Introduction to Graphic Novels


- First, in this context "graphic" is not defining the work as containing adult or explicit content, although GNs certainly can contain "PG-13" or "R" subject matter, just like any other genre. If this is a concern, know there are plenty of Teen and Juvenile graphic novels that have been catalogued as such. Second, "a graphic novel is a narrative work in which the story is conveyed to the reader with a heavy emphasis on using sequential art, either in an experiemental design or in a more traditional comics format, but generally longer in length.  The term is employed in a broad manner, encompassing non-fiction works, thematically linked stories, as well as fictional stories across a number of genres." Weiner, Stephen & Couch, Chris. Faster than a speeding bullet: the rise of the graphic novel, NBM, 2004.


The Best American Comics An anthology of exclusively US works published every year

Maus: A Suvivor's Tale and Maus II: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman. This GN won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for Spiegelman's depiction of his father's experience in Holocaust Europe

Sin City: Vol. 1 The Hard Good-bye by Frank Miller; the first of the classic series by the GN celebrity Miller; it has won awards including two Harvey Awards for Best Graphic Album of Original Work and Best Continuing Series and 6 Eisner Awards in various categories 

Watchmen by GN pioneer Alan Moore; winner of the first Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story; considered a "gateway title" for the genre and a "must read" by GN readers


300 by Frank Miller; the basis for the movie 300

Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Joss Whedon; this series picks up where the popular TV series ended with season 9  

Coraline by P. Craig Russell; adapted from the children's novel by Neil Gaiman that was also made into a movie by the same name

Secret Origins of the World's Greatest Superheroes: The Man Who Falls (not our copy) - by Mark Waid; Christopher Nolan used elements of this GN in the first of his Batman film trilogy, Batman Begins (2005).  The GN is not in our collection but can be ordered through our Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service

Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008), the second in Nolan's Batman trilogy, utilized elements of these GN series

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore; elements of this GN series were also used by Nolan in The Dark Knight (2008)

Batman: Knightfall by Chuck Dixon and and Doug Moench; elements of this GN series were used to write Nolan's final Batman installment The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises Elements of Batman: No Man's Land (can be ordered through ILL) by Frank Miller were also used to write the movie The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Walking Dead: Compendium One and The Walking Dead: Compendium Two by Robert Kirkman; AMC's hit television show, The Walking Dead, was based on this GN series


If you like these books...

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by T. Scott; the Mark Twain work graphically adapted

Farenheit 451 by Tim Hamilton; the adapted Ray Bradbury work authorized by Bradbury

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Denise Mina; the adapted Stieg Larsson novel

A Kidnapped Santa Claus by Alex Robinson; a graphic interpretation of L. Frank Baum's 1907 novel, lesser known than The Wizards of Oz.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Eric Shanower

If you like classics...

A Thousand Ships: Age of Bronze by Eric Shanower; a graphic version of The Iliad, telling the story of the Trojan War

The Iliad by Roy Thomas

The Odyssey by Gareth Hinds; a graphic interpretation of Homer's epic poem

If you like fairy tales...

Fables Vol. 1, Fables Vol. 2, and Fables Vol. 3 by Bill Willingham; A villian known as the Adversary conquered and forced exile upon the lands of fables and fairy tales, as well as those who inhabit it.  They now live in New York, disguised as normal people in an apartment building called Fabletown

TEEN Fables by Bill Willingham; this compendium follows the same premise as the Fables Vol. 1-3, but with a teen cataloging 

Fairest Vol. 1 by Bill Willingham; a spin-off of the Fables series concentration on the ladies of Fabletown.

The Sandman: Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman; the Endless are an immortal family who govern life and death throughout the Universe. The plot revolves around one Endless, Dream, escaping his imprisonment and his encounters with a wide range of characters from both legend and myth while trying to return home

If you like history/nonfiction...

The 9-11 Report: A Graphic Adapation by Sid Jacobson; A shorter, graphic adaptation of the actual 9/11 report

Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Autobiography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon

The Complete Idiot's Guide to U.S. History by Kennith Hite; a graphic approach to digesting U.S. history, "The Complete Idiot" style.

The Influencing Machine by Brooke Gladstone. NPR's Brooke Gladstone brings herself to life on the pages of this title, chatting her way through the history of the media like a more charming, interesting poli-sci professor.

Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness by Reinhard Kleist, the only graphic novel biography of "The Man in Black"

Lindbergh Child: America's Hero and Crime of the Century by Rick Geary

Persepolis and Persepolis II by Marjane Satrapi- A historical memoir of Satrapi, the great-granddaughter of Iran's last emperor, during the overthrow of the Shah, the success of the Islamic revolution, and their war with Iraq.

Resistance: Book 1Book 2 and Book 3 by Carla Jablonski; a Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Older Readers

If you like Shakespeare...

King Lear by Gareth Hinds

Kill Shakespeare by Conor McCreery. A series that puts Shakespeare and his characters in a completely different context, contemporaneous with one another.

The Merchant of Venice by Gareth Hinds

Romeo and Juliet by Joe Sanders


All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely; a limited series with only 12 issues, this relaunch was well received and reviewed as "A stirringly mythic, emotionally resonant, and gloriously alternate take on the Man of Steel."

Batman, The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller; considered a classic and one of the best Batman titles

Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis; Winner of an Eisner Award

The Invincible Iron Man: The Five Nightmares by Matt Fraction; this begins the most contemporary Iron Man story

The Invisibles by Grant Morrison; all three volumes (all included in this omnibus) won the Eisner Award

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore

The Ultimates by Jeph Loeb; the graphic novel inspiration for The Avengers movies

Wonder Woman: Love and Murder by Jodi Picoult; Picoult, famous for her popular fiction novels, did a run for DC comis as the first female writer for Wonder Woman.


100 Bullets by Brian Azarello - mystery, noir; A mysterious a gives away briefcases containing an untracable gun, 100 bullets, and evidence pointing in the direction of those who have wronged the briefcase recipients.

Blankets by Craig Thompson; extremely well-reviewed, a nostalgic coming-of-age story.

Daytripper by Gabriel Ba; a series that follows one man, each title ending in his death; highlighting the importance of choices made and the fragility of life

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger; author of the bestselling novel, "The Time Traveler's Wife"

Troublemaker: Vol 2 by Janet Evanovich

The Unwritten by Mike Carey & Peter Gross; sometimes called a grittier Harry Potter read-a-like in GN form


Understanding Comics: The Original Art by Scott McCloud