Back-to-school is the perfect season for graphic novels. Picking up that shelf-breaking YA fantasy novel may seem like just too much effort right now. These new and upcoming graphic novels act as perfect reading oases for your great escape while delving back into school season routines.
Pumpkinheads, by Rainbow Rowell, illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks
This dream-team collaboration between Rowell and Hicks drops later this month but has distinctly autumn vibes. Throughout high school, Deja and Josiah have worked at the same Omaha, Nebraska, pumpkin patch. They’re best friends—in September and October. But after Halloween this year—their senior year—they’ll part ways outside the Succotash Hut for good. Rather than mope, Deja and Josiah use their last night together for good old-fashioned pumpkin patch adventuring, including a quest to introduce Josiah to the mysterious Fudge Shoppe girl he’s been pining for.
Fence, Vol. 3, by C.S. Pacat, illustrated by Johanna the Mad
If you haven’t been introduced to this boys’ school soap opera, now is a good time. This third volume of Fence collects issues #9-12 of the previously published comic series, culminating in a tryouts face-off between fencing underdog Nicholas Cox and his rival and roommate, the ultra-serious prodigy Seiji Katayama. Whether you know the first thing about competitive fencing or not, this tense, emotionally charged series will keep you enthralled—particularly as the boys of King’s Row switch from being individual rivals to teammates.
Grimoire Noir, by Vera Greentea, illustrated by Yana Bogatch
What’s better than something spooky to slide you into the crisp creepiness of fall? Take a trip to the small town of Blackwell, where all women—and only the women—possess magick powers. Now, eerie small towns are really our cups of tea around here, but Bucky Orson isn’t as enchanted by Blackwell’s eccentricities. Especially not when his younger sister Heidi goes missing. On his journey to find his sister, he’ll discover more about the complex tapestry of his town than he bargained for, including dark secrets and a vengeful spirit.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
Popular and charming, Laura Dean is a dream girl. Laura Dean is also a nightmare girlfriend. She cheats, gaslights, manipulates, breaks up via text—and even still, Freddy keeps taking her back. After their latest breakup, Freddy’s friends have had enough. Her best friend Doodle takes her to a psychic who has the same advice as everyone else: break up with Laura Dean for good. The process of falling out of love, though, is a long and hard one, and Freddy has a lot of work to do to repair her heart, her sense of self, and her other relationships before she can let Laura Dean go for good.
Kiss Number 8, by Colleen AF Venable, illustrated by Ellen T. Crenshaw
After seven kisses, Mads still doesn’t get it. What’s the big deal? Kissing is horrible and awkward. Her eighth kiss is even more disastrous for an entirely different reason, and it makes her realize an uncomfortable truth: the person she really wants to kiss is her best friend Cat. As Mads deals with questions about her own sexuality and how that squares with her conventional Catholic family, she starts to unravel a secret about her grandparents that may strain relations even further. Humor and humanity mix in a narrative about coming out and coming of age.
Stage Dreams, by Melanie Gillman
Here’s the pitch: queer Western with a trans girl lead. Oh, you need more? How about two young women from very different walks of life teaming up to foil a Confederate plot and sell Southern secrets to the Union? Thought so. Grace, a trans runaway and aspiring actress, and Flor, a Latinx outlaw, join together in unconventional circumstances for a rip-roaring mission that involves highway robbery, a heist, and maybe just a hint of romance.
Mooncakes, by Suzanne Walker, illustrated by Wendy Xu
The answer to most questions in life, I believe, is MORE WITCHES PLEASE. This long-running webcomic makes its print debut in October, so everyone can fall in love with teen witch Nova Huang. Nova works in her grandmothers’ bookshop, which boasts a substantial spell book catalogue, and moonlights, so to speak, as a supernatural investigator. One night, she follows a tip about a white wolf, which leads her to Tam Lang, a werewolf who just happened to be her childhood crush. In her quest to help Tam, she learns some of those childhood feelings are far from gone.