As a followup to Wednesday’s guest post by Scott Harpstrite on comic book movies (if you missed it, read it here), I have decided to compile a list of my favorite graphic novels. As Scott mentioned in his post, I too won’t squabble over the difference between graphic novel and comic book. My main criteria for classifying something as a graphic novel: can I get it in a collected edition instead of buying individual issues–I know, this opens up almost every popular title ever printed. I’ll be selective. This is not a Top 10 list, nor are they listed in any particular order. Many great graphic novels remain unread by me–largely due to the fact that I try to get them from the library so I don’t have to buy them. I believe collecting is the biggest vice of a comic book addict. So please use the comment section to let me, and other readers, know some of your favorites. And don’t overlook the giveaway of the Collector’s Set of Wolverine/Gambit: Victims which started on Wednesday.
I’m going to start, not with a title, but with a writer/artist: Frank Miller. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read everything he’s done. Of what I have read, here are my favorites:
Sin City: Gripping writing filled with obscure metaphors and similes gives these stories a “pulp” feel. Yet, the artwork drew me in even before I read the books. Almost entirely drawn in black and white, color is only rarely used to draw attention to certain characters.
Batman: Year One: Growing up watching Adam West as Batman (in syndication–I’m not that old), this was my first look at a very dark Batman. Okay, I didn’t read this when it was new, and although the Tim Burton film (which came out two years after Batman: Year One), seemed very dark, it couldn’t hold a candle (get it?) to the darkness of Batman: Year One.
300: A fictionalized retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae. With every page illustrated as a double-page spread, it had more the feel of watching a widescreen movie than reading a graphic novel.
Watchmen: Alan Moore’s alternate timeline where superheros emerged to help the United States win the war in Vietnam. Written in the late 1980s, Watchmen takes the cold-war fears and exaggerates them to the point of the United States being on the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. This is another book I read years after publication, and growing up with the Comic Code, I had no idea how real a comic could seem if made without “PG-13” restrictions.
The Walking Dead: I know this is a periodical series, but it has been grouped into six volume collections, and it’s awesome, so I’m counting it. I know, everyone loves the T.V. show, but if you watch the show and haven’t read the comic books by Robert Kirkman, you’re shorting yourself. I’ve only seen the first season (I can write more now that I don’t have cable), but the books go so much farther than anything T.V. will allow. Especially with the character of Carl Grimes, a child. As I said, I haven’t watched all of the show, but in the books, Carl does some things, and has some things done to him, I’m sure would never make it to T.V.
Locke & Key: Joe Hill, son of one of my favorite authors, Stephen King, and Gabriel Rodriguez have created a strange and gripping comic where the Locke family moves to Keyhouse (see where the name comes from) and they find mysterious keys which can unlock a person’s mind, strange doors with mysteries of their own, and the elusive Omega Key which opens a portal to allow demons to enter our world. The series will conclude within the next few months. I’m excited to see how it ends, and sad to see it go.
X-Men: The Age of Apocalypse: I know I’m going out on a limb with this last one, but all the issues are available in a four volume set; plus, I blame this, more than anything else, on my comic addiction. Before the Age of Apocalypse, I had a casual interest in comics. But when Legion went back in time intending kill Magneto, he accidentally killed his father, Charles Xavier, and he simultaneously spun the X-Universe into an alternate timeline dystopia where Apocalypse conquered North America , and me into a several year addiction. Every X-title got involved. Magneto led the X-Men, Cable never acquired the techno-organic virus (neither did he get raised in the future nor go by the name Cable), and Wolverine only had one hand (but he still had six claws).
There are some of my favorite graphic novels. I know I’ve missed a lot. Let me know what you like. And don’t forget to enter the contest!
Click here for a Rafflecopter giveaway!