Depending on whether or not you count the two volumes of Maus separately, I only read three or four graphic novels in June, but those few were stellar.
Maus, Vol. 1: My Father Bleeds History (1991) - Art Spiegelman
Maus, Vol. 2: And Here My Troubles Began (1993) - Art Spiegelman
We also had some great conversation about the themes of the book, including family, survival, guilt, how difficult it is to escape from the past, and of course, the Holocaust itself and everything connected with it. Although I had only asked them to read Volume 1 (our library system has several copies of Volume 1 and not as many of Volume 2), most of the guys went ahead and read Volume 2 anyway. If nothing else, these guys now have a greater appreciation of what the graphic novel format can do. I’m quite happy with that.
5/5 for both volumes
Peter Panzerfaust Volume II: Hooked (2013) - Kurtis J. Wiebe & Tyler Jenkins
The Complete Terry and the Pirates, Vol. 2: 1937-1938 (2008) - Milton Caniff
Hands down, Terry and the Pirates is my favorite comic strip of all time. I didn’t think the first volume of reprints from IDW’s The Library of American Comics series could be equalled, let alone surpassed, but Caniff outdoes himself here. The artwork is even more detailed, more spectacular, and more jaw-dropping. The detail in his depictions of China, ships, pirates, fights and more is simply incredible. Added to this are the Sunday pages, which resonate with life using a color pallet both rich and intricate. Comics don’t have to be this good, but Caniff obviously cared a lot about his art and it shows.
I’ve spoken before about how difficult it must be to produce a daily strip. You have to quickly summarize what happened the day before, add to it, and provide a cliffhanger all in three or four panels. Caniff usually creates four panels, and although that means he’s working with less space on each panel, the detail remains sharp and intoxicating. Caniff was amazing at moving stories along quickly, yet keeping large arcs in place, never allowing them to become dull or tiresome. If you’ve never read these strips, I urge you to find a copy of Volume 1 and dive right in. You won’t regret it.