Comics, Graphic Novels & Manga
Our picks include unexpected names (Hayao Miyazaki!), classics (Milestone Media!), and much more.
Eliza Victoria and Mervin Malonzo (Tuttle) $16.99
Manila is home to two linked realities in this melancholy but ultimately hopeful urban fantasy inspired by Philippine folklore. Ever since a civil war within the magical realm of Lambana, people have been dying from a disease that causes flowers to painfully bloom from their bodies, while apparitions of the living wander the streets. Conrad Mendoza de Luna, a young man with a rose on his heart, follows a mysterious stranger on a quest to find a healer. The noir-tinged story unfolds with satisfying layers and carries pointed echoes of the current political climate in the Philippines.
Valentina Grande and Sergio Varbella, trans. from the Italian by Katharine Cofer (Prestel) $24.95
This philosophical love letter to the Bauhaus school of design (1919–1933) conveys the academy’s influence via comics with layouts that embody its core principle of form married to function. Grande leads readers from Bauhaus’s founding in Germany’s Weimar Republic to its closure at the hands of the Gestapo, alighting on key figures including Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. Varbella’s artwork is striking, with each page designed in the Bauhaus style to combine bold, evocative visuals with legibility and clarity of information.
Bleach (20th anniversary ed., Vol. 1)
Tite Kubo (Viz) $9.99
Featuring cover art from the 2001 series launch in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, this milestone publication for superstar mangaka Kubo landed on PW’s bestseller list in its first week on sale; the original edition has sold hundreds of thousands of print copies in the U.S. The story follows the adventures of Ichigo Kurosaki, a part-time student and full-time soul reaper charged with guarding the afterlife.
Fine: A Comic About Gender
Rhea Ewing (Liveright) $21
Ewing conducts and draws dozens of interviews over a decade to chart the murky waters of gender. The portraiture art is clean-lined but nuanced enough to handle the diversity of characters, among them Black trans tomboy Monei and Ignacio, a two-spirit person who complicates Ewing’s outlook on race. The author also spotlights cis-identified perspectives and how they’re not spared gender’s social ramifications, either. This thought-provoking work will appeal to those seeking a robust, personal exploration of how gender shapes lives.
The Ghost in the Shell: Fully Compiled
Shirow Masamune (Kodansha) $54.99
First published in English in 1995 and set in the mid-21st century, Masamume’s classic cyberpunk seinen manga follows a special-ops task force that tracks criminals, spies, and terrorists who hack networks or illegally copy the ghosts (souls) of enslaved humans into black market cyborgs. This hefty hardcover collector’s edition brings together volumes 1, 2, and 1.5, which published in that order.
Kelcey Ervick (Avery) $27
Ervick, a nationally competitive youth soccer player in the 1980s, unpacks the context of being in that first generation of American girls to grow up under Title IX, back through the history of women’s sports and early “lady footballers.” Like the best sports books, it’s really about life: she gets into feminism, freedom, art, women’s bodies, and the loneliness of the goalkeeper, resulting in a winning argument for women’s sports as a gateway to freedom and self-determination.
Let There Be Light
Liana Finck (Random House) $28.99
In an irreverent yet profound retelling of the Book of Genesis, Finck presents God as a woman artist wearing a Burger King–style crown who struggles with existential questions and intermittent depression (the beginning of creation is also “the beginning of disappointment”). The author-illustrator leans into biblical idiosyncrasies while taking humanity quite seriously; throughout, God and readers are reminded that light can’t exist without darkness, or creation without destruction. Finck’s exploration offers much light in both senses: levity and illumination.
Milestone Compendium One
Dwayne McDuffie, Bob Smith, and Ivan Velez Jr., illus. by Denys Cowan and M.D. Bright (DC) $59.99
This giant trade paperback—all 1,300 pages of it—collects early installments in the Milestone Media Black superhero universe, featuring the first appearances of Hardware, Icon, and Static, to name a few. The 1993 founding, in conjunction with DC Comics, of Milestone Media—a Black-owned publisher producing original comics featuring Black superhero characters created by Black comics artists—was a landmark event in comics publishing.
Number One Is Walking
Steve Martin and Harry Bliss (Celadon) $30
Martin and New Yorker cartoonist Bliss team up again (after 2020’s A Wealth of Pigeons) for a ramble through Martin’s film career. In Bliss’s whimsical drawings, celebrities rub shoulders with comic-strip characters and Martin periodically wanders away from the narrative to talk to Bliss’s dog. The actor maintains his comedic persona of guileless arrogance, but his memories reveal a thoughtful performer. Film buffs, comedy fans, and legion admirers of both the actor and artist will find themselves smiling from cover to cover.
