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Short Stories for a Short Month

What better way to celebrate the ephemerality of February than with the ephemerality of short stories? Some of my favorite works of graphic literature happen to be collections of short stories, and it’s a sub-section of the medium that’s rapidly growing. Whether you like more “literary” graphic lit, traditional comics, or even manga, there’s something for you! Keep reading to find your next favorite story collection.


Alone in Space book coverAlone in Space by Tillie Walden
Tillie Walden is a master of her craft and at the tender age of 26, already considered by many to be a graphic novel classic-maker. Alone in Space beautifully showcases Walden’s impressive ability to distill the range of human emotions into just a few lines and panels, resulting in a series of stories so concentrated in their Walden-ness, that you’ll surely be deep in your feels just a few pages in.


Death Note Short Stories book coverDeath Note Short Stories by Tsugumi Ohba
While this collection is certainly targeted at those already familiar with the smash-hit manga and anime series, consider it a nudge if you’re unfamiliar. The original series is a hit for good reason, but be warned! It’s a bit grim. That being said, if grim is your thing, you’ll certainly dig the series, and this anthology of follow-up short stories taking place in the Death Note-verse.


Hot Comb book coverHot Comb by Ebony Flowers
Alert!! This is a Betty’s Books official book club pick! Ebony Flowers showcases several Black women’s experiences of growth and coming-of-age through the interconnected framework of getting their hair done at a singular hair salon. What we get is a series of poignant stories that touch on identity, race, and class.


32 Stories: The Complete Optic Nerve Mini-Comics book cover32 Stories: The Complete Optic Nerve Mini-Comics by Adrian Tomine
This collection puts together the original set of comics that started Adrian Tomine’s long-running series Optic Nerve which has been published by Drawn and Quarterly since the 90s. The stories, often depicting Asian American experiences, are considered among some of the best in the graphic lit canon. So, if you’re unfamiliar with Tomine, now is your sign to jump in!


Hellboy: The Complete Short Stories book coverHellboy: The Complete Short Stories by Mike Mignola & others
Hellboy is simply so fun. The series is perfect for those of us who enjoy action and adventure, but tend to stray away from standard superhero stories. With this first collection of short stories, you can skip and jump all over, reading each given story in no particular order. What better way to get to know the Hellboy universe than with these bite-sized vignettes?


Gamayun Tales I book coverGamayun Tales I by Alexander Utkin
Alexander Utkin’s stunning illustrations pair amazingly with this collection of adapted Russian folktales. Utkin’s style is whimsical and colorful, a perfect partner to the magic and wonder within each story.


The Sky is Blue With a Single Cloud book coverThe Sky is Blue With a Single Cloud by Kuniko Tsurita
If you’re open to manga, but have yet to delve in, this series is a great starting point. The book collects the early work of alt-manga legend Kuniko Tsurita, and the reader gets to watch, in real time, as her style shifts and evolves through the 60s and 70s, from the somewhat light touch of a teenage hand, to subjects that are grittier and more adult. It’s the kind of manga masterpiece that has me a bit disgruntled at the reluctance many Western readers show when faced with the format. So, for me, please give it a shot! Reading right to left really isn’t that hard… I promise.


Wonder Woman: Black and Gold book coverWonder Woman: Black and Gold by Various Authors
While I’m not typically one to go for superhero stuff, this collection is an exception. It puts together stories from some Marvel and DC greats as well as creators one wouldn’t typically associate with the genre (like… TILLIE WALDEN!!!). The black and gold color scheme is gorgeous, and it’s a pleasure to see how each artist tackles utilizing it.