There’s a lot of amazing reading challenges for all different types of readers. For the over ambitious trying to hit 120 books this upcoming year, or the for the busy professional interested in in reading more but unsure where they will find the time, graphic novels can be a great way to keep focused on reading goals, without worrying about getting bogged down in 500 pages of dense, indecipherable prose.
Best Comics of 2018
Still catching up on your To Be Read (TBR) list from 2018? No problem, start off 2019, with one thing you really wanted to read in 2018 and didn’t get the chance to!
- A massive undertaking hailed as some of the best work to appear on the scene in 2018, Ed Piskor’s X-Men: Grand Design, is a cohesive story that connects the early X-men cannon together all while featuring Piskor’s trademark talent at managing every aspect of the work. Planned to be a trilogy, the first two volumes are already out, so it’s worth reading them before the third installment hits stores.
- It’s no surprise that Infidel topped the 2018 Best of Lists with their stellar creative team – author Pornsak Pichetshote, artist Aaron Campbell, colorist (and CBLDF Advisory Board Member) Josè Villarrubia, letterer Jeff Powell. This modern horror comic was selected by NPR and and Book Riot for Best of 2018 lists, as well as NPR’s “100 Favorite Horror Stories of All Time.”
On the TBR List
Early in 2019 there’s still not a lot of new stuff out for the year, so who cares if you’re still ticking off items from your TBR list? How about trying to knock off some of those that have been on there for well over a decade?
- 2019 marks the 15 year anniversary since the conclusion of beloved (and banned) comic,Bone. Compared favorable with such young adult classics as LOTR and Harry Potter, if you’ve skipped Jeff Smith great series, now is the time to pick it up.
- August of 2019 will mark the 20 year anniversary since Alan Moore’s Promethea debuted. The art and writing are still beautiful, and the magic of the tale is timeless. With just five volumes in the series, it’s a great one to start with the hopes of actually finishing it before 2020.
- Sandman’s first issue technically came out in 1988, but the covers for for the first arc later collected as Preludes and Nocturnes were dated January thru August 1989, so expect a lot fo reflection in the media this year about the 30th Anniversary of that revolutionary first series.
- There are certain things no on likes admitting they skipped. Certain key points in the cultural zeitgeist that when people openly mention never having read or watched seem to make the music to stop and every head turn in unison to proclaim “You’ve never seen ____?” in shock/amazement/horror/disgust. Watchmen is one of those works, and with the new HBO series underway with Lost’s Damon Lindelof (apologetic but excited) at the helm, those who have yet to read Watchmen should add it to their list this year.
Challenge Accepted: For 30+ Years
Reading More Memoir
Memoir may be a go-to favorite, but if they’re not, there is a lot to be said for this amazing genre filled with some of the best offerings in the graphic novel world. Memoirs offer solidarity in times of crisis. They teach empathy for those that at first glance seem different from the reader, but demonstrate the many similarities shared beneath the surface. Memoirs offer a chance to learn from others mistakes and rejoice in hard won victories.
- Tillie Walden’s Eisner win in 2018 for her competitive skating, coming of age memoir Spinningmade her one of the youngest to take home the prestigious award. Don’t miss this amazing coming-out tale that resonates with anyone who has felt isolated or alienated by being themselves.
- A National Book Award finalist, David Small’s memoir Stitches silently relays the tense gothic family drama that Small overcame with his art, creating a redemption story where others would see only the negative.
- Fun Home
- Theories of Everything – the best curated collection of Chast’s published cartoons.
- Going Into Town – A love letter to her city of New York.
- Can We Talk About Something More Pleasant – The hilarity, sadness, and reality of dealing with aging parents.
- The Party After You Left – genetically altered mice, birthday parties from hell, and comfort drinks in the age of insecurity, Roz Chast tackles the absurdity of life with wit.
- What I Hate From A to Z – Chast imparts the horrors of every day items and situations in this hysterical Alphabet Book designed to enlighten those non-neurotic lurking among us.
Challenged Accepted: New Yorker Approved!
