Staying on top of weekly comic releases can prove a nigh-impossible task for those with busy schedules or limited financial resources. Even those who consume comics wholeheartedly sometimes take a break from comic reading or collecting. Life takes unexpected directions and burnout feels unmanageable lately.
Graphic novels provide a solution for these individuals, novice comic readers, or people who love the intersection of words and art. Usually, graphic novels are self-contained stories clocking in around 100+ pages. Anyone can pick up most graphic novels without frantically researching characters or continuity. Whether you’re looking for a biographical story, a music-inspired comic, a horror tale to grip your mind in fear, or something to introduce your kids to the wonderful world of comics, there’s a graphic novel for everyone on this list.
New Graphic Novels of 2022
1. A Spark Within the Forge — Sabaa Tahir, Nicole Andelfinger, Sonia Liao & Mike Fiorentino | February 8th, 2022
A new graphic novel from Sabaa Tahir’s best-selling An Ember in the Ashes book series releases in February, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. BOOM! Studios have teamed up with Sabaa Tahir once again to illuminate histories behind fan-favourite An Ember in the Ashes characters. Once again, the creative team from the first standalone prequel graphic novel, A Thief Among the Trees, joins Tahir to bring this complex world to life in exquisite sequential art form.
This story foreshadows the beginnings of the first AEITA book, opening with Laia’s life in Serra as her brother Darin sneaks out under night’s cover to meet with swordsmith Spiro Teluman. Darin risks his life learning weapon forgery while Martial rule dominates the city of Serra. Meanwhile, Laia discovers a cure to the deadly illness spreading throughout her beloved city.
Dual narratives detail Laia and Darin’s dangerous exploits as they fight for justice in A Spark Within the Forge.
2. Enter the Blue — Dave Chisholm | January 25th, 2022
Music has the power to transform, to elevate individuals to a spiritual realm where emotions flicker in different hues. Powerhouse creator Dave Chisholm tells a story of how music takes one musician into a mystical space where she learns about herself and great jazz musicians from the past.
Jazz trumpet player Jessie Choi rejects jazz forever after embarrassment from a fouled solo. But after her mentor collapses and falls into a coma, Jessie reluctantly steps back into the jazz scene she had once deserted to solve the mystery of his unconscious state. Her desperate search to save him pulls Jessie into that mysterious, whispered place within the jazz music community: The Blue.
Enter the Blue plunges readers into a tale celebrating jazz history, where musical scores appear as illustrative interpretations. Chisholm is a standout in the comic community as both a musician and a creator. Jazz fans and fans of comic craft alike should enter the blue with Chisholm’s newest graphic novel from Z2 Comics.
3. Children of the Woods — Joe Ciano, Joshua Hixson, Roman Stevens, & Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou | January 25th, 2022
End the first month of the new year by journeying into dense woods where horrible creatures wander through the rustling shadows. Children of the Woods from Dark Horse Comics integrates horror, teenage uncertainty, and lustful revenge.
This graphic novel opens on a scene where a teenager named Quinn sojourns through a forest in search of vengeance. A cursed book incites monstrous consequences. Power comes with a price for Quinn and high schooler Amber. Multiple teenagers fear for their lives when they become wrapped up in dark magic and quests for retribution in Children of the Woods.
This is a story about tragedy, power, and justice. With scratchy illustrations appearing as if a monster has raked its claws through the pages and a colour palette saturated in forest green, this graphic novel is guaranteed to chill your bones this January.
4. Demon in the Wood — Leigh Bardugo & Dani Pendergast | September 27th, 2022
2022 is blessing novel readers with another graphic novel prequel in the form of Leigh Bardugo’s Demon in the Wood. However, the upcoming standalone from Roaring Book Press is not a new story, but an adaptation of Bardugo’s The Demon in the Wood: A Darkling Prequel Story novella. The fantasy graphic novel expands the Shadow and Bone universe through an origin story about the Darkling’s life before he ruled Ravka.
A lonely boy wielded an unusually extraordinary gift as a child. Eryk and his mother Lena are Grisha; users of small science (magic). Demon in the Wood follows the young Darkling as he and his mother run from danger and attempt to hide their abilities from those who will either destroy them or exploit their deadly powers for sinister machinations.
See the Darkling rendered on the page in a nuanced origin story this September.
5. Fearbook Club — Richard Ashley Hamilton, Marco Matrone, & Dave Sharpe | January 18th, 2022
AfterShock Comics launched their middle-grade comic imprint, Seismic Press, at the end of 2021. Their second title released the first New Comic Book Day after New Year’s. Fearbook Club speaks to the tether between fear and childhood in a ghostly graphic novel geared at a younger audience.
