Pick up a new imprint of Agony this spring.
Pick up a new imprint of Agony this spring.
Mark Beyer/New York Review Comics

10 New Graphic Novels to Read This Spring

It doesn’t seem that graphic novels have seasons like other genres in publishing. Maybe it’s because of their roots in what are now labeled “floppies,” episodic comics with monthly releases: what we used to call comic books. Then there’s the fact that some of the books that fall under the graphic header in publisher’s catalogs, bookstores, libraries, and best-seller lists can be omnibus editions of strips, journalism, trades (softcover collections of four to six previously published episodes of a floppy), or coloring book mashups (e.g. the current Color Your Own Deadpool). The whole category of graphic books is a wide channel — and interesting new books are released into it throughout the year. In an effort to pace our graphic novel reading for 2016, here are 10 new books that we’ll be looking at before the summer solstice.

Agony
By Mark Beyer
New York Review Comics
Release date: March 22

Not a “new” book, per se, but new to me (and maybe you, too). The imprint is new, debuting with this book, first published in 1987. Beyer, a self- taught artist, was a preeminent contributor to Art Spiegelman’s RAW magazine. Agony is Beyer’s darkly funny rendering of Amy and Jordan’s misadventures through an urban landscape of destruction and despair.

10 New Graphic Novels to Read This Spring
Chester Brown/Drawn & Quarterly

Mary Wept Over the Feet Of Jesus
By Chester Brown
Drawn & Quarterly
Release date: April 12

Subtitled ‘Prostitution and religious obedience in the Bible’, this book by award-winning and bestselling Brown is likely to attract both praise and bile. In Mary Wept, Brown recreates nine stories of the Old Testament and those stories’ depictions of prostitutes. Brown is known for the careful research shown in his previous two non-fiction books, Louis Riel and Paying for It; Mary Wept includes Brown’s notes.

10 New Graphic Novels to Read This Spring
Daniel Clowes/Fantagraphics

Patience
By Daniel Clowes
Fantagraphics
Release Date: March 21

The graphic novel for which there has been a steady hum of anticipation since announcement of its publication last spring, Clowes’ Patience is billed as a time-travelling sci-fi love story. Clowes, who created feature-film length stories Ghostworld and Wilson in less than 100 pages has Patience weighing in at 180 pages. In Clowesian terms, that’s a lot of story.

10 New Graphic Novels to Read This SpringEXPAND
Michael Deforge/Drawn & Quarterly

Big Kids
By Michael Deforge
Drawn & Quarterly
Release Date: February 23

Deforge, an Ignatz award-winning artist/writer, first caught our eye with Very Casual, a collection of pieces culled from his mini-comics, on-line comics, and anthology contributions. He has a unique art style and a wry sense of humor. Big Kids is a straight-ahead coming-of-age story, and who doesn’t like a good one of those?

10 New Graphic Novels to Read This Spring
Nick Drnaso/Drawn & Quarterly

Beverly
By Nick Drnaso
Drawn & Quarterly
Release Date: January 26

Drnaso’s debut graphic novel charges out of the gate with six interconnected stories of suburbia. The candy-colored art belies the chill at the heart of it all. As with all fine graphic novels, the words in Beverly —one story is titled “Grassy Knoll”— are as precise, necessary and well-chosen as each line of drawing.

10 New Graphic Novels to Read This SpringEXPAND
Lisa Hanawalt/Drawn & Quarterly

Hot Dog Taste Test
By Lisa Hanawalt
Drawn & Quarterly
Release Date: June 14

Who wouldn’t look forward to a James Beard award-winning cartoonists’ (who knew the James Beard Foundation awarded cartoonists?) follow-up to a book titled My Dirty Dumb Eyes? And did we mention that Hanawalt is the producer/designer of Bojack Horseman? Yep, June 15, we’ll be settled in for some good laughs (and, apparently, baking tips) at Hanawalt’s invitation.

10 New Graphic Novels to Read This Spring
Tom Hart/St. Martin's Press

Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir
By Tom Hart
St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: January 12

Hart, founder and director of the Sequential Artists Workshop, has been making comics for over 20 years. When his toddler daughter, Rosalie, died suddenly and inexplicably, Hart knew one of his ways through grief would be creating art. What emerged is a lovely and loving examination of what it is to survive and begin to heal from the truly unimaginable.

10 New Graphic Novels to Read This Spring
Lucy Knisley/First Second

Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride
By Lucy Knisley
First Second
Release Date: May 3

Knisley, who has created well-received books on food (Relish) and travel (French Milk, An Age of License, and Displacement) now turns her attention to her own wedding. Knisely describes herself as the ultimate DIY-er who set out to create the adorable DIY wedding to end all adorable DIY weddings. Sounds. . . well. . . adorable, but not in a bad way.

10 New Graphic Novels to Read This SpringEXPAND
Ted Rall/Seven Stories Press

Bernie
By Ted Rall
Seven Stories Press
Release Date: January 19

Prolific and provocative Rall is at it again with his unapologetic case for the 2016 election of Bernie Sanders to the Presidency. A good part of the book is dedicated educating the reader on the dramatic shift to the right that the Democratic Party has taken in the past four-plus decades. The balance of the book illuminates Bernie, who Rall believes could re-introduce progressivism to the left.

10 New Graphic Novels to Read This Spring
Brian K. Vaughan/Image Comics

Paper Girls Volume 1
By Brian K. Vaughan
Image Comics
Release Date: April 5

This is one of the “trades” mentioned above, collecting the first five episodes of a new adventure story. Set in 1988, writer Vaughan (megahit epic Saga) and artist Cliff Chiang have described their series as “Stand By Me meets War of the Worlds.” This release is untypically timely – most trades lag the release of the floppies by many, many months. Paper Girls is already a hit and a likely winner during awards season.  

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