Covering a wide range of genres from science fiction and fantasy to crime and horror our recommended reading list by Stephen L. Holland, our Comics Laureate 2021-2023, has something for everyone!
Explore the recommended reading list below by Stephen L. Holland... and check out the downloadable reviews at the bottom of the page!
Introduction by Stephen L. Holland, Comics Laureate 2021-2023
This is an introduction. No actually, it is. It’s an introduction to comics.
One of my primary goals as Comics Laureate is to introduce as many new people as possible from the broadest of backgrounds to the most diverse range of quality graphic novels currently available in Britain.
To reach new people accessibility is all, so this isn’t a guide to the cleverest comics ever created (although they are all exceptionally clever); it’s a selection of the very finest and most beguiling which have proved to be perfect introductions to those curious about comics during my 25+ years as curator of Page 45, so often kick-starting a lifetime’s newfound adoration and exploration of our beloved medium.
I’ll be adding to them during my two-year tenure when new gems emerge, as some of my favourites like Alessandro Sanna’s THE RIVER are brought back into print, and once what’s already here has already been digested. Overwhelming anyone is counter-productive, so initially I’ve pruned hard, but please do pop back from time to time!
Check out the list so far...
// Contemporary Fiction
A Distant Neighbourhood by Jiro Taniguchi
Biscuits (Assorted) by Jenny Robins
Daytripper by Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá
I Love This Part by Tillie Walden
In: A Graphic Novel by Will McPhail
Kingdom by John McNaught
Nelson by Rob Davis, Woodrow Phoenix and 52 stellar creators
Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds MBE
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon
The Park Bench by Chabouté
The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
The Tale Of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot
Wet Moon by Sophie Campbell
Fatale by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
Velvet by Ed Brubaker & Steve Epting with Elizabeth Breitwesier
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
Dragman by Steven Appleby
Fluffy by Simone Lia
Livestock by Hannah Berry (Comics Laureate 2019-2021)
Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley
// Science Fiction
Lazarus by Greg Rucka & Michael Lark
From Hell by Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell
Rachel Rising by Terry Moore
Die by Kieron Gillen & Stephanie Hans
Sandman by Neil Gaiman
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg
Pyongyang by Guy Delisle
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
The Roles We Play by Sabba Khan
// Young Adult
Bloom by Kevin Panetta & Savanna Ganucheau
Delicates by Brenna Thummler
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O'Connell
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
What We Don’t Talk About by Charlot Kristensen
Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
Bad Machinery by John Allison
Kerry And The Knight Of The Forest by Andi Watson
Looshkin by Jamie Smart
Lumberjanes originally by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis & Brooke A. Allen
Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce & Edith
// Younger Readers
The New Neighbours by Sarah McIntyre
The Pirate Tree by Brigita Orel & Jennie Poh
Download the reviews by Comics Laureate Stephen L. Holland below...
A few additional brief notes from Stephen L. Holland...
Every book I’ll include in Young Adult, Intermediate and even Young Readers is a work which has resonated with adults alike. YOU’RE SAFE WITH ME, HILDA and BAD MACHINERY, for example, have all been bought as much by adults for adults because of their craft. BAD MACHINERY’s readership at Page 45 is 95% adult because you won’t find more astute, sophisticated or funnier behavioural observation anywhere else in comics. You really won’t! I only place the series in Intermediate because it’s also perfectly age-appropriate, so that families and schools can snap them up too.
Additionally, a key element to any illustrated picture book should be to keep the adults reading them to their young loved ones entertained throughout the multiple, insatiable demands upon their poor, tired souls to read and re-read them yet again! An adult’s enthusiasm when reading out loud is infectious. Sarah McIntyre and John Klassen have in their works so many winks to offer an adult reader which will go over a youngster’s head. How much wiser and funnier do A.A. Milne’s words sound now to my adult sensibilities!
As to LAURA DEAN KEEPS BREAKING UP WITH ME and indeed BLOOM, I wish I’d read both of those aged 15 even if I’d been straight – they’re 100% universal with no mention of sex, so into Young Adults they go!
Lastly, just as I haven’t separated works from Britain, America, France or indeed Bratislava, so you’ll find no category for manga because it’s not a genre. It denotes no more than a geographical point of origin (Japan). Too long has manga been seen as factional, as “other”. Instead universally appealing works by the likes of the great Jiro Taniguchi have been folded into mainstream contemporary fiction, where they truly belong.
Okay, that’s enough about me and my opinionated attitude. Why don’t we let these great graphic novels speak for themselves?
All reviews have been written by me because it’s easier to keep tabs on copyright breaches.
Stephen L. Holland, January 2021