bui (eBook)
“This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Discover More:

MasterFILE Complete: Thi Bui recently went to the island of Lesvos in Greece to learn about the refugee situation there. Follow her at her website, and learn more via MasterFILE Complete.

Story Box: Did you know that Thi Bui has also illustrated a children’s book, Chicken of the Sea, with her son? Check out more children’s stories via Overdrive and listen to readings via Story Box Library!


EMIL FERRIS

Reviews can be important for writers and illustrators; who doesn’t want to hear that people have engaged with–and like–your work? But author Emil Ferris took this a bit further when Forbes declared that her debut work, My Favorite Thing is Monsters, was of such quality that it was not only “one of the most profound, ambitious and accomplished creative works to appear in any medium this decade” but would transform graphic literature! (For more info, check out ‘I didn’t want to be a woman – being a monster was the best solution’.)

Discover More:

Oxford Art Online: Are you inspired by art galleries as much as Emil and Karen? Visit Oxford Art Online through our eLibrary!

Kanopy: Classic horror movies have also had a distinct impact on Emil Ferris’ work: watch them for yourself on one of our free film streaming services.


LYNDA BARRY

When Lynda Barry received her MacArthur fellowship in 2019, not one but two strands of her career in comics were highlighted: the groundbreaking work she’s produced since Ernie Pook’s Comeek was first released in 1979–including The Good Times Are Killing Me and One! Hundred! Demons!–and her ongoing role as a teacher. Her celebrated workshop on writing and creativity, ‘Writing the Unthinkable’, has been described as “freaky, vivid, and a lot of fun”–and also a lot of hard work!

Discover More:

Lynda.com: Did you know Lynda Barry has a course on Lynda.com? It’s true! Have a look via the link!

RBdigital: In 1991 Lynda Barry’s essay on the Gulf War (entitled “War”) was published in Mother Jones. Read the original essay here and check out the latest edition of Mother Jones via RBdigital.


DAVE MCKEAN

If you found yourself having nightmares after seeing the dementors in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, you have one person to blame: Dave McKean. Designing dementors is in fact a very small part of McKean’s output, which has included the distinctive covers for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, illustrating the most successful graphic novel ever published (Arkham Asylum, 1989), producing the graphic comic Cages, directing three feature films and much, much more!

Overdrive cover The Sandman (1989), Volume 1, by Neil Gaiman (eBook)
“NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Discover More:

Lynda.com: Whether you love McKean’s films, illustration, photography or writing, Lynda.com has a tutorial to match!

Naxos Jazz Library: Did you know McKean founded the jazz label Feral Records? For more jazz–including iconic works by Chet Baker, Miles Davis and John Coltrane!–visit our premiere jazz streaming service.

A Halloween graphic novel for every type of horror fan

“I am a horror maniac who prefers to stay at home.”
― Junji Ito, writer of Uzumaki

If you’re a discerning horror fanatic, you know it can be difficult to find a story that scratches your particular genre itch; after all, those that scare easily don’t always scare equally. That’s why we’ve put together this list of recent horror graphic novels to help you feed your particular horror obsession (or maybe help you start a new one).

Are you into monsters? Then check out the new Swamp Thing collection Roots of Horror featuring the best of DC’s writers and artists, or The Immortal Hulk, featuring a new undead twist on Marvel’s Green Goliath.

Do your interests lean more toward folk horror? Try webcomic artist Emily Carroll’s collection of Brothers Grimm-style horror tales Through the Woods, or Hellboy: The Wild Hunt, which inspired the 2019 Hellboy film.

Like your horror incomprehensible and weird? Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s ultimate haunted-house-in-space comic Nameless, or Uzumaki from horror manga artist Junji Ito — where singular obsessions lead a small town to ruin — might have what you’re after.