A middle school yearbook club unabashedly pursues fear. The club members investigate whether a group of ghosts lurks through their middle school halls. When shy 6th grader Whit Garcia is forced to join their group, the ghosts of missing students begin haunting the yearbook club.
Supernatural scares are heightened by the dim shadows and eerie figures looming through the pages. Fearbook Club shows how fear saturates children’s daily lives and divulges how they might properly process or handle fear.
6. Girl on Fire — Alicia Keys, Andrew Weiner, & Brittney Williams | March 17th, 2022
15-time Grammy Award-winning singer Alicia Keys turns to the comic industry for an opportunity to interpret her “Girl On Fire” song as a YA graphic novel. Creating a narrative, an artistic story, from a song works as reverse ekphratic writing (writing a poem based on looking at a piece of art). This endeavour is an honourable undertaking for Keys and the skilled creative team.
Song lyrics already contain a story behind the surface. The Girl of Fire graphic novel expands upon the narrative themes present in Keys’ eponymous song. Protagonist Lolo is a fourteen-year-old combating familial drama. Suddenly, a world-upending encounter with a police officer awakens a telekinetic power in Lolo. Like the ‘Girl on Fire’ song, Lolo discovers how strength, female empowerment, and bravery can positively guide her actions when confronting hardships.
The HarperCollins published graphic novel centres on power, both internal and external. From the fabulous character designs and art direction to the synopsis, Girl on Fire will undoubtedly light a fire in readers’ hearts.
7. The Golden Voice — Gregory Cahill & Kat Baumann | TBC 2022
Audiences love to watch biopic movies or television series dramatizing the lives of famous individuals. Particularly, there is a burgeoning market for musicians on-screen biographical adaptations. Recently, the biopic trend upholding musician’s legacies has translated into the comic industry. The Golden Voice will serve as another one of these gorgeously illustrated graphic novel accounts of a musician whose voice lives on after her shocking disappearance.
Possibly lesser known to international audiences, Cambodia’s legendary pop singer Ros Serey Sothea disappeared during Cambodia’s civil war and was never found. The Golden Voice pieces together an uplifting portrait gleaned from the scarce details known about Sothea’s life. Before she vanished in the Khmer Rouge killing fields, Sothea was a pioneer of Cambodian music in multiple genres during the 1960s and ’70s.
The graphic details Sothea’s early life, rise to fame, and successful career. Paired with an interactive soundtrack “sourced from original vinyl records”, you can listen to Sothea’s golden voice while reading about her incredible life.
8. Hen Kai Pan — Eldo Yoshimizu | April 12th, 2022
Cosmotheism, synonymous with pantheism, is the ascription of divinity to the cosmos. More succinctly, it is the concept that God and the universe are one and the same. Cosmotheism’s main motto, therefore, is “Hen Kai Pan.” Translated as “One and All,” writer and artist Eldo Yoshimizu’s Hen Kai Pan considers the spirituality and ecology fused with the philosophical belief.
The graphic novel from Titan Comics takes place in the cosmos, where mankind’s fate lies in the metaphorical hands of five guardian spirits. The spirits, appalled by the damage humans have inflicted upon the Earth, debate humankinds’ judgment until one spirit, Nila, decides to deal with the affair herself.
Hen Kai Pan will probably emerge as one of the most important graphic novels you’ll read all year. Yoshimizu blends present-day environmentalism with philosophy in a graphic novel where the kinetic art will speak Hen Kai Pan’s messages equally vigorously as the words.
9. John Carpenter’s Night Terrors: Sour Candy — Kealan Patrick Burke, Jason Felix, & Janice Chang | March 2022
Storm King Comics, created by Sandy King and her husband, film legend John Carpenter, gathers comic creators to bring horror and sci-fi to the comic book industry. Their upcoming publication involves a comic about candy that may rot your mind with terror.
John Carpenter’s Night Terrors: Sour Candy investigates the dark side of an atypical father/son relationship. Phil Pendleton meets his son Adam for the first time at a grocery store and begins to build a connection with the child. But Adam is no ordinary kid. Adam’s controlling methods over his father far surpass his unyielding demand to consume candy whenever he wants.
Written by the talented horror author Kealan Patrick Burke and boasting chilling art where blazing fire and screams consume the pages, you won’t be able to stop yourself from sinking your teeth into the horrors awaiting inside the Sour Candy graphic novel.
10. Life of Che: An Impressionistic Biography – Héctor Germán Oesterheld, Alberto Breccia, Enrique Breccia, & Pablo Turnes (Translator: Erica Mena) | March 17th, 2022
Banned by a dictatorship, this 1969 Argentine graphic biography was almost lost to censorship. Now, Fantagraphics obtained the rights to publish Life of Che: An Impressionistic Biography for the first time in English. Discover Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s story by reading this impressive biographical account of his life.
