I live north of Boston, and as I write, my front door is snowed shut (don’t worry, the neighbor kid is shoveling it out) and my car is immobilized behind a large berm of snow. The nameless blizzard of ’13 didn’t wreak any major damage in my area, but I’m going to be staying in for a while.
This doesn’t bother me; I grew up in Northern Indiana, where you could count on being completely snowed in at least once a winter, and we sort of liked it. It clears a space in your life; when you can’t go out and most of the activity in the outside world has stopped, it’s a great time to light a fire, pour the drink of your choice (for me it’s hot tea) and hunker down with a good book. Here are six graphic novels that evoke that winter feeling, all of which are equally enjoyable whether you are reading them by a snowy window or on the beach.
Chikyu Misaki | This three-volume manga, published many years ago by the now-defunct CMX, is a charming all-ages story about two children who find a shape-shifting lake monster in their country town. It’s structured like a caper movie, but one of the things I really enjoy about it is Yūji Iwahara’s wonderful art, which perfectly evokes the feeling of a country house on a snowy day. You’ll have to pick it up used or from the library, though, as it’s long out of print.
The Ice Wanderer and Other Stories | Nobody does snow stories like Jack London; I grew up on his tales of Arctic adventure, and Jiro Taniguchi does a beautiful job of rendering them in crisp, clear lines in this collection of short stories. Also worth a look: His Summit of the Gods, which is about climbing Mount Everest.
Petrograd | Is it ever not snowing in Russia? Just looking at the fur hats in Philip Gelatt and Tyler Crook’s semi-fictional story of the assassination of Rasputin makes me feel warmer, and the complex plot will make you forget the real snow falling outside.
Northlanders | What could be more winter-friendly than Brian Wood’s Viking epic?
Blankets | Craig Thompson’s wistful coming-of-age story makes the list on the basis of the cover alone, and much of the story is set during a Midwestern winter. This is a particularly good book for the snowbound, as the lack of distractions makes it possible to read it all in one or two sittings.
5 Centimeters per Second | Like Chikyu Misaki, this adaptation of Makoto Shinkai’s anime about childhood friends who keep up a long-distance relationship features some wonderful winter-in-the-country scenes.
I would add Cullen Bunn and Joelle Jones’s Helheim to the list, but the first issue won’t come out till March.