As much as I love comics, they are crazy expensive today, with 40 page comics probably costing 20 bucks. That’s why I love graphic novels. They give so much more content for the same price. Here’s a list of my favorite, and why they’re so great.
Some of these are well known, others are fairly underground. Some are from the 80s, others came out this year. Either way, these are my favorites. This is only my opinion so if you disagree with one or have any other ideas, put in the comments!
Bone is one of the greatest graphic novels of all time, both in sales and value. Jeff Smith created the concept for Bone in 1989, and to this day the book still sells strong with millions of copies sold. It is one of the best fantasy graphic novels ever made. It has tremendously clever humor, a beautiful art style, and extremely memorable characters all with unique and well fleshed out personalities.
The Bone Series reminds me heavily of the Harry Potter series not in the fantastical sense but the way the story builds in tension. The story begins very peacefully and is very welcoming to readers with light humor, only for the story to become bloody and tense a few books into the story. Even then the story never loses its fantastic sense of humor you wont find anywhere else.
There are 9 issues in the main story with spin-offs, including a story following the adventures of another 3 bone characters. The Bone: Legacy novels are a trilogy of illustrated novels which do a decent job of expanding the Bone universe, but aren’t especially as fun to read as the main books. If you dont really care for having every individual book, there is a book containing every chapter of the Bone series.
No fan of fantasy novels or graphic novels as a whole should go without ever reading Bone. Bone is available in hardcovers, but I suggest getting the softcover versions as they are sufficiently long reads so its nicer to have each book on your shelf. Also the hardcover versions are insanely expensive compared to the softcover versions.
Buy it on Amazon here
The walking dead is one of the greatest and best written zombie stories since George Romero created the genre. The book has a unique art style that does a fantastic job of both disgusting and intriguing the reader. The books depict not only the struggles of surviving the zombie apocalypse, but also the horrific gore that should be associated with zombies. While it started as a comic series, Robert Kirkman’s nightmarish tale has been adapted into hardcover and softcover versions containing multiple comics.
Fans of Game Of Thrones and/or the Walking Dead show should read this without hesitation, but be warned the comic is much more brutal and kills off main characters in much more emotional ways similar to that of Game Of Thrones. The books are significantly different from the show, in that while the stories start the same, they take very different turns and kill different characters. Where one character is alive in the show, they are likely already dead in the books, or will die eventually.
If you want a physical copy I suggest buying the hardcover versions or the compendiums, because they cost a little less and just look better. There are currently 12 available. If you want to, there are compendium versions which have even more content, and cost slightly less than buying each individual hardcover.
Buy it on Amazon here
Although most people have seen the film Scott Pilgrim Versus the World, the graphic novels are equal, if not better in some cases, to the film. The books are funny, and beautifully stylized in the vain of older comic books while also retaining the feeling of an arcade game (which is probably why the arcade brawler adaptation is so great).
Following the story of 21 year old Scott Pilgrim, the story leads readers into a normal life in Canada giving the idea that the Scott Pilgrim is going to be a love story, only to completely surprise readers with science fiction out the wazoo. Vegan-ism giving people psychokinetic powers, dancing people to death, and skateboard skills so good they’re fatal, these are some of the ridiculous aspects of Scott Pilgrim that make it so out of place.
The story is available in 6 volumes, but I suggest you buy the box set because it is significantly cheaper than buying each individual copy at a book store.
Buy it on Amazon here
Persepolis is the heart wrenching life story of Marjane Satrapi, a Persian woman who had her life torn apart by revolutionaries, sexism, and psychopathic/racist nuns.
Its funny to think that one of the greatest autobiographies of all time is a graphic novel, but somehow it makes the story significantly better. Through Marjane’s beautiful art style and use of religious imagery, Persepolis is the most enjoyable non-fiction graphic novels ever produced.
Detailing every step of Marjane’s life until the end of the 90s, Persepolis is a beautiful tale of hardship, loss, sacrifice, and familial love. The book also acts as a perfect representation of life in Iran and Europe during the Iranian revolution.
While the movie is also a fantastic film, adapting Marjane’s beautiful art style in a way no movie has before, the book is much more enjoyable as it includes many details of Marjane’s life that aren’t included in the movie.
The book is divided into multiple parts, but a version titled The Complete Persepolis is the best version as it neatly ties every book together. The story is pretty long for a graphic novel and will probably take as much as a week to read if you read it for a few hours every day. I suggest buying the paperback as it is a fairly large book.
Buy it on Amazon here
Kotaku has shown equal adoration for this novel, and perfectly conveys how Scott McCloud is one of the most intelligent comic writers to ever live. Having published several books on the art of creating comic books, Scott McCloud proves he is more than just talk in The Sculptor. This novel is brilliant in its art and writing.
When a man sells his soul to the devil, he will die in 200 days. This is a pretty bad time to meet the love of your life. The story of David Smith is a life changing experience with a moral that no book or graphic novel has ever conveyed as effectively as The Sculptor does: human life matters more than anything else.
This book will make you bawl your eyes out when your done with it.
Scott McCloud’s framing makes every page much more effective and makes the reader want to stare at each page for longer. Normally a graphic novel shows images without text and the reader glances at them, then moves on to the next page. The Sculptor doesn’t let you do that. Each page is ripe with detail and half the pictures in the book are thought provoking enough to hang in a museum. Oddly enough, Scott McCloud’s comics have been featured in both LACMA and the Hammer museum.
The Sculptor is a classic that is a shining example of how to make a graphic novel. Sony Pictures is currently producing a movie from the novel, and the only way they could mess this up is with bad CGI.
The book is available on Kindle or in hardcover. While having a physical copy of this is nice, I read the book in digital form. The choice of how you read this is up to you.
Buy it on Amazon here
This is an unofficial entry to this list, but I feel like its necessary because this book is so goddamn pretty to look at.
DeadEye is created by a family of comic creators by the name of Creative Mind Energy. DeadEye is a really pretty book. Thats all there is to say about it, but its just such a goddamn beautiful book I cant leave it unmentioned.
The reason I don’t include this as a real entry in the list is because you cannot buy it anywhere. I was blessed to buy it SIGNED by its creators at ComiKaze 2014 at their booth.
This book is only being sold by 1 person on Amazon for a thousand dollars, and I could not find a copy anywhere else on the internet.
Jesus if an unsigned copy is worth 1000 what the hell is mine worth in mint condition!? I also own a teaser for their unreleased book Dixie Vixens signed, as well as an original copy of their novel The Gifted signed. I think I’ll just pay for my college tuition with this now.
Probably shouldnt buy it on Amazon here
While I can think of many other great graphic novels that deserve appreciation, these are my favorites. If you have any you think should’ve been mentioned, comment below and tell me why you like it so much?
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