You might have noticed that submissions at Teen Ink fall into two distinct categories: writing and art. Maybe you consider yourself a writer, or maybe an artist, but most teens have potential to be great at both! Graphic novels are a wonderful art form that's gaining more and more respect in the literary world. If you're imagining an extended Sunday paper cartoon, you'll be surprised by the emotional depth and resonance of many graphic novels--and their action and humor, too. I hope you'll check out the books I've listed below, and that one of them might even inspire you to pursue your own project combining writing and art.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: Originally written in French, Satrapi's true account of her childhood in Iran has become wildly successful in translations all over the world. The lifestyle depicted here is very different from what many American teens are used to, but Satrapi's narrative is universally relatable.
Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins: Watchmen took superhero comics to a whole new level, and it's still widely considered one of the finest graphic novels ever. In fact, TIME Magazine named it one of the 100 greatest novels of all time--not just graphic novels, but novels of any kind. You might have seen the recent movie, but it only scratched the surface of the dark, complex world Moore created in the comic.
Runaways, created by Brian K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphona: This is actually a continuing comics series, not a single graphic novel, but it was originally created as a short standalone series that's now available in a single volume. It's a funny and action-packed story about a group of teenagers who find out that their parents are super-villains...and they've each inherited some of their parents' powers.
Maus by Art Spiegelman: You don't have to be a history buff to appreciate Spiegelman's harrowing biography of his father's life during World War II. The depiction of Nazis as cats and Jews as mice might seem like a gimmick at first, but it actually works incredibly well within the universe Spiegelman creates.
I Saw You, edited by Julia Wertz: This is a collection of short comics by different artists, based on the sometimes-infamous 'missed connections' personal ads in newspapers and online. If you've ever admired someone from afar, failed to get up the courage to ask them out, and then regretted it later, you'll relate to the stories presented here. They're sometimes sad, sometimes sweet, sometimes downright strange--but they're all full of the hope for love.