Today’s Stack Overflow is curated by Tillie Walden. Walden is a two-time Ignatz Award–winning cartoonist from Austin, Texas. Born in 1996, she is a recent graduate from the Center for Cartoon Studies, a comics school in Vermont. Her comics include The End of Summer and I Love This Part, an Eisner Award nominee. Her first graphic novel, out this fall, is called Spinning — it’s an autobiographical story of ice skating and coming out. Find out more at tilliewalden.com.
Here are five YA graphic novels recommended by Walden.
This One Summer is, to me, your classic YA book. It feels like a timeless story, and the fact that it’s paired with Jillian Tamaki’s stunning art makes it all the more solid. This is a fantastic, important book that can resonate with everyone. The characters are flawed and lovable, the relationships feel completely genuine, and the setting is memorable. I want everyone to pick up this book and read it.
This is maybe not totally a graphic novel, but it’s YA and it’s illustrated, so I’m including it. I read this book as a student in school so I know firsthand what it’s like to read it as a real life teen. And let me tell you, it’s great. This book was so important to me as a kid and it still is to this day. It’s a coming of age story that follows a young boy through his life on and off the reservation. And throughout the book you get to enjoy Ellen Forney’s lovely and often hilarious illustrations.
I was really fortunate to be a kid during the heyday of YA graphic novels. This was another book that I read in middle school and loved. I realize now how significant a book like American Born Chinese was to me because it was one of the first times I got to read a book from the perspective of someone outside my experience. And while this book came out a few years ago it is still completely relevant today.
This is one of my favorite YA books right now. The story is thought-provoking and intense, and Jen Wang’s art is simply phenomenal. Anda is an extremely relatable main character and the story focuses on issues that every teen today faces. I’m a huge fan of Cory Doctorow’s prose books, and it was so exciting to see him paired with Jen Wang. They’re an unmissable duo. I’m also a huge fan of the coloring in this story. I’m fairly picky with color; it is so often misused or overdone. But the colors in In Real Life are some of the best I’ve seen in a long time.
I was a big fan of Emily Carroll’s webcomics before I finally picked up Through the Woods. It turns out her work is even more magical when it’s in print. This book covers five strange and eerie adventures around the woods. Carroll’s mastery of layouts and design is apparent in every story. I was also really pleased to find a YA book that deals with horror but also stays away from unnecessary gore or violence. I love this book, and I will read anything Emily Carroll puts out.