Swamp Thing : roots of terror : the deluxe edition / King, Tom
“On Halloween, the barrier between world’s grows thin–and only the Swamp Thing is strong enough to face the monsters that come from the other side. In addition, this book also features the final Swamp Thing story from the monster’s co-creator, Len Wein. Originally intended as the start of a new series, presented here with art by Kelley Jones. Collects Swamp Thing: Winter Special #1 and stories from Swamp Thing: Halloween Giant, Cursed Comics Cavalcade #1, and Young Monsters in Love #1″ (Catalogue)

Uzumaki : spiral into horror / Itō, Junji
“Kurôzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people’s bodies. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurôzu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is no return!” (Catalogue)

The immortal Hulk. Vol. 1, Or is he both? / Ewing, Al
“You know Bruce Banner. He’s quiet, calm, never complains. He’s a man who believes he can use the darkest elements of his personality to do good in the world. If someone were to shoot him in the head… All he’d do is die. But the horror lives deeper. A horror that refuses to die. When night falls something other than the man gets up again. The horror is the Immortal Hulk.” (Catalogue)

Hellboy : the wild hunt / Mignola, Michael
“The inspiration for the new film from director Neil Marshall and starring Strangers Things’s David Harbour. Hellboy is called to England to take part in an ancient ritual of hunting giants, but quickly faces a much more dangerous enemy: Nimue, the Queen of Blood, who has risen with plans to create a monstrous army.”  (Adapted from catalogue

Through the woods / Carroll, Emily
“A collection of five spine-tingling short stories”– Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there. A fantastically dark and timeless graphic debut, for fans of ‘Grimm Tales’, ‘The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy’ and the works of Neil Gaiman.” (Catalogue)

Nameless / Morrison, Grant
“With the asteroid Xibalba on a collision course with Earth, a group of billionaire futurists recruits the occult hustler Nameless for a mission to save the world.” (Catalogue)

New Zealand children’s comics and stories from our guests at Comicfest

Earlier this year Wellington City Libraries and the National Library of New Zealand hosted the biennial Comicfest, featuring panels and workshops with New Zealand comic artists such as Roger Langridge, Katie O’Neill, and Michel Mulipola.

Now you can check out their books (and more!) at the newly-opened He Matapihi Molesworth Library, in the National Library.

The Tea Dragon Society / O’Neill, Katie
“After discovering a lost Tea Dragon in the marketplace, apprentice blacksmith Greta learns about the dying art form of Tea Dragon caretaking from the kind tea shop owners.” (Catalogue)

Aquicorn Cove / O’Neill, Katie
“Unable to rely on the adults in her storm-ravaged seaside town, a young girl must protect a colony of magical seahorse-like creatures she discovers in the coral reef. From the award-winning author of PRINCESS PRINCESS EVER AFTER and THE TEA DRAGON SOCIETY comes AQUICORN COVE, a heartfelt story about learning to be a guardian to yourself and those you love. ” (Adapted from catalogue)

Tongan heroes / Riley, David
“Illustrated by Michel Mulipola, Tongan heroes presents inspirational stories of achievers who have Tongan ancestry. It includes: Legends like Aho’eitu, Hina and Seketoa, historical figures such as Queen Salote Tupou III, Pita Vi and Professor Futa Helu, contemporary heroes like Jonah Lomu, Captain Kamelia Zarka, Filipe Tohi, The Jets, Manu Vatuvei, Dr Viliami Tangi and Valerie Adams.” (Adapted by catalogue)

Samoan heroes / Riley, David
“Illustrated by Michel Mulipola, a collection of inspirational stories of achievers who have Samoan ancestry. It includes: contemporary heroes like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Troy Polamalu, Judge Ida Mālosi, Savage and Associate Professor Donna Adis; historical figures like Emma Coe, Tamasese, Salamāsina and Lauaki; legends like Sina, Tiʻitiʻi and Tigilau” (Adapted by catalogue)

Abigail and the snowman / Langridge, Roger
“Nine-year-old Abigail meets a loveable and sophisticated yeti named Claude who’s escaped from a top-secret government facility.” (Catalogue)

