Our Most Anticipated Comics and Graphic Novels of 2023—So Far
A new year means another year of working through my mile-long to-be-read pile—and occasionally putting a book on pause to pick up an exciting, new graphic novel. Unfortunately, most publishers and press haven’t announced their full release schedules, so what follows is a partial list … unless they all go on vacation together in the last five months of the year. Luckily, there’s a lot of titles to choose from, and not just from my favorite genre (graphic novel memoir). Excluding new trade editions for 2022 issues, here are 13 comic and graphic novel releases that should be on your radar.
And if you’re more interested in this year’s fiction and non-fiction novels, we’ve got a list for those, too.
Gordita: Built Like This by Daisy “Draizys” Ruiz
This autobiographical comic comes from the publisher founded by Wash Day Diaries creator Jamila Rowser. Ruiz’s book was only available for pre-order, and while I got mine in, if you are interested, you can get on their mailing list to be notified when there are new copies.
In this 28-page color comic, we follow Gordita, a young Mexican-American teenager who lives in The Bronx. She’s judged for having no ass by classmates, strangers, and even family. Gordita struggles with low self-esteem and body dysmorphia. But, through her friendships with other girls who are also getting bullied and mentorship with her guidance counselor, Gordita, begins to speak up for herself and see that she is more than just her body.
Releases January 2023.
Queenie: Godmother of Harlem by Elizabeth Colomba
As we continue the process of sharing the lost stories of notable figures in history, there is an inclination to lean toward the “good.” Why stop there when the complicated—or straight-up bad—are just as interesting? Enter Saint-Clair, the American gangster from Depression-era Harlem.
Queenie follows the life of Stephanie Saint-Clair—the infamous criminal who made herself a legend in Harlem in the 1930s. Born on a plantation in the French colony of Martinique, Saint-Clair left the island in 1912 and headed for the United States, eager to make a new life for herself. In New York she found success, rising up through poverty and battling extreme racism to become the ruthless queen of Harlem’s mafia and a fierce defender of the Black community.
A racketeer and a bootlegger, Saint-Clair dedicated her wealth and compassion to the struggling masses of Harlem, giving loans and paying debts to those around her. But with Prohibition ending, and under threat by Italian mobsters seeking to take control of her operation, she launched a merciless war to save her territory and her skin. In an America still swollen by depression and segregation, Saint-Clair understood that her image was a tool she could use to establish her power and wield as a weapon against her opponents.
Releases January 17, 2023.
Mimosa by Archie Bongiovanni
Having read A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns, I know this author can effectively communicate and make you crack a smile, so I’m really looking forward to their upcoming fiction novel about friendship and family.
Best friends and chosen family Chris, Elise, Jo, and Alex work hard to keep themselves afloat. Their regular brunches hold them together even as the rest of their lives threaten to fall apart. In an effort to avoid being the oldest gays at the party, the crew decides to put on a new queer event called Grind-specifically for homos in their dirty thirties.
Grind is a welcome distraction from their real problems: after a messy divorce, Chris adjusts to being a single parent while struggling to reconnect to their queer community. Elise is caught between feelings for her boss and the career of her dreams. Jo tries to navigate the murky boundaries of being a supportive friend and taking care of her own needs. And Alex is guarding a secret that might change his friendships forever.
While navigating exes at work, physical and mental exhaustion, and drinking way, way too much on weekdays, this chosen family proves that being messy doesn’t always go away with age.
Releases March 7, 2023.
In Limbo by Deb Jj Lee
What more can I say—did you look at the cover? It’s freaking gorgeous and it’s a graphic novel memoir. Lee shares her story of being an immigrant and her struggle with mental health in her new release:
Ever since Deborah (Jung-Jin) Lee emigrated from South Kora to the United States, she’s felt her otherness.
For a while, her English wasn’t perfect. Her teachers can’t pronounce her Korean name. Her face and her eyes—especially her eyes—feel wrong.
In high school, everything gets harder. Friendships change and end, she falls behind in classes, and fights with her mom escalate. Caught in limbo, with nowhere safe to go, Deb finds her mental health plummeting, resulting in a suicide attempt.
But Deb is resilient and slowly heals with the help of art and self-care, guiding her to a deeper understanding of her heritage and herself.
Releases March 7, 2023.
Museum of Mistakes by Julia Wertz
Both this and the next title on the list are books that have been out of print for years, and they influenced some of the most influential writers of the present. In addition to being a rerelease, Museum of Mistakes features the never before printed volume three.
