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And Now I Spill the Family Secrets: An Illustrated Memoir

Margaret Kimball (HarperOne)

With a precision that slices through to the core of suppressed family history, Kimball’s debut graphic narrative investigates her mother’s suicide attempt in the 1980s, peeling back layers of betrayal, custody drama, and inherited mental health issues. She redraws documents and home video stills, obsessively footnotes research, and interviews her brother as his own mind breaks, in an achingly intimate quest.


No One Else

R. Kikuo Johnson (Fantagraphics)

Fans who heralded the talent of frequent New Yorker cover artist Johnson’s debut, Night Fisher, are rewarded some 15 years later with this gorgeously told graphic novella, which returns to Hawaii for an immersive family drama. It plays out via short scenes in which spare dialogue allows the elegant, glowing art to symbolize grief, hope, and renewal, and it’s all set against a backdrop of burning sugarcane fields.


The Secret to Superhuman Strength

Alison Bechdel (Mariner)

Bechdel’s become one of comics’ true household names, but this funny and philosophical memoir retains a profound sense of humility as she tracks decades of her fixations on exercise fads and their resonance in queer and American culture, from skiing to “feminist martial arts.” Challenging her body to “escape the self,” she pursues literary inspiration and ultimately enlightenment, marking kinship with similar seekers from Kerouac to Adrienne Rich.


Stone Fruit

Lee Lai (Fantagraphics)

The cannily shifting drawings in Lai’s spellbinding debut pull readers into and out of imaginary worlds through an acutely felt breakup story that fractures stereotypes and boundaries. Three women—a single mother, her sister, and her sister’s lover—all care for the same magnetic child with devotion that binds them together even as they are pushed apart in solitary self-discovery.


The Waiting

Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, trans. from the Korean by Janet Hong (Drawn & Quarterly)

Hope endures through terrible sorrows in this gloriously rendered graphic novel saga of the Korean refugee experience, following a woman who was separated from her husband and toddler son as they flee what became North Korea. Decades later, living in South Korea and having raised a new family, she still strives in vain for a chance at reunification.


Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts

Rebecca Hall and Hugo Martínez (Simon and Schuster)

Combining radical scholarship and raw, expressive comics, Hall and Martínez reconstruct revolts led by enslaved women whose stories have been hidden in buried records. Hall also brilliantly captures her struggle to research the material while facing racism and barriers thrown up by institutions still vested in keeping history closed.


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