Every teacher knows that summer is for reading: that’s when we get to catch out breath and finally get to the pile of books on the nightstand. My pile, these days, consists almost entirely of comics and graphic novels. I’ve been participating in a GVSU brain trust / nerd club that whose purpose is to raise awareness of comics at Grand Valley. The brain trust members (so far) are Patrick Johnson (Writing), Rick Iadonisi (Writing), Hazel McClure (Library), plus me and three students–Anna White, Mark Jemerson, and Kevin Joffre. We’ve met a few times to geek out about our favorites and set some modest goals.

One of our big projects was to expand the collection of comics at Grand Valley. To this end, we consulted a dozen or so lists of celebrated comics and graphic novels, contributed our own picks, divided all of the entries into genres, and voted on which selections we’d like to see added to the GVSU library. Our ballot is below:

Memoir, Autobiography, Biography

Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths–Shigeru Mizuki
You’ll Never Know–Carol Tyler
Paying for It–Chester Brown
Diary of a Teenage Girl–Phoebe Gloeckner
What it Is–Lynda Barry
Curses–Kevin Huzenga
It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken–Seth (Gregory Gallent)
Our Cancer Year–Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner, and Frank Stack
Alec: The Years Have Pants–Eddie Campbell
Epileptic–David B.
The Complete Robert Crumb–Robert Crumb
Love and Rockets–Los Bros Hernandez
The Tale of One Bad Rat–Brian Talbot
Stitches–David Small
Drinking at the Movies–Julia Wertz
In the Shadow of No Towers–Art Spiegelman
American Widow–Alissa R. Torres
Marble Season–Gilbert Hernandez
The Property–Rutu Modan
Exit Wounds–Rutu Modan
Stop Forgetting to Remember: The Autobiography of Walter Kurtz–Peter Kuper
My Friend Dahmer–Derf Backderf
Special Exits–Joyce Farmer
The Nao of Brown–Glyn Dillon
Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life–Ulli Lust
Dockwood–Jon McNaugh
Everything We Miss–Luke Pearson
Tamara Drewe–Posy Simmonds
The Tale of One Bad Rat–Bryan Talbot
Calling Dr. Laura–Nicole J. Georges
Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey–G.B. Tran
Asterios Polyp–David Mazzucchelli
Ethel & Ernest: A True Story–Raymond Briggs
American Splendor–Harvey Pekar
Bottomless Belly Button–Dash Shaw
Essex County–Jeff Lemire
Mother, Come Home–Paul Hornschemeier
Summer Blonde–Adrian Tomine
A Drifting Life–Yoshihiro Tasumi

Fantasy, Science Fiction
Preacher–Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon
Sandman–Neil Gaiman
Transmetropolitan–Warren Ellis
Bone–Jeff Smith
Puma Blues–Stephen Murphy and Michael Zulli
Multiple Warheads–Brandon Graham
Finder-Carla Speed McNeil
Pluto–Naoki Urasawa
Sex Criminals–Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
Saga–Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Dal Tokyo–Gary Panter
Mister X--Dean Motter
The Incal–Alejandro Jorodowsky and Moebius
FreakAngels–Warren Ellis
Black Hole–Charles Burns
Cerebus–Dave Sim
The Invisibles-–Grant Morrison
Tank Girl–Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin
Saga of the Swamp Thing–Alan Moore
Swamp Thing--Scott Snyder
WE3–Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
The Walking Dead–Robert Kirkman
DMZ–Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli
Y the Last Man–Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
Fables–Bill Willingham
Hellblazer–Jamie Delano and Alfredo Alcala & John Ridgway
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen–Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill
Hellboy–Mike Mignola
V for Vendetta–Alan Moore and David Lloyd
Anya’s Ghost–Vera Brosgol
The Maxx–Sam Kieth
Planetary–Warren Ellis
Airtight Garage–Moebius
I Killed Adolf Hitler–Jason
Chew–John Layman
The Massive–Brian Wood
The Underwater Welder–Jeff Lemire
Punk Rock Jesus–Sean Murphy
American Vampire–Scott Snyder
Rising Stars–J. Michael Straczynski
Locke & Key–Joe Hill
Sweet Tooth–Jeff Lemire
The Unwritten–Mike Carey
The Wake–Scott Snyder
Cairo–G. Willow Wilson
Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars–Frank Beddor
Trickster–Matt Dembicki

