New to Graphic Novels and wondering where to start? Here are 10 to try!

Comics and graphic novels (long-form comics) aren’t just about superheroes, and they aren’t just for teenagers. They are published in as many genres as traditional print books – you’ll find humor, horror, science fiction, history, classics, and memoirs, to name but a few. With so many movies and television shows using graphic novels as their source material, you may be curious about graphic novels, but unsure about where to start when it comes to reading them. It can be intimidating, so here’s a list of 10 terrific graphic novels for adults, a good way to get your feet wet!

The March series by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. This 3-part series is the first-hand account of the late Congressman John Lewis’s lifelong struggle for civil and human rights. It spans his youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 1963 March on Washington.

Y, the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. The saga of Yorick Brown—the only human survivor of a planet-wide plague that instantly kills every mammal possessing a Y chromosome. Accompanied by his pet monkey, a mysterious government agent, and a brilliant young geneticist, Yorick travels the world in search of his lost love and the answer to why he’s the last man on earth.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris. Told in the form of a ten-year-old’s diary entries in the 1960s, this gripping story has a B-horror-movie feel to it. Karen tries to solve the murder of her upstairs neighbor, a survivor of the holocaust, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel. An unusual memoir done in the form of a graphic novel by a cult favorite comic artist offers a darkly funny family portrait that details her relationship with her father, a historic preservation expert dedicated to restoring the family’s Victorian home, funeral home director, high-school English teacher, and closeted homosexual.

The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman. A rich blend of modern myth and dark fantasy, The Sandman follows the people and places affected by Morpheus, the Dream King, as he mends the cosmic — and human — mistakes he’s made during his vast existence. The Sandman was one of the first few graphic novels ever to be on The New York Times Best Seller list (along with Maus, Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns).

Kindred : a graphic novel adaptation  by Damian Duffy and John Jennings. This searing graphic-novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s science fiction classic is a powerfully moving, unflinching look at the violent, disturbing effects of slavery on the people it chained together, both black and white – and made kindred in the deepest sense of the word. 

Alice’s Story : based on the novel The Magicians by Lev Grossman ; by Lilah Sturges and Pius Bak. An all new chapter set in the world of The Magicians trilogy of novels by Lev Grossman that retells the events of the first novel through fan-favorite character Alice Quinn.

The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. An epic graphic novel of Hollywood in the early days of the Blacklist. The story goes from the murder of an up-and-coming starlet from studio backlots to the gutters of downtown Los Angeles. Contains behind-the-scenes art and stories, sketches and layouts, and several historical essays.

Here by Richard McGuire. This innovative graphic novel presents the story of a corner of a room and of the events that have occurred in that space over the course of hundreds of thousands of years. The book experiments with formal properties of comics, moving forward and backward in time, using multiple panels to convey the different moments in time.

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh. A collection of comedic, autobiographical and deceptively illustrated essays on topics ranging from childhood and very bad pets to grief, loneliness and powerlessness in modern life.

Graphic Novels That are Not Kid’s Stuff

Do you think you’ve outgrown comic books? Then you haven’t explored today’s Graphic Novels. Mature themes, a wide variety of subject matter, and barely a superhero to be found. There’s a Graphic Novel for every type of reader.

The Memoir Reader: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. This cult favorite comic artist offers a darkly funny family portrait that details her relationship with her father–a funeral home director, high school English teacher, and closeted homosexual.

The Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fan: Saga by Brian K. Vaughan. When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to raise their child in a dangerous world.

The Foodie: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley.  This recipe-complemented memoir describes the author’s food-enriched youth as the daughter of a chef and a gourmet, key memories that were marked by special meals and the ways in which cooking has imparted valuable life lessons.

The Humor Reader: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. Blogger Allie Brosh showcases her unique voice, leaping wit, and her ability to capture complex emotions with deceptively simple illustrations.

The “I’d Rather Watch TV” Guy: The Walking Dead series by Robert Kirkman. Unless you ARE a member of the walking dead, you probably already know the premise.  An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months society has crumbled: no government, no industry, and very few survivors.  In a world ruled by the dead, the survivors are forced to find ways to start over in this terrifying new world.

