The Graphic Novel Connection

From the wild success of films like Avatar to the nation’s obsession with stealth science fiction TV shows like Lost, stories that are just sideways from reality are becoming more and more mainstream.

Titles on the NYT Graphic Books best seller list reflect the fact that speculative tales are strong in this format as well, giving readers advisors a wealth of titles to recommend, and an opportunity to introduce readers to the format.

Willingham’s Fables, volume #13 arrives at #1 on the Paperback Graphic Books list this week. A rich and complex fantasy series, it started off as a police procedural with fairy-tale characters hiding out in New York but has grown into an examination of the impact of a long war on a beleaguered people. You can recommend Fables to fans of Neil Gaiman, Patricia Briggs or Kelley Armstrong, but the procedural and war aspects make this series even farther reaching.

Fables Vol. 13: The Great Fables Crossover
Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges
Retail Price: $17.99
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: Vertigo – (2010-02-09)
ISBN / EAN: 1401225721 / 9781401225728

Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead (volume 11 is on the new list at #2 after 6 weeks; volumes 1 and 2 also continue) remains a favorite because Kirkman doesn’t just revel in jokey zombie mayhem but uses the long form to ask the questions about where survivors could go, and how (and if) civilization could be preserved.  This series will hook in to buzz-worthy titles like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Carrie Ryan’s teen novel The Forest of Hands and Teeth or Justin Cronin’s much-anticipated literary vampire apocalypse tome The Passage.

The Walking Dead Volume 11: Fear The Hunters
Robert Kirkman
Retail Price: $14.99
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: 801 Media, Inc. – (2010-01-06)
ISBN / EAN: 1607061813 / 9781607061816

On the manga list, Fullmetal Alchemist reappears every time a new volume is released. Author Arakawa uses the trappings of alchemy and steampunk style to spin a story intensely focused on the morality and dangers of going against the natural order of the physical and magical worlds.

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 22 )
Hiromu Arakawa
Retail Price: $9.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC – (2010-01-19)
ISBN / EAN: 1421534134 / 9781421534138

The most intelligent and politically resonant science fiction titles this past year are Naoki’s Urasawa’s series Pluto and 20th Century Boys. They are constantly checked out of my library, even though they’ve yet to crack the NYT list.

20th Century Boys, with it’s strong sense of destiny, conspiracy, misdirection, and a storyline that jumps around in time, is a strong recommendation for fans of Lost. Volume 7 in the series has just been released.

Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, Vol. 7
Naoki Urasawa
Retail Price: $12.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC – (2010-02-16)
ISBN / EAN: 1421523426 / 9781421523422

Volume 7 of Pluto came out last month, and with only one more volume until the finish, it is a standout blend of old-school science fiction, where robots and humans blur until they’re indistinguishable, and modern wars, honing in on the psychology behind entrenched conflicts.  This series should connect to fans of classic sci-fi such as Isaac Asimov’s tales, but will also lure in fans of Battlestar Galactica and its new spin-off, Caprica.

Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka, Vol. 7
Naoki Urasawa
Retail Price: $12.99
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC – (2010-01-19)
ISBN / EAN: 1421532670 / 9781421532677

In addition to recommending these titles to readers interested in speculative fiction, also consider slotting some of these titles into displays.  You will help readers make the connection and discover a whole new world of stories.

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