One of my favorite series growing up was Ann M. Martin’s Babysitters Club books, about a group of plucky young girls who managed to go to school, have a social life, and deal with teenage issues while simultaneously running their own small business taking care of the neighborhood kids. I gobbled up the novels when I was younger, and now I’m revisiting them in an all-new format: graphic novels. With the amazing Raina Telgemeier (Smile and Sisters) on board as adapter and illustrator, Kristy and the gang’s adventures are being developed into candy-colored comics, and it makes me want to catch up on their adventures all over again. This got me thinking of all the other classic teen and tween series that would make for great graphic series. Here are five I would happily reread in comic format.
The Sweet Valley High series
This was a staple series for me during my formative years. The series revolved around the antics of the Wakefield twins, boy-crazy Jessica and smart, sensible Elizabeth. The plots ranged from the relatable (Double Love, where the twins fall for the same boy) to the ridiculous (Evil Twin, in which a deranged girl tries to kill Elizabeth and assume her identity) to the downright outrageous (A Date with a Werewolf, in which Elizabeth, you guessed it, dates an English werewolf). The Wakefields live in a bizarre world that’s half teen drama, half insane soap opera. I don’t think I ever quite realized how strange this series is, and now I desperately need a comic that focuses on and highlights the weirdness of the Wakefields’ lives. It would also be pretty cool to use illustrations to highlight the contrasts between the two girls, with bolder lines and brighter colors for Jessica’s stories and a more muted palette to showcase Elizabeth’s calmer personality. But seriously, can they skip straight to releasing A Date with a Werewolf?
The Giver quartet
In The Giver Quartet, each title tells of its own unique dystopia—for instance, while The Giver exists in a futuristic society, Gathering Blue shows one that has relapsed into a more primitive culture). How amazing would it be to see and move between these worlds, going from the stark black-and-white of The Giver to the more vibrant world of Kira and her embroidery in Gathering Blue to Matty’s Forest in Messenger? There’s so much that can be done with color and shadow in these comics, and the contrast between each would help build a more complete view of the universe the series exists in. Just imagine how gorgeous the scenes of Jonas going from the black and white world of the Sameness to the technicolor world of memories and feelings for the first time would be.
The Immortals quartet
Why would this series make a great comic? Because magic. Sometimes it can be easier, or just more awesome, to see rather than imagine some of the more fantastical scenes in fantasy novels. And Pierce definitely knows how to bring the magic: this series has mystical powers, gods, and a heroine that can talk to animals. In Wolf-Speaker, my favorite novel in the series, Daine learns she has the ability to transform into animals and befriends a basilisk. I want to see Daine come face-to-face with a giant legendary serpent, or journey to the Dragonlands, as she does in The Realms of the Gods. If you don’t feel the same, then sorry, but we can’t be friends.
The books of Judy Blume
When I turned 13, my mom sat me down and handed me a copy of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Judy Blume is the original queen of teen lit, but while her themes are timeless (there’s no better author to teach teens about friendship, menstrual cycles, and sex), the novels’ references can feel dated. Using the comic format to give them a more modern feel could keep them even more fresh and relevant for readers today. Because let’s face it, you probably learned about sex from Katherine and Michael in Forever (aka, the book I wasn’t allowed to read at 13), and the importance of not being the last of your friends to get your period from Margaret. In other words, Blume’s books should be given out as road maps for surviving the ages of 12 to 18.
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The Nancy Drew series
Nancy Drew, aka your mother’s favorite character from childhood, is a plucky girl detective who travels around solving crimes. She’s like a less sociopathic Sherlock Holmes. Personally, I would like to see Nancy remain in her original time period rather than be modernized. Stories like The Secret of the Old Clock (in which Nancy avoids thieves to find a journal hidden inside an old clock, leading to the location of a secret will) and The Mystery at Lilac Inn (in which Nancy captures a gang of jewel thieves) have a really fun 1930s vibe to them, which would give the comics an awesome vintage feel. The story lines are delightfully ridiculous, and would make for a great series of detective comics with an old school feel.