Journalism/History

Berlin–Jason Lutes
Safe Area Gorazde–Joe Sacco
Palestine–Joe Sacco
The Great War–Joe Sacco
Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths–Shigeru Mizuki
Hark! A Vagrant–Kate Beaton
Journey–William Messner-Loebs
Unterzakhan–Leela Corman
From Hell–Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
300–Frank Miller
Alice in Sunderland–Bryan Talbot
Louis Riel: a Comic-Strip Biography–Chester Brown
Northlanders–Brian Wood
Los Tejanos–Jack Jackson
Comanche MoonSuperhero

Superheros
Daredevil: Man Without Fear–Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.
Astro City: Life in the Big City–Kurt Busiek
New Avengers: Breakout–Brian Michael Bendis
Batman: The Long Halloween–Jeff Loeb and Tim Sale
Astonishing X-Men Omnibus–Joss Whedon and John Cassaday
Punisher MAX: In the Beginning–Garth Ennis
Kingdom Come–Mark Waid and Alex Ross
All Star Superman--Warren Ellis and Frank Quitely
Authority:Relentless–Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch
Wanted--Mark Millar and JG Jones
Ex Machina–Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris
Powers: Who Killed Retro Girl?–Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming
Batman: The Killing Joke–Alan Moore and Brian Bolland
Ultimates–Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch
Batman: Year One–Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
Marvels–Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross
Batman: Arkham Asylum–Grant Morrison and Dave McKean
2000 AD Judge Dredd-John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra & Brian Bolland
Spider-Man: Blue–Jeff Loeb and Tim Sale
Superman: Red Son–Mark Millar
Uncanny X-Men: Dark Phoenix Saga–Chris Claremont
X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills–Chris Claremont
Daredevil Born Again–Frank Miller
Hawkeye–Matt Fraction
Animal Man–Jeff Lemire
Batman Court Of Owls –Scott Snyder
Irredeemable–Mark Waid
Gotham Central–Ed Brubaker
Invincible--Robert Kirkman
Runaways--Brian K. Vaughn
Umbrella Academy–Gerard Way
The Cape–Joe Hill
Promethea–Alan Moore
Tom Strong–Alan Moore
Top 10–Alan Moore
Concrete–Paul Chadwick
DC: The New Frontier–Darwyn Cooke
Doom Patrol: Crawling from the Wreckage–Grant Morrison

Adaptations
Goliath–Tom Gauld
Hamlet–Neil Babra
Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time–Hope Larson
The Odyssey: A Graphic Novel–Gareth Hinds
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451–Tim Hamilton

Crime/Noir
Sin City–Frank Miller
Road to Perdition–Max Allen Collins
Scalped--Jason Aaron
Whiteout–Greg Rucka
Parker–Darwyn Cooke
Stray Bullets–David Lapham
Violent Cases–Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
100 Bullets–Brian Azarello and Eduardo Risso
Criminal–Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Manga
Bleach–Tite Kubo
Dragonball–Akira Toriyama
Naruto–Masashi Kishimoto
A Distant Neighborhood–Jiro Taniguchi
Monster–Naoki Urasawa
Buddha–Osamu Tezuka
New Treasure Island–Osamu Tezuka
With the Light–Keiko Tobe
Battle Royale–Masayuki Taguchi
Akira–Katshuiro Otomo
Usagi Yojimbo–Stan Sakai


Other/Hard to Classify

The Cowboy Wally Show–Kyle Baker
Twisted Sisters–Various
King-Cat–John Porcellino
Uncle Scrooge–Carl Banks
Achewood (The Great Outdoor Fight)–Christ Onstad
The Adventures of Tintin–Herge
Hicksville--Dylan Horrocks
Scott Pilgrim--Brian Lee O’Malley
Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories–Gilbert Hernandez
Celluloid–Dave McKean
The Arrival–Shaun Tan
The Invention of Hugo Cabret–Brian Selznick
Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea–Hugo Pratt
Why Are You Doing This?–Jason
Asterix–Rene Goscinny
Robot Dreams–Sara Varon
Caboto–Lorenzo Mattotti
The Book of Genesis–Robert Crumb

That’s a long list, and not a super organized one at that. But it gives you a pretty good starting place for reading comics and graphic novels. As for me, I read quite a few this summer–among my new favorites are Scalped, Saga of the Swamp Thing, and Comanche Moon.