Woman With a Cat (Eartha Kitty) by Chris Simonite

5 Graphic Novels with Original Art Styles

Karina Bocchicchio August 16 2023


Second to the internet itself, graphic novels are one of the easiest and quickest ways for art lovers to find and enjoy art. Explore this list of recently published graphic novels to discover new original art styles.

Art and storytelling have always worked together to relay the human experience. The pinnacle of collaboration between these two modes is the literary genre of graphic novels. While we explored the graphic novel as an original art form in a previous article, let's explore contemporary graphic novels with beautiful styles any art lover will enjoy.

The Best We Could Do (2017) by Thi Bui

In her debut graphic novel, Vietnam-born American artist Thi Bui writes a moving memoir about parenthood and generational displacement trauma. The shades of burnt orange watercolour painting with the delicate line work create a haunting atmosphere, which elevates the already poignant memoir. Art lovers who read this graphic novel will not only learn about the history of Vietnam but will also enjoy a story about a family overcoming adversity.

What It Is (2021) by Lynda Barry

While there are several books that describe the creative process, What It Is by American artist Lynda Barry is quite unique. Each page contains new original art from Barry in her usual style; the blend of watercolour painting and collage creates a unique tone, pushing the boundaries of expectation for the graphic novel genre. Artists and art lovers alike will enjoy this exploration of connections between memory, image, and creativity.

Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts (2021) by Rebecca Hall, Hugo Martinez (Illustrator)

This graphic novel documents historian Rebecca Hall’s journey to discover and tell the stories of women-led slave revolts in America. American artist Hugo Martinez brings the story to life in the black and white panels with hatching and crosshatching shading. With beautiful details in the art, readers will see how Hall is both metaphorically and literally haunted by her unnamed ancestors as she’s driven to tell their stories.

Borders (2021) by Thomas King, Natasha Donovan (Illustrator)

A beautiful adaptation of one of his short stories from the collection One Good Story, That One, Thomas King’s Borders tells the story of a Blackfoot family stuck between the Canadian and American border. Natasha Donovan, a Canadian artist of Métis ancestry, uses vibrant colours and visually expressive characters to capture the essence of King’s story about the struggle of maintaining an Indigenous identity while living in a colonized society.

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands (2022) Kate Beaton

Any graphic novel list is incomplete without the work of Canadian artist Kate Beaton. As the title implies, Ducks is about Beaton’s experience leaving Cape Newton to work in the oil sands of Alberta prior to becoming a New York Times bestselling cartoonist. The simple style reserved for the characters highlights the beautiful details reserved for the occasional landscape and full-page panels. The blue colouring not only sets a calming tone, but also emphasizes the mistreatment of the oil sand workers. Beaton’s graphic novel is a fantastic read that adds nuanced discussion regarding Canada’s oil industry.

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