Want to read graphic novels or comic books but no idea of where to start?
While superhero movies are one of today’s most entertaining media forms, most of these stem from graphic novels. If you love to read and want to try branching out from your regular chick lit, dystopian fiction or YA stories, I’d like to point you in the direction of graphic novels (and maybe, some comic books). Don’t think that because they are illustrated that they are less “intelligent” than regular literature. It’s an amazing form of literature that will keep you entertained for hours and covers the breadth of all literary themes from superheroes to fantasy to real life. Here’s my pick of the best graphic novels for newbies to the genre.
1. Watchmen by Alan Moore
This has to be included in any list of the best graphic novels simply because it is so good that it even features in the TIME magazine top 100 novels of all time – the only graphic novel to achieve this. In Watchmen, a group of vigilantes, of whom only one has any superpowers, and who met in the 1960s, reunite in the 1980s when one of them is murdered. Follow the action as the group influence the Watergate scandal and the Vietnam War and battle a government which has a superhuman as a weapon.
2. Sandman by Neil Gaiman
Written by a tour de Force of contemporary English literature in many forms, in Sandman, Neil Gaiman brings us stories of Lord of Dreams, Morpheus when he breaks free from prison after 70 years. It broke new ground for graphic novels in its exploration of magic and myth alongside the traditional superhero characters. Enjoy a dark horror fantasy in the DC Universe.
3. Through the Woods – Emily Carroll
If fairy tales appeal to you more than superheroes, you’ll find yourself getting lost in the woodland world created by Emily Carroll. Actually a collection of four short stories in one volume Through the Woods takes you into a sinister and spooky world where fairy tales have gone truly off the track.
4. Paper Girls – Brian K. Vaughan
In an imaginative take on including female characters in comic book stories, Vaughan’s four Paper Girls are not defined by their relationships to the boys in the story. Instead, we follow the surreal adventures of Erin, KJ, Tiffany and Mac as they deal with “many crazies” in a time-bending tale that takes us from 1988 to 2016 and beyond.
5. Hyperbole and a Half – Allie Brosh
This is when comic actually also means comical. A winner of a Goodreads Choice Award in 2013, this one will have you laughing out loud. Allie Brosh is a blogger who shares anecdotes and stories of her life and this comic book is a collection made even more appealing with hand-drawn illustrations. You’ll certainly become very familiar with the ALL THE THINGS! meme.
6. Fun Home – Alison Bechdel
In Fun Home, we are treated to a frank memoir of the author’s life with all its complicated familial relationships. Aided by great graphics, the reader is given an insight to Alison’s relationship with her parents, most particularly, her father. Life comes to life in illustrated literary form in what the author herself calls a tragicomic.
7. Ms. Marvel
In a genre dominated by male characters (although we’re all familiar with the Black Widow and Wonder Woman) and at a time when feminism is more pronounced than ever, Ms. Marvel will appeal to women who want a kick-ass heroine who can hold her own. Not only a feminine incarnation of Captain Marvel, the diversity card is well and truly played because our protagonist is a 16-year-old Pakistani girl. Metaphorical walls are well and truly being kicked down.
I do hope you give the world of graphic novels and comic books a try. They will enrich your reading experience. If there’s nothing in my list that appeals to you, check out 100 Favorite Comics and Graphic Novels. There’s sure to be something you like.