The Sequel-ist: Fight Club 2: The Tranquility Gambit by Chuck Palahniuk.  Ten years after starting Project Mayhem, Sebastian lives a mundane life, but it won’t last long, the wife has seen to that, soon he’s back where he started, but this go-round he’s got more at stake than his own life.

The Film Noir Buff: The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. An epic graphic novel of Hollywood in the early days of the Blacklist, The Fade Out tracks the murder of an up-and-coming starlet from studio backlots to the gutters of downtown LosAngeles, as shell-shocked front man Charlie Parish is caught between his own dying sense of morality and his best friend’s righteous sense of justice.

The Big Book Reader: Ode to Kirihito by Osamu Tezuka. It may or may not be contagious. There seems to be no cure for it. Yet, Monmow Disease, a life-threatening condition that transforms a person into a dog-like beast, is not the only villain in this shocking triumph of a medical thriller by manga-god Osamu Tezuka.

The “Stranger Things” Fan: Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan. Supernatural mysteries and suburban drama collide in the early hours after the Halloween of 1988 for four twelve-year-old newspaper delivery girls.

The Samurai Warrior: Vagabond series by Takehiko Inoue. Adventure abounds in this fictionalized account of the life of Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, based on Eiji Yoshikawa’s novel Musashi.

 

Not Just for Teens: Young Adult Graphic Novels

Graphic novels are not just about super heroes, nor are they just for kids. The market and format has grown and evolved quite a bit in the last ten years, gaining a main stream legitimacy that it has often been denied in the past. These days graphic novels are created for everyone from toddlers to grandpas, but the teen and market in particular seems to have grown in wonderful ways. The current collection in our young adult department is growing steadily, and offers a wide range of stories of interest to adult and young adult readers. Check out these titles aimed at teens but full of the humor, complexity, and characters that reel in adults as well. Do not be afraid to explore the great titles that you might otherwise never see!

Kin, The Good Neighbors Book 1 by Holly Black & Ted Naifeh
Sixteen-year-old Rue Silver, whose mother disappeared weeks ago, believes she is going crazy until she learns that the strange things she has been seeing are real, and that she is one of the faerie creatures, or Good Neighbors, that mortals cannot see.

Amulet Book 1, The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi.
After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids’ mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals. Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together with Miskit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves.

Bone Vol. 1, Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith with color by Steve Hamaker.
Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone are run out of their home, Boneville, and become separated in the wilds, but better fortune begins when the three cousins reunite at a farmstead in a deep forested valley, where Fone meets a young girl named Thorn. In Out From Boneville, volume 1 of this 9-book epic, the three Bone cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone, are separated and lost in a vast, uncharted desert. One by one, they find their way into a deep, forested valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures. Eventually, the cousins are reunited at a farmstead run by tough Gran’ma Ben and her spirited granddaughter Thorn. But little do the Bones know, there are dark forces conspiring against them, and their adventures are only just beginning!

One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry.
Buddhism teaches that each person must overcome 100 demons in a lifetime. In this collection of 20 comic strips, Lynda Barry wrestles with some of hers in her signature quirky, irrepressible voice. Color illustrations throughout.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan.
In this wordless graphic novel, a man leaves his homeland and sets off for a new country, where he must build a new life for himself and his family.

Mu shi shi Volume 1 by Yuki Urushibara, translated and adapted by William Flanagan.
Mushi have been around since shortly after life came out of the primordial ooze. They’re everywhere; some live behind your eyelids, some eat silence, some kill, and some drive men mad. Ginko is a mushishi, or mushi master, and has the ability to help those who are plagued by mushi.

Still want more? Well, while I fully encourage just walking into the young adult section and browsing, here are some more titles that are particularly interesting for teen and adult readers; Laika written by Nick Abadzis with color by Hilary Sycamore,  Epileptic 1 by David B. Translated from the French by Kim Thompson, Death Note. Vol. 1, Boredom story by Tsugumi Ohba with art by Takeshi Obata and translation and adaptation by Pookie Rolf, Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki, and Tales of the Slayers, story by Joss Whedon.