In January, I set myself a goal of reading one comic book, graphic novel, graphic memoir, or comic strip collection per day: 31 comics in 31 days. I knew it would be difficult, but I hoped that the additional downtime I had while recovering from flat foot reconstruction surgery would work in my favor.
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how much the post-surgery drugs would affect my concentration. It is incredibly difficult to read on that stuff! I also failed to take into account exactly how tired I would feel when I started work again.
While I didn’t hit my original goal of reading 31 comics in 31 days, I did read 25 comics. All things considered, I feel pretty good about that number.
Why read 31 comics in 31 days?
You may be wondering why I set this challenge for myself. First and foremost, I love comics, and I figured it would be fun to stretch my reading limits (it definitely was). The second reason was that I had a sizable backlog of comics sitting in my to-be-read pile, including some advance reader copies for titles that have been out for… well, a while. Keeping ARCs always seems selfish, so I wanted to read them and pass them on.
I compiled my list from a number of places: what I had on my shelves, some “must read” lists, and friend recommendations. I tried to read widely and diversely, and only read new-to-me titles. The result is an eclectic list that includes superhero books, kids comics, YA comics, horror, nonfiction, and more.
Observations from my attempt
Even with such wide-ranging books, a few themes kept popping up. If you’ve been reading comics for awhile, they won’t be a shock to you.
The first big theme was “finding your people.” From Raina Telgemeier’s YA graphic novel Drama to Jim Zub and Steve Cumming’s horror book Wayward to The Plain Janes by Cecil Castelucci and Jim Rugg, the characters in comics often start out as misfits who, by the end, have made friends or found a family that accepts them for who they are, and more importantly, challenges them to be their best selves.
Another theme I noticed was justice and injustice. From the graphic memoir Maus by Art Spiegelman to Lauren Myracle’s teen Catwoman tale Under the Moon to (h)afrocentric by Juliana Smith and Mike Hampton, many of the books I read centered around characters experiencing or witnessing acts of injustice and working toward making the world a better place.
The importance of comics
In my work as a bookseller, I hear a lot of people say things like, “I want my kid to read a real book,” or “Can’t we use words anymore?” in reference to graphic works. They think comics are juvenile or “too easy,” and they want to challenge their kids or think comics are beneath them. Certainly, there are plenty of juvenile comics (but even those can be a lot of fun). But there are many more books that tackle serious, big issues—just like any other medium, such as prose, film, or television.
Out of this bunch, Abbott by Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivela addresses racism and sexism in 1970s Detroit. We3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely tackles scientific ethics. Illegal by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin, and Giovanni Rigano deals with the dangerous journey many African migrants take to escape into Europe in hopes of finding a better life. Under the Moon dealt with domestic violence and animal cruelty. Maus, of course, tells the story of one family’s experience during the Holocaust.
Those are only a few examples. But this post is getting a tad long, so let’s keep moving! Next week I’ll share my mini-review of each title, but for now, here’s everything I read, and everything I didn’t get to.
- Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale by Lauren Myracle and Isaac Goodhart
- Korgi by Christian Slade
- Cyanide and Happiness: A Guide to Parenting by Three Guys with No Kids by Kris Wilson, Rob DenBleyker, and Dave McElfatrick
- We Are Here Forever by Michelle Gish
- Flash Gordon on the Planet Mongo by Alex Raymond
- Codename: Sailor V Vol.1 by Naoko Takeuchi
- We3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
- Man-Eaters Vol. 1 by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, and Lia Miternique
- Saga of the Swamp Thing Book 1 by Alan Moore
- Sanity and Tallulah by Molly Brooks
- Abbott Vol. 1 by Saladin Ahmed, Sami Kivela, and Jason Wordie
- Drama by Raina Telgemeier
- Wayward Vol. 1 by Jim Zub, Steve Cummings, and John Rauch
- Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal
- Batman Rebirth Vol. 1 by Tom King, Mikel Janin, and David Finch
- (h)afrocentric by Juliana Smith, Mike Hampton, and Ronald Nelson
- Street Angel Gang by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca
- Street Angel Goes to Juvie by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca
- The PLAIN Janes Vol. 1 by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg
- The PLAIN Janes Vol. 2 by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg
- The PLAIN Janes Vol. 3 by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg
- Norroway Vol. 1 by Kit and Cat Seaton
- Can I Pet Your Werewolf, edited by Kel McDonald and Molly Muldoon.
- Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman
- Illegal by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin, and Giovanni Rigano
The Six I Didn’t Get To
- My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
- DIE Vol. 1 by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans
- Lucifer Vol. 1 by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
- The Ultimates by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch
- The Realm by Seth Peck and Jeremy Haun
- An impulse title
The majority of these books are available through Bookshop.org, a new way to buy books online that supports independent bookstores! I’ve compiled them all into a handy list: 31 Comics 31 Days. A few are out of print, and are therefore not available for purchase except through second hand stores. If you choose to purchase any of these titles through Bookshop, I’ll earn a small commission that will help support the bookish work I do!