Thursday, 25 August 2016

50 Essential Graphic Novels

Habibi by Craig Thompson
Habibi
by Craig Thompson
While the term 'graphic novel' only entered common usage as recently as the late 1970's, novel-length works in either pictures-only forms or pictures in combination with text have existed since the 19th century. Baby boomers who haven't picked up a comic book since childhood will most likely associate the term with the Classics Illustrated series, which does not quite fit the modern definition.
As defined today, a graphic novel is a book-length story told in comic strip format where the art is of equal or greater importance than text, and published as a single volume. Fiction, non-fiction, biography and memoir can all be considered graphic novels if published in book form and presented through the use of sequential image panels. Some purists limit the definition to include only never-serialized, stand-alone stories, while others allow room for compliation editions of previously published comic book series. All agree, however, that like comic books in general, the graphic novel has grown up, with titles written for both adults and children that deal with far more complex subject matter then stereotypical superheroes or idealized, fantasy childhoods. There are still plenty of those but you'll also find graphic novels about growing old, dealing with serious illness, and childhood abuse, with a healthy does of violence, sex, drugs, and rock & roll thrown in for good measure.
Considered by some to be the first modern graphic novel, A Contract with God by comics legend Will Eisner, first published in 1978, was actually just the first to use the term ‘graphic novel’ as a marketing tactic – it appeared on the cover of the trade paperback edition. Eisner’s book was actually preceded by It Rhymes with Lust by Drake Waller, a full-length, noir-inspired “picture novel” from 1950. A more direct Contract precursor appeared nine years later, in 1959, with Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book, a collection of four graphic short stories from the creator of Mad Magazine.
After Eisner’s success, both comic book and mainstream publishers began to take long-form comics more seriously, releasing an increasing number of titles every year, of continuously higher quality, culminating with Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus in 1986, which threw open the door for every wonderful thing that has come since.
Even with critical and commercial success, in both the periods leading up to and since Maus, some writers/artists have bristled at the use of the term ‘graphic novel’. Most grew up reading comic books and started their careers wanting to write comic books, so they have no qualms about calling what they create exactly that - comic books. Others have tried to create their own terminology by adding subtitles to their work, such as Seth’s ‘A Picture Novella’, Daniel Clowes’ ‘A Comic-strip Novel’, and Alison Bechdel’s ‘A Family Tragicomic’.
No matter what you call it, the genre isn’t easily pigeon-holed into clear-cut categories, making compiling a list of 50 must-read graphic novels a daunting task. This is just the tip of the iceberg – in no particular order.

Related Video

AbeBooks Review: Maus by Art Spiegelman › Play Video


50 Essential Graphic Novels

Stitches by David Small
Stitches
by David Small
Unterzakhn by Leela Corman
Unterzakhn
by Leela Corman
Drinking at the Movies by Julia Wertz
Drinking at the Movies
by Julia Wertz
The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
The Complete Maus
by Art Spiegelman
In the Shadow of No Towers by Art Spiegelman
In the Shadow of No Towers
by Art Spiegelman
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Drama
by Raina Telgemeier
American Widow by Alissa Torres
American Widow
by Alissa Torres
Marble Season by Gilbert Hernandez
Marble Season
by Gilbert Hernandez
The Property by Rutu Modan
The Property
by Rutu Modan
Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan
Exit Wounds
by Rutu Modan
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Fun Home
by Alison Bechdel
Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
Are You My Mother?
by Alison Bechdel
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
American Born Chinese
by Gene Luen Yang
Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
Anya's Ghost
by Vera Brosgol
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill
Celluloid by Dave McKean
Celluloid
by Dave McKean
My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
My Friend Dahmer
by Derf Backderf
Special Exits by Joyce Farmer
Special Exits
by Joyce Farmer
The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon
The Nao of Brown
by Glyn Dillon
Dockwood by Jon McNaught
Dockwood
by Jon McNaugh
Everything We Miss by Luke Pearson
Everything We Miss
by Luke Pearson
Goliath by Tom Gauld
Goliath
by Tom Gauld
Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds
Tamara Drewe
by Posy Simmonds
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
The Arrival
by Shaun Tan
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
V for Vendetta
by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot
Alice in Sunderland
by Bryan Talbot
The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot
The Tale of One Bad Rat
by Bryan Talbot
Road to Perdition by Max Allen Collins
Road to Perdition
by Max Allen Collins
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Watchmen
by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Violent Cases by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
Violent Cases
by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
Blankets by Craig Thompson
Blankets
by Craig Thompson
Black Hole by Charles Burns
Black Hole
by Charles Burns
WE3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
WE3
by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
Epileptic by David B.
Epileptic
by David B.
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
The Complete Persepolis
by Marjane Satrapi
Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
Ghost World
by Daniel Clowes