Criminy / Langridge, Roger
“Daggum Criminy’s peaceful life is suddenly interrupted as pirates invade his island, casting Criminy’s family out as refugees into the wild unknown in search of a new home. Soon, the Criminys find themselves hopping from one strange locale to another, each with their own bizarre environment, people, and challenges; putting Daggum and fam in constant peril as they search for a new peaceful place to call home.” (Catalogue)

Children’s comics that aren’t your usual

Have you traversed though all of Tintin? Been through the footnotes of Asterix? Are you just looking for something new to read? Then try one of these comics, as recommended by our librarians!

Want a superhero story with a fun twist? Try Sparks, the hero who’s actually two cats in a robot dog suit!

Do you want a comic with an interactive element? Then read Hocus Pocus, a pick-a-path adventure comic where YOU decide where the story goes!

Passionate about dinosaurs? Then check out Dinosaur Empire, an adventure through the three periods of the Age of Dinosaurs!

You can find all these books (and more!) in the Children’s Comic section of our library branches.

Sparks! / Boothby, Ian
“Sparks is a hero and man’s best friend, but nobody suspects he’s two cats! August is a brilliant inventor who is afraid of the outside. Charlie is a crack pilot who isn’t afraid of anything. Together these pals save lives every day as they pilot a powerful, mechanical dog suit!” (Adapted from catalogue)

Zeus : king of the gods / O’Connor, George
“O’Connor’s vibrant, kinetic art brings ancient tales to undeniable life, in a perfect fusion of super-hero aesthetics and ancient Greek mythology. Volume 1 of OLYMPIANS, ZEUS: King OF THE GODS, introduces readers to the ruler of the Olympian Pantheon, telling his story from his boyhood to his ascendance to supreme power.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Hocus & Pocus [1] : the legend of Grimm’s woods / Manuro
“Enter a world inspired by favorite fairy tales, complete with gingerbread houses, a girl dressed in red, and seven brothers lost in the woods. Readers can play as Hocus (a girl) or Pocus (a boy), choose a magic animal companion, and enter a colorful forest of brain-teasing riddles, magical objects, and unusual characters. Succeed or fail, it all depends on you” (Adapted from catalogue)

Dinosaur empire! : a graphic novel / Howard, Abby
“This book takes readers on a journey back in time to experience the Mesozoic Era firsthand through a riveting combination of art and factual information. This first in a three-book, middle-grade, graphic novel series centering around scientific investigations throughout time helps readers learn about the creatures of the Mesozoic Era.” (Catalogue)

Akissi : tales of mischief / Abouet, Marguerite
“Collects the adventures of Akissi, a young West African girl who is always getting into trouble.” (Catalogue)

Cucumber quest. 1, The doughnut kingdom / Gigi D. G.
“A delightfully pun-filled middle grade graphic novel, adapted from the popular web comic series, about bunny siblings on a heroic journey to save their world from an evil queen.” (Catalogue)

Finales and first issues – new comics

After 25 years of Hellboy, The B.P.R.D. finale has arrived. Mike Mignola crafts an image rich apocalypse, a pivotal point in the mythos of this world this issue reveals massive twists in what we have come to understand as B.P.R.D. lore. Recently reprised in the Hellboy movie, with Stranger things’ David Harbour this issue, Ragna rok, is definitely worth catching.

George Takei teams up with Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker for his graphic memoir, They called us enemy. Forced from their home into an uncertain future, Takei and his entire family were incarcerated in American concentration camps. The futuristic designs of Eileen Gray are detailed in a graphic novel bearing her name, a statement in it’s self coming from an era where the work of women architects was often eclipsed by their male counterparts. And a new series, Prodigy, from the creator of the Walking Dead has polymath Edison Crane fixing global problems.

Eclectic styles and commentaries on the fantastic to the historic and how they impact our lives today these comics are bursting with tales to tell. Enjoy!

