Comics/Graphic Novels

Riot Roundup: The Best Comics We Read January-March 2024

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Patricia Elzie-Tuttle

Contributing Editor

Patricia Elzie-Tuttle is a writer, podcaster, librarian, and information fanatic who appreciates potatoes in every single one of their beautiful iterations. Patricia earned a B.A. in Creative Writing and Musical Theatre from the University of Southern California and an MLIS from San Jose State University. Her weekly newsletter, Enthusiastic Encouragement & Dubious Advice offers self-improvement and mental health advice, essays, and resources that pull from her experience as a queer, Black, & Filipina person existing in the world. She is also doing the same on the Enthusiastic Encouragement & Dubious Advice Podcast. More of her written work can also be found in Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy edited by Kelly Jensen, and, if you’re feeling spicy, in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 4 edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. Patricia has been a Book Riot contributor since 2016 and is currently co-host of the All the Books! podcast and one of the weekly writers of the Read This Book newsletter. She lives in Oakland, CA on unceded Ohlone land with her wife and a positively alarming amount of books. Find her on her Instagram, Bluesky, and LinkTree.

We talk about books a whole lot and between our onsite content, podcasts, and newsletters. we cover a lot of ground. But even though we read a boatload of books every month, we don’t always get the chance to talk about each one of our favorites. In this roundup, we’re sharing the best comics, graphic novels, manga, and more we read in the last few months — and why we think you should read them, too.

From a YA graphic novel about broom-racing witches and a stunning graphic memoir to a sweet BL manga story, there’s something here for all comics readers!

cover of Barda by Ngozi Ukazu

Barda by Ngozi Ukazu

Barda is an elite warrior on the dystopian planet Apokalips, trained to crush any hope or kindness before it can blossom. But when she’s assigned to break the prisoner Scott Free, she finds herself drawn to his indomitable spirit and starts to question the brutality she’s been raised to enforce. Many of DC’s YA graphic novels bear little resemblance to their source material, but Barda is a love letter to Jack Kirby’s epic saga, delivered in an accessible and heartbreaking form. It manages to evoke all the grandeur and passion these characters demand while remaining a perfectly bite-sized jumping-on point to their world (and one of DC’s greatest love stories!). I’ve been excited for this book since it was first announced, and it did not disappoint.

—Jess Plummer

Brooms by Jasmine Wells and Teo DuVall

This book had been on my radar for a bit, and I’m so glad I picked it up. I loved reading about these young witches at various stages of their lives, trying to live in a world that wants to suppress their natural power and remove them completely from the world. I loved seeing how they all reclaimed their respective powers and were triumphant in the faces of their would-be oppressors. And, even though it means there won’t be a sequel, I loved seeing the “Where are they now” picture montage at the end. Highly recommend! 

—PN Hinton

A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat

The first book I read by Dan Santat was The Adventures of Beekle, and I adored his warm fuzzy story and vibrant, lovely illustrations. When I saw he was publishing this middle grade graphic novel about his awkward early teen years, I made sure to get a copy. Santat’s mother and father urged him to join a short school trip to Europe, and as a kid from a regular town without a lot of money, that trip absolutely changed him. It’s sweet and relatable in so many ways. I loved his obsession with Fanta, his little and big adventures, and that his first crush is so well and lightly handled. Did I mention he’s a Caldecott Medal winner? Yeah, you can tell. An excellent choice for kids and adults alike, I hope this book will end up in lots of different readers’ hands.

—Summer Loomis

Ghost Roast cover

Ghost Roast by Shawneé Gibbs, Shawnelle Gibbs, & Emily Cannon

I have a special place in my heart for New Orleans, and this young adult graphic novel made me smile inside and out. Our main character, Chelsea, is trying hard to fit in with the cool (and wealthy) kids at her new school. Chelsea is incredibly embarrassed by her father’s business (and corny commercials) as a “paranormal removal expert.” Much to her disappointment, her bad decision-making earns her the punishment of working for her dad for the summer. He has a big job de-ghosting a plantation home. Chelsea’s dad has a bunch of tech that he has created that he uses for work, but unbeknownst to him, Chelsea can actually see and communicate with ghosts.

—Patricia Elzie-Tuttle

Lunar New Year Love Story by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

I adored this sweet and magical YA graphic novel that entwines Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day. Valentina Tran grew up loving Valentine’s Day, not only because it’s a day to celebrate love but also because a cute cupid that no one else can see visits her every year. When she learns the lies her father has told her about her mother, however, and when the cupid reveals his true self, Valentina’s enjoyment of the holiday evaporates. The cupid tells her she will never experience true love because her family is cursed, but she aims to show him he’s wrong. She has one year to fall in love, and joining a dragon dance team provides the perfect opportunity to do so. This is a really nuanced and beautiful exploration of love, Asian American cultures, and family. The illustrations are gorgeous.

—Margaret Kingsbury

Mall Goth by Kate Leth

Set in the early 2000s, this nostalgia-fest tells a story that many suburban teens will find relatable. Liv is a fifteen-year-old bisexual goth, struggling to fit in with the other kids. It’s hard at first for her to make friends, although there are a couple of people who seem keen to spend time with her. One of her teachers is especially attentive, though she isn’t fully sure what his motives are and how she feels about their relationship. Leth really captures mall existence authentically while telling a story that is charming, disturbing, hopeful, and sweet at the same time. 

—Rachel Rosenberg

cover of The Rabbi’s Cat 2

The Rabbi’s Cat 2 by Joann Sfar, translated by Alexis Siegel (Pantheon Books)

Joann Sfar is one of the luminaries of the French comic book world. This is the second entry in his series about a Rabbi’s talking cat who is in love with the Rabbi’s daughter in Algeria. It’s a series of interconnected stories based on Sfar’s memories of his grandfather’s stories about Algeria. This book focuses on the cat’s adventures following the rabbi’s cousin Malka of the Lions, who has a trained lion. There are 11 books in the Rabbi Cat series but, sadly, Book 2 is the last one translated into English.

—Elisa Shoenberger

Restart After Coming Back Home by Cocomi

I quickly fell in love with this soft, slow, and deeply sincere BL manga that contemplates how you can reorient your life in your early adulthood. Kozuka Mitsuomi returns to his countryside home after his Tokyo job fires him at 25. While rediscovering who he is and what he wants outside a big city life and the big salaried job to go with it, he meets his new neighbor Kumai Yamato. As the friendly golden retriever of a neighbor quickly enmeshes himself in surly Mitsuomi’s life, he begins to realize there is more to the adopted farmer, Yamato, than meets the eye. Together, they might just learn how to grow into adulthood. 

—R. Nassor

The Talk by Darrin Bell

Darrin Bell was six when his mother first gave him “the talk” about why he couldn’t have a realistic-looking water gun. At the time, he couldn’t understand his mother’s fear and seriousness. But now that he has a six-year-old son himself, Bell knows that conversation was the start of a lifetime of grappling with our society’s view of Black manhood. In this stunning and wonderfully drawn graphic memoir, Bell shows his journey from that first conversation with his mom to growing into a father, from his encounters with gun violence and police brutality to finding his voice as a political cartoonist. I truly can’t recommend this book highly enough. 

—Susie Dumond