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What graphic novels do you recommend?

December 24, 2012

In this academic break, I’m going to try to catch up on reading in a genre I have long neglected – English graphic novels.  Sure, I read Maus and MetaMaus, and when I studied Japanese and Chinese I read a huge number of Asian-language graphic novels; but I’ve largely neglected the field.

I realize that this is a massive genre, but I want to at least read some of the super-hits.

Here is what is currently on my reading list:

What are your favorite graphic novels?  I’m particularly interested in work that is intelligent, cinematic, and heavily engaging.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 24, 2012 7:06 pm

    I don’t know about cinematic, but I can promise engaging, and for the most part intelligent:

    Hellboy: Seed of Destruction — the first Hellboy mini-series. There are several several more, it gets baroque pretty fast.

    Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. LOVE this. I also recommend one of their earlier works, De:Tales, a collection of graphic short stories.

    Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. Memoir about her father. She has a new follow-up about her mother called Are you My Mother? I haven’t read it yet, I’m waiting for it to come out in paperback.

    Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill is pretty good. I recently bought the followup trade paperback, haven’t read it yet.

  2. December 25, 2012 8:58 am

    Frank Miller’s (and Lynn Varley’s) 300 is excellent. His film adaptation is amazing.

  3. December 25, 2012 1:11 pm

    Nina, Kurk — thanks for the promising suggestions. I’m going to visit Amazon right now!

  4. December 26, 2012 11:48 am

    With the positive press I almost bought Building Stories for half price with a combination of B&N discounts and coupons. But after reading/viewing some of the images of the panels/stories on review sites and reading some readers’ complaints – e.g., the print is so small on some panels that some readers were forced to use a magnifying glass for the first time to read; the tone of much of it is nihilistic (that’s all I need!); what does one DO with it after one has read it and is now stuck with a large gameboard-sized box of 14 random pieces, large and small, etc. – I decided those negatives outweighed the things that reviewers liked about it. You might want to do the same, too (i.e., preview some pages/panels and read some of the negative reviews).

    I enjoyed Watchmen, but think the film ending may have been better than the graphic novel ending. That said, the movie was so-so.

    I have a difficult time reading graphic novels. You would think that pictures and large print would be easier to read than your typical printed book, but I find it to be more tedious, so I rarely read them.

    Happy (soon) New Year.

  5. December 26, 2012 1:03 pm

    Eric — I agree with you on reading graphic novels being more difficult than reading ordinary books. I definitely read them more slowly than I expect, because I have to stop, look at the pictures, etc. But, perhaps, viewed as a genre unto themselves, they can be interesting (in the same way that one cannot really compare an opera with a play — even though both can be high art — or real dreck.)

    I haven’t read Building Stories yet, and your assessment is undoubtedly on target, but I’m a collector of odd books, so I’m going to keep it.

    The thing that amazes me about the Watchmen movie is the way that the studio has managed to spin DVD after DVD after DVD release — each with different added material (Director’s Cut vs. Ultimate Edition etc.)

  6. December 26, 2012 1:50 pm

    I have to agree that the Watchman movie had a better ending than the book. And I also have to agree that Chris Ware (Building Stories) can be incredibly depressing. There is something wondrous about his meticulous art, though.

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