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11 New Graphic Novels You Might Have Missed in 2021

December 13, 2021 in Book Lists
2021 Graphic Novel Reviews

AD • I received copies of these books from the publishers. All reviews are voluntary and opinions are entirely my own.

I only started reading graphic novels last year but they quickly became one of my favourite ways to read. Contrary to some naysayers’ opinions, graphic novels absolutely DO count as reading. It’s just a more visual approach in the same way that audiobooks are a more aural approach. We still get the same things out of them. They’re just presented to us in a slightly different way. And that’s kind of wonderful. But I digress. Today’s post is a long overdue one featuring all of the graphic novels that I’ve read as ARCs over the last few months and neglected to showcase on my blog – until now! So here are my reviews of 11 graphic novels that came out in 2021 plus one that’s coming out next year!

So HUGE thanks to all of the wonderful publishers for sharing these with me and thanks to you, the reader, for being here. I hope that you find something that takes your fancy amongst these mini reviews.

Gudetama: Mindfulness for the Lazy
by Wook-Jin Clark

Publisher: Oni Press
Date of Publication: 12th May 2021
Genre: Graphic Novel
Series: Gudetama the Lazy Egg
Format: eBook (48 pages)
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

Available Formats:
Hardback • eBook

Mindfulness takes a lot of mental energy to wrap your brain around. Gudetama is here to help you become a better person…sort of.

Empathizing with others, understanding your feelings, learning to be selfless. These all sound like really hard things to do! Well fear not, come along with Gudetama who’ll guide your way to learning things and more. Living selflessly is something many struggle with. Don’t worry, Gudetama does too, and wants to join you on your journey in finding the wonders of mindfulness.

Review

This was a fun and whimsical graphic guide to mindfulness. I loved how the concepts are explained through relatable slice-of-life situations. The artwork is amazing – it’s cheerful, vivid and so much fun. I loved it so much that I’ll be exploring the other titles in the Gudetama series as soon as possible*.

*NOTE: Since writing my review, I DID explore the other Gudetama books and found them all equally enjoyable. If you’re looking for a relatable graphic novel to read ASAP, then I recommend Gudetama: Surviving the Holidays. ‘Tis the season, after all.

Hooky
by Míriam Bonastre Tur

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Date of Publication: 7th September 2021
Genre: Graphic Novel • SFF
Series: Hooky #1
Format: eBook (384 pages)
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

Available Formats:
Hardback • Paperback

When Dani and Dorian missed the bus to magic school, they never thought they’d wind up declared traitors to their own kind! Now, thanks to a series of mishaps, they are being chased by powerful magic families seeking the prophesied King of Witches and royals searching for missing princes.

But they aren’t alone. With a local troublemaker, a princess, and a teacher who can see the future on their side, they might just be able to clear their names…but can they heal their torn kingdom?

Based on the beloved webcomic from WEBTOON, Hooky is in stunning print format for the first time with exclusive new content sure to please fans new and old.

Review

Hooky’s strengths definitely lie in its worldbuilding, character development and compelling story. In fact, I’d argue that it’s almost flawlessly executed. I only have two concerns. First of all, it gets pretty dark at times so I’m not sure about the suggested age range. (For context, there’s a fair amount of death, violence and discussion of the persecution of witches.) Also, this is fairly long. Going in, I expected a relatively short read of similar length to other graphic novels that I’d read before but this was actually pretty lengthy… and then it ends on a cliff-hanger which was a bit of a disappointment.

But with that said, I do appreciate Hooky for being more of a slow burn. Any loss of content would have impacted the strength of this fantastic story so it’s definitely worth overlooking the length. I’m really looking forward to seeing how Hooky progresses after that explosive ending and hope that we don’t have to wait too long for a second instalment.

In terms of the artwork itself, the colour palettes used were wonderful. Lots of magical pastels to contrast with the use of black to symbolise the darker elements of the storytelling.

Overall, a fantastic and magical graphic novel that I couldn’t help but fall in love with. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a fun, whimsical witchy story with darker undertones.

