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Carina's Comic Corner: 2024's Most Anticipated Graphic Novels

Hello, reader, and allow me to introduce myself. I’m Carina, a librarian-educator based in Pittsburgh, PA, graphic narrative aficionado, and now Incubator's local reviewer extraordinaire! I am constantly searching for new titles for my library’s collection (as well as my personal home library!) and with that pursuit comes a very crucial resource: advanced reader copies (ARCs). ARCs are copies provided to librarians, educators, reviewers, and other literary professionals in order to review and promote soon-to-be-published materials. I’ve gotten my hands on my fair share of ARCs for upcoming comics, graphic novels, and manga slated for release in 2024, and I’ll say it’s about to be a stacked year. I’ve listed some of my personal most anticipated titles below, so be on the lookout for these upcoming releases and add tack them onto your TBR list!

Vera Brosgol always does tremendous work. Her titles Anya and the Ghost and Be Prepared are standouts in the YA graphic novel market, but I think this is my favorite of her work yet. Plain Jane and the Mermaid is a truly sweet folktale with solid pacing, whimsical illustration, and a wholesome moral. When Jane is told that she will lose her family’s estate unless she marries, she takes matters into her own hands to propose to Peter, the village’s local pretty boy. However, when Peter is kidnapped by a beautiful mermaid hellbent on marrying him herself, Jane finds herself on an underseas quest for the ages. The narrative delved into the more malicious tendencies of mermaids, not just the Disney understanding that most of us know, and gave such a well-rounded tale about self-love, family, and personal autonomy. A family-friendly fable with heart, Plain Jane and the Mermaid gives an easy to follow story with gorgeous illustrations, perfect for all ages. Plain Jane and the Mermaid releases on May 7, 2024.

In this raw, unapologetic memoir, Siobhan Gallagher manages to capture the intricacies of girlhood, body dysmorphia, and disordered eating in all their gritty details. Chronicling from her earliest memories all the way to her present day as a more confident adult, she holds back no punches when it comes to describing her personal experience with these difficult scenarios. With a punchy, cute illustration style jam-packed with timely cultural references, Full of Myself is able to consolidate very sweet images with more upsetting, self-critical themes. I especially liked how the color of different vignettes changed with Sio, the character’s, mood. This striking line really hits home the point of the book: “to be a girl is to go from being an observer to being observed.” Full of Myself releases on April 2, 2024.

I'll be real here, as soon as I see a book with a piece of meat on the cover I know I'm going to enjoy it. In Tender, Beth Hetland chronicles the life of Carolanne, a woman so obsessed with being the perfect wife and mother that she begins to remove pieces of her flesh and consumes them. With the shifting artistic styles and colors, Hetland demonstrates Carolanne’s unraveling mind alongside the ennui of everyday life. Using mild body horror and subtext to hint at the autocannibalism occurring, I feel that even those most squeamish audiences may be able to stomach this. The sparse action allows the reader to really witness Carolanne’s deteriorating psyche in real time, making it a lot easier to witness stylistic and narrative changes on the page. A slim read of only 162 pages, Tender is gross, heartbreaking, and a wild ride from start to finish. Tender releases on March 12, 2024.

With a title like Youth Group and a crucifix on the cover, one might worried that the subject matter here may be heavy handed, but never judge a book by its cover! When high schooler Kay is roped into attending the youth group at her mother’s church, she is quickly befriended by youth leaders Kay and Cortland. What appears to be a a classic evangelical hangout space ends up being a front for demon slaying and exorcisms, and Kay finds herself at the helm of a full-on war against demons. Youth Group doesn’t take itself or religion too seriously, despite its subject matter, and an interfaith movement with the help of Catholics, Wiccans, and Jewish folks helping with Kay’s crew shows that this isn’t a story about religion, but about friendship. I appreciated that Youth Group didn't force itself into any romantic territory between the main trio, and instead let them function as a platonic entity of kick-ass energy. This approach kept this story fun, fast-paced, and worth the read. Youth Group releases on July 16, 2024.

From the author of Check, Please! Ngozi Ukazu and debut illustrator Mad Rupert, Bunt! introduces us to Molly Bauer, a college freshman in a financial bind. When the scholarship she was banking on to attend PICA, a local art college, is dissolved, Molly finds herself a loophole: softball. Enlisting her dropout buddy Ryan and an eclectic bunch of art students, Molly learns that she and the team can earn an athletic scholarship if they can win a single game. However, she learns that there’s far more to PICA below the surface and that the image she’d built up of the school may not truly be what it seems. This diverse cast of characters is so lovable and hilarious, and Bunt! manages to have near-perfect comedic timing. While formulaic at times, this story is one that is all about the underdog, community, and finding yourself in the process.  Bunt! releases on February 12, 2024.

Looking for more reviews on upcoming releases? Maybe commentary on a specific title? Just want to find something new to read? Stay tuned for weekly themed posts, standalone reviews of new titles before they’re published, and more! 

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