Presentation: Adult Graphic Novels for Teens
On Tuesday, I had the privilege of attending the Mass Library Systems Teen Summit, where I made a presentation on “Adult Graphic Novels for Teens.” Here’s the PowerPoint deck, which is mostly book recommendations.
I started out with a brief discussion of the topic and what sorts of adult books work well for teens—keeping in mind, of course, that “teens” vary widely. What I’m thinking of here is books that would probably be shelved in the adult section but that can be recommended for teens. In terms of problematic content, I suggested a quick way to get a sense of how intense the level of sex and violence in a book can be: Look it up on the digital-comics service ComiXology, which provides an age rating for every comic, even adult titles.
Many of the books I suggested came from articles I have written for SLJ in the past:
I’ve included a few comments and links along with the slides. I hope this is helpful!
Many graphic novels with teens as lead characters are reflections by adults on the teen experience and not necessarily appropriate for teens. All three of the books pictured above are great stories that are better appreciated by adults. My Friend Dahmer is a great story but it has some disturbing content (obvious to you and me, although a friend pointed out many teens may not know who Dahmer is); Ivy features a teen going through some tough things and coming out the other end; Lighter Than My Shadow, which is just out this month, is the memoir of a woman with an eating disorder who was sexually abused by a therapist during treatment. This may be appropriate for some teens but again, probably more relatable for adults, in addition to having potentially disturbing content.
Threads began as a webcomic.The book is much longer and extends the story.
I don’t know how much longer this will last, but you can get the Kindle version of the first 45 pages of Kobane Calling for free.
That’s a Tom Gauld cartoon.
Kate Beaton posts her webcomics at Hark! A Vagrant.
There’s plenty more of this on Tom Gauld’s Tumblr, You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack (also the title of his previous book).
Brookline teen librarian Robin Brenner tells me that her teens really love superhero comics. The two pictured here, Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye and Mark Waid’s Daredevil, are graphic novels anyone can enjoy without having to know a bunch of complicated backstory, and both have really good stories. The rest of my suggestions are for non-Marvel/DC superhero comics.
Filed under: Graphic Novels
About Brigid Alverson
Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor, a newspaper reporter, and assistant to the mayor of a small city. In addition to editing GC4K, she is a regular columnist for SLJ, a contributing editor at ICv2, an editor at Smash Pages, and a writer for Publishers Weekly. Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.
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