Misty Presents: the Jaume Rumeu Collection
by Bill Harrington et al

Publisher: 2000 AD
Date of Publication: 11th November 2021
Genre: Graphic Novel • SFF
Series: Misty
Format: eBook (128 pages)
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

Available Formats:
Paperback • eBook

The Jaume Rumeu Collection is packed with four terrifying tales from the pages of Misty, which showcase the stunning art of Jaume Rumeu Perera, also known as Homero! Black widows, femme fatales, mad scientists and giant spiders abound in this nightmarish volume of classic Misty tales. This collection celebrates one of the most iconic villains in British girls’ comics: the lethal Mrs. Webb, a raging femme fatale with killer style and a bone to pick with the British Establishment. Determined to take over the country with her army of giant arachnids, only two schoolgirls stand between her and global domination! Full of stunning artwork, terrifying twists, beautiful – but deadly – women, and, of course – giant spiders, this is an essential comic for any horror connoisseur.

Review

Having read many of the Misty comics as a child, I found this collection to be very nostalgic. The stories themselves are pretty dark and I definitely wouldn’t recommend them to anyone who is afraid of spiders… That said, my favourites in this collection were actually the short comics included at the end. I loved that they managed to pack in a lot into such a short space.

Overall, a great collection for long time Misty fans after a stroll down memory lane or fans of horror graphic novels looking for something new to explore.

A Quick & Easy Guide to Asexuality
by Molly Muldoon & Will Hernandez

Publisher: Oni Press
Date of Publication: 29th March 2022
Genre: Graphic Novel • Non-Fiction
Series: Quick & Easy Guides
Format: eBook (72 pages)
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

Available Formats:
Paperback

Asexuality is often called The Invisible Orientation. You don’t learn about it in school, you don’t hear “ace” on television. So, it’s kinda hard to be ace in a society so steeped in sex that no one knows you exist. Too many young people grow up believing that their lack of sexual desire means they are broken – so writer Molly Muldoon and cartoonist Will Hernandez, both in the ace community, are here to shed light on society’s misconceptions of asexuality and what being ace is really like. This book is for anyone who wants to learn about asexuality, and for Ace people themselves, to validate their experiences. Asexuality is a real identity and it’s time the world recognizes it. Here’s to being invisible no more!

Review

Title is very apt – this is a quick (i.e. short) and easy (i.e. simple) graphic guide to asexuality. It’s written by two aces which is nice as it helped show how aces aren’t a monolith. That the ace experience varies on an individual level and that’s why it’s an entire spectrum.

Unfortunately, I felt that this was lacking something. The conversational structure and simple art style will likely appeal to some readers but unfortunately they didn’t work for me personally.

This is a very accessible introduction to asexuality but that’s pretty much all it is – an introduction to a larger topic. If you’re ace and looking for a relatable book to read, then there are better options out there. But for someone looking to understand what asexuality is and isn’t on a basic level, this is a great place to start.

NOTE: I identify as a-spec so this is an own-voices review.

Nightmare in Savannah
by Lela Gwenn et al

Publisher: Maverick by Mad Cave Studios
Date of Publication: 10th November 2021
Genre: Graphic Novel • SFF
Series: n/a
Format: eBook (180 pages)
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

Available Formats:
Paperback • eBook

Alexa moves to Savannah to get away from her past. Too bad her past is a Google search away and her parent’s criminal acts quickly make her an outcast. Good thing Fae, Chloe, & Skye aren’t high on the social ladder and give Alexa a group to feel comfortable in. But after a long night of debauchery they transform into the town’s worst nightmare; Fairies.

Review

This is a fun graphic novel about changeling which is a folklorish creature that is switched with a human child while they are infants. I’ve been intrigued by the lore around changelings since reading Melanie Golding’s Little Darlings a few years back. As such, I loved learning about the fairies and changelings through the hunter’s guide book.

It should be noted that Nightmare in Savannah is fairly dark in content and does feature mild body horror including death and gore as well as extensive bullying.

There are pink and purple hues used throughout which I loved and felt that it brought the story to life with magical and feminine tones.

I also really enjoyed the ace representation and sapphic romance aspects.

Murder Book
by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Date of Publication: 9th November 2021
Genre: Graphic Novel • True Crime • Memoir
Series: n/a
Format: eBook (336 pages)
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

Available Formats:
Paperback • eBook

Why is it so much fun to read about death and dismemberment? In Murder Book, lifelong true-crime obsessive and New Yorker cartoonist Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell tries to puzzle out the answer. An unconventional graphic exploration of a lifetime of Ann Rule super-fandom, amateur armchair sleuthing, and a deep dive into the high-profile murders that have fascinated the author for decades, this is a funny, thoughtful, and highly personal blend of memoir, cultural criticism, and true crime with a focus on the often-overlooked victims of notorious killers.

Review

Murder Book was one of my most anticipated late 2021 releases and for good reason. Like many others, I have found myself drawn in by the dark world of true crime. And I love what graphic memoirs bring to the table in terms of their storytelling – although I’m sure this would have worked just as well in prose too.

