Summer Reads: Graphic Novels

Summer is a great time to catch up on your reading. The sun is out, you’re on vacation at some exotic beach or just enjoying a lazy Sunday at a backyard pool. Graphic novels are the perfect summer read because they can be just as layered and nuanced as the best novels, but less wordy (read: more pictures). They’re also less obstructive than a hardcover or even a Kindle, which is great because you’ll need a free hand to hold that cold beverage. Here’s a summertime graphic novel list that will make the reading easy.

Patience by Daniel Clowes
Arguably the most-anticipated release in any published form in 2016 comes from Daniel Clowes, a legend in the the publishing world and the man who created Ghost World. Patience is the award-winning, critically-acclaimed cartoonist’s first major release in five years and it’s well worth the wait. This psychedelic, genre-bending, sci-fi love story is pure Clowesian, full of melancholic humor that will make you gasp, laugh or cry — all on the same page. It’s an unparalleled time traveller tale with uncanny plot shifting, yet its message and meaning are timeless. It’s the perfect immersive read for a summer vacation.

Fight Club 2 by Chuck Palahniuk
The idea of a sequel to the ground-breaking book and even-better David Fincher movie adaptation starring Brad Pitt seems almost sacrilegious, but if you can have not one, but two Hangover sequels, I guess Fight Club 2 doesn’t sound like that bad of an idea. The good news regarding this comic book sequel is that it’s the brainchild of original novelist Chuck Palahniuk, a gifted and controversial writer whose last few offerings have had a lukewarm reception. Set a decade after the ending of the original Fight Club, part two is told from the perspective of a kindler, gentler Tyler Durden as he chillaxes in the subconscious of now-domesticated Sebastian (the narrator of the original Fight Club who was played in the movie by Edward Norton). The love triangle between Marla/Sebastian/Tyler remains at the center of this dark comedy that plays out more like a greatest hits package than out-of-the-box storytelling that made the original so great.

The Deadpool Collection by Daniel Way
Just when we thought we had seen every comic book movie ever (like twice) along came the Merc with the Mouth to flip the script. In Deadpool, we finally received the comic book adaptation that we dreamed of: an R-rated, bloody, irreverent action-comedy that didn’t take itself too seriously and remained true to the source material. If you aren’t familiar with the Deadpool’s comic book origins now is a great time to catch up (as this is now a Ryan Reynold’s franchise) and there is tons of material. The best of the best has to be Daniel Way’s seminal collections, a hilarious, action-packed run spanning four volumes that helped redefine the character as an unstable anti-hero with multiple personalities and introduced the 4th-wall breaking (talking to the audience) that made the movie so fresh.

Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Captain America vs Iron Man was nice, but we all know that the breakout star of Civil War was Black Panther. The long-awaited on-screen debut of Marvel’s first black superhero coincided with a reboot in the comics from distinguished writer/journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates. Known as a leading voice on contemporary race relations, Coates is a National Award Book Winner, so the idea of him telling the origin story of T’Challa, Black Panther’s alter ego and ruler of the mythical African nation of T’Challa, is the pop culture equivalent of Christopher Nolan taking on Batman. The first issue doesn’t disappoint, setting the stage for a subversive take on race, politics and government, that will leave you licking your chops for more.

Preacher by Garth Ennis
By now you’ve probably seen, heard or DVR’d Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s highly-anticipated AMC adaptation of this seminal graphic novel by the great Garth Ennis. We aren’t going to lie (it’s a sin goddammit), this supernatural-comedy is not for everyone. A great place to start to see if you want to jump on the bandwagon of this supernatural road-trip comedy is volume one where you’re introduced to the namesake preacher, Jesse Custer, who becomes possessed with the power of a celestial creature, sending him on an existential journey with ex-gal pal, Tulip, and BFF Cassidy, an Irish vampire, to see if God is real. Ennis lightens the load of a heavy premise with black comedy and b-movie gore in the long running series that lasts 75 issues, which means plenty of source material if you dig the show.