I always want to pick up graphic novels because I really love art, and I really love books, and the combination of story + art just seems intuitively very appealing to me. The main problem is that I am conflicted over the style of art and the premise of a lot of graphic novels. I am less into super heroes and more interested in a darker, creepier type of story. If this sounds like you and you’ve never read a graphic novel before, I highly recommend picking up Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol and Through the Woods by Emily Carroll.
In Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol a teenage girl falls into a well and accidentally ends up with a new best friend. Unfortunately, this best friend is already dead, but otherwise she seems great. She’s helping Anya with school and boys, and she seems like a perfect friend, until Anya realizes what she wants in return is something she’s not wiling to give.
Told in grayscale illustrations, Anya’s Ghost has a sardonic voice with a creepy twist. The story is very fast-paced but there’s some emotional content especially about identity, and the extent a person will go in order to fit in. The drawings are simple, the text is easy to read, but ultimately Brosgol’s graphic novel leaves a big impact. I wish graphic novels weren’t so time-consuming to write and illustrate, because Anya’s Ghost was first published in 2011 and I am definitely waiting for Brosgol’s next full length collection.
In the meantime, I picked up an even creepier read that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, and with the Halloween season I just couldn’t resist Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. This a collection of 5 spooky stories about what hides in the woods that combine mystery and macabre with some stunning illustrations. This is definitely a graphic novel that’s intended for a teenage or adult audience because it is quite graphic at times.
Each page of Through the Woods by Emily Carroll could easily be framed, and I found the art particularly gorgeous in this book. Although the book is heavy on the black and white, there are many other colours, but each page has its own creepy bit of red incorporated. However the stories themselves could be a little too brief and open-ended at times. However, this is the kind of book I would return to just to flip through the pages and appreciate the art. Emily Carroll has also been added to my “insta-read” author list.
I think that the excellent art and dark atmosphere of Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol and Through the Woods by Emily Carroll make these books accessible to readers who may not have tried a graphic novel before. However, even if you are already a huge graphic novel reader, I definitely recommend checking these books out for a quick, spooky read! Another great introduction to the graphic novel is Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh, which I reviewed here.
Do you read graphic novels? Let me know any recommendations in the comments, I am still wanting to try more.