For almost two decades, Julia Wertz has been documenting her life’s most intimate, absurd, and amusing moments through a whimsical and hilarious diary comic book called The Fart Party. Wertz retells childhood antics that end in scars and swears. She tracks, in real-time, her young adulthood as she forgot her college graduation, traveled cross country via train, and drank her way through a harsh break-up. After receiving much acclaim (and controversy), The Fart Party became a series of self-published mini-comics, eventually collected into two volumes, published by Atomic Books. Long out of print, Museum of Mistakes collects anything and everything that is The Fart Party.
Releases March 14, 2023.
We Are on Our Own: A Memoir by Miriam Katin
First published in 2009, We Are on Our Own follows a Jewish family in Eastern Europe during WWII and the questions of faith that arise in desperate situations.
With the heartrending We Are on Our Own, Miriam Katin recounts the story of her escape from German-occupied Hungary as a child, led by her determined mother. The two fled Budapest near the end of WWII and at the age of sixty-three Katin enshrined her memory in these extraordinary pages, originally published in hardcover more than fifteen years ago.
In 1944, Miriam is a toddler beloved by her dog Rexy, but when her mother is forced to give up their “Jewish dog” to the German authorities, Miriam’s world begins to unravel. The two flee to the countryside after faking their deaths and traversing lands blanketed with snow. Miriam’s fragmented childhood memories of forests, chocolate, strange men, and the noise of war are reconstituted in this beautifully told epic journey where the innocence of a child is set against unthinkable violence.
Another crisis, one of faith, haunts the severed family on their path. Struggling to reunite with Miriam’s father who has been conscripted to the Hungarian army, mother and daughter contemplate God, wondering how He could allow such destruction. Poetic words of the Torah combine with images of war as Miriam examines the theological dilemma both victims as well as survivors of the Shoah. When Miriam and her mother hide with a winemaker, they soothe their nerves with the tonic, reciting “God is red. God is in the glass.” God, they understand, is in the very human will to survive, and in that pursuit of survival, we are truly on our own.
Releases April 4, 2023.
Light Carries On by Ray Nadine
While paranormal stories about ghosts normally don’t draw me in, this story has a big musical element, and Vera Brosgol’s 2011 novel Anya’s Ghost has inspired me to give the genre more chances.
After taking Leon’s body for an accidental joy ride, the ghost introduces himself as Cody, a queer punk rocker who died decades ago. Of course, he doesn’t remember how he wound up dead but the two decide investigating might be the only way to end the haunting.
Leon has been reeling from a recent break-up with his boyfriend, recovering from his time in the military, and trying to become a photographer who can afford to take pictures of something more than high school proms and weddings. So being the only one able to see and talk to a ghost that died before cellphones, Wikipedia, or iTunes seems like a great way to fill his ample free time. The two get closer as they travel around Chicago showing each other the landmarks of their pasts and trying to unearth the secrets around Cody’s mysterious death. They discover they have much more in common than expected as they explore the complexities of life, love, and afterdeath, taking breaks to jam out to tunes, hang out in planetariums, and slurp down tasty frozen beverages.
Releases April 18, 2023.
The Last Count of Monte Cristo by Ayize Jama-Everett, Tristan Roach
This only needed to be a retelling of the life of the most bestselling Black author of all time to catch the attention of some readers (me, I’m some readers), however, you’re telling me that it’s also set in the future and explores the continued effects of climate change? Count me in.
This speculative update pushes the narrative into a future hundreds of years after the polar ice caps have melted and submerged our planet into a new era of technology and culture. In this futuristic reinterpretation, author Ayize Jama-Everett and illustrator Tristan Roach revisit the original inspiration of The Count of Monte Cristo—Alexandre Dumas’s own father.
A greatly respected general during the French Revolution, Dumas was one of the highest-ranking officers of African descent in a Western army in history. Like the protagonist of his son’s story, General Dumas was betrayed and spent years in prison before getting a chance to return to his beloved France. The Last Count of Monte Cristo is a radical and powerful graphic novel update that reclaims the cultural heritage of Dumas’s tale and suggests the terrible future that could threaten the human race if we continue to destroy our planet.
Releases April 25, 2023.
America Redux: Visual Stories from Our Dynamic History by Ariel Aberg-Riger
To call this a graphic novel is maybe a bit of a stretch, but it is graphics-based and uses collages of different images (from photos and maps to handwritten text and more) to tell parts of American History that’ve been largely written out. From the pages I saw, the composition is intriguing and it’s something I’m going to submit for request to see if my library will buy it.
What are the stories we tell ourselves about America?
How do they shape our sense of history,
cloud our perceptions,
America Redux explores the themes that create our shared sense of American identity and interrogates the myths we’ve been telling ourselves for centuries. With iconic American catchphrases as chapter titles, these twenty-one visual stories illuminate the astonishing, unexpected, sometimes darker sides of history that reverberate in our society to this very day–from the role of celebrity in immigration policy to the influence of one small group of white women on education to the effects of “progress” on housing and the environment, to the inspiring force of collective action and mutual aid across decades and among diverse groups.