They called us enemy / Takei, George
“In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to “relocation centers”. A stunning graphic memoir, They called us enemy, is George Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future. What is American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do?” (Adapted from catalogue)

B.P.R.D. : the devil you know [3] : Ragna rok / Mignola, Michael (print ), (eBook)
“The finale to B.P.R.D., Hellboy, Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman, and the rest of the bureau face off against one of their oldest enemies in the last battle to save the world. One enemy leads to another as the B.P.R.D. finds themselves up against something–and someone–even more sinister than they believed, and Christopher Mitten draws the origin story of one of the B.P.R.D.’s most mysterious foes.
Collects B.P.R.D.- The Devil You Know #11-15.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Eileen Gray : a house under the sun / Malterre-Barthes, Charlotte
“Meet Eileen Gray, the queer, Irish architect behind the world-renowned E-1027 house and a pioneer of the Modern Movement in architecture. In 1924. Nearly a century later, this structure is a design milestone. Dzierżawska’s exquisite visuals illuminate the previously overlooked struggles and triumphs of a young queer Irish designer whose work and life came to bloom during the ‘Ann es Folles’ of early 20th century Paris.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Prodigy : the evil earth / Millar, Mark
“Edison Crane’s not content being the world’s smartest man and most successful businessman — his brilliant mind needs constantly challenged. He’s a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, genius composer, Olympic athlete and an expert in the occult, and now international governments are calling on him to fix problems they just can’t handle. Collects Prodigy 1-6.” (Adapted from catalogue)

House of whispers. Volume one, The power divided / Gaiman, Neil
“One of four books expanding Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed Sandman Universe. Welcome to the House of Dahomey, the houseboat of Erzulie Fréda, where the souls of Voodoo followers go when they sleep but even the fearsome Erzulie is powerless when her dream river turns sour, tossing her house from one realm and into another.. the Dreaming! Collects House of Whispers #1-6 and Sandman Universe Special #1″ (Adapted from catalogue)

Stay / Trondheim, Lewis
A moving and mesmerizing look at life, death, written by celebrated author Lewis Trondheim and illustrated by Hubert Chevillard. Roland has the perfect vacation planned for Fabienne, with the entire itinerary recorded in a notebook. But, Roland is decapitated in a freak accident. And Fabienne, stunned and alone, has no idea how to process it. Ghost-like, she wanders the tourist-filled streets, a passive spectator. Along the way she meets Paco a local vendor with some eccentric views on life and death...” (Catalogue)

Die!Die!Die! [1] / Kirkman, Robert
“We don’t like to admit it, but this is an evil world where evil people do evil stuff all the time. Thankfully, there is a secret cabal with the United States government that works outside our normal system to influence world matters through targeted assassination. The world around us is manipulated right under our noses. So if you’re hurting people, somehow making the world worse than it already is,  someone could right now be giving the order for you to… DIE DIE DIE. Collects DIE DIE DIE #1-8.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Woman world / Dhaliwal, Aminder
“When a birth defect wipes out the planet’s entire population of men, Woman World rises out of society’s ashes. Dhaliwal’s infectiously funny instagram comic follows the rebuilding process, tracking a group of women who have rallied together under the flag of “Beyonce’s Thighs.” Only Grandma remembers the distant past, a civilization of segway-riding mall cops and “That’s What She Said” jokes. For the most part, Woman World‘s residents are focused on their struggles with unrequited love and anxiety, not to mention that whole “survival of humanity” thing.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Death to the tsar / Nury, Fabien
“Moscow. September 17th. 1904. In front of the palace of the Governor General of Moscow, the assembled masses protest against widespread poverty. Governor Sergei Alexandrovich is stood on the balcony when he drops his hankerchief – inadvertently giving the signal for the soldiers to open fire… The repercussions of his deadly mistake resound throughout the whole of Russia… and the assassins close in. Told in two parts, this is the true story of the assassination of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and a nation on the brink of revolution.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Kiwi-made graphic novels from He Matapihi Molesworth Library

Earlier this year Wellington City Libraries and the National Library of New Zealand hosted the biennial Comicfest, featuring panels and workshops with New Zealand comic artists such as Dylan Horrocks, Ross Murray, Ant Sang, Alex Cara, Roger Langridge and Sarah Laing.

