Comics/Graphic Novels

Short Standalone Graphic Novels That Capture Entire Emotions

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Yashvi Peeti


Yashvi Peeti is an aspiring writer and an aspiring penguin. She has worked as an editorial intern with Penguin Random House India and HarperCollins Publishers India. She is always up for fangirling over poetry, taking a walk in a park, and painting tiny canvases. You can find her on Instagram @intangible.perception

Graphic novels are a really special form of storytelling in the way that they bring words and visuals together. The images reinforce the language and the words are carefully chosen to fit in the given space. Short standalone graphic novels are a great way to introduce ourselves to this fascinating genre. They can be picked up from time to time when we are looking for familiarity and comfort laced with thoughtful words and stunning art.

Graphic novels can be enjoyed by both children and adults as they set out on a journey with authors and illustrators to explore different faucets of entire worlds, emotions, and personalities.

Here’s a list of short standalone graphic novels that capture entire emotions in less than 150 pages:

Short Stand-alone Graphic Novels - What to do when I'm gone by Suzie Hopkins book cover What To Do When I’m Gone by Suzy Hopkins and Hallie Bateman (144 Pages)

Hallie Bateman’s glaring realization that her mother might not be around forever led to her asking for a step-by-step guide to get through her loss. The mother-daughter duo came up with this wonderful graphic guide about navigating through grief. It will make you smile, tear up and feel the warmth of a hug when you cannot physically get one. Suzy Hopkins’s humor and gentleness laced with gratitude and wisdom makes us feel the hope we crave after the loss of a loved one. Hallie’s colorful illustrations capture the tone and essence of the words reminding us how we can cherish our memories and live on.

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'What To Do When I'm Gone' A mother's guidebook for her daughter, on how to deal with her death and her absence when she's gone. Taken from 'What to Do When I'm Gone: A Mother's Wisdom to Her Daughter Book by Suzy Hopkins and Hallie Bateman'

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sea prayer coverSea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini and Dan Williams (48 Pages)

Written in response to the refugee crisis, this powerful book is a letter from a father to a son as they leave a war-torn country for a safer place. It is inspired by the story of Alan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed upon the beach in Turkey while he was trying to flee the country with his family.

This short, heartbreaking novel with its beautiful watercolor illustrations brings out our empathy, compassion and need for action. The proceeds from this book will be donated to the UNHCR (the United Nations Refugee Agency) and The Khaled Hosseini Foundation to help fund lifesaving relief efforts to help refugees around the globe.

Short Stand-alone Graphic Novels- Imani's moon by JaNay Brown-Wood book cover Imani’s Moon by JaNay Brown-Wood and Hazel Mitchell (32 pages)

Imani is a young Masaai girl who is teased by her peers for being the smallest girl in the village. She has the desire to do something extraordinary and prove herself to everyone. Her mother is encouraging and Imani is full of hope and wonder the way only kids are.

Hazel Mitchell created the illustrations with watercolor and graphite and then painted them digitally. It leads to beautiful vibrant hues with a somber blue-grey tone. The art is fitting for this sweet story of achieving your goals despite criticism. It makes us feel warm and hopeful.

Short Stand-alone Graphic Novels- Bites of Terror by Liz and Jimmy Reed book cover Bites of Terror by Liz Reed and Jimmy Reed (144 pages)

This is a collection of ten tales filled with dark humor starring creepy-cute food. The stories are playfully morbid and have twists at the end that leaving us wanting more. The diorama comic style is filled with color and great artistic detail. This adds to the quirkiness of this short read.

Short Stand-alone Graphic Novels- Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin book cover Illegal by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin and Giovanni Rigano (144 Pages)

Illegal is the story of a young motherless Ghanaian refugee boy Ebo. He tries to flee his village after his siblings leave in pursuit of asylum in Europe.

“Giovanni has done a stunning job with the artwork, which really brings out the epic nature of their struggles and their long and dangerous journey,” Donkin says. “This is the perfect medium for this story because we can show you what happens to Ebo and his brother without having to overly comment on it and pass judgment ourselves.”

Short Stand-alone Graphic Novels- Lovely by Jess Hong coverLovely by Jess Hong (32 Pages)

This is a wonderful little book with stunning illustrations and a message to celebrate the diversity that this world provides. It will urge young and adult readers alike to pause and notice how lovely everyone can be!

The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse by Charlie Mackesy book coverThe Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy (128 Pages)

The wise yet tender advice and simple yet charming illustrations make this book brilliant. This is a book about friendship, kindness and self-love.

The author writes in his introduction, “This book is for everyone, whether you are eighty or eight – I feel like I am both sometimes.” I feel like he captures that essence.

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Another very tiny story

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Text, Don't Call by INFJoeText, Don’t Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life by Aaron T. Caycedo-Kimura (127 Pages)

This book is comforting and relatable for introverts everywhere. We make up one-third of the world’s population. This comic highlights our struggles and small victories in this extrovert dominant world.

Click here for more recommendations for short standalone graphic novels.