The trailblazing Cuban Revolution figure cemented himself in history as a countercultural symbol of rebellion and revolution. Life of Che artistically surveys Che’s life, beginning in childhood and ending in his devastating death. Drawn by the father and son team of Alberto and Enrique Breccia, the solicit informs us how the artists divvy up portrayals of the flashbacks and Bolivia passages in their distinct styles.
The graphic novel honours Che in a captivating work made available to English audiences who should jump at the opportunity to read this missing historical record.
11. M is for Monster — Talia Dutton | June 21st, 2022
Prepare your hearts for a coming-of-age story wrapped in a frightening horror veneer with Talia Dutton’s M is for Monster. Abrams ComicArts presents a gender-swapped Frankenstein graphic novel focusing on two sisters reunited after a tragic accident.
After Doctor Frances Al’s younger sister Maura is killed in an accident, the doctor ventures to bring Maura back to life. Frances succeeds, but the reanimated creature that rises no longer resembles the sister she loved. The girl elects to be called simply by “M”, but Frances will stop at nothing to identically reinvent the monster as the sister she lost. Dutton fleshes out its startling premise over 224 pages.
A graphic novel showcasing identity, expectations, and ghosts of the past, M is for Monster should be the first profound work of artistry to read this June.
12. Tentacle Kitty: Tales Around the Teacup – John Merritt, Raena Merritt, & Jean-Claudio Vinci | April 26th, 2022
Middle-grade graphic novels frequently feature animal characters, and results are always astounding. Audiences love cute animals – even alien animals from other dimensions! Somewhat reminding me of the old Disney live-action film, The Cat From Outer Space (1978), Tentacle Kitty: Tales Around the Teacup involves a cat from another dimension who loves drinking tea.
Dark Horse Comics presents the first adorable entry in this middle-grade graphic novel anthology series this April. Created in 2009, Tentacle Kitty and her friends first appeared as plushies.
In a rare toy-to-comic adaptation, Tentacle Kitty starred in the acclaimed webcomic series on Tapas. For the first time though, the graphic novel involves an entirely new set of adventures as the pink alien cat with tentacles hunts down cotton candy mice, attends conventions, and sips tea with her friends. Cats and tea sound like a recipe for joy.
13. Vann Nath: Painting the Khmer Rouge – Matteo Mastragostino & Paolo Vincenzo Castaldi | January 25th, 2022
Like The Golden Voice graphic novel previously mentioned, Vann Nath: Painting the Khmer Rouge biographically adapts the life of a prominent Cambodian figure in the 1970s.
Painter Vann Nath was a Cambodian painter who was arrested and tortured as a Khmer Rouge prisoner. While in the infamously brutal Tuol Sleng prison, Vann Nath painted to endure the inhumane incarceration. Ultimately, his painting saved him. The Khmer Rouge spared Nath’s life and ordered him to use his talent to paint portraits glorifying his captors. This graphic novel from Humanoids pays tribute to Vann Nath’s surviving spirit, dauntless talent, and how he eventually used his art to pay tribute to victims of the country’s tyrannical regime.
14. Wash Day Diaries — Jamila Rowser & Robin A. Smith
Wash Day Diaries first appeared as a mini-comic on Kickstarter about a group of best friends connected by their wash day rituals. Jamila Rowser and Robin A. Smith reintroduce the award-winning comic with their expanded graphic novel collection of short stories published by Chronicle Books.
Described as a “love letter to the beauty and endurance of Black women, their friendships, and their hair,” Wash Day Diaries celebrates the habits that bind people together. This graphic novel follows best friends Kim, Davene, Tanisha, and Cookie through short stories surveying their daily lives and wash day routines while living in the Bronx. The simple-sounding premise digs deep into the heart of its characters, using alternating colour palettes to delineate the individual experiences of each woman.
Wash Day Diaries promises a loving tribute to Black women and their community with a humorous day in the life graphic novel.
15. Wingbearer — Marjorie Liu & Teny Issakhanian | June 14th, 2022
Monstress writer Marjorie Liu, queen of fantasy and multi-faceted storytelling, partners with artist Teny Issakhanian for a magical middle-grade graphic novel. Published through Quill Tree Books, Wingbearer is the first of a graphic novel series. Like Monstress, animals and fantasy combine. But this time, readers of all ages can fly into the captivating magic produced by Liu’s words and an artist with a talent for transforming that script into a fully-imagined fantasy universe.
In Wingbearer, young Zuli battles a sinister threat to her magical world. The adventurous girl raised by bird spirits never left her home. Suddenly, an evil force threatens the life-giving magic in the Great Tree where Zuli and her guardian birds live. Zuli ventures beyond the comforts of the tree branches and into the vast unknown to restore balance.
Kids and adults alike should grab a copy of this charming graphic novel in March.
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