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Comics exist in the same sphere as picture books: they both use text and illustration to create a cohesive story, and they both require a certain understanding of how visual narratives flow across the page. With the added length in pages, though, comics books––or graphic novels, but for simplicity I'll just call them all comics––stand apart as a unique way to show and tell longer, more complex stories to an audience that appreciates visual storytelling as much as textual (ie picture books for adults!).

Here are my favorite comic books published within the last 10 years. Click on the appropriate school range to skip down to that section:

Grade School      •      Middle School      •      Young Adult



Grade School

The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo series
Written and illustrated by Drew Weing

Charles moves to Echo City to discover it's chock-full of monsters. He manages to track down Margo Maloo, monster investigator, who agrees to help him. Which is lucky because the trolls, ogres, and other monsters they encounter don't really seem to like Charles much...
The Dam Keeper series
Created by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

Lurking outside the walls of Sunrise Valley is a deathly fog, and Pig is the only one who can keep the city safe. But when the fog comes with an unexpected vengeance one day, Pig and two unlikely friends set out to save their home.
Good Night, Planet
Written and illustrated by Liniers

This quiet early reader represents an age-old question: what do your toys do when you're asleep? After a long day of jumping in leaves and reading books, a little girl is tired and ready for bed. But as soon as she falls asleep her favorite stuffie, Planet, wakes up and has her own adventures, making new friends, eating cookies, and attempting to achieve the impossible.
Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust
Written by Loic Dauvillier, illustrated by Marc Lizano, inked by Greg Salsedo, translated by Alexis Siegel

A grandmother tells the story of how, as a young Jewish girl in Paris, she was protected and kept hidden from the Nazis –– who took her parents to concentrations camps –– by a series of neighbors and friends who risked their lives to keep a stranger safe.
The Hilda series
Written and illustrated by Luke Pearson


Hilda is an adventurous girl who lives with her mother and a deerfox named Twig. The trio encounters everything magical, from trolls to giants to invisible people. Hands-down one of the best series out there right now.
Hippopotamister
Written and illustrated by John Patrick Green


Hippo and his friend Red Panda decide to head out into the human world and learn that in order to survive –– and more importantly, blend in –– they have to become quite different than they are. They have to wear human clothes, learn human jobs, and act as human as possible. But is it worth all the disguises if they never gets to be themselves?
The Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy series
Written and illustrated by Doug Savage

Meet Laser Moose, defender of the forest, and his sidekick Rabbit Boy! This hilarious, upbeat duo battles everything from aliens to a cyborg porcupine to a mechanical squirrel to even a chickadee in order to keep the forest safe from evil.
The Narwhal and Jelly series
Written and illustrated by Ben Clanton

Join Narwhal, a happy-go-lucky narwhal, and Jelly, no-nonsense jellyfish, as they discover the ocean together! These early "chapter" books are divided into three stories for three times the waffle fun.
One Day a Dot
Written by Ian Lendler and illustrated by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb

Where did we come from? Where did everything come from? This early reader starts at the very beginning of time, from a tiny dot through the Big Bang though the existence of humanity.
Robot Dreams
Written and illustrated by Sara Varon

After a Labor Day trip to the beach leaves Robot rusted on the sand, Dog has no choice but to leave him and come back for him next summer. But the memories of their best friendship linger with both of them throughout the year as the Robot dreams on his sandy beach and Dog begins to form new friendships. This is a wordless comic with huge heart.
Where's Halmoni?
Written and illustrated by Julie Kim

Two young children set out to visit their grandmother and quickly find themselves on an unexpected journey through a fantastical world full of Korean folklore.
Wordplay
Written and illustrated by Ivan Brunetti

This early reader is a wonderfully hilarious introduction to compound words and proves how much there is to love about the English language.

