Mimicking the appearance of books, but resembling comics once opened, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “Never judge a book by its cover.”
These are graphic novels and they are just as good a read as books. If you haven’t heard much about them until today – don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for. If you have – great!
This post is both for newbies and for experts of the graphic novel society, as we tried to make a list of 24 amazing graphic novels everyone should have read once in their lives, or at least have heard of.
For the newcomers it might be a guide to an unknown world of fictitious tales, while our experts might have different novels to suggest.
But whoever you are, lean back and enjoy some amazing pieces of art waiting for you, and be open to any kind of inspiration they might bring.
Let’s start with a classic.
The first volume of Michael Allred’s Madman introduces us to the citizens of Snap City – and they are just wonderfully colourful characters!
As a modern myth would have it, the characters in this tale deal with zombies and aliens, with the bottom line being that it’s all about souls and dreams – and God.
Although this starts as the story of the author’s brother’s struggle with epilepsy, it turns into an emotive self-examination and a story about family.
David B.’s style of drawing suits the story extraordinarily well, as he succeeds in finding a way to visually depict the struggles, distortions and inner conflicts his characters are confronted with.
What It Is won the 2009 Eisner award for Best Reality-Based Work, and we can totally see why.
This book is a feast for the eye, with each page so wonderfully crafted that it makes you think of a collage rather than an actual book.
What It Is also aims at being some kind of guide to teach you how to write – in an incredibly gentle and original manner.
The autobiographical bits make it even more enjoyable.
Check it out!
Kate Beaton’s comics appeared in several renowned magazines and newspapers like the New Yorker or the LA Times. She makes fun of everything we learned at school and were told would be important.
But these comic strips are not just incredibly funny and entertaining, no, you actually do learn things from them.
Just check out the strips that focus on history while taking a modern approach on it.
We are pretty sure this is the first time you would actually enjoy a lesson in history and its long list of the infamous deceased…
This is a story about family. About a complicated family, where the father, a closeted homosexual, tries to deal with his daughter’s homosexuality.
But although the story is quite heartbreaking at times, it is also hilarious and impossible not to enjoy.
Give it a try!
This is a shocking tale about teenagers in suburban Seattle contracting a mysterious disease transmitted by sexual contact.
The effects of the disease are horrifying.
Fasten your seat belts and go on a journey to discover what human nature can turn into when we see ourselves confronted with things we cannot escape.
Meet Enid and Rebecca, two teenage friends who have to face the uncertain future of adulthood.
Clowes carefully explores both, their relationship and the obstacles the two young women have to face, while also making the reader aware of the fragility of human existence itself.
This is the story of twin sisters, Esther and Fanya, and their life as immigrants in New York’s Lower East Side.
The world is at the turn of the twentieth century and when the sisters begin their journey they are unaware of the fact that this can affect their lives in two very different ways.
How to be Happy is a collection of Eleanor Davis’ best graphic and literary short stories.
If you want to see different drawing techniques and stories, filled with mystery and emotion you should check this one out.
The different styles of drawing, that vary from story to story, are incredible and unbelievable to be coming from one artist.
With his amazing trilogy Eisner, the Godfather of modern graphic novels, has created a masterpiece that traces the most important events of twentieth-century North America.
It is also inspired by Eisner’s own lifelong struggle with existence and thus turns it into a fascinating legacy of his.
This graphic novel is a hommage to the film noir and to detective fiction, questioning morality and exploring the concept of female identity.
Its eightysomething creator Jules Feiffer has managed to create a funny and moving masterpiece that doesn’t have to fear comparisons with artworks of his mentor, Will Eisner.
Maybe you have heard of the New York Times bestselling book by Neil Gaiman carrying the same title – this is the extraordinary graphic novel adaption by P. Craig Russel, which is, of course similar to its original, but also completely new, original and unique.
Follow Bod, the only survivor of a family slaughtered on his journey from childhood to adolescence while growing up on a graveyard and being raised by ghosts, ghouls, and spectres. What kind of man will he become?
Watchmen by Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore
Yeah, well, this is a classic that simply cannot be missing from a list like this.
And although Watchmen is set in 1985 (when Nixon was still president), the overall themes are still interesting today.