Since 1978 Roz Chast has published more than 800 cartoons in The New Yorker, plus Scientific American, and The Harvard Law Review. Her darkly funny, and extremely relatable voice brings her published collections to a wholly unexpected level of narrative. Check out these amazing books, each different in it’s own way.
Reading More Nonfiction
A lot of well read fiction buffs add countless Ron Chernow biographies to their library holds list each January in hopes of upping their nonfiction numbers in the new year. Well the beauty of graphic novels is that there’s plenty of beautiful nonfiction that is engaging to read. Here are just a few favorites to add make reading fun and educational.
- The only graphic novel to win a National Book Award, Congressman John Lewis’ memoir executed with Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin is an amazing glimpse into the civil rights movement. The
- MARCH Trilogy follows young John Lewis as he navigates activism, prejudice, communities of all kinds, and find out what it means to stand for something. The latest installment RUN is due out in 2019, so now’s the time to read the first three!
- Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist tells the story of Jackie Ormes, who was just posthumously inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame for her work, including her nationally syndicated comic strip.
- CBLDF Presents:She Changed Comics! the definitive guide to the women who changed free expression in comics.
- Learn how to make your own history with How Comics Work by Dave Gibbons. Exploring all parts of the creation of sequential art, this book will teach you how all the stuff you never get see makes the final product that you love.
The Golden Age of TV
It’s no shock that a lot of the top television and movies were based on or inspired by comics and graphic novels. Certainly a lot of reading challenges this year will ask participants to go beyond the set and dig up books that inspired shows on tv and streaming sites. Here’s a quick guide to some favorites that may be for you.
Current Traditional TV Show
- Deadly Class inspired the hit SyFy show of the same name.
On Demand TV Show
- Cinemax ran two seasons of Outcast based on the Robert Kirkman horror comic. It acquired a cult following but not another season renewal, so now it’s streaming for subscribers in its entirety and the comic has just began its final 12 issue story arc as of December 2018 so it’s the perfect time to catch up!
Upcoming Netflix Show
- Starting in mid February, the much anticipated adaptation of Umbrella Academy will hit televisions, laptops, tablets, and phones all over the country. Part alternate history, part superhero academy, part mystery, part family drama, this really has something for everyone.
- Aft r all the false starts and seemingly dead ends, Locke &Keyhas finally found its home on Netflix. With the casting just announced, you probably will get a chance to read all the volumes before it airs.
Bonus Points: Should Be a Netflix Show
- A lot of Brian K Vaughan’s books qualify for this title, but perhaps none so much as his iconic 80s set Paper Girls. Stranger Things–esque, it centers around kick-ass (news)paper (delivery) girls on their bikes, hell bent on solving a mystery.
A lot of challenges have a prompt involving reading part of a series, which is probably less common for the non-comics readers than it is for the rest of us. Here’s a couple good suggestion for different prompts.
Start a Series
- If you’ve never gotten a. Chance to sit down and read it, the first volume of Fables is a strong start to a long running series. Since the characters are already familiar, it’s an easy one to pick up and get right into the good stuff.
Pick Up a Sequel
- Never one to deliver the expected, Chuck Palahniuk made the highly anticipated sequel to his first hit novel, a graphic novel. So grab a copy of Fight Club 2 And catch back up with Jack’s overly developed sense of self and all your other favorites from the first.
One and Done Limited Run
One of the top comics from last year was a limited run, and occasionally it’s nice to have something with a clear start and clear end. In that case, check out Tom King’s Vision.
Comics written by people who are known for things other than writing comic books!
- Joss Whedon has become synonymous with superheroes, sure, but still not quite with comics. Check out the first volume of of Astonishing X-Men To see why he should be.
- Known for being the front man of My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way is clearly skilled on multiple levels, including penning the Eisner Award winning, soon to be hit-show Umbrella Academy.
Other Category Possibilities
90s Underground / Curse Word in the Title
Adaptation And/Or Kafkaesque
Read Between The Lines And/Or Space Opera