Sometimes, even the most ardent lovers of verbosity just want a quick read. Whether there just aren’t enough hours in the day, you’re looking to bump up the number for your Goodreads challenge, or you just feel like something short, this list of six short comics will get you started. From a look inside Death’s diary to a serious coming-of-age story set during a family beach retreat, there is a story for every reader. Often, comics are what you make of them. You might choose to read these stories straight through or take a slower journey through the pages and closely examine illustrations and word choice to find deeper meanings.
Whatever your preference, these six short comics are all examples of great stories.
Jane by Aline Brosh McKenna, illustrated by Ramón Pérez
A retelling of Jane Eyre, Jane follows the eponymous character from Massachusetts to New York City, where she takes on a nannying job for the Rochester family. Attached to the young Adele, Jane sees something of herself in the lonely child. She works toward building a relationship with the mercurial Mr. Rochester to ensure Adele has a better life than she—and in doing so, falls for the wealthy patriarch. But Mr. Rochester has secrets, and they may stand in the way of Jane’s happily ever after.
Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung
A series of vignettes that reflect Tung’s experience as an introvert living in a world made for extroverts. With watercolor sketches, Tung reveals the introvert’s struggles, from being peopled out to trying to decide between socializing and a quiet night at home. Tung also touches on social anxiety and shyness, allowing many readers to identify with the challenges—both serious and lighthearted—that Tung illustrates. A soft and adorable illustration style brings Quiet Girl’s world to life.
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
When teen Priyanka asks her mother about India, her mother is reluctant, at best, to talk about it. The mysterious story of her immigration eludes Pri until she stumbles upon a magical pashmina tucked away in a closet. Suddenly, she is transported to India and the questions around her ancestry begin to become answers. When Pri finally gets permission to visit her aunt in India, her world opens up even more and she is confronted with immersing herself in her ancestral home and the United States.
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Every year, Rose and her family visit the beach. But this year is different—this year, there’s a tense undercurrent between her parents, Rose’s younger friend Willow is just too much, and Rose is catching clips of the teens’ conversations around town and something odd seems to be going on with them. This summer, Rose will have to come face to face with adulthood in every aspect of her life, while Willow seems to lag behind, pulling her back to childhood and innocence.
Death Wins a Goldfish by Brian Rea
After years of service, Death must take a vacation when HR contacts him and instructs as much. With no experience in taking time off, Death begins keeping a diary about his observations, from winning a goldfish at the fair to taking up smoking (because tobacco can’t kill Death). This thoughtful and surprisingly cute graphic novel encourages readers to consider how they spend their own lives and whether, in the end, it will have been worth it.
Slam! Vol. 1 by Pamela Ribon, illustrated by Veronica Fish
With an electric color palette, Pamela Ribon and Veronica Fish introduce readers to Jennifer and Maisie, two young women inspired to join the local roller derby league. When the pair are split up and placed on opposing teams, their friendship is put to the test, both on and off the rink. While one excels, another struggles, and they are driven farther apart by their differences. Can they rescue their friendship, or will it break like a bone on the rink?
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