By Jason Larsen
With graduation just around the corner, many students are just days away from a big move into a new phase of life. The IAS Library wanted to share some of our favorite comics that center around the themes of the life changes we all experience to celebrate not just our graduates but also our students, faculty, and staff. These selections include materials that are in our physical stack collections as well as our digital collection via ComicsPlus. We hope that all of you have a great summer break and that you enjoy these selections and even find a new favorite comic. If you like any of the selections below, we encourage you to look beyond our recommendations and explore the comic collection for other works you might enjoy!
Comics Available on the Shelf
For those who are graduating (or have already), you may find yourself recalling your early university years and for those just beginning, you may feel seen in this series. This first volume follows the story of three young women who meet during their first year of university. Follow Susan, Esther, and Daisy as they start university and learn about the challenges of making new friends, romance, personal experimentation, nu-chauvinism, and more all while balancing their academic lives. They can absolutely make it to the end of their spring semester, right?
Growing up can be challenging for all of us. It can be especially challenging when you don’t seem to conform to expected gender norms. This autobiographical memoir follows the creator Liz from her early childhood years through adulthood. You get to experience Liz’s life as she was pushing back against the stereotypical girly girl image, but also still experiencing misogyny as she was not a boy/man. Liz’s work is relatable to anyone who has ever felt like they do not fit in and/or feel trapped between the different lenses society puts on us.
Learning how to navigate relationships is a key part of growing up, especially as we enter adulthood. What might be equally important is learning how to have healthy relationships. The graphic novel focuses on Freddy Riley, whose relationship with Laura Dean is a classic on-and-off again relationship. Freddy is finding her life in constant chaos as she loses friends and her self-respect because of Laura– yet she cannot seem to end things with her. With some new friends and new advice, Freddy may yet learn the importance of moving past toxic relationships and seeking the healthy ones that sustain us.
Follow a trio of young women who are navigating the looming leap of their senior year of high school to university. They find themselves with differing schedules, ever-increasing responsibilities, and extracurricular activities. To keep their lives and friendships together they form a supper club where they can have quiet time together outside their changing lives while making and sharing a meal together. Are comfort food and companionship enough to help their friendships endure as life’s challenges begin to pile up near the end of school?
Nate Stevenson is an Eisner, Daytime Emmy, and GLAAD Media award-winning creator with notable works such as his webcomic Nimona, Lumberjanes, Marvel’s Runaways, and the creator and executive producer of the Netflix show She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. To capture the experience of the highs and lows of his life as a creator, Nate made a series of essays and comics to put down his thoughts on these life events. The book translates things we all feel into experiences we can relate to as we navigate the various phases and events in life.
Comics Available Through ComicsPlus
As we head off from school to pursue our careers, we think we know what the road ahead will be like. You can do all the research about a profession you are seeking to enter but may still find yourself completely unready for what you experience. In this autobiographical work, Natalie takes us as readers along with her as she discovers that what she thought she knew and studied about a career in animation did not align with the reality of what she finds. Exploring the good and bad moments of her career turns this book into a reference guide with advice for those who may choose to follow her into the field.
Young love is something many of us experience, but what about the phase of life you enter when your hair is greying yet you are still seeking love and companionship? This comic is a unique work in that it follows a couple whose deep connecting relationship is finally beginning but in their later years. The end is the beginning as each chapter goes back through their lives to view all the moments that were, the moments that almost were, and those moments that kept their relationship going by what could yet be. A moving book that shows how love can survive over time despite all the complexity of life with family, responsibilities, career, and persistence.
This comic is a semi-autobiographical work from creator Ethan Young. Like many his age, Ethan is living with his parents and working a day job while also creating comics in his free time. Blending his job, his creative works, and his family and friends into a fantasy world he soon finds the lines between reality and his fantasy are beginning to blur. He eventually finds he cannot discern the difference between the two settings. Can he find his way back?
Creator Nate Powell has created (or been part of creative teams) for notable and award-winning works such as March and Save it for Later. This comic focuses on how war and violence influence life in small-town America. A trio of childhood friends is forced to examine how they view their fantasies around the concept of violence when mutilated turtles begin to show up around town. Moving ahead to their adult years they are again forced to examine their lives through their various positions of privilege, what duty means, and how they view the differences of what is betrayal and what is courage.
We all have expectations of what the future holds for us. Yet sometimes when we meet the reality of what our future is against what the ideal was, it can be jarring. Lizzy Stewart has created a series of interconnected vignettes that focus on relationships at various stages. Some of these focus on what our childhood friendships become as we age, while others are more introspective of career or education choices and how our feelings about those decisions change.
Whether about graduation and moving on or simply moving into a new life phase, these comics are some of our favorite selections. There are many more comics to choose from in the catalog and ComicsPlus application, so we encourage you to seek those that match your interests.
If you are unfamiliar with the ComicsPlus application, check out the video links below as they provide additional details on the application.