The 100 Must Read Graphic Novels! (Pt. 7)
More graphic novels! We hope that all our readers have been finding some new and exciting reading material, maybe enough a new favourite. We’re going to start out with a couple more true stories before we get into the final part of our series. The Outer Limits – the best of science-fiction, horror and fantasy! Be warned though…it’s gonna get a bit freaky.
#61 – American Splendour: The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar
Entry written by Slam Adams
I beat myself up sometimes because I find stories too late. American Splendor was one of those things. I didn’t even know about it until they made a movie about it (really good, by the way). Anyways, it was about the random events that made up Harvey Pekar’s life. Big events like his health and his third wife to minutia like his job and everyday concerns like standing in line. It was like a precursor to Seinfeld, or better yet Louie, because there is this really strange blue collar depth that he stumbles on, even by accident.
#62 – Blankets
A rare breed, Blankets comes under the category of Autobiographical Graphic Novel and tells the story of author and artist Craig Thompson’s life growing up in an Evangelical Christian family, his early adulthood and his struggles with life and love. It’s a beautifully written tale, and the simple artwork lends itself well. It’s been challenged a few times as ‘pornographic’ by the small minded but there’s no titillation here. Just an honest discussion of one man’s life, in all it’s murky shades of grey.
#63 – Buddha
Have you ever wanted to learn about the life story and beliefs of Buddha? Do you like Astro Boy? Then you’re in luck, because the creator of the latter has written an extensive series of graphic novels about Buddhu. We are introduced to a range of characters both fictional and historical whose lives are intertwined by the birth of Siddhartha Gautama, the prince whom history will remember as Buddha. The manga style is perfectly suited to the material, with liberal doses of sex and violence for falvour. It’s hard to find someone who wouldn’t love this.
#64 – Sex Criminals
At this point I would be genuinely surprised by any comic fan who hadn’t at least heard about Sex Criminals. It’s worth a look just for the title. There’s a reason even TIME Magazine declared it the best comic of 2013 as it is an amazing book. Suzie begins by recounting her own sexual awakening, unaware that what she experienced was different to everyone else. After an orgasm, time would freeze for everyone but Suzie. As an adult she meets Johnny, who has the same ability, and together they concoct a plan to rob a bank. More than a heist story with a sexy gimmick, it’s an extremely honest and genuine look at sexual relationships. You’ll fall in love with the characters and be given some very real ideas to mull over. Almost as entertaining is the letters page, which has evolved into a sexual confessional. It’s like Scott Pilgrim but with more sex. The wait between issues feels like a long time indeed.
#65 – The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes
I have no doubt that Neil Gaiman will long be remembered as one of the greatest writers of our age. Not only is he brilliant but he dabbles in a wide range of genres and formats, for kids and adults, with equal talent. One of his best works is The Sandman, and original take on an obscure DC character (read: total rewrite) that spins a tale through reality, the afterlife, fantasy, imagination and dreams. The titular sandman, Dream, and his family of The Endless are powerful icons in the history of graphic novels. This is an absolute must for any reader.
#66 – The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye
Before The Walking Dead was a massive hit television series that sparked constant battles through social media by fans and non-fans of the show it was a phenomenally brilliant comic – and still is today. Yes Kirkman is the showrunner for the TV series as well but it’s his work in the comic-book that not just came first but will always be the stuff that I reference to when talking about The Walking Dead. This was a groundbreaking zombie tale upon its release because it made the “walkers” second-fiddle to a character drama centered in the post-apocalyptic South. It’s brutally heavy-hitting with some of the nastiest and most controversial violence in modern-day comics but it’s that sense of realism and “not holding back” that makes it stand out from so many others. A lot of that has to do with the writing of our characters but you can’t overlook the black and white artistry of each book that helps paint the story of a bleak and hopeless survival tale. Kirkman’s idea to bring specific storylines from the comic to the show without making it a faithful re-telling is one that not only split fans but made it easier for you to know the source material without really knowing exactly what is coming each week. This is one zombie series I would recommend to anyone who once found an interest in the undead, as well as those who are just looking for something different.
#67 – Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft
Horror and comics have had an interesting history. From spooky tales to gorefests the Comic Code neutered the entire genre. Now that writers have free reign they’ve elected to work with well paced drama. Writer Joe Hill steps clear of his father’s long shadow to create a completely original and brilliant story about an old family home with layers of secrets within the walls. The place is riddled with keys and locks that hold strange powers – the ability to turn people into ghosts, meddling with their memory, become giant, control shadows and more. There’s a great ongoing narrative that has recently come to a close, revealing the true nature of the sought after ‘Omega Key’.
#68 – Return to Wonderland
Few things leave me feeling meh like another horror or ‘quirky’ rendition of Alice in Wonderland. The material lends itself to many versions and this is rapidly taken advantage of in everything from Batman to video games and surreal artist Dali. If there’s one worth the attention of comic readers it’s this one, a genuinely disconcerting adult tale imbued with violence, horror and sexuality. It’s fresh and unique.
#69 – Johnny The Homicidal Maniac
Johen Vasquez might be best known for Invader Zim but he’s came to our attention with JTHM. The titular character features in the centre of an insane world, sickened by the modern lifestyle and driven to torture and murder on a frequent basis. Johnny (or ‘Nny’) is obsessed with keeping the wall in his house wet with blood, otherwise ‘they’ might get through. How shocked we were when he turned out to be right.
#70 – 30 Days of Night
Just when I thought the vampire subgenre has seen every original thought left to have, horror writer, Steve Niles, brings them to the small town of Barrow, Alaska taking advantage of the real phenomenon where the sun doesn’t rise for 30 days straight (give or take). From my understanding, its more like 1 minute of sunlight a day, but changes are made for the sake of fiction. It is a tight 3-issues with a very crazy graffiti-like art style from Ben Templesmith. The survivors run and gun around these Eurotrash wannabe gangster type vampires stripped of most of their more mystical powers. I like to think this story proves just how great less bells and whistles can be. Plus, I really really love the ending, the last few panels. It ranks up there with I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.
Remember, we’ve got 20 more awesome books to reveal in our countdown! Check back next week, and vote for your weekly favourite below.