Graphic Novels 101

Graphic novels are a blend of art and narrative. These range in genre, even including nonfiction and memoir. GPL has graphic novels in the Teen Scene, on the second floor, and in the youth collection. There are also many titles available through hoopla and Libby. This post unpacks five classic titles to dive into the format.

Maus, by Art Spiegelman

This Pulitzer Prize-winning book changed the perception of comics and graphic novels forever. A powerful and important work, notable for its depiction of the Holocaust fusing history and memoir with anthropomorphic animals.

Want more poignant graphic novel memoirs? Try: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, Ducks by Kate Beaton, or Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.

Watchmen, by Alan Moore

A riveting deconstruction of the superhero genre that explores the morality and consequences of unchecked power. Not only an exciting page-turner, but thought provoking as well.

Need even more superhero content with adult storytelling? Try: Spider-Man: Life Story by Chip Zdarsky, The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, or Hellboy by Frank Mignola.

The Walking Dead Compendium, by Robert Kirkman

A gritty post-apocalyptic series that turned into a genuine pop culture phenomenon. While many zombie stories ask who the real monster is, Kirkman’s oftentimes brutal navigation of the human condition is unflinching and haunting.

Looking for more horror comics? Try: Something is Killing the Children by James Tynion IV, Locke and Key by Joe Hill, or Harrow County by Cullen Bunn.

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, by Emil Ferris

An illustrated journal of a ten-year-old girl investigating the murder of her neighbor. Absolutely visually stunning and inimitable in its scope.

For more visually unique coming-of-age stories, try: Ghost World by Daniel Clowes, Blankets by Craig Thompson, or American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang.

Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan

Two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love in this sweeping space opera stuffed full of imaginative art, emotionally impactful storytelling, and incredible characters.

To pass the time between publications of Saga’s ongoing volumes, try: Fables by Bill Willingham, The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, or Die by Kieron Gillen.

Graphic novels are a richly diverse format with something for everyone. From original stories to adaptations of familiar favorites, ongoing series and standalone books, and plenty more. Once you've finished these top 5, finish off the rest of the list here, opens a new window. Happy reading!