12 Amazing Graphic Novels for Readers Young and Old
Flipping through the pages of a graphic novel is a uniquely engaging experience. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and visual art can bring a story to life in a way that words alone cannot. And unlike the flashing images of a video, a comic can be enjoyed at the reader's own pace. If you're interested in this medium, consider taking a look at these twelve graphic novels. This list includes both mature content meant to entertain adults and lighter fare aimed at a younger audience.
12 Amazing Graphic Novels
Listed in no particular order
- Ms. Marvel: Teenager Kamala Khan gets super powers
- Moon Knight: A troubled vigilante with multiple-personality disorder
- Snotgirl: A social media star struggles with allergies
- Fables: Fairy tale characters must survive in the real world
- Ghosts: Two sisters deal with illness and mortality
- Happy!: A hitman's life is changed by an imaginary blue horse
- Lucy & Andy Neanderthal: Young siblings living in the stone age
- Hyperbole and a Half: Based on the popular webcomic
- Secret Coders: Students solve mysteries while learning code
- The Guild: Prequel to Felicia Day's web series
- Flight: Short stories centered around a common theme
- The Wicked + The Divine: Twelve gods are reincarnated as humans
How to Read a Graphic Novel
Common Types of Graphic Novels
Who Are Graphic Novels For?
Some people might think that comics are only meant for nerdy white boys and men. But the landscape of graphic novels has changed drastically in recent years, and is a lot more inclusive now than it used to be. It's easier than ever for people of all genders, races, and sexual orientations to find characters that they can relate to and authors and artists who represent their interests in a realistic and compelling way. Plus, you don't have to like superheroes to enjoy graphic novels. There are plenty of different stories told in this format, ranging from fantastical to slice-of-life.
Using pictures to tell stories is a time-honored tradition that can be traced back all the way to cave paintings. In the modern era, this type of narrative art lives on in the form of graphic novels. We've compiled a dozen of the best of them, with varying themes and target audiences. Whether you're an adult fan of comics looking for a new series to start or a parent trying to find an interesting book to read to your child, there should be something here for you. Take note that this list is done in no particular order.
First up, at #1, we have "Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal." Published in 2014 and written by G. Willow Wilson, this is a collection of the first five issues of "Ms. Marvel" that were released in the same year. It features the origin story of a Pakistani-American teenager named Kamala Khan, who takes on the mantle of "Ms. Marvel" after gaining super powers.
She's the first Muslim superhero in the Marvel Universe to have her own solo run, and the author uses her platform to explore a culture that's seldom represented in this form of media. It's both a great read for longtime fans of comics and a good starting point for those who are unfamiliar with Marvel lore.
Coming in at #2 is "Moon Knight." It features Brian Michael Bendis' 2011 run. Often referred to by fans as Marvel's "insane" version of Batman, Moon Knight is a wealthy vigilante who suffers from multiple-personality disorder. The complexity of his character and his unorthodox fighting style have made him a fan favorite ever since his conception.
Bendis provides a fresh take on Moon Knight's schizophrenic nature by introducing three popular and recognizable heroes, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Captain America, as the voices in his head. The artist, Alex Maleev, sets the tone for the entire series with his gritty and dark art style. It's a good place to start for anyone who's unfamiliar with the character.
At #3, we have "Snotgirl Volume 1: Green Hair Don't Care." Written by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Snotgirl tells the story of Lottie Person, a fashion blogger who suffers from chronic allergies. It's a satirical take on the lives of social media "influencers" who hide their flaws and insecurities for the sake of online engagement. It's an interesting read, and it deals with a topic that's rarely explored in this medium.
Next up, at #4, is "Fables: The Deluxe Edition, Book One." Written by Bill Willingham, this series focuses on several fairy tale characters, such as Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf, who have been driven out of their homeworld by an unknown adversary.
This volume collects the first ten issues of the series, which introduce readers to the fictional community of Fabletown and "The Farm," where Fables who can't pass off as humans live. Anyone interested in a unique take on fairy tale characters living in the real world, coupled with the underlying themes of violence and intrigue, should definitely consider picking up a copy.
At #5, we have Raina Telgemeier's "Ghosts." This graphic novel was released in 2016, and it's aimed towards a younger audience. It tells the story of two sisters, Catrina and Maya. After their family moves to a town called "Bahia de la Luna," the sisters learn that it's full of ghosts, who are especially active during the Day of the Dead.
Maya suffers from an incurable, and often fatal, genetic disease. She becomes increasingly fascinated by the ghosts, knowing full well that she may one day become just like them. It's an emotional and thought-provoking read, and it teaches kids how to cope with the loss of a loved one.
Coming in at #6 is "Happy!" Written by Grant Morrison, it tells the story of Nick Sax, an ex-cop turned hitman who meets "Happy," an imaginary blue horse that only he can see. After a job gone wrong, he finds himself reluctantly teaming up with Happy to save a girl named Hailey. The story offers a lot of interesting twists that lead to a bittersweet, yet satisfying, ending.
At #7, we have Jeffrey Brown's "Lucy and Andy Neanderthal: The Stone Cold Age." Marketed towards kids, it tells the story of how two preteen Neanderthals named Lucy and Andy meet a family of humans. Throughout the book, the author provides readers with historical facts, which are sometimes related to the story. It's a delightful book for kids, and even adults can learn a thing or two about the prehistoric age by reading it.
Next, at #8, we have Allie Brosh's "Hyperbole and a Half." Unlike the other entries on this list, this book doesn't tell a fictional story. Rather, it is a memoir presented with crude and humorous drawings. Based on the author's popular blog of the same name, "Hyperbole and a Half" is a collection of hilariously exaggerated, but still truthful, stories about Brosh's life.
The author also writes about her struggles with severe depression and how she learned to recover from it, which many readers may find empowering.
At #9, we have "Secret Coders," by Gene Luen Yang. This is the first installment in a series meant to introduce kids to the basic concepts of computer science and the programming language "Logo." The book takes place in Stately Academy, a school with a mysterious past. There, a group of students must solve coding-related puzzles in order to unravel the school's secrets.
Coming in at #10 is "The Guild: Volume 1." Written by Felicia Day, it acts as a prequel to her hit web series "The Guild." The show mainly revolves around Cyd, a member of the "Knights of Good," a group of gamers who play an MMORPG known only as "The Game."
It's a must-read for fans of the show, since it reveals details about Cyd that were never fully explained during its original run.
Next, at #11, is Kazu Kibuishi's "Flight, Volume One." It's an anthology full of short stories that deal with the theme of flight. Each story is written and illustrated by a different person, so the collection showcases a wide variety of writing and art styles. Every artist involved has their own unique take on the subject.
Last, at #12, we have "The Wicked and The Divine, Volume 1: The Faust Act." Written by Kieron Gillen, this series tells the story of how a pantheon of gods is reincarnated as humans every ninety years.
In this book, the gods are reborn as young pop stars idolized by the masses. It's an interesting take on mythological figures, and it's told through the eyes of a person who also wants to ascend into godhood.
Whether you want to add to an already extensive collection of comics or are just starting to get into the world of graphic novels, you should consider reading one of these fascinating and beautifully illustrated works. The industry isn't nearly as uniform as it once was, so there's something for everyone, no matter your age, gender, race, or identity.