I am not a huge live music person, but I know that lots of folks are, and it’s one thing many people in my life have missed dearly during the pandemic. And while some live shows and concerts are happening again (and it’s also super cool that so many events are happening online, where more people can access them), it’s certainly not like it was back in the Before Times.
Graphic novels on audio are a little bit like recordings of live music. They’re a translation. They’re not worse than the original versions with printed illustrations. They’re not better. They’re just a different way of experiencing an art form. I’ve recently discovered how much I love reading comics this way. It reminds me of how many ways there are to enjoy something. It’s frankly incredible that visual stories can be turned into audio stories, and that they’re just as moving, funny, exciting, and informative. And just like concert recordings get music into the hands of more people, graphic novels on audio allow more people to enjoy everything that comics have to offer.
So, if you’re dreaming of live music, and wishing you were headed out to a concert right now, why not design your dream concert instead? Tell us all about your perfect evening of music, and we’ll recommend a graphic novel on audio. It might not be the same thing, but it’ll be just as good, in a different way.
Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley, Read by Lauren Fortgang and a Full Cast
Jen isn’t super excited to move to the country with her mom, her mom’s new boyfriend, and his his two kids. But country life is full of surprises — among them, the unexpected ups and downs of having sisters. This charming middle grade novel is funny, thoughtful, and quick. The audio version is full of soothing sound effects of the natural world.
Good Talk by Mira Jacob, Read by Mira Jacob, Kivlighan de Montebello, and a Full Cast
Memoirs are usually wonderful on audio, and it turns out graphic memoirs are no exception! Mira Jacob frames this book around the conversations she has with her young biracial son during, before, and after Trump’s election. She writes about parenting as a woman of color, coming of age as a writer, race in America, activism and art, and so much more. It’s funny, moving, rage-inducing, and passionate.
The Girl From the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag, Read by Shannon Tyo and a Full Cast
This beautiful coming-of age novel is all about the transformative power of first love. Morgan lives on a small island with her mom and brother; she hasn’t told anyone she’s gay. But everything changes when she falls in love with a selkie. The full-cast audio production captures all the quiet rhythms of small-town island life.
Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, Read by a Full Cast
Kamala Khan is a Pakistani American teenager just living her ordinary life in Jersey City when she develops extraordinary powers and becomes Ms. Marvel. Now she has to figure out exactly what kind of superhero she wants to be. This superhero comic is full of action, and it’s just as exciting to listen to as it is to read in print. There are sound effects galore!
New Kid by Jerry Craft, Read by Jesus Del Orden and a Full Cast
Jordan Banks is a 7th grader who loves drawing comics. But instead of going to the art school he’s always dreamed of, he ends up at a prestigious prep school where he is one of the only kids of color. Dealing with racism, microaggressions, friendship, privilege, and more, this is a smart, poignant story about belonging and being yourself. The audio production will make you feel like you’re right there with Jordan as he navigates middle school hallways and New York City streets.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, Read by a Full Cast
Adventure, magic, science, villainy, queer family, romance — this comic has got it all! Nimona is a shapeshifter who gets a gig working as the sidekick to Lord Ballister Blackheart, a villain who is secretly a tender man with a broken heart. Nimona just wants to cause havoc, though. Together, the two of them get into all sorts of scrapes. It’s sharply funny and very smart, but at heart, this is a beautiful story about second chances and found family. It’s a wild ride, though, and the audio version includes lots of excitement.
Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm by Dana Simpson, Read by Thessaly Lerner, Cortney Wright, Maxwell Glick, and Dana Simpson
Snarky humor, best friends, and a weird magical mystery — what more could you ask for in a comic? This installment of the Phoebe and Her Unicorn series finds Phoebe and her best pal Marigold Heavenly Nostrils investigating a major storm that is messing with the town’s electrical grid. Narrator Thessaly Lerner sounds exactly like how I imagine smart, wry, dry-witted Phoebe talks. It’s a brilliant audio translation.
Looking for more comics on audio? You’ll find a few additional ones on this list. And if you’re just looking for more great comics recs, we’ve got you covered! You can design your perfect night in and get a relatable comic recommendation, pick an aesthetic and get a sapphic graphic novel recommendation, or take this general quiz to find out where to start with comic books.