Josh Rosen’s top 10 go-to comic books and graphic novels

True North Country Comics presents Josh Rosen’s top 10 go-to comic books and graphic novels.

Josh is a cartoonist and illustrator from Toronto, Ontario. He claims that he’s ‘loved drawing and telling stories since pretty much forever’. Josh has done illustration work for magazines, websites, animation projects, documentary films and roleplaying games. He’s explained that when exploring his own work he enjoys making comics about friendship, spooky stuff, and real world history, though often filtered through a playful or comic lens. When he’s not making comics he works in children’s arts education, helping students over a wide range of ages find their own creative voices. Josh’s recent work is the middle grade graphic novel entitled The Good Fight from Scholastic.

Here are Josh Rosen’s top 10 go-to comic books and graphic novels (in no particular order):

Love and Rockets series by Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez
“My go-to, my first true love, my ideal comic. Love and Rockets has been coming out for nearly FORTY YEARS, and is still some of the best comics you can find. If I had to trim it down to a single story arc, I think Jaime’s “Wigwam Bam” is maybe the one I return to most. A rich and meandering story about heartbreak, nostalgia, and what it means to grow out of your punk years. Really all of the Love and Rockets comics are good though. Beautiful line-claire art style, incredible characterization, and stories that are full of triumph, rebellion, and just loads and loads of heart.”

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
“Both of the Tamaki cousins are incredibly talented, and this is the strongest of their collaborations for me. A coming of age story set in a cottage community in northern Ontario, featuring two friends slowly awakening to some of the harsher truths of the adult world. The story is slow and thoughtful, and full of some absolutely beautiful moments of evocative comic storytelling. Also Jillian Tamaki’s art is just out of this world.”

The Breakaways by Cathy G. Johnson
“I love this book. A sports book for kids who hate playing sports, focusing more on the hopes, dreams, and behind the scenes drama of the members of this misfit soccer team. Each member of the team gets a little spotlight, and the overall effect is a really rich picture of the struggles and triumphs of middle school. Plus Johnson’s drawings and Czap’s colours feel so vibrant and alive to me.”

The Berlin Trilogy by Jason Lutes
“A sprawling epic of a period story, charting the lives of several Berliners during Hitler’s rise to power in the late 1920s. It reminds me of something like Les Miserables, as we keep jumping to different characters and perspectives from all across Berlin. A dense work, but incredibly worthwhile. Even a character as small as an unnamed manual traffic light operator is allowed his small moments of triumph and tragedy over the course of the trilogy. I also consulted these books for reference several times while immersing myself in the time period in preparation for my work on The Good Fight.

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
“Another middle grade coming of age story. I guess this is a bit of a theme for me! A simple and funny story about feeling like an outsider, even in a place that seems like it should be built for you. It speaks to the immigrant experience, and just the general struggles that go along with being a kid. And I love the expressive cartoon-ishness of Vera Brosgols art so much. I feel like I could look at her pages for hours.”

I Killed Adolph Hitler by Jason
“Norwegian cartoonist Jason is a master of subtle storytelling. His blank-eyed animal characters might seem stiff or inexpressive at first, yet you always know what his characters are thinking or feeling. And his panel layouts are almost always uniform, yet the story manages to feel like it’s rocketing forward. This book is a perfect example of Jason’s dark, deadpan humour, featuring assassins, time travel, and an attempt to change history that goes horribly wrong. Yet typical of Jason’s work, the outlandish premise eventually gives way to an incredibly touching story about growing older and what it means to fall in and out of love.”

Geis series by Alexis Deacon
“Alright, now for some more out there stuff. Children’s book illustrator Alexander Deacon just knocks it out of the park with this dark and fantastical graphic novel series. A king is dead, and a powerful witch places a curse on his entire court, forcing them to compete in a strange magical game to decide who will be his successor. The result is a dark and surreal take on something like The Hunger Games, with plenty of twists along the way. Deacon’s art is incredibly striking, while still retaining a light and loose touch. And the story is dark and Shakespearian, and constantly leaves you hungry for more. It’s rare you stumble onto a series that feels as fresh as this, at least in my opinion.”

20th Century Boys series by Naoki Urasawa
“Naoki Urasawa is a living legend, and this is probably my favourite of his many fantastic manga series. Following a group of friends working dead-end jobs, who stumble onto a vast conspiracy based around a “book of prophecy” that they invented as kids. The scope of the story grows and grows as it goes on, including evil cults, giant robots, psychic abilities, virtual reality, and the healing power of 70s glam rock. And it keeps you on the absolute edge of your seat for 24 volumes straight! Really what more do you need out of a manga series?”

Lastman series by Bastien Vives, Balak and Michael Sanlaville
“Bastien Vives is an incredibly talented French comic artist, and for this series he teams with acclaimed animator Balak and videogame artist Michael Sanlaville to create an extremely European take on the shonen manga genre. Fantastic fights and action sequences, a bit of romance, and tons of outlandish characters make for some great popcorn reading and just a fascinating fusion of comic styles. The first six volumes have been translated into English, and sort of work as a standalone story on their own. But if you can read French you can read the whole thing. (There’s also an animated series and a video game, if you want to give the series a deep dive).”

Cowa! by Akira Toriyama
“This one is a bit of a deep cut, but one that I just happen to really like. Akira Toriyama, creator of Dragonball, telling the goofy story of a little vampire boy named Paifu trying to save the community of monsters he grew up in from a mysterious “Monster Flu.” But to do so he’s going to have to team up with former pro wrestler Marumaya “The Volcano” on a wacky road trip through the human world. It’s got monsters, it’s got wrestlers, it’s got plenty of dumb jokes. It’s a light fun ride by an absolute master of the art form, and the pages just exude the joy he clearly had making it.”

You can discover more about Josh on Twitter at @Josharonch and on Instagram at @JRosen.Illustration and online at 

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