Cup of Jo has been running for 13 years, so every week, we’ll be highlighting one of the most popular posts from the past. Here’s one of our favorites, originally published on August 10, 2011…

Have you guys ever read graphic novels or memoirs? They’re full-length comic strips for grown-ups that often tell hilarious and touching stories. They’re entertaining and compelling — it’s almost like reading a movie. And you’ll notice clever little things in the pictures that add to the story (like a flirty sideways glance or a suspicious bead of sweat). Here are my five favorites…

1. Ghost World, above, follows the adventures of two moody teenage girls, Enid and Becky, after high-school graduation, as they grow up and drift apart. (Did you see the film?) I find it mindblowing how a middle-aged male cartoonist — the hilarious Dan Clowes — managed to portray two listless young women so realistically. (He nailed it.) Ghost World won approximately one million awards for being the best graphic novel ever.

French Milk graphic novel

2. French Milk is a funny memoir of a 22-year-old’s six-week stay in Paris with her mother — complete with drawings of croissants, striped shirts, the Eiffel Towel and some crankiness (which just makes her more charming). Really sweet to see the mother-daughter relationship.


Persepolis graphic novel

3. Persepolis tells the story of the author’s childhood under the Islamic Revolution. Her neighbors’ homes are bombed, and her once-wealthy parents now struggle to educate her. Her father considers fleeing to America, but then asks to his wife, “I can become a taxi driver and you a cleaning lady?” As she grows up, the girl’s rebellious streak puts her in danger. Touching that the story is told through a child’s eyes.

Shortcomings graphic novel

4. Shortcomings follows Ben, a cynical Japanese-American guy in his twenties, on his search for contentment — and the perfect girl. He’s kind of a jerk but you grow to love him, or, at least, understand him. (The genius author Adrian Tomine also illustrates for the New Yorker; I once spotted him in an East Village record store and creepily trailed him around, but was too shy to say hello!)


Cancer Vixen graphic novel

5. Cancer Vixen has an intense cover, but I promise you, this book is a-maz-ing. Written by a New Yorker and Glamour cartoonist, the novel tells Marisa’s true story of finding a lump in her breast right after meeting the love of her life. This book made me laugh out loud and shed tears, and I couldn’t put it town.

Have you ever read graphic novels? Do you have any favorites?

P.S. Ten best documentaries and my favorite book of all time.

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