Despite its dark topic, Murder Book is wonderful, witty and warm. The anecdotes are a lot of fun. And it offers an interesting perspective on why we’re so drawn to true crime, especially from a female perspective. I also loved the relationship between Hilary, her mother and sister and the bond that they have over their shared interest in all things murder-related.

Oddball
by Sarah Andersen

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Date of Publication: 14th October 2021
Genre: Graphic Novel
Series: Sarah’s Scribbles #4
Format: eBook (112 pages)
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

Available Formats:
Paperback • eBook

The fourth book in the enormously popular graphic novel series, the latest collection of Sarah’s Scribbles comics explores the evils of procrastination, the trials of the creative process, the cuteness of kittens, and the beauty of not caring about your appearance as much as you did when you were younger. When it comes to humorous illustrations of the awkwardness and hilarity of millennial life, Sarah’s Scribbles is without peer.

Review

I’m a big fan of these personal slice-of-life style graphic novels and had heard rave reviews of Sarah Andersen’s previous works – but I’d never gotten around to picking up any myself. That will change now that I’ve read Oddball because it brought me SO MUCH JOY. It was so funny and relatable. Literally every page was an absolute delight to read.

I felt seen in these panels in every sense – from my introversion to struggling with mental health all the way through to loving all things autumnal, cats and general fandom stuff. This book was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to check out the backlist.

Death & Sparkles
by Rob Justus

Publisher: Chronicle Books
Date of Publication: 27th September 2021
Genre: Graphic Novel
Series: n/a
Format: eBook (368 pages)
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss

Available Formats:
Hardback • Paperback • eBook

Being Death is a lonely job, especially when everything you touch instantly dies (not to mention the paperwork), but being Sparkles the Last Unicorn is not much fun either, since everyone just wants to take selfies with you or use you to sell stuff. But when Death and Sparkles meet between life and, well, death, it’s the beginning of a friendship that just might change the world.

Review

I really enjoyed this fun and wholesome graphic novel about a famous unicorn and a grim reaper becoming friends.

While the content might seem simplistic in style, I felt that this worked well and especially for its target audience. I was a bit surprised by how long it was but given how much I was enjoying it, I was more than happy with its length.

Overall, this is a fun graphic novel about the importance of friendship that can be enjoyed by all ages.

Creepy Cat Vol. 1
by Cotton Valent

Publisher: Seven Seas
Date of Publication: 17th October 2021
Genre: Graphic Novel • SFF
Series: Creepy Cat #1
Format: eBook (132 pages)
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss

Available Formats:
Paperback • eBook

Flora moves into a mysterious mansion and finds it inhabited by a strange creature–Creepy Cat! Thus begins her strange and sometimes dangerous life with a feline roommate. This Gothic comedy brings the chuckles…and the chills!

Review

I absolutely loved this full colour manga about a gothic-esque young woman and the creepy cat that lives in her creepy new home. It was a lot of fun to read especially this time of year. Full of spooky characters including ghosts, vampires, even more creepy cats and the creepiest character since those button eyed “people” in Coraline. All in all, I really enjoyed this and can’t wait for volume 2 to be released!

Becstar Vol. 1
by Joe Corallo et al

Publisher: Mad Cave Studios
Date of Publication: 17th November 2021
Genre: Graphic Novel • SFF
Series: Becstar #1
Format: eBook (128 pages)
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss

Available Formats:
Paperback • eBook

Becstar is a star hopping mercenary-gone-full time-gambler light years away from Earth. Leaving her old life behind with the help of her magical luck dagger and her fan-turned-regret filled-friend Sally Soolin, Becstar ekes out a living under the nefarious Shadow Syndicate’s radar. But when a mysterious girl appears with grim news and an urgent quest where the fate of the universe hangs in the balance, Becstar has no choice but to join… and regret it immediately.

Review

Becstar is a difficult graphic novel to review. I didn’t hate it but I had very limited enjoyment overall.

Let’s start with the positives:

  • I LOVED the use of soft dreamy colours and its pleasing art style
  • Clearly influenced by Marvel comics so felt like a homage at times
  • Female led sci-fi with a ‘save-the-universe’ quest storyline

Unfortunately, it did feel a bit too rushed. This made it difficult to get to know or care about the characters and while I don’t generally consider this essential to enjoy a book, it did affect my overall enjoyment here. I *wanted* to know more about Becstar and co. These women were kick ass but beyond Becstar’s trauma and consequential bad habits, there wasn’t much in terms of character development and that was a shame.

