If you haven't been reading graphic novels,
you've been missing out.
Sabrina became the first graphic novel to be nominated for the Man Booker Prize and sent waves across the book community. All of a sudden, everyone’s asking “What’s up with graphic novels?” and are realizing, yup, they’re legit.
So, we’re here to indoctrinate you newbies. The graphic novel is a diverse and flourishing genre (and among our favorites), with some stories that just can’t possibly be told through a different medium.
Here are ten books in the graphic novel canon to get you hooked:
1. Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
This is for anyone who loves cussing and hates shopping malls. Ghost World introduces us to Enid and Rebecca, two grungy teens in suburbia who are fresh out of high school and out of options. It’s a bittersweet coming-of-age story about friendship and coming into your own.
2. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
Chris Ware pushes the boundaries of graphic storytelling in Jimmy Corrigan, using both traditional panels and elaborate diagrams to captivate the eyes. The story itself is a brutal tragicomedy—our titular character is an anxious, maladjusted man who must come to terms with the everyday evils of his estranged family.
3. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Perhaps the most iconic graphic memoir ever, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home is an intimate portrait of family, sexuality and self-discovery. Written like a labyrinth, Fun Home visits and revisits Bechdel’s memories as she comes to terms with both her own sexuality and that of her father’s.
4. Blankets by Craig Thompson
Blankets is the graphic memoir that shot Craig Thompson into superstardom. A gorgeously-rendered coming-of-age story, Blankets is equal parts startling in its honesty on teen insecurity and equal parts heart-warming. At its core, it’s the best kind of love story—the kind about loving yourself.
5. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
A classic space-opera, Saga perfectly melds your favorite elements of sci-fi and fantasy. Brian K Vaughan’s mastery of world-building meshes with Fiona Staples’ gorgeous art to create a intergalactic drama any enthusiastic nerd will obsess over.
6. A Contract with God by Will Eisner
Pretty much the first graphic novel ever, Will Eisner’s A Contract with God is an atmospheric masterpiece. Inspired by the death of his own daughter, Eisner uses this graphic novel to tackle loss of faith, tragedy, and redemption.
7. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
No graphic novel list is complete without Watchmen: Alan Moore’s always-relevant magnum opus on heroes gone bad. Watchmen masters the graphic genre, with each panel masterfully executed. Oh, and some of the most memorable characters you’ll ever encounter are hiding in these pages.
8. Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
I’ve never encountered an art style like the one in Asterios Polyp. Vibrant and raw, Mazzuchelli draws your eyes in and keeps you enthralled. The book’s titular character, Asterios Polyp, is an award-winning architect whose never built a building in his life. On his sixtieth birthday he realizes his life is emptier than it looks.
9. Stitches by David Small
Stitches will leave you breathless. First, because the art is stunning. And second, because Small’s story—of being a cancer-stricken boy literally stripped of his voice—is heartbreaking. Though many pages are void of words, this book will echo in your chest for days.
10. Arrival by Shaun Tan
A Chevalier’s favorite, Tan is a master of the wordless graphic novel. With art as its only tool, Arrival tells the story of a father emigrating to a new and mysterious land. While it takes place in an imaginary world, Tan tackles the all-too-real subject of immigration with grace and empathy.