Graphic novels have been sorely dismissed as a lesser art form, and therefore, many must-reads have gone unnoticed. Recently, graphic novels have become steadily more popular, and with good reason. They’re a fascinating medium for storytelling and combine both art and narrative. Furthermore, they can be a much quicker read than the standard novel. If you’re interested in reading a graphic novel, but aren’t sure which are the best of the best, here are a few you can’t skip:
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
Yes, this is the author who spawned the Bechdel Test. Aside from her contribution to gender discourse, Bechdel wrote this insightful and autobiographical read. Tackling issues such as gender, sexuality, family, and acceptance, Fun Home is both a funny and heartfelt read.
Maus by Art Spiegelman
Perhaps one of the most well-known graphic novels, Maus recounts the tale of a survivor from a Nazi Concentration Camp. Taken from the stories that the author’s father told him, the characters in Maus are all anthropomorphic. This makes the story more readable, as the violence is very cartoonish, but it doesn’t shy away from telling it as it happened. Maus is a genuine and gripping story about survival and the lingering effects of trauma.
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
Also autobiographical and adapted into a film following the original art style, Persepolis depicts the difficulties of teenage years set against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution. As the story states, Persepolis is about the author’s childhood, but it’s also a strong political piece. It challenges the reader to examine the price of freedom.
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
If you haven’t seen the film, you’ve at least seen the Guy Fawkes mask floating around recently. It’s thanks to this novel that the Guy Fawkes mask has become the face of a revolution. It tells the story of a gritty dystopian British society and the rise of resistance against the government. Full of compelling visuals and social commentary, V for Vendetta is an excellent novel.
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
Sandman is a menagerie of fascinating art and fantasy. It tells the story of beings who rule over the land of dreams, though it isn’t all mystic and lovely. The series is at times very horrific and dark, but it balances this with the fantasy aspects. It also weaves in references to classic mythology to create an even deeper characterization and story. Overall, this is a series, but you can purchase it as a collection.
Many people think that graphic novels are just comics, which are “for kids.” However, this simply isn’t the case. Graphic novels look deeply into relevant issues and present them in a unique way. The next time you’re at a bookstore, just try flipping through one to see if it clicks with you. Literature isn’t the only way to express stories, and we shouldn’t act like such. It’s also a good way to get yourself to read if you can’t focus on typical novels.