Now you can check out their works (and more!) at the newly-opened He Matapihi Molesworth Library, in the National Library. From tales of action and adventure to the internal struggles of being a creative, there are stories for all sorts and all ages.

Sam Zabel and the magic pen / Horrocks, Dylan
“Cartoonist Sam Zabel hasn’t drawn a comic in years. Stuck in a nightmare of creative block and despair, Sam spends his days writing superhero stories for a large American comics publisher and staring at a blank piece of paper, unable to draw a single line. Then one day he finds a mysterious old comic book set on Mars and is suddenly thrown headlong into a wild, fantastic journey through centuries of comics, stories, and imaginary worlds . . .” (Adapted from catalogue)

Rufus Marigold / Murray, Ross
“Rufus Marigold is a primate with a problem. He suffers acutely from anxiety and every social encounter is a harrowing ordeal. A budding artist, Rufus spends his days working in an office. As life become increasingly more of a struggle, Rufus yearns to be defined as something other than an a complete nervous wreck. This volume collects and significantly expands upon the original web comic, resulting in a darkly hilarious yet moving account of living with anxiety.” (Catalogue)

Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas / Sang, Anthony
“Kidnapped by time-travelling ninjas, Helen is thrust into the year 2355 – a ruined future with roving gangs and ‘Peace Balls’, giant humming devices that enslave and control people’s minds. The Go-Go Ninjas have one goal – to destroy the Peace Balls. They believe that Helen knows how. Can Helen use her knowledge of the past to help them save the future? An electrifying graphic novel by award-winning authors.” (Catalogue)

Dreams of here, far from home : being nine settler fancies in sequential pictorial form / Cara, Alex
“O! Fortunate reader You will find within these pages nine settler narratives, fun for “New Chums” and “Gone Natives” alike, and rendered in extravagant colour. Thrill to the fears and fancies of these exotic intruders, with their night-terrors and naiveties, and dreams of here, far from home.” (From author’s store)

Mansfield and me : a graphic memoir / Laing, Sarah
“Mansfield and Me charts Sarah Laing’s journey towards publication and parenthood against Mansfield’s dramatic story, set in London, Paris, New York and New Zealand. Part memoir, part biography, part fantasy, it examines how our lives connect to those of our personal heroes.” (From publisher’s summary)

Snarked! Book one, Forks and hope / Langridge, Roger
“The next great Roger Langridge graphic novel series begins as he brings Lewis Carroll’s imaginative world to new heights in a side-splitting adventure that can only be explained as…SNARKED. Presenting a fresh and incredibly modern “Langridge” spin on an already-warped classic, SNARKED starts here in an epic adventure featuring the Red Queen’s children, Princess Scarlett and her baby brother Rusty, as they set out in search of the missing Red King.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Like Studio Ghibli? Try these comics!

The beloved Japanese animation institution Studio Ghibli, creator of such films as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Kiki’s Delivery Service, has captured people’s imaginations for over twenty years. Their films explore themes of identity, family, social duty, culture and nature, through gorgeously rendered fantasy worlds, emotional coming-of-age stories, and meetings of the fantastic with the mundane. There’s a Studio Ghibli film for everyone, and if you’re a fan of their work, we think you’d like these comic recommendations from our Graphic Novel collection.


