Winter, especially winter here in Canada, makes me want to curl up inside with a book, but I still love to read stories that reflect the cold, often snowy landscape outside. If you’re the same, here are five comics to check out.
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg
A man from the Nord and a woman from the South Pole meet and fall in love, yet a magnetic force keeps them from getting close enough to touch each other. What to do instead? All through winter in the South Pole, they tell each other stories. The Encyclopedia of Early Earth–a novel and not actually an encyclopedia–is a fun ode to creation myths and storytelling in general, and Greenberg’s drawings with a color palette of black, white, grays, and blues plus touches of reds and yellows give it a whimsical, wintery feel.
Moose by Max de Radigues
Joe is being incessantly bullied at high school, and instead of being stuck on the bus with his abuser each day, he walks through the snow-packed woods to school. One morning, he meets a moose on his walk, and the moose and the escape of the remote woods are an important part of his story from there. This short but distressing and dark book definitely left me thinking.
Blankets by Craig Thompson
I had heard a lot of hype about Blankets before reading it. While the love story I had seen it billed as didn’t do much for me, I did connect much more to the overall coming-of-age story where Craig, in this semi-autobiographical novel, has to figure out his relationship with his strict parents, his younger brother who he was once inseparable from, the conservative religion he’s raised with, and, most of all, himself. If you enjoy the self-discovery theme in books, don’t miss this one. Plus with being set primarily in snowy Wisconsin and Michigan and at 592 pages, it’s a perfect companion for a long winter’s night inside.
Thunder and Lightning: Weather, Past, Present, Future by Lauren Redniss
This nonfiction book on interesting weather phenomena that you never knew you wanted to know about is ideal reading for really any time of year. But the chapter on cold weather was particularly fascinating: snow blindness, Arctic voyages, cryogenic preservation, and life on Svalbard, a group of islands near the North Pole where citizens of any country can live and earn high wages for even menial jobs while paying minimal income tax–that is, if they can stand the average temperatures of below zero and the lack of sun during the winter.
Besides the engaging writing and plenty of tidbits for hey-did-you-know ammunition, this is also a beautiful book. Redniss created her own font based on her handwriting and used printmaking techniques with copper and polymer plates to create surreal, colorful art, all in an oversized hardcover that will look impressive on any bookshelf.
Essex County by Jeff Lemire
As the Stephen Leacock epigraph to Book Two of Essex County says, “In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter we are alive.” But don’t run away now if you’re not a hockey fan. Although it’s set in the classic Canadian landscapes of farms and hockey rinks, this collection tells the interweaving stories of a few inhabitants of Essex County, Ontario in a way that makes the characters feel alive and relatable to anyone. Their grief, loneliness, heartbreak, loss, and regret are thrown into stark relief by Lemire’s powerful artwork and his use of black and white color, empty space, and sparse dialogue. If I could stop crying over the story, I would be in awe over how much emotion he subtly packs into his drawings. Read it in winter for the extra Canadian connection, but really just read it.