Fully illustrated with collaged archival photographs, maps, documents, graphic elements, and handwritten text, this book is a dazzling, immersive experience that jumps around in time and will make you view history in a whole different light.
Releases May 2, 2023.
20 KM/H by Woshibai Image: Drawn & Quarterly
This graphic novel is a story of little to no words, but big images. It’s as weird and interesting as the cover suggests.
How fast can you go in a buggy drawn by the flap of a butterfly’s wings? How do you measure the speed of waking from a dream? Such abstract inquiries into the unrelenting absurdity of contemporary life make up this omnibus of meditative vignettes from one of mainland China’s most prolific and recognizable—yet anonymous—new underground cartoonists of the current generation.
Every story in 20 km/h toes the line between pun and poetry, and lands somewhere just short of a zen koan: Come back to it as often as you like, it will never read quite the same way twice. A nondescript figure awakes from an assembly line of identically fashioned companions and boards a rowboat destined for the unknown. A man holds the key to sleep in his hand and uses it to disappear into his mattress. The moon is plucked from the sky and fed into a vending machine for a can of soda.
Releases May 16, 2023.
Grand Slam Romance by Ollie Hicks, Emma Oosterhous
While published under Abrams, this is an magical romance novel (in a sporty setting) that is actually for older teens and adults.
In this queer graphic novel that’s equal parts romance, softball, and magical girl drama, Mickey Monsoon and Astra Maxima are best friends . . . and maybe more. That is, until Astra unceremoniously dumps Mickey to become a softball wunderkind at a private girl’s school in Switzerland. Years later, Mickey is the hotshot pitcher for the Belle City Broads, and their team is poised to sweep the league this season. But Mickey is thrown off their game when Astra shows up to catch for the Gaiety Gals, the Broads’ fiercest rival. Astra is flirty, arrogant, and reckless on the field—everything the rule-abiding Mickey hates.
Astra thinks Mickey’s cute and wants to fool around, even despite their rocky history and the trail of jilted softballers that Astra leaves in her wake. Too bad the only thing Mickey wants is vengeance for their broken heart and wounded pride! But even they have to admit–Astra is a certified babe. And that’s not all: Astra isn’t just a softball superstar, she’s a full-fledged magical girl.
The only way for Mickey to defeat Astra is to betray the Broads and join the Danger Dames, a secret elite team, and start dating Astra’s ex! OK, that last bit wasn’t part of the plan . . . Mickey’s rapidly getting in too deep, but is she just in trouble or is she actually in love?
Releases May 23, 2023.
MAGE and the Endless Unknown by SJ Miller
I’m not going to lie, I have zero details on this, but of the few Iron Circus Comics I’ve read, the lowest score they’ve gotten is a four out of five. So there is a reasonably high chance this is a banger. Also, the artist’s work is interesting! Now we patiently wait for a plot description to be posted somewhere, please.
Releases June 30, 2023.
The Bomb: The Weapon That Changed the World by Didier Alcante, Laurent-Frédéric Bollée, Denis Rodier, Ivanka Hahnenberger
While I’m not completely sold on watching Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, I 100% will be reading this novel, which comes out the week before. Most of the research I’ve done on this tragedy has been on the military and ethic sides, and not so much the scientific element of the story, so this will be an interesting read.
On August 6, 1945, at 8:15 in the morning, an explosive charge of more than 15 kilotons fell on the city of Hiroshima. Tens of thousands of people were pulverized, and everything within four square miles was instantly destroyed. A deluge of flames and ash had just caused Japan’s greatest trauma and changed the course of modern warfare and life on Earth forever. The world was horrified by the existence of the bomb—the first weapon of mass destruction. But how could such an appalling tool be invented?
To answer this question, Alcante, Laurent-Frédéric Bollée, and Denis Rodier return to the origins of its main component, uranium, and shed light on the scientific discoveries around this element and its uses both civilian and military. Sifting through the history, from Katanga to Japan, through Germany, Norway, the USSR, and New Mexico, The Bomb is a succession of incredible but true stories. Alcante, Bollée, and Rodier have created an exhaustive and definitive work of nonfiction that details the stories of the unsung players as well as the remarkable men and women who are at the crux of its history and the events that followed.
Releases July 11, 2023.
(featured image: Drawn & Quarterly / Abrams Comicarts – Megascope / Abrams Comicarts – Surely / Balzer & Bray / Harperteen / First Second / The Mary Sue)
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