‘Tunnel,’ ‘Leonard Cohen,’ and more

Keeping up with the incredible variety of graphic novel releases throughout the year can be tough. So maybe right now is a good time to catch up on what you missed from 2021.

In line with such a diverse format, we’ve compiled a list of recent graphic novels that span a wide range of genres and themes — and there’s no superhero in sight.

“After the Rain” by Nedi Okorafor, John Jennings, David Bram (Courtesy of Abrams)

“After the rain”

By Nedi Okorafor, John Jennings, David Bram


Artist and author John Jennings has previously adapted Octavia Butler’s novels “Kindred” and “Parable of the Sower” into graphic novels. With “After the Rain”, he looks to the African futurist writer Nedi Okorafor for the source material. “After the Rain”, with a script written by Jennings and illustrated by David Bram, is an adaptation of Okorafor’s short story “On the Road”, which originally appeared in the anthology “Kaboo Kabu”. Here, a Chicago police officer visits her family in Nigeria, where a brush with the supernatural will prompt her to confront her past. Bram’s visceral portrayals add to the horror in this story about learning to reconcile different aspects of oneself.

“Borders” by Thomas King, Natasha Donovan (Courtesy of Little Brown, Young Readers)


By Thomas King, Natasha Donovan

(Little Brown Young Readers)

Award-winning author Thomas King looks at the complexities of national identity in “Borders,” adapted from his short story of the same name. When an Indigenous woman is stopped at the border between Canada and the United States and asked about her citizenship, she replies that she is Blackfoot. The answer is not accepted by any of the country’s defenders, leaving him and his son temporarily trapped between the nations. With art by illustrator Natasha Donovan, “Borders” is a quick read that will inspire you to consider issues that border indigenous peoples.

“Helm Graycastle Book One” by Henry Barajas, Brian Valenza (courtesy of image)

“Helm Graycastle Book One”

Henry Barajas, by Brian Valenza


“Helm Graycastle” is a Mesoamerican fantasy series created by Los Angeles-based comics writer Henry Barajas and Indonesian colorist Brian Valenza. This collection contains the first three volumes of the story. While “Helm Graycastle” delivers all the action, adventure, and detailed art you’d expect from the genre, what makes it different is that the story doesn’t have to stop once you close the book. At the back, you’ll find three RPG adventure guides, two by fantasy writer Tristan J. One from Tarwater and one from fiction game designer Geoffrey Golden. The RPGs conform to Dungeons & Dragons 5E, but are all set within the “Helm Greycastle” universe.

“Leonard Cohen: On a Wire” by Philippe Girard (Courtesy of Drawing + Quarterly)

“Leonard Cohen: On a Wire”

by Philip Girard

(ready + quarterly)

Cartoonist Philippe Girard imagines the life of Leonard Cohen, taking readers on a journey through the story career of the late singer, songwriter and poet. Girard, who is based in Quebec, dives into Cohen’s life with both reverence and humor. Readers are taken through Cohen’s youth in Montreal and his later experiences in London, New York City, Los Angeles, and the Greek island of Hydra. You’ll peek inside their conversations with Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, and Phil Spector, and get a glimpse of their struggles that led to “Hallelujah”‘s immense, career popularity (even though many people don’t realize that.) he wrote). This biographical graphic novel was initially released in French in early 2021, while venerable indie publisher Drew & Quarterly dropped the English translation later in the year.

“Tunnel” by Rutu Modan (courtesy of Ready + Quarterly)


Rutu Modan. By

(ready + quarterly)

Who owns the relics of the past? On the surface, this is a question from the excellent Israeli cartoonist Rutu Modan, “Inside the Tunnels”. Dig deeper, however, and you’ll see that Modan’s latest effort, which won Eisner Awards for “Exit Wounds” in 2008 and “The Property” in 2013, is asking readers to think about much more than that. The “tunnels” are an audacity after Israeli archaeologists and their collaborators search for the Ark of the Covenant, which they believed was buried under Palestinian land. Illustrated in a clear, clever style reminiscent of Tintin’s creator, Hergé, it is a story about ambition, greed, existence and division that transcends a literal wall.