I have a massive To-Read List, which spans nearly every genre and which I will likely never complete in my lifetime. In fact, I have a separate book list I plan on posting later this week, with a few selections that I hope to get my hands on sooner rather than later (or never).
But the graphic novel section of my list has grown terribly fast and I feel like it warrants a separate post. I’ve been reading a lot of old school manga lately, and I want to delve into more obscure titles. The ones I’ve read so far are easier to find and are mainly by Shigeru Mizuki and Osamu Tezuka (Phoenix and Princess Knight being my most recent reads). There’s also a bunch of recently release graphic novels from the U.S. and abroad that I’m hoping to acquire ASAP. A select few are on this list, in alphabetical order!
This massive (~700 pages) book is one of Tezuka’s less well-known works in the U.S. I heard about it for the first time at my Junji Ito panel at my local anime convention, where I asked for reading suggestions. A fellow Ito fan suggested Ayako, a bleak, fucked-up family tale that takes place in the post WWII years. Long story short: A big rural family is falling apart. While this is more likely the fault of the social and political changes that came to Japan in those years, the family chooses to blame everything on the youngest sister of the family, Ayako. After being imprisoned, tortured for years, and presumed dead, she surprises the family by reappearing years later.
That’s all I know about it so far. It is unfortunately not easy to find in my area, so I’ll have to order it on Amazon once I can afford it. While this list is in alphabetical order, Ayako is in fact the current #1 on my To-Read list.
I feel like it is an egregious error on my part that I haven’t read Barefoot Gen yet. Like Ayako, this book was suggested by a fan at my Junji Ito panel, but I had heard of it long before then. Based on Nazakawa’s experience as a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing in WWII, the story follows a six-year old boy named Gen and his family. As the fan at my panel explained to me, Barefoot Gen isn’t a horror manga in the classic sense, but it is terrifying, gory, and serves as a strong critique against warfare (especially against civilians).
The only work I’ve read by Satrapi is her most famous, Persepolis. I loved it for the simplicity of the art and the complexity and intensity of the story. It also gave me an understanding of 20th century Iran that I was never exposed to in Western media or at school. I am trying to read more graphic novels by women, and thought that Satrapi’s bibliography would be a great place to start!
Embroideries is set at an afternoon tea in Iran, where women of all ages open up and share their secrets, ranging from their sex lives to plastic surgery. This book has been praised for, among other things, great characterization of fascinating women. Of all the books on the list, this one is probably the one that I’m most likely to read first.
I was so excited when the first issue of Snotgirl was released that I snatched it up the same week. I also grabbed the second issue when it was released, but had to stop there because I needed to save my money. Lucky for me, the first five issues are now compiled into a volume…which I want desperately. Why? Because issue two ended in a huge cliffhanger and I’ve been waiting for at least six months to find out what happened!
Snotgirl is written by Bryan Lee O’Malley, who is best known for the Scott Pilgrim series. Scott Pilgrim is one of my top Western graphic novel series, so I’ll gladly try anything that he publishes. Snotgirl is about a hot social media celebrity named Lottie Person who hides her gross allergy issues and labels everyone she meets. When she meets a girl she labels Coolgirl, her life changes for the stranger. I love the mystery Lee O’Malley is weaving, and I adore Leslie Hung’s cute-yet-detailed art style.