The Sandman : the dream hunters / Gaiman, Neil
“Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology and folklore with his own distinct narrative vision. Adapted by P. Craig Russell from the multi-award winning novella, The King of All Night’s Dreaming is drawn into a tale about a monk, a fox woman, and an evil man set in ancient Japan.” (Catalogue)

The Spire / Spurrier, Simon
“The Spire is a mountain of metal and stone, a vast city that rises out of the middle of the radioactive desert. Filled with twisting tunnels, grinding elevators, and ancient machinery, it is home to over a million human and non-human residents. Shå, the last of the species known as the Medusi, is responsible for keeping the hodgepodge of forgotten technology and new biology safe as Commander of the City Watch. But when a string of grisly murders are committed just as a new Baroness of the Spire is about to be sworn in, Shå will have to find the killer and bring that individual to justice.” (Catalogue)

My brother’s husband. Volume 1 / Tagame, Gengoroh
“Yaichi is a work-at-home suburban dad in contemporary Tokyo; formerly married to Natsuki, father to their young daughter, Kana. Their lives suddenly change with the arrival at their doorstep of a hulking, affable Canadian named Mike Flanagan, who declares himself the widower of Yaichi’s estranged gay twin, Ryoji.  What follows is an unprecedented and heartbreaking look at the state of a largely still-closeted Japanese gay culture: how it’s been affected by the West, and how the next generation can change the preconceptions about it and prejudices against it.” (Catalogue)

Wayward. Volume one, String theory / Zubkavich, Jim
“Rori Lane is trying to start a new life when she reunites with her mother in Japan, but ancient creatures lurking in the shadows of Tokyo sense something hidden deep within her, threatening everything she holds dear. Can Rori unlock the secrets of her power before it’s too late? An all-new Image supernatural spectacle that combines the camaraderie and emotion of Buffy with the action and mystery of Hellboy.” (Catalogue)

Daytripper / Moon, Fábio
DAYTRIPPER follows the life of one man, Bras de Olivias Dominguez. Every chapter features an important period in Bras’ life in exotic Brazil, and each story ends the same way: with his death. The following story starts up at a different point in his life, oblivious to his death in the previous issue – and then also ends with him dying again. In every chapter, Bras dies at different moments in his life, as the story follows him through his entire existence – one filled with possibilities of happiness and sorrow, good and bad, love and loneliness” (Catalogue)

Beyond Wakanda: comics and graphic novels on Afrofuturism

Afrofuturism, the cultural movement that imagines science-fiction tropes through the lens of African and African-American perspectives, came bursting into the mainstream with the release of Black Panther. Now you can experience the world of Wakanda (and beyond) in these graphic novels, brought to four-colour life by some of the best artists the medium has to offer!

Featuring such celebrated authors as Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Evan Narcisse, and Nnedi Okorafor, these stories feature African and African-American heroes as they face political uprisings, street crime, oppressive corporations, super-science, planetary empires, and time travel.

Black Panther [6] : the intergalactic empire of Wakanda. Part one, Many thousands gone / Coates, Ta-Nehisi
“A bold new direction for the Black Panther! For years, T’Challa has kept foreign invaders out of his homeland, protecting his people from everything from meddling governments to long-lost gods. Now, he will discover that Wakanda is much bigger than he ever dreamed…across the vast Multiverse lies an empire founded in T’Challa’s name. Jump on now and learn the truth behind the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda. Ta-Nehisi Coates welcomes aboard fan-favorite artist Daniel Acuna for a Black Panther story unlike any other.” (Catalogue)

Black Panther : world of Wakanda / Gay, Roxane
“The world building of Wakanda continues in a love story where tenderness is matched only by brutality. You know them now as the Midnight Angels, but in this story they are just Ayo and Aneka, young women recruited to become Dora Milaje, an elite task force trained to protect the crown of Wakanda at all costs. Their first assignment will be to protect Queen Shuri… but what happens when your nation needs your hearts and minds, but you already gave them to each other? Meanwhile, former king T’Challa lies with bedfellows so dark, disgrace is inevitable. Plus, explore the true origins of the People’s mysterious leader, Zenzi. Black Panther thinks he knows who Zenzi is and how she got her powers – but he only knows part of the story!” (Catalogue)