Jon Chad (First Second) $24.99
Chad chronicles the pinball craze from the game’s earliest iterations (bagatelle, which European immigrants brought to America in the 19th century), to its golden age in the 1930s, to the technological revolutions that prompted narrative-driven games in the 1980s, to its reemerging popularity in the 21st century. Back matter includes basic tips and tricks, the anatomy of pinball machines, a glossary, and player resources. Cracking this one open evokes the delight of snapping back the launcher in the arcade.
Hayao Miyazaki, trans. from the Japanese by Alex Dudok de Wit (First Second) $27.99
Animator and Studio Ghibli cofounder Miyazaki has released only a few comics in his career; this lush fantasy, available in English for the first time, is cause for celebration. First published in Japan in 1983, it takes inspiration from a Tibetan folktale, spun into an original story with Miyazaki’s humanistic, abundantly imaginative touch. His art has a timeless beauty, and the theme of small kindnesses redeeming a cruel and dehumanizing world feels more relevant than ever.
Who Will Make the Pancakes
Megan Kelso. Fantagraphics, $29.99
This versatile comics story collection sparkles with wit and wisdom. Kelso proves a talented storyteller, her prose as sharp as her deceptively simple art, which accomplishes a lot of narrative lifting. All five distinctive stories, created over the past 15 years, find quiet triumphs amid the challenges faced by women and families over time. This showcase of the accomplished indie artist’s brilliance should garner her broader readership.
Children's & YA Comics
Illustrated stories of real life and imagined worlds hit the sweet spot for middle graders.
Bunnicula: The Graphic Novel
James Howe and Andrew Donkin, illus. by Stephen Gilpin (Atheneum, ages 8–12) $19.99
More than 40 years after Deborah and James Howe unleashed their vegetarian vampire rabbit on the world, Bunnicula is back in a new format for a new generation. The graphic novel expands on the original story, further developing the relationship between Harold the even-tempered dog and Chester the neurotic cat, sharing more of their interior lives (such as Chester’s vampire-hunting fantasies) while keeping the silly-sinister balance intact.
Everyday Hero Machine Boy
Irma Kniivila and Tri Vuong (Image, ages 9–12) $12.99
A weaponized robot resembling a human boy crash-lands in the domed city of Mega 416 and wreaks havoc before being subdued and taken in by retired dojo owner Mei, whose husband Goh was killed in the fray. Machine Boy learns karate, runs various errands, and enrolls in high school, his misadventures punctuated by emotional upsets—his and Mei’s occasionally tense relationship as they manage grief over Goh, citizens’ continued wariness regarding Machine Boy’s sudden appearance—that all add up to a warmhearted bildungsrobot.
The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza
Mac Barnett, illus. by Shawn Harris (HarperCollins/Tegen, ages 8–12) $15.99
When rats from another galaxy begin devouring the moon, Earth’s smartest scientists dispatch a cybernetically enhanced cat—the First Cat in Space—to deal with the threat. Accompanied by a guileless, toenail-clipping robot named LOZ 4000 and the proud Moon Queen, First Cat journeys across a madcap geography (frozen wastelands, violent seas, living forests) to confront the Rat King. Barnett and Harris adapted the graphic novel from their popular “Live Cartoon” collaboration, which they launched on Instagram during the pandemic.
Guojing (Random House Studio, ages 5–8) $18.99
In this nearly wordless story, a grandchild flies alone to visit their enthusiastically waving Lao Lao, who spins a tale about a kid who encounters an egg at the beach, takes it home, and finds themself the caretaker of a baby flamingo. Vibrant sequences depict the bird, the child, and a terrier growing closer, but soon it’s time for both children to say goodbye—to the flamingo and to Lao Lao. The parallels between human love and migrating birds are unmistakable in this elegant parable of faithful return.
Gale Galligan (Graphix, ages 8–12) $24.99
Cory is an ardent member of a middle school dance crew, but when his grades slip and his parents hire classmate Sunna to tutor him, extra study sessions cut into his practice time. Tutor and tutee unexpectedly become fast friends after Sunna shows off her superb yo-yo throwing skills, and Cory soon is caught between established relationships and newfound interests.
Claribel A. Ortega, illus. by Rose Bousamra (First Second, ages 8–12) $21.99
The worst part of the week for Dominican middle schooler Marlene? Going to the salon, where her naturally curly hair is subjected to painful blowouts. But over the course of this empowering graphic novel, she learns to embrace her texture and her tía Ruby’s simple mantra: “All hair is good hair.” Ortega expertly examines themes of colorism, generational trauma, and toxic beauty standards, culminating in a satisfying and heartwarming exploration of self-expression and self-love.
My Hero Academia Box Set
Kohei Horikoshi (Viz) $179.99
This heavy hitter collects volumes 1–20 of the popular superhero shonen manga, packaged with a double-sided poster and a booklet featuring bonus illustrations and author commentary.