ALIA Graphic Year in Review 2023

by | Dec 18, 2023 | yearly roundup | 0 comments

ALIA Graphic Year in Review 2023

2023 has been an interesting year for graphic novels and comics readers and we are incredibly proud to share the work we have done advocating for graphic novels and comics in libraries and information institutions.

Unfortunately, comics continue to face stigma and are vulnerable to challenges, bans and soft censorship. At the highest level, fifteen publications have been referred to the Australian Classification Board. Two of them were manuals on explosives and one was a conspiracy filled anti-semitic book. Not publications libraries would commonly have. However, all other twelve publications were comics and four of them have been classified Category 1 and 2, for adults only, which means they cannot be borrowed nor sold in Queensland. Effectively a ban in that state.

We will continue to defend comics and freedom to read. We are not complacent and are very aware that advocating for comics is essential in the current environment.

We have also had so much fun this year chatting about some truly incredible new releases and celebrating as graphic novels continue to rake in some awards. The 2023 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Literature, the CBCA’s Best Book Award for Older Readers, the Children’s Fiction Graphic Literature Award, and a 2023 Lammy Award, to name a few!

We would like to take this opportunity to share some of the group’s achievements from this year, not bad for a handful of volunteers scattered around Australia! 

If any of the below sounds interesting to you, you can reach out to us via email to join ALIA Graphic.

  • We have published 4 Youtube videos to our channel and 13 awesome podcasts including creator chats, collaborations and webinars with artists, librarians and more from all over Australia.
  • We had a great turnout for our annual webinar, this year titled ALIA Graphic Webinar: Let’s Get Practical, where we invited library and information staff members around the country to submit your questions on collecting graphic novels and comics in libraries. The video of the webinar is available on our YouTube page, or you can listen to the audio on our podcast feed.
  • To discuss graphic novel collections and reader’s advisory, and also celebrate our favourite medium, we hosted 11 Book Clubs and explored graphic novels through a number of themes such as music and mental health.
  • We have shared numerous blog posts, diversifying our offerings to include fun resources like Book Week Costume Ideas
  • We facilitated a librarian being part of the Comic Arts Awards of Australia’s judging panel for a second year in row
  • We also joined the fight against censorship supporting ALIA National’s submission to the Australian Classification Review Board and its defence of Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe at the Review Board’s classification hearing in Canberra
  • On top of all of this, ALIA Graphic convenor Iurgi was present at the Perth Comic Arts Festival, where he spoke as part of a panel with Eleri Harris and Josh Santospirito on the work we do advocating for graphic novels and comics in libraries

We’re probably forgetting something but as we begin to wind down in December (or madly rush around buying comics as holiday gifts), we thought we would fit in one last blog post of the year with ALIA Graphic’s favourite graphic novels and comics of 2023. 

We’re big believers in reading outside of your comfort zone or usual genre, so we are keeping it eclectic with a few of the amazing graphic novels that have been released this year from around the world, focusing, as we like to do, on Australian creators.

Our Favourite Graphic Novels and Comics of 2023

Bec – The Moth Keeper – Kay O’Neill (Random House Graphic) New Zealand

I came across the creative works of Kay O’Neill from New Zealand during the depths of the Covid-19 lockdowns, a time when I sought solace in gentle and soft literary escapes. I was so excited for a new release this year, even though it didn’t feature any of the beloved tea dragons from their previous series. O’Neill has consistently proven to be a source of artistic delight, and this latest offering was no exception. The artwork was sweet with a nostalgic colour palette. The narrative, in comparison to their earlier works, carried a deeper layer of complexity, catering more to a young adult readership. Nevertheless, it retained the hallmark lightness and meticulous care that O’Neill is known for. It is a wonderful story that explores the themes of found family and the healing nature of community.

Jade – Ghost Book – Remy Lai (Allen & Unwin) Australia

Featuring Chinese mythology, family and friendship, Ghost Book by Remy Lai is a moving story about what happens when wonky dumplings and a little ingenuity get in the way of fate. July Chen is a school student who can see ghosts, but for some reason not many people tend to see her. Meanwhile, William Xiao is a ghost but not a ghost. For a junior graphic novel, Ghost Book goes deep into traditionally taboo topics with depth, grace, and good humour. Questions of what happens when we die and the random cruelty of fate are explored with a devastating tenderness that will leave you giggling at certain points and misty-eyed at others. After all, “a broken heart is a heart that has loved and been loved.”

