Saturday, June 18, 2011

20 Essential Graphic Novels

I recently read DC Comic’s list of 30 Essential Graphic Novels. I agreed with most of the list, but I found it to be lacking, not only because it concentrated solely on DC comics, but because it was missing some great GNs from DC’s own canon as well. So I’ve decided to create my own list, which will share some items from the DC list. And, since I’m not affiliated with DC, the comics on the list will come from a variety of publishers. (I am also going to break one of my rules and list some superhero comics because they are what I consider to be the epitome of that genre).

So here it is: Becky’s list of 20 Essential Graphic novels (in no particular order).

Watchman by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (DC): Considered by some to be the best comic book ever written. See my review here:

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd (VERTIGO): In a dystopian future England, a masked revolutionary works to destroy the totalitarian government. I would recommend it especially if you enjoyed the movie.

The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland (VERTIGO): In my opinion, one of the best Batman comics ever written by one of the best comic writers in the business. ‘Nuff said.

Swamp Thing by Alan Moore and John Totleben (VERTIGO): The classic monster originally created by Len Wein and Berni Wrightson is re-imagined by a comic master. The first issue is amazing and if you read enough, you’ll get to the origin story of John Constantine, Hellblazer.

Hellblazer started by Jamie Delano and John Ridgeway (VERTIGO): Speaking of John Constantine, he got his own horror comic series originally written by Jamie Delano. Constantine, a streetwise magician, has been the star Vertigo’s longest running series running over 277 issues and counting.

Sandman by Neil Gaiman, Various Artists (VERTIGO): A mix of horror, suspense, and fantasy, Sandman revolves around Dream, the incarnation of the dream world and his siblings The Endless: Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair, Destruction, and Delirium. One of the best comic series written in the last 10 years.

Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean (VERTIGO): Before they worked on Sandman, Neil Gaiman and artist Dave McKean told the origin story of Black Orchid, a super plant/human hybrid similar to the Swamp Thing.

Fables by Bill Willingham, Lan Madeira and Mark Buckingham (VERTIGO): Kicked out of their home worlds by the “Adversary,” classic fairy tale characters, including Snow White, The Big Bad Wolf, and Cinderella, take refuge in modern day New York City. My favorite comic series of all time.

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra (VERTIGO): When a mysterious virus kills of all mammals with a Y chromosome, Yorrick and his monkey Ampersand are the only living male mammals left on the planet.

Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona (MARVEL): You might be wondering by the largest comic company in America only got only one item on the list is simple. Marvel does superheros and pretty much nothing else. They have been breaking out that a little bit over the years, but Runaways is one of the few collected comics that you can pick up with without knowing a lot of mythology. What are the Runaways? Marvel’s way better version of the Teen Titians.
100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso (VERTIGO): What if someone gave you a gun and 100 bullets and told you that you could have complete immunity from the law if you used the gun and bullets to avenge a wrong done to you? That’s what 100 bullets is about.

Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean (DC): No this isn’t a comic version of the game, in fact it was published in 1989. Batman walks into Arkham after the Joker incites a riot. The question is whether Batman will ever walk out.

Batman: Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale (DC): A stand-alone Batman comic written in the style of film noir. A mystery penned by the great Jeph Loeb with Tim Sale the brilliant artist behind the paintings in Heroes. All you need is a rudimentary knowledge of Batman to thoroughly enjoy this graphic novel.

The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard (IMAGE): Do you ever wonder what happens after the zombie movie ends? Well pick up Walking Dead and find out.

Bone by Jeff Smith (CARTOON BOOKS): Jeff Smith mixes light hearted comedy with high fantasy in his epic Bone. Looney Tune-esque Fone Bone and his cousins, having been kicked out of Boneville arrive in a mysterious valley and end up fighting evil in an attempt to save the world.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (PANTHEON): A memoir by Marjane Satrapi depicting her childhood growing up in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution.

Sandman Mystery Theater by Matt Wagner and Guy Davis (VERTIGO): A reimaging of the Golden Age Sandman, a masked crusader who fights crimes using knock out gas, told in a gritty film noir style.

Madame Xanadu by Matt Wagner and Amy Reeder Hadley (VERTIGO): A beautiful comic that follows Nimue, the sorceress from Arthurian times, as she spans the ages helping the innocent and deciphering cryptic messages from the Phantom Stranger.

Superman Red Sun by Mark Millar (DC): What if Superman did not land in Smallville, USA and instead landed in Communist Russia? Read this and you’ll know.

Maus by Art Spiegelman (PANTHEON): Art Speigelman tells the story of his father’s time as a concentration camp prisoner during World War II using mice as a metaphor.  

It would be hard to go wrong picking up any one of these many excellent titles. 

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