Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer
Comics/Graphic Novels

Comics Recommendation Engine: Inside Out

Christine Hoxmeier

Staff Writer

Christine Hoxmeier can usually be found hard at work in her beloved home of Austin with a cup of coffee in one hand and a taco in the other. She spends her free time reading, writing, and dreaming of a teleportation device so she can visit her friends spread across the globe on a daily basis. If it were possible to live inside one Disneyland attraction for the rest of her life, Christine would cheat and choose to split her time between It's A Small World and The Enchanted Tiki Room. She prefers to communicate in CAPSLOCK and with gifs. Twitter: @aramblingfancy

“Yes, I would like one ticket for the movie about feelings having feelings, because I would like to have some feelings, please and thank you.” True to classic Pixar form, Inside Out was, indeed, full of feelings. Feelings about sadness, joy, family, growing up, and broccoli pizza being the worst food inflicted on mankind.

One of the many ideas I loved and found interesting in the film, was our main character, Riley, having different memory “islands” that made up her personality. I thought it would be fun to recommend some comics you might enjoy based off of the islands in Riley’s head from the beginning of the movie. Spoiler alert: the following suggestions are full of feelings, but luckily after watching Inside Out, you know it’s perfectly okay to have happy AND sad feelings, so let’s wander down my memory aisles and see what it recommends, shall we?

Family and Friend Island

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian TamakiThis One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki–This simple, quiet, graphic novel was the first thing that came to mind when I left the theater after watching Inside Out. It doesn’t really have a plot. There isn’t a big “Pivotal growing up achievement, unlocked!” moment. It’s just a snapshot of a girl, Rose, not a kid yet not quite a teenager, and a summer she spends with her family and summer friend, Windy, at a beach cottage. The Tamaki cousins capture the time in between growing up, that period when you start to know things about the world, and boys and girls, but you don’t fully grasp what it all really means. This books deserves the numerous awards it has won, among them a Caldecott honor, and I look forward to more collaborations from Jillian and Mariko Tamaki. Also be sure to check out the Oh, Comics! podcast featuring This One Summer as March’s Book of the Month, where Paul & Preeti talk in depth about this beautiful graphic novel.

Friends With Boys by Faith Erin HicksFriends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks–When Maggie starts attending the public high school after being homeschooled all her life, she not only has to adjust to a new learning environment, but also to the fact her older brothers can’t be her only friends now. Being a former homeschooler, it’s nice to see bits of myself in Maggie, as she tries to figure out how to make friends with girls her own age, hides a secret she is scared makes her a freak, and struggles to make sense of all the changes her family is going through at home, since her mom suddenly up and left them all behind. Okay, that all kinda sounds heavy, but this comic is super fun, and features a zombie musical—amazing! Faith Erin Hicks makes it easy to believe in each of her characters, and while I know this is a standalone book, I would love to read more stories with Maggie, her brothers, and her new friends.

Hockey Island

Essex County by Jeff LemireEssex County by Jeff Lemire–Everything I know about hockey, I learned from The Mighty Ducks, so basically I know that Joshua Jackson is super dreamy and how to chant “quack, quack, quack, gooooooooooo ducks!” But I am a sucker for sports stories when you mix in a lot of family and feelings (“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!’ *cries forever*), so I love Jeff Lemire’s Essex County A LOT. The three intertwining stories revolve around small Canadian farm town life, the people who live and die there, and the sport everyone plays and watches. Hockey plays a role in each story, but it’s most prominently featured in the second tale, Ghost Stories. Focusing on two brothers, Vince and Lou Lebeuf, we learn about their relationship via flashbacks as an elderly Lou reminisces about the time they left the farm to play hockey in the Big City together. Lemire’s art and inks are a perfect example of visual storytelling at its finest, such as when an elderly Lou watches his younger self and the woman he loves; they fade and lose detail in each panel until it’s just a few squiggles on the page. A punch to my gut every time I read it.

Goofball Island

Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana SimpsonPhoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson–Phoebe meets Marigold Heavenly Nostrils when she throws a rock and accidentally hits the unicorn, thus saving Marigold from staring at her beautiful reflection for the rest of eternity. Now the unicorn owes Phoebe one wish and, just as any of us would, Phoebe asks for Marigold to become her best friend. So Marigold allows Phoebe to bask in her awesomeness, whilst turning up her Shield of Boringness around Phoebe’s friends and family, because look, if everyone could see how awesome Marigold was all the time, no one could get anything done. This book is a bubble gum, glittery delight from beginning to end, and takes me back to feeling like I’m eight years old. Riley might look at this comic and declare it babyish, but based on her unicorn dreams, I think she would read this at night, giggling under the covers so no one else would know, secretly dreaming she could be best friends with a unicorn.