Marissa: The Nameless City (series) by Faith Erin Hicks [Nameless City, Stone Heart, Divided Earth] Canada

This series filled me with excitement. As other reviews have said, the art style and storyline pull you in as much as Avatar: The Last Airbender. Though the intended audience is middle grade and younger YA, there are complexities to the storyline that will keep older readers intrigued and invested in the fate of the main characters and the nameless city that they are fighting to protect. Much like Avatar, the storyline showcases how different cultural groups can have very different memories and perspectives for the same events. The character development is a welcome change from series that keep some of their characters far too flat. Also, there are some fantastic fight scenes and action sequences that showcase the different martial arts styles used by the different characters and cultures in this world.

Iurgi – Eventually Everything Connects by Sarah Firth (Allen & Unwin) Australia

What is the purpose of life? What brings joy and meaning to it? What makes us human? The book presents a series of visual essays, sometimes resembling a visual diary, that explore connections among a great many disparate questions. Sarah Firth ponders these questions and so many more, from the small and intimate to the big questions and anything in between. This is a perfect example of the power of comics to be incredibly relatable, raw, intimate and personal; and at the same time universal. I laughed, I cried, was moved and Sarah Firth’s pages took me down rabbit holes and memory lanes I hadn’t visited for a long time. An absolute must read for any curious and inquiring mind.

James – The Faint of Heart by Kerilynn Wilson (Greenwillow Books) USA

One day June comes across a heart in a jar. This is surprising for her, but not for the reasons you might think. In the world of this book almost the entire population has had their heart removed and kept in secure storage so finding one that’s been removed from there calls into question how these are being kept. June, though, hasn’t had her heart removed and can still feel emotion, something that is seen as a distraction by those who no longer feel.

Although this graphic novel is primarily aimed at a teen audience, the story is well worth a read for adults as well, covering the gamut of emotions that the characters no longer feel, from despair to hope and fear to trust. Sitting somewhere between speculative fiction and cautionary tale The Faint of Heart makes you ask yourself what would you do if you were the only person left with a heart?

Gabby – Hello Twigs by Andrew McDonald & Ben Wood (Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing) Australia 

Surprise! These 3 Twigs and a Stump are here and they are the perfect beginner reader graphic novel series. Each book is filled with bright and engaging illustrations with simple text that makes them great for a read aloud or for someone who is starting on their reading journey. Each book focuses on one of the different friends as they explore nature, friendships and emotions. My favourite of the series is Time to Paint which shows Noodle trying to express her creativity while trying to paint a picture. She has all the colours that she needs but can’t figure out how to make blue. Her friends offer some wonderful suggestions but Noodle knows that the best artists make up their own rules. This series just made me smile because each little character has their own unique personality and you can’t not have a little giggle when you read their stories. 

Final Podcast of 2023

You can also join Iurgi, Marissa and Rebecca in Episode 80 of our Podcast to hear more about their favourite reads of 2023 here, which include: 

Iurgi’s picks:

  • Eventually Everything Connects by Sarah Firth
  • Nightwing by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo (DC Comics)
  • Spy x Family Tatsuya Endo (Viz Media)
  • Revenge of the Librarians by Tom Gauld (Drawn & Quarterly)

Marissa’s picks:

  • The Nameless City trilogy by Faith Erin Hicks (First Second)
  • Nothing Special by by Katie Cook (Webtoons, coming to print 2024, Random House)

  • The God of Arepo by Reimena Yee (webcomic and ebook:
  • The Way of the Househusband by Kousuke Oono (Viz Media)

Rebecca’s picks:

  • Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama (Kodansha)
  • Ghost Book by Remy Lai (Allen & Unwin)
  • Flavor Girls by Loïc Locatelli-Kournwsky (Archaia)
  • Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook, Ryan Estrada, Hyung-Ju Ko (Iron Circus) 

We look forward to connecting with you through podcasts, blog posts, book clubs and webinars in 2024! You can also follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.

cover art for 80 Our Favourite Reads This Year


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