Middle School

American Born Chinese
Written and illustrated by Gene Luen Yang

Gene Yang tells the story of three seemingly unrelated characters whose lives and stories come together in an unexpected way. Trust me, the less you know about this book going in, the more you'll be amazed.
The Amulet series
Written and illustrated by Kazu Kibuishi

When their mother is kidnapped, Emily and Navin set out into a world of robots, talking animals, and flying ships to save her. But what Emily and her family has yet to learn is that Emily is a Stonekeeper, a sacred role in a much larger war. And she's essential to the survival of this world.
Be Prepared
Written and illustrated by Vera Brosgol

In this comedic graphic memoir, Vera delves into her childhood experience at a Russian summer camp. All very has ever wanted is to fit in, which isn't easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. So when she hears about a Russian camp, she jumps at the opportunity to go. Only, it seems that she has a tough time fitting in there, too, with all the girly drama, lack of running water, and involuntary extended stay.
The Big Bad Fox
Written and illustrated by Benjamin Renner

Through watercolored, comic-style illustrations, this book tells the tale of a fox who dreams of being the terror of the barnyard, but ends up being Mommy to three baby chicks instead. And of course, there's Wolf, who won't stop hounding Fox about wanting to eat the baby chicks, and the local farm that's been on high-alert ever since Fox stole the chicks. So in the midst of all these hard decisions, what's Fox supposed to do when he finds himself actually caring for the baby chicks?
Bone
Written and illustrated by Jeff Smith

When cousins Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone are run out of their hometown, they mistakenly end up in a mysterious land filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures. Together with Thorn, Gran'ma Ben, and the Great Red Dragon, the three cousins set out on an epic journey that pushes everyone involved to their very limits.
Boxers & Saints
Written and illustrated by Gene Luen Yang

In two volumes, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. Readers follow the lives of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant whose village is slowly destroyed by Christian missionaries, and Vibiana, a lost girl who finds herself at home with Christianity. As their lives intersect, they discover who they are and what they truly believe in.
Broxo
Written and illustrated by Zack Giallongo

As the sole survivor of his tribe, Broxo spends his days hunting and hiding from the walking dead that occasionally wander by. When a princess named Zora arrives looking for Broxo's tribe, the two must come together to battle the living dead.
The Clem Hetherington series
Written by Jen Breach and illustrated by Douglas Holgate

Indiana Jones meets Mad Max meets Star Wars! After the death of their successful archaeologist parents, Clementine and Digory Hetherington, a human and a robot, set out to claim their rightful place in the world of archaeology.
Drama
Written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

Callie is a set designer for her drama department's stage crew, and this year she's determined to spend her middle-school-sized theater budget on a set worthy of a Broadway play. But of course, this is middle school, and nothing is ever that easy! Callie knows very little about the intricacies of the drama department, and it doesn't help that two new cute brothers have suddenly joined up.
The Four Points series
Written by Hope Larson and illustrated by Rebecca Mock

It's 1860 in New York City when 12-year-old twins Alexander and Cleopatra's father disappears. So they set out the find him, encountering countless dangers along the way that test the sibling's trust, bond, and faith. And that doesn't even count the pirates and gangs that are hot on their tail.
The Nameless City series
Written and illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks and colored Jordie Bellaire

Though seemingly from different worlds, Kaidu and Rat find themselves on a journey together to save their city. Warring factions break out and it’s up to Kaidu and Rat to make sure their city doesn’t get lost in the war.
Pashmina
Written and illustrated by Nidhi Chanani

Priyanka Das has lived her life filled with questions. Who is her father? Why did her mother leave India many years ago? And why won’t she talk about it? Pri thinks she’ll have to live her whole life surrounded by mystery until she discovers a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she puts it in she’s transported straight to India, guides included. But is this truly the India her mother left?
The Prince and the Dressmaker
Written and illustrated by Jen Wang

Prince Sebastian leads a secret life at night, dressing up in women's clothing and taking Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia. Only two people know his secret, one of whom is his best friend and brilliant dressmaker Frances. Frances dreams of being the world's hottest designer, though, and keeping Sebastian's secret means she, too, must be kept secret. How long should Frances defer her dreams to protect her best friend? And how long will Sebastian keep his identity a secret?
Quince
Written by Kit Steinkellner, illustrated by Emma Steinkellner, and created by Sebastian Kadlecik

Lupe is your average teen who's on the verge of celebrating her quinceaƱera. But when her quince finally arrives, something changes. Something huge. She suddenly has superpowers! But the powers only last as long as she’s fifteen, so she has one year to harness the powers for good and help save the people around her.
Real Friends
Written by Shannon Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen's #1, and some girls even result to bullying to stay on top. Every day is a roller coaster for Shannon as she learns how hard it is to find her real friends and why it's worth the journey.
Smile and Sisters
Written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

In this autobiographical comic book duo, Raina Telgemeier delves into braces, sisters, and the sixth grade. Raina humorously recalls the events in her life through flashbacks, and readers get to know what made Raina who she is today.
Suee and the Shadow
Written by Ginger Ly and illustrated by Molly Park

Suee has always been a loner, and that doesn't change much when she transfers to Outskirts Elementary. Especially given that bullied kids (called Zeroes) end up turning into zombies. But when her shadow suddenly comes alive and forms an evil plan, Suee realizes just how much is at stake in this small, creepy town.
The Sunny series
Written by Jennifer L Holm and illustrated by Matthew Holm

Young Sunny spends a summer with her grandfather as her family attempts to help her older brother find his way again. Summer learns about adapting to new family dynamics and understanding how those around us shape the course of our lives.

