There being so many good graffic novels to choose from, I had to set some ground rules for myself. Besides being appropriate for a public library (granted, a library with a collection policy somewhat on the liberal side) I also restricted my choices to items which are 'done-in-one'--that is, a person can read the GN and be presented with a complete story that isn't continued in further volumes (this being the opposite tactic from what Jim Ottaviani took). Alas, this means leaving out most Manga--which tend to go on for many volumes--and super-heroes, which go on forever.
So, here in no particular order are my 11 picks for a library collection:
- Whiteout (Oni)
- by Greg Rucka & Steve Lieber
- Mysteries are huge in public libraries, and this is one of the best mysteries in GN form. Rucka & Lieber really give the sensation of what Antarctica could be like. Plus, you know, it's the Lieber 11...
- Dignifying Science (GT Labs)
- by Jim Ottaviani et al.
- Biographies are also big in libraries. Jim has now done several biographical books about scientists, but so far this volume about women scientists (all drawn by woman cartoonists) is my favorite of the lot (though I haven't yet read Suspended in Language). (Oh, and since as of Friday Jim is no longer my boss, this isn't kissing up!)
- Imagination Rocket (Behemoth Books)
- by Brian Clopper et al.
- An anthology of educational comics relating to science and social studies by folks like Steve Stiles, Jon Hastings, Brian Clopper, Pam Bliss, Mark Crilley and others..
- The Cartoon Guide to Sex (Harper Collins)
- by Larry Gonick & Christine DeVault
- Remember those awkward yet somehow boring sex ed classes? Remember wishing that they could be interesting? It's everything you ever wanted to know but never thought would be in an educational comic. Plus, Gonick is in his always entertaining top form.
- Pedro and Me (Henry Holt)
- by Judd Winick
- Winick's first foray away from strips and into comics was a humorous and touching look at friendship, AIDS, and reality tv.
- The Summer of Love (Drawn & Quarterly)
- by Debbie Drechsler
- An emotionally real coming-of-age story set in 70's suburbia.
- Amy Unbounded: Belondweg Blossoming (Pug House Press)
- by Rachel Hartman
- Fun and sweet, perfect for the SCA set.
- McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #13 (McSweeney's)
- by Chris Ware et al.
- A gorgeous introduction to many of the finest independent cartoonists working today: Dan Clowes, Charles Burns, Richard Sala, Seth, Joe Matt, Gilbert Hernandez, Adriane Tomine, Chester Brown, and many more. Plus, y'know, being McSweeney's it's all literary and stuff.
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, vol. 1 (DC/Wildstorm/ABC)
- by Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill
- Of course I had to get Alan Moore somewhere on the list, and LXG is probably his most accessible work. It can be enjoyed on many levels, from straight-up adventure tale to multi-layed intelligent pastiche.
- Testament (Metron Press)
- by Jim Kreuger et al.
- The best religious comic in quite some time. An A-list of comics artists--including Bill Sienkiewicz, Sergio Aragonés, Scott Hampton, George Pratt, Steve Rude, and many more--join writer Jim Kreuger in a retelling of stories from the Old Testament. There have been many attempts at religious comics in the past, but seldom are they this good.
- The Crow (Pocket Books)
- by James O'Barr
- If you're a certain type of kid at the right age, this comic is genius.
(Hey look, I managed to get the bonus points for picking each one from a different publisher!)
Note that these are not necessarily what I consider to be the best GNs, but rather 11 that I think would be good for a public library's collection. And being that there is an eleven item limit, there are many perfectly good choices that aren't included.