No Downside to These High-Quality Stories
The good news is that there’s an enormous wealth of options for young comics lovers making the transition from children’s funnies to more mature fare, with a vast array of high-quality visual literature in a wide variety of categories. The bad news… well, there is no bad news. Here are three of the most recent artistically exceptional works in comic book and graphic novels for teens and young adults that will fascinate and stimulate blossoming creative imaginations.
writer: Jérôme Hamon, artist: Lena Sayaphoum (Europe Comics)
In Jérôme Hamon’s three-issue comics series, published in France as Emma et Capucine, the teenage Emma and her younger sister Violette are aspiring prima ballerinas with their sights set on the prestigious Paris Opéra. Like a splendidly choreographed dance performance, Lena Sayaphoum’s art is rendered with grace, eloquence, and spirit. His soft, fluid illustration style and muted color palette hit all the right notes to intone this tender tale of discovery, growth, and familial relationships.
writers: Brian Maruka and Jim Rugg, artist: Jim Rugg (Image Comics)
Jesse Sanchez, aka Street Angel, aka The Deadliest Girl Alive, is the smart, stereotype-defying hero of a very funny, very quirky comic book series… picture Tank Girl as a homeless 13-year-old. In this, Street Angel’s fifth, action-packed adventure, she battles Ninja Carl and declares war on the company that manufactures his deadly weapons. Jim Rugg’s multi-modal mix of genres and art styles – from Eightball-era Daniel Clowes narrative to psychedelic fight scenes – playfully blends Jesse’s reality and fantasy life with corporate promo print propaganda and even includes concept sketches and other back-of-the-book bonuses. In sum, Street Angel vs. Ninjatech is an excellent intro to Brian Maruka and Jim Rugg’s insanely imaginative universe.
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writer: Wilfred Lupano, artist: Gregory Panaccione (Lion Forge)
In A Sea of Love, a graphic novel first published in France, we’re introduced to an old fisherman and his doting spouse. On his way to work one day, he becomes unwillingly swept away into turbulent, dangerous adventures in distant locales. And when the wife goes off to find him, she’s transported into her own perilous odyssey. Wilfred Lupano tells the story with warmth and humor… and entirely without dialogue. And really, none is necessary, as Gregory Panaccione’s charming illustrations and skillful use of color are all that’s needed to communicate narrative, thoughts, and feelings in this poignant tale of loss, longing, and of course, love.