Category Archives: graphic novel

Locke & Key

I stopped reading off my controversial book list for a while because I needed to buff up on modern comics for a graphic novel club I’m planning on launching at my school and thus I became totally obsessed with the Locke & Key series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.

Locke & Key cover

This story has got everything that lovers of fantasy and horror look for in a good novel. It’s fast paced, super scary, has huge cliffhangers, and takes place in a verse that is totally realistic and easily imaginable.

The story follows the lives of three sibs: Tyler, Kinsey and Bode Locke, who just moved to their family’s rural New England home. What they don’t know is that the house is full of secrets, and most importantly secret keys, which unlock doors that make the impossible, possible.

From turning into a ghost to super strength to gender bending, the keys that the Locke family uncovers offer endless possibility. There is a dark force afoot though, something evil that is terrorizing the family, in search of the Omega Key, and who knows what door that will open. 

A few people have told me that the first book is über confusing and that keeping the characters straight is a total pita. I cannot disagree, the first book is hard to follow, there’s a lot going on. If you can hold out though– if you can make it to the second book you are sure to be hooked on what I think it one of the greatest horror stories of recent memory. Perhaps that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as Joe Hill is the progeny of famous horror novelist Stephen King.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes scary stories! Be careful though, this is a graphic novel and as such there are pictures of violence, blood and gore, and other scary stuff.

You know what’s next: stay uncomfortable, keep reading!

Y the Last Man


Vaughn, B.K. (2002). Y the last man. New York: DC Comics. Print.

Note: Y the Last Man is part of a series. The entire series is included in the collection.

Reader’s Annotation

When Yorick Brown woke up this morning he was one of millions of men on the planet. By noon he’s the only one. Follow along with Yorick, Amperstand and Agent 355 and they seek out the one woman who may be able to solve this mystery while everyone works to protect (or procreate with) the one man left on the planet.

Plot Summary

What would happen if tomorrow morning you woke up and you were the only male left on the earth? Say that tomorrow a mysterious disease has wiped out all y-chromosone carriers on the planet, and you were the only one left, what would you do? You might find that like Yorick Brown, and his pet monkey Ampersand that you’d be disguising yourself as a woman, defending yourself from your own gun toting sister and on a mad quest to find your girlfriend and figure out what the hell happened to the other half of the world’s population. Good luck with that.


Y the Last Man is a great comic. The main character, Yorick, is a total dork who fumbles his way into all kinds of troublesome situations. The story is good too, you’re sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to find out if Yorick is going to find Beth; if 355 is going to have to save is ass again; and most importantly of what the hell wiped out all the y-chromosome carrying mammals on the planet.

Author Information

Brain K. Vaughn is critically acclaimed author of graphic novels. He did his undergraduate work at New York University and received his big break participating in Marvel’s Stanhattan Project, a workshop for comic book writers.

Vaugh’s first graphic novel, Pride of Baghdad, was released in 2006 and follows the story of four lions that escaped from the Baghdad Zoo after the so called “shock and awe” bombing during the war. He has also authored the graphic novels Runaways, and Ex Machina. Vaughn currrently lives in LA with his wife while working the film adaptations of some of his novels.


post apocalyptic, biological adventure, graphic novel

Curriculum Ties


Booktalk Ideas

In the first book when Yorick proposes to Beth over the phone, do you think she says yes? Why or why not?

Why does Hero join the Amazons?

Reading Level/Interest Age 

Challenge Issues

Reason for inclusion


Ghost World



Clowes, D. (1993). Seattle, WA; Fantagraphics Books. Print.

Reader’s Annotation

Ghost World is the story of Enid and Becky,  two recent high school graduates who have been friends forever and spend their time bumming around town, drinking coffee and harassing their mutual friend Josh, who they might both have a crush on. The girls soon find that growing up sometimes means growing apart, as the friendship that once seemed so solid and permanent begins to crumble.

Plot Summary

Enid and Becky are two super smart and witty girls who like to do the kinds of things that bored teenagers waiting for something to happen do: they try on wigs, drink endless cups of coffee at their local cafe, people watch, look for awesome stuff at garage sales and harass the nice clerk at the convenience store, Josh. They’ve been friends forever and intend on keeping it that way, they’re going to get a place together when Enid goes to college.

The girls are growing apart though, and it’s a painful transition. Both of the friends are attracted to Josh, and there is some disagreement over who should “get” him. Enid is really confused about her sexuality, and doesn’t even really know if she wants to be with Josh or if she just wants him because Becky wants him. Or if maybe, actually, if she wants Becky.

In a coming of age story that ends painfully and realistically, Ghost World is a must read for anyone who loves comics, has ever been a teenage girl, or suffered a particularly painful loss of friendship.

Critical Evaluation

This is another one of those books that I read for the first time when I was a young adult and am rereading for the project. It was SO PAINFUL. I felt like all I did was cringe through the whole novel and then I felt old. I guess I need to read more things for YAs in their late teens and early twenties because I have seldom felt as uncomfortable reading a book as I did reading Ghost World. I think part of it was that I strongly identified with Enid when I was a young woman (was there a smart, cute, kinda punky, nerd girl who didn’t identify with Enid in the 90s?), so rereading Ghost World was a serious walk down memory lane. Here’s the thing about Clowes, he managed to perfectly capture, at least in my case, what it is like to 18 or 20 or whatever, and have only a vague idea of what the future holds. He totally gets it. Enid knows just enough about herself to know that she’s not going to stick around in her boring ass town forever, but doesn’t quite trust herself enough yet be direct in her approach with her friend Becky or her would be lover Josh. She’s everywhere at once and wants everything and nothing and none of it makes any sense. Clowes captures that feeling perfectly and I think anyone who has ever been there will totally be able to relate to that. So long as they can get around all the swearing.

Author Information

Daniel Clowes was born in Chicago in 1961. He got a BFA from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1984 and published his first work just a year later in Cracked magazine. He’s probably most well known for the comic Eightball which he wrote in 1988 and where the majority of his later characters first appeared. Eightball ran until 2004 and won many Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz awards. His well known titles also include Wilson and Mister Wonderful. Most recently his work has been presented at the Oakland Museum of California.


comic, coming of age, strong female lead

Curriculum Ties


Booktalk Ideas

Do you think Enid and Becky hate everything? Why or why not?

Reading Level/Interest Age 


Challenge Issues

There are a lot of swears in this book, it is undeniable. There’s also bunch of sexy talk and this comic is definitely intended for older young adults. Alternate graphic novels that would appeal to young YA readers are Y the Last Man, The Pride of Baghdad, and Persepolis. 

Reason for Inclusion

This a contemporary coming of age story. It will appeal to readers who prefer comics and also those who just like good stories.