Building a core library: comics for high school students

As part of my preparations to teach a workshop to high school students at the Miami Wolfsonian Museum in a few weeks, I’m trying to put together a quite short list of books the Wolf could buy and have available for the kids to read. There are of course zillions of books to choose from, and as many points of view on what one might choose and why.

For my part, I’m likely to stick to books I know very well (the better to teach them on the fly). I’ll also likely skew to the more serious and arty end of the spectrum. After all, this isn’t a library list, where the goal is to get as many good books as kids want to check out on the shelves (or am I wrong about libraries’ goal?), this is a teaching collection, and a quite small one to begin with. I’m aiming to limit myself to 25-30 books (or short series, in the case of manga).

There are other teen booklists around, notably the Graphic Novel Reporter‘s, and No Flying No Tights‘, as well as subject lists in Booklist. There is a lot of good material in these lists, but they’re longer and more general-interest than I find useful in this case.

What are your very favorite comics for teens (and kids)?

Books I’m considering:

(Note: all these links go to Amazon, in case you want to add some or all of these books to your collection. Which I recommend!)
My own, since I’ll be using my own process as reference for teaching. So, La Perdida and Life Sucks. Both of these have a few “mature readers” moments, La Perdida more than LS, but they are used in high school classes regularly. Also, Radio: An Illustrated Guide for a less-common type of non-fiction comics. I’ll probably skip my two collections of earlier short stories, Mirror, Window, and Soundtrack.

About comics


Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud

Making Comics, Scott McCloud

What It Is, Lynda Barry

99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style, Matt Madden


Maus, Art Spiegelman

Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (a bit mature-readers, but so excellent, it needs inclusion)

Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi

Epileptic,  David B

The Fixer, Joe Sacco

Non-genre fiction

Skim, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, Chris Ware

Curses, Kevin Huizenga

Ice Haven, Daniel Clowes

Hicksville, Dylan Horrocks


Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller and Klaus Janson


Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Haiyo Miyazaki

Ranma 1/2, Rumiko Takhashi

Tekkon Kinkreet / Black & White, Taiyo Matsumoto

The Push Man and Other Stories, Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Euro comics

The Rabbi’s Cat, Joann Sfar

anything we can find by Moebius (most of it is out of print in English)

The Nikopol Trilogy, Enki Bilal

Tintin, possibly Tintin in Tibet, Hergé


Bone, Jeff Smith

The Sandman, Neil Gaiman, et al.


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