Gift Guide: Graphic Novels Worth Buying In Print

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Sometimes it’s nice to share a good book, and if you know me then you know that most of the books I’m buying are comics and graphic novels. These are a few of my absolute favorites this year and I recommend picking up a solid, meaty hardcover and hanging onto it for a few years. You know, like the old days.

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf – Backderf explores his life in suburban Cleveland where he grew up with a young Jeffrey Dahmer. The story is all true and it’s a fascinating look at what happens before the terror of mental illness and horrible decisions takes Dahmer down a path of absolute darkness. We’re lucky that Backderf was the chronicler of Dahmer’s early years because this heartfelt picture tells you what the boy was like before he let his desires control him.

Parker: The Score by Darwyn Cooke – The Parker novels by Robert Westlake (writing as Richard Stark) are some of the most fascinating pieces of crime fiction you can read. Rather than milquetoast detectives spouting hardball wisdom, you get a calm, collected criminal who treats a heist like a job. These graphic novels feature some of the best Parker stories in graphic novel format, adding a nice taste of 1950s-era design to the proceedings.

Don’t Forget This Song by Frank M. Young and David Lasky – If you’ve ever wondered how the Carter family came to be – and didn’t want the saccharine stories of pious gospel singers making it big – this is the book for you. It tells the real story behind the group’s success and eventual ascendency from turn of the century troubadours into mavens of the modern music business.

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A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle’s and Hope Larson – L’Engle’s classic in comic form. It’s great for kids who, for whatever reason, don’t feel like reading about the eternal mysteries of the universe as explained by precocious kids who live in the Heartland and instead want to see those kids, odd little Charles Wallace included, in a great graphic novel.

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Robot Dreams by Sara Varon – This is my favorite kids book of all time and it’s great for adults as well. It’s a bit old by now and Varon has another title out about cupcakes, but this is the one to get for the kid or kid-like adult in your life. I won’t spoil the story but let’s just say it involves raccoons, ducks, robot friends, and a team of really mean monkeys in a boat.