Shuri [1] : the search for Black Panther, 1 / Okorafor, Nnedi
“The world fell in love with her in the movie. Now, the Black Panther’s techno-genius sister launches her own adventures – written by best-selling Afrofuturist author Nnedi Okorafor and drawn by Eisner-nominated artist Leonardo Romero The Black Panther has disappeared, lost on a mission in space. And in his absence, everyone’s looking at the next in line for the throne. But Shuri is happiest in a lab, surrounded by gadgets of her own creation. She’d rather be testing gauntlets than throwing them. But a nation without a leader is a vulnerable one – and Shuri may have to choose between Wakanda’s welfare and her own.” (Catalogue)

Rise of the Black Panther / Narcisse, Evan
“Wakanda has always kept itself isolated from Western society, but that’s about to change. Young T’Challa knows he’s destined to become king, but when his father is murdered by outsiders, he finds himself taking up a mantle he may not be ready for. Experience the troubled reign of King T’Chaka! Discover the mother T’Challa never knew! And see how the world first learns of the wondrous nation of Wakanda – including Namor, King of Atlantis ; the Winter Soldier ; and the ruler of Latveria, Doctor Doom! Plus: as Erik Killmonger makes a devastating move, a missing chapter of T’Challa and Storm’s lifelong romance comes to light – and the Black Panther must decide his unique role in a world full of super heroes!” (Catalogue)

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur [1] : BFF / Montclare, Brandon
(Overdrive)
“Lunella Lafayette is an inhuman preteen genius who wants to change the world! That job would be a lot easier if she wasn’t living in mortal fear of her latent inhuman gene. There’s no telling what she’ll turn into — but Luna’s got a plan. All she needs is an Omni-Wave Projector. Easy, right? That is, until a red-scaled beast is teleported from the prehistoric past to a far-flung future we call…today! Together they’re the most Marvelous Team-Up of all — the Inhuman Moon Girl and time-tossed Devil Dinosaur!” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Deathlok : the souls of cyber-folk / McDuffie, Dwayne
“As if being duped by his evil ex-employers into becoming the cyborg soldier Deathlok isn’t enough, now Michael Collins is square in the sights of a mad villain collecting and disassembling cyborgs and androids. Can you guess the secret of Mechadoom? Hopefully Deathlok, with a little help from the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, can. Then, what happens when the man in the body of a killing machine meets the killing machine in the body of a man? Find out when Deathlok and the Punisher team up! And the nightmare is far from over for Collins – when he finds himself in battle with Ghost Rider, it’s time to fight hellfire with firepower” (Catalogue)

Black Lightning : cold dead hands / Isabella, Tony
“Iconic 70s comic character and now star of his own hit TV series on the CW, Black Lightning, comes thundering back into his hometown to right past wrongs and start a whole new crime-fighting era.  Black Lightning is back and things are not the same. In his home town of Cleveland, high school teacher Jefferson Pierce is a role model for his students. As Black Lightning, he’s fighting to keep them safe, even as his city’s streets are invaded by local gangs with deadly super-weapons. And wait until you see who their supplier is! Jefferson Pierce is reborn for a new era, as the titular character of the new CW series takes center stage in this new graphic novel.” (Catalogue)

Kindred : a graphic novel adaptation / Duffy, Damian
“Home is a new house with a loving husband in 1970s California that is suddenly transformed into the frightening world of the antebellum South. Dana, a young black writer, can’t explain how she is transported across time and space to a plantation in Maryland. But she does quickly understand why: to deal with the troubles of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder – and her progenitor. Her survival, her very existence, depends on it. This searing graphic-novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s science fiction classic is a powerfully moving, unflinching look at the violent, disturbing effects of slavery on the people it chained together, both black and white – and made kindred in the deepest sense of the word.” (Catalogue)