Graphic novels

Hip Hop Family Tree Volume 2 by Ed Piskor

Hip Hop Family Tree Volume 2 by Ed Piskor

Hip Hop Family Tree Volume 2 picks up right where Ed Piskor's first phenomenal graphic novel left off. By 1981, the record industry has started to capitalize on the raw talent of urban youth. The sounds are slicker and the rhymes are tighter, but Piskor manages to find and highlight the raw edges of the musical movement.

March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

March: Book One is the beautifully constructed graphic novel biography of Civil Rights activist and Congressman John Lewis. Relying only on black and white imagery, it is quiet in its form and presentation. Lewis' struggle of growing up in the Deep South, fighting to go to college, and helping to organize lunch counter sit-ins speaks volumes and needs no distraction.

Ant Colony by Michael DeForge

Ant Colony by Michael DeForge

I spied Ant Colony from about fifty feet away and knew that I had to at least give it a try. Regardless of what its pages contained, I knew there was something special about a book with such a bizarre cover. Bright colors meld with violently jagged edges over an inconspicuous ant hill, hinting at a darkness lurking beneath. I was not wrong.

This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki

This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki

This One Summer is a gorgeously-crafted coming-of-age graphic novel centering around a young girl named Rose. Her family has been visiting Awago Beach for years, but this summer is different.

Rose's parents have been fighting since they arrived at the beach. Something happened there last year that neither parent wishes to address, but it looms over their heads like a cloud of unspoken malaise.

Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor

Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor

"Stepping in a rhythm to a Kurtis Blow. 
Who needs to think when your feet just go?"

                                                Tom Tom Club - The Genius of Love

Ed Piskor cannot rap or dance. He is no good with turntables or sampling. What Piskor can do is draw, which is why Hip Hop Family Tree is such an important testament to honoring the innovators and pioneers of the culture.

Spider-Man: New Ways to Die by Dan Slott

Spider-Man: New Ways to Die by Dan Slott

The graphic novel Spider-Man: New Ways to Die begins like many Spider-Man stories before it. There is a brief explanation of Peter Parker’s dual life as a superhero and a photographer stuck in perpetual poverty, quickly followed up by a battle between Spidey and the newest “Goblin” character, Menace.

However, it quickly becomes clear to the reader that the status quo has been greatly changed for this latest adventure. Parker works for a different newspaper, his former nemesis Eddie Brock is dying of cancer, and Norman Osborn, previously the Green Goblin, is in charge of the Thunderbolts, a team of “hero hunters” out to capture Spider-Man.

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

First off, yes, it is that Dahmer. Secondly, yes, this book is written and drawn by a man named Derf Backderf.

My Friend Dahmer is much more than just a grisly expose on the teenage life of a future serial killer; it is also a rumination on the culture of 1970's suburbia, where teens were left to their own devices in the wake of divorce or career-minded parents.

Luthor by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo

Luthor by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo

Have you ever been in a situation where you faced impossible odds to succeed? Or, have you ever gone up against an opponent seemingly superior to you in every way? These traits are usually associated with a brave protagonist “overcoming the odds” but can sometimes be compellingly applied to a villain as well. Lex Luthor, a villain almost as old as the Superman mythos itself, has long existed without a compelling character hook. He was originally a fat, bald man who schemed to ruin Europe simply because he could.

RASL: The Drift by Jeff Smith

RASL: The Drift by Jeff Smith

RASL: The Drift deals with alternate universes. Worlds that are just like this one, with only the slightest differences. Looking for those small clues is sometimes helpful, sometimes upsetting, and this is especially true if you are not entirely sure what dimension you are in.

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley's graphic novel Relish: My Life in the Kitchen zigzags between biography, cookbook, travelogue, and manifesto of all things culinary. What's more, her fun, vibrantly colorful artwork often made me very hungry. This is the mark of success for such a book.

Relish explores every aspect of food's vast appeal, whether it is for purposes of comfort, nourishment, or to just satisfy that insatiable craving for sautéed mushrooms.