Young Adult

As the Crow Flies
Written and illustrated by Melanie Gillman

Thirteen-year-old Charlie Lamonte is queer, black, and questioning her belief in God. Needless to say, things get uncomfortable quickly when she agrees to spend a week at an all-white Christian backpacking camp. Will she ever find someone who understands her point of view?
Deadendia
Written and illustrated by Hamish Steele

Barney and his best friend Norma are just trying to keep their jobs at the Dead End theme park, but it isn't easy when Dead End is on a portal to hell their jobs involve battling demonic forces, wrangling kids, and dealing with complicated love lives. Not to mention the fact that Barney's pug has just started talking and might be the key to everything they've been experiencing.
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil
Written and illustrated by Stephen Collins

Everything on the island of Here is orderly and neat until one man's unstoppable beard gives him and the citizens of Here a new perspective. If that sounds intriguing enough, then I suggest you pick the book up. I don't want to say anymore about the story since it's fantastic and unexpected in every way.
Lighter Than My Shadow
Written and illustrated by Katie Green

Katie has always been a picky eater, but as she grows up and enters high school and then college, she finds herself continuing to struggle with body dysmorphia and anorexia. Based on the true story of author Katie Green's battles during her formative years, Lighter Than My Shadow is a raw, honest, and deeply self reflective graphic memoir about struggling to understand oneself and learning how to seek out help and recovery.
The Lunar Chronicles series
Written by Marissa Meyer and illustrated by various artists

This comic book series spinoff takes place in the same world as The Lunar Chronicles, a young adult novel series also written by Meyer. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko, an android, decides to hunt down every last one. But as old enemies –– and surprising allies –– keep popping up, Iko begins to question her own humanity.
March
Written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell

This trilogy is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights. Beginning with his initial desire to enact change all through President Obama's inauguration, readers experience the uphill battle Lewis and his comrades had to fight in order to achieve the rights they deserve.
Nimona
Written and illustrated by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter who wants to be a villain, so when she finds super villain Lord Ballister Blackheart, she's determined to be his sidekick and prove that heroism is overrated. But what starts as small vengeance turns into something much larger as Lord Blackheart discovers that Nimona isn't who she claims to be.
Persepolis
Written and illustrated by Marjane Satrapi

This autobiography tells the story of Marjane growing up in a large family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. Through boarding school, living at home, and her ultimate self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland, readers journey with Marjane as she struggles to understand the actions of her country.
Scott Pilgrim
Written and illustrated by Bryan Lee O’Malley

The epic six-book tale of one guy's quest to win the heart of the girl of his dreams by defeating her seven evil exs.
The Shadow Hero
Written by Gene Yang and illustrated by Sonny Liew

In the 1940s, the Green Turtle was the first Asian American superhero. The comic had a short run before lapsing into obscurity, but Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew revive the character and create an origin story for the Green Turtle full of action, vengeance, and heart.
Shattered Warrior
Written by Sharon Shinn and illustrated by Molly Knox Ostertag

Eight years after Colleen's home is invaded by aliens and her entire family is slaughtered, Colleen receives news that her niece Lucy is still alive and decides to join a revolution to save her. But how does Colleen know who she can trust?
The Spill Zone series
Written by Scott Westerfeld and illustrated by Alex Puvilland

Addison provides for her sister by selling her illegal photographs of the mysterious and deadly Spill Zone, but when she gets an offer that's too good to refuse, Addison takes a risk that might be one step too far. Not to mention, her sister is definitely up to something and far less innocent than she seems.
Spinning
Written and illustrated by Tillie Walden

Ice skating is a central part of Tille's identity, acting as a safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But soon it loses its sparkle and and she begins to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fits into her life. As it’s a graphic memoir, we get an in-depth and relatable look at what it means to her to accept and share the more intimate parts of herself with others, including her sexuality.

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