Purely by accident, my literary theme of late has been “girl power.” Many of the graphic novels that I’ve recently picked up focus on young women and female friendships. Below is but a sampling of what I’ve been reading.

“Lumberjanes. Beware the kitten holy, volume 1,” by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis

This graphic novel, found in the library’s Teen Department, is set in Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Girls, aka Hardcore Lady Types, where the unofficial motto is “Friendship to the max!” It features the adventures of a group of five friends who consistently find themselves in perilous situations as they try to earn badges and unravel a mystery. They battle magical, three-eyed foxes, fight off river monsters, explore secret caves and encounter boys from a neighboring camp who might not be what they seem.

I have to admit, I was slightly bored by “Lumberjanes,” perhaps because I feel much older than the target demographic. But the strong bond between the girls is sweet, and they’re prone to uttering cute things such as “What the junk?” and “Math and science and logic to the max!” My favorite was probably Ripley, the smallest member of the group. She bursts out with comments such as “I like kittens!” and her specialty move is the “fastball,” when she cannonballs into and then karate-chops the supernatural beings threatening the group. The bright, energetic artwork brings Ripley and the other girls to life, as if “Lumberjanes” were an animated cartoon leaping off the pages.

My co-workers loved “Lumberjanes,” and you might, too, so check it out for yourself. The library also has volumes 2 and 3, with 4 on order.

“Ghost World,” by Daniel Clowes

This cult classic, found in the adult collection, follows the daily lives of best friends Enid Coleslaw (an anagram of the author’s name) and Becky Doppelmeyer. They’re smart but cynical young women who pass the time wandering around their cultural wasteland of a town, hanging out in a local diner and mocking the people they encounter. Although the two are long-time friends, as the novel progresses, their bond becomes strained when both develop a crush on the same boy and Enid half-heartedly attempts to get into college, a move that would result in her leaving Becky behind.

The focus is on Enid and Becky, but they share space with plenty of characters, from an alleged Satanist couple to a local astrologer-psychic. No one is exempt from the girls’ judgment and sharp tongues, including each other. The tension that forms in their friendship is sad but familiar, even bittersweet, as growing apart is often an inevitable part of growing up.

The artwork fits “Ghost World” perfectly. In consistent shades of black and pale blue, it seems melancholy and is as cool and blasé as the female protagonists themselves.

If you like the graphic novel, you might consider checking out the film adaption, starring Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi, also a part of the Joplin Public Library’s adult collection.

“Giant Days, volumes 1 and 2,” by John Allison

When my Comics and Cocktails book club read “Giant Days, volume 1” in April, I fell in love with it, so I promptly purchased volume 2 at my local comic book shop. These clever, easily read graphic novels depict the exploits and mishaps of three college-age friends.

Outspoken Susan, dramatic Esther and sheltered Daisy just started university a few weeks earlier but are already inseparable. Together they experience romantic tribulations, seek revenge on sexist bro types, battle an epic flu, save one of their own from a vengeful fake faith healer and, oh, yes, sometimes tend to their schoolwork.

The artwork is colorful and reminiscent of Walt Disney animation, the writing witty, and the stories familiar without being clichéd. I connected with “Giant Days” in a way that I haven’t with a book in a while, most likely because it brought back vivid memories of my freshman year of college, from the immediate dorm friendships, to a painful crush, to a raging case of strep throat.

If you want to read “Giant Days,” good news! Both volumes have been ordered and are on their way. If you’re impatient, I recommend getting on the reserve list now, as each one already has holds on it.

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