Embodied: An Intersectional Feminist Comics Poetry Anthology
edited by Wendy & Tyler Chin-Tanner

Publisher: A Wave Blue World Inc
Date of Publication: 11th May 2021
Genre: Graphic Novel • Poetry
Series: n/a
Format: eBook (200 pages)
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss

Available Formats:
Paperback • eBook

Mystical, rooted, painful, joyous, and ecstatic; visions of the body, our genders, and our very identities from across the spectrum of contemporary poetry come together in this monumental intersectional feminist anthology where verse and comics unite in spectacular new ways.

Beautifully illustrated and bracingly written, EMBODIED is a memorable collaboration between cis female, trans, and non-binary poets and comics artists showcasing the power of both forms in a stunningly unique keepsake volume that will be treasured for ages.

Review

This intersectional feminist poetry collection is described by the editor as bringing “contemporary American poetry to comic book readers and comics to poetry readers in a hybrid form.” As a reader of both, I was deeply intrigued by this premise.

There are 23 poems here from a diverse group of poets and creators as well as a study guide to allow deeper contemplation about the poems included. Since it’s a feminist collection, there were themes of motherhood (including birth and miscarriage), relationships, body image, gender identity, gender roles and sexual assault.

Unfortunately, the format didn’t work for me as much as I would’ve liked. I found myself focusing too heavily on the separate elements of words or artwork rather than on the intersection of the two. So I was grateful to see that the poems were included at the end of each adaptation.

My favourite poems in the collection were:

  • Good Bones by Maggie Smith
  • University Toxic by Laura Hinton
  • Capitalism Ruins Everything, Even Witch Craft by Kendra Decolo

I’m drawn to the more fantastical art styles that you’d associate with SFF comics so I adored the artwork in Dancing with Kiko on the Moon by Rosebud Ben-Oni and Rubble Girl by Jenn Givhan stood out especially. (There are many other poems with a similar style but these two stood out to me most.)

While the format itself didn’t work for me personally, I still had an enjoyable reading experience and will be looking forward to several poets’ future work.

Inkblot Vol. 1
by Emma Kubert & Rusty Gladd

Publisher: Image Comics
Date of Publication: 13th April 2021
Genre: Graphic Novel • SFF
Series: Inkblot #1
Format: eBook (144 pages)
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss

Available Formats:
Paperback • eBook

A powerful sorceress must attempt to correct her greatest mistake–the creation of a magical cat which can travel through time, space, and the seven realms of reality. The cat threatens to unravel the fabric of the universe, doesn’t care, and just won’t listen!

Review

First of all, I cannot wait to continue this series.

I loved the concept of a time/dimension-shifting cat. (Also, it is adorable!) The artwork is absolutely stunning and the colours really add to the magical fantasy elements of the story. And I’m invested in the story now – I’m looking forward to see how it progresses going forward.

There were times when I wasn’t sure how everything was going to come together. This doesn’t happen until issue 6 so you do need to trust the timing a bit but it’s incredibly satisfying when it does eventually connect.

Phew – that’s a lot of graphic novel reviews but we’re finally at the end! Thank you so much for reading. Are you interested in any of the books I discussed today and if so, which ones? Let me know in the comments below!

Hayley @ Cosy Chapters

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Hayley

I'm Hayley (she/her) and I'm more than a little bit bookish. Cosy Chapters is where I share all things book-related plus the occasional post about the cosy lifestyle. When I'm not reading, you'll find me spending time with my little family, rewatching sitcoms, planning the now somewhat elusive trip to Disneyland Paris and losing entire days playing ACNH.

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2 Comments

  • ShootingStarsMag December 13, 2021 at 2:02 pm

    Great post. I do want to read more graphic novels, as I really enjoy them. Creepy Cat sounds fantastic.

    Lauren

  • Erica Robyn December 13, 2021 at 9:17 pm

    I love Sarah Andersen’s work! 🙂 Great list!

  • Leave a Reply

    Welcome to Cosy Chapters!

    I'm Hayley (she/her) and I'm more than a little bit bookish.

    Cosy Chapters is where I share all things book-related plus the occasional post about the cosy lifestyle.

    When I'm not reading, you'll find me spending time with my little family, rewatching sitcoms, planning the now somewhat elusive trip to Disneyland Paris and losing entire days playing ACNH.

    Follow Cosy Chapters on WordPress.com

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