I love graphic novels. At first I found it a pretty daunting world to get into, but pretty soon I realised there are mountains of books out there, perfect publications for everyone. These are my current favourites.
1. Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
Anya is a teenage girl who's coming to terms with her burgeoning boobs, and the fact her mother keeps making her fatty fried breakfasts every morning. This appealed to me because I have never understood why people eat eggs, bacon and beans in the AM. Let alone congealed blood, you weirdos. On the way home from school after a particularly awful day, Anya falls down a well. We've all done it. Night descends and she starts to become scared she'll die there, and no one will ever know; a pile of bones and a bra the only things she'll leave behind. However she becomes even more terrified when the ghost of another teenage girl appears. The ghost gets pretty weird and kind of scary, or maybe I'm just weak, either way it's great and brilliantly drawn.
2. Paris - Andi Watson and Simon Gane
It's the 1950s in Paris. Sold immediately. Juliet is a poor American art student, who travels to the French capital where she paints portraits of beautiful and snobby socialites. For some reason she doesn't realise how incredible her job is. Part of the reason she finds the experience so daunting is that she's sharing an apartment with a crazy artist and his even crazier girlfriend. DISCLAIMER: the girlfriend is often depicted naked so it can be awkward reading this on public transport. However after meeting a beautiful British young woman called Deborah, who's portrait she's asked to paint, things start getting better. The rest of the book is their thwarted love story. It's always so hard when you fall in love with a British socialite whose portrait you've been commissioned to paint.
I love Hicks. I love everything she's ever done. But I have to talk about this book - it's about a summer camp! But an evil summer camp where weird stuff is going down and you need to be careful and protect your frontal lobe. At times it's a bit gross, other times it's hilarious. Read it, read it. Oh and read it.
4. Love Fights - Andi Watson (Again)
Andi Watson is such an awesome man. This is the first book in a series set in a city where super heroes are the norm. They're all flying around everywhere and being super toned in lycra. This makes it difficult for the non-super people to get a date. I love this angle. Imagine going to a bar and trying to meet someone, with all the usual anxieties and pitfalls, but there are also these ridiculous icons of manhood showing you up on the news every night. Jack, the protagonist, does find a lady, but she's working for a magazine that tries to out all the superheroes real identities, so she's even more obsessed than the average woman. I can't wait to see how this series works out. Plus there's a good sub story with a cat. Cats are cool.
5. Archie - Various
I got into Archie when I was a kid. I'd read the digests on long car journeys and I loved Betty and Veronica. I wanted to be Veronica with all her money and pretensions and judgmental attitude. Sadly, in real life I was Jughead. I still read the books, and still love them. I like that you can go all the way back to when the comic first started in the 1940's and then follow the story through to the present day. So at some points you've got Archie in awful lime green flares, while in others Betty has a classic 80's perm. Now there's an openly gay character Kevin Keller whose dad is a typical Army man, and completely comfortable and loving about his son's sexuality. I mean, come on. That's awesome.
She's my all-time favourite. I read her books over and over again. Posy started her career in the 60's doing a cartoon for the Sun. She carried on doing strips for various newspapers, then settled down at the Guardian, where she documented the lives of three school friends as they grew up and became mothers and wives. This strip called 'Posy' is amazing and has just been compiled into a huge book which is for sale NOW. I read 'Tamara Drewe' first and fell in love with Posy's style and voice. She's creates incredibly rich and beautifully flawed characters, while simultaneously giving you an insight into the lives of professional writers. The book is now of course a film, with Gemma Arterton and Tamsin Greig. I know, I know, the trailer made it look awful. Like some schlocky Richard Curtis rip-off where middle-aged women feel uncomfortable about denim hotpants. It's not, it's pretty decent, but the book is even better. And from Tamara you can go onto 'Gemma Bovery' and 'Literary Life'...Oh man, I'm so jealous.
My Guest Writer for this post is Jeremy Warmsley. He released a couple of solo albums in the early 2000's but doesn't seem to have done much since then. He picked one of my new recent favourite graphic novels, so I think we can all agree this has worked out perfectly.
Phonogram Volume 2: The Singles Club – Kieran Gillen & Jamie McKelvie
This is an excellent graphic novel by two titans of the UK comics scene (check out their forthcoming Young Avengers series). A very unusual premise: phonomancers use their love of pop music to work magic; the many & varied references to indie-pop will appeal to anyone with a few Kenickie 7”s or a Robyn tattoo. I love the stylistic chicanery employed by Gillen: the story unfolds over the course of a single clubnight, with each chapter seen from the perspective of a different person(s), with one chapter is even told through the medium of an old-fashioned scissors-glue-and-photocopier zine. The art is also very beautiful; McKelvie has a knack for giving his characters such strong visual personalities. Ace stuff.