Vigilantes and the possibility of a nuclear war are still posing a threat to us, and sometimes it’d be nice to know how to use super powers to defeat threats like these.
Anything is possible, at least whilst reading this graphic novel.
The Black Island (The Adventures of Tintin) by Hergé
The Adventures of Tintin series was first published more than 80 years ago, but that by no means concludes that the series doesn’t continue to be just as intriguing, exciting, and charming as it was back in the day.
Join Tintin and his faithful dog, Snowy, on a quest to solve the mystery of the Black Island and see if he can find his way out of being wrongfully accused of theft.
We all know about the small screen adaptation, but did you also know that the series is based on this comic/graphic novel?
If you like the series, you should definitely have a look at this.
If you like dark, apocalyptic scenarios, where the world as we know is no more and is now ruled by the undead – have a look at it too.
Just So Happens is one of the best graphic novels published in 2014.
It tells the story of Yumiko, a young Japanese woman who has built a life of her own in London, far away from Japan. When her father dies in an accident, Yumiko has to go back to Tokyo and is faced with a tough decision…
Be part of this decision and lose yourself in the beautiful and powerful drawings that make this graphic novel ever so notable.
Marjane Satrapi tells us the story of her childhood in Tehran, and hence makes us witness the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution and the devastating effects of the war with Iraq.
Satrapi’s story is both funny and heartbreaking, but it is definitely moving and filled with powerful images depicting the events as seen through the eyes of a child.
This Pulitzer Prize winning tale tells the story of a Holocaust survivor – yeah, we’ve read about that quite a few times too, but we’ve never seen it told in this particular manner: the Nazis are cats, the Jews are mice (“Maus” is German for “mouse”).
This is certainly one of the most successful stories about Holocaust, and even if you are slightly tired of the subject, do give this one a try.
You will read a truly haunting masterpiece.
Luther Arkwright, a human anomaly with incredible psychic powers, is the only one who can save Earth (and all its parallel universes) from so called Disruptors, aiming at manipulating human history.
But of course, the Disruptors are aware of Arkwright’s existence, and what do you usually do if you’re the villain and someone is standing in your way?
You want to destroy them!
See how it goes.
Every summer, Rose goes with her family to a lake house in Awago Beach, where she meets her friend Windy and the two of them always have an amazing time together.
One summer when everything is different, bad things happen, but luckily Windy and Rose have each other.
Follow the two kids on their way from childhood to adolescence and get lost in these beautiful drawings that fit this ultimately hopeful story so darn well.
The title and the extract above pretty much give it away. This is the story of Raina dealing with the arrival of her younger sister Amara – and how it changed her life.
As you can see, the drawings are simply adorable and everyone out there who has younger (or older) siblings will be able to relate to Raina (or Amara).
Even if you don’t have any siblings, this story will certainly make you smile.
This is a story about first love, named one of the Times’s top 100 Best Adult Books Of All Times.
The unusually lengthy graphic novel (almost 600 pages) takes us to rural Wisconsin, where we witness both the rivalry of two brothers and the one love that can change you forever…
It’s up to you to decide if darkness is really beautiful when you follow Aurora from having tea with her Prince Charming to searching for shelter in the woods because her host body, a young girl, suddenly dies and Aurora and her fellow tiny people emerge from her skull.
It is all about survival while never knowing if you can trust the people around you…
This is the first graphic novel to win a major British literary prize.
It’s a deeply moving story of an office worker meeting his father who abandoned him as a child.
The simple yet beautiful drawings compliment the story and make this a book you should not miss.
Believe it or not, Chris Ware was our last contribution to the list of 24 amazing graphic novels everyone should have read at least once in their lives.
We do hope that we could give you some ideas, either for pleasure (i.e. get off work, buy a graphic novel and just read), or for your job (i.e. an idea for another story or a drawing style you would like to try).
Which of the novels mentioned above
has made the greatest impression on you?
We’re eager to hear your thoughts!
If you liked this post please don’t forget to share, to make other passionate readers happy.
And make sure you read our post on famous graphic novelists to become even happier.
Thanks, see you soon!
We’re gonna go read now.