The 100 Must Read Graphic Novels (Part 10)!
This…this has been a long journey! From brainstorming a list of potential candidates to whittle down to 100, writing up the entries and (my own solo mission) putting together the images this has been a real marathon. But when you look back through the list, notebook in hand to jot down your new reading list, I know it was worth it.
To round things out we have the last of the genre books, mixed in with a couple that we couldn’t place in a single category. Enjoy!
#91 – Fray
Recommendation written by G-Funk
Take an established character and put them in the future. Tale as old as time. In the hands of Joss Whedon, however, anything can feel fresh and exciting. Fray is the newest vampire slayer in a future where the Slayer mythology has been forgotten. Vampires are a daily menace for the citizens and Fray’s watcher is a demon. Most interestingly is her prophetic Slayer dreams went not to her, but her twin brother – now a vampire and her greatest foe. Pure. Whedon. Awesome.
#92 – Jack of Fables: The (Nearly) Great Escape
Jack of Fables Vol 1: The (Nearly) Great Escape is the first volume in a very popular series that spun-off from Fables. Its lead character is a man named Jack, known to us as the man who slayed the giant and jumped over a candle stick. He is somewhere in between an anti-hero and a villain and provides readers with an abundance of ridiculous and action-packed plot that weaves its way in and out of the main Fables storyline.
#93 – 300
Frank Miller had an idea: he wanted to take a historical event and elevate it to the level of mythology. Working from the Battle of Thermopylae, the famous last stand of King Leonidas and a force of 300 warriors against the armies of Persia. In this landscape volume the Spartan soldiers are recast as ideologically driven fighting machines, clad in little more than a billowing red cape while the twisted Persian forces employ beasts and monsters. It’s awash with blood and gore, but it succeeds in its mission statement.
#94 – Blue is the Warmest Color
Blue is the Warmest Color, or Le bleu est une couleur chaude, is a hauntingly beautiful graphic novel by Julie Maroh about a teenage girl who falls in love and while discovering her sexuality, discovers herself as well. Recently adapted into a critically acclaimed film, Blue is a book that you can’t put down, even if you’re already seen the movie. Maroh didn’t just create a beautiful lesbian love story, she created a tribute to love and loss that anyone can identify with.
#95 – Usagi Yojimbo: The Ronin
Don’t be fooled by the cartoon animals, this is not a book of funnies or even wise-cracking critters. This is an epic tale set in the Edo era of Japan, following a Yojimbo as he comes travels the land. Due to a quirk during the design process the decision was made to make the character anthropomorphic animals, even though this has no bearing on the story or character work. It lifts ideas from Japanese legends and the films of Akira Kurosawa, and is awesome in every way.
#96 – Lost Girls
There’s no getting around it: this is porn. But to be fair it wasn’t meant to be anything but porn. Alan ‘Watchmen, V For Vendetta and From Hell’ Moore always likes to challenge himself, and one day he challenged himself with creating a pornographic book that could be classed as literature. Centred on the characters of Alice, Wendy and Dorothy (of Wonderland, Neverland and Oz fame respectively) as they reside in Austria at the beginning of WWI, the women recount their personal sexual awakenings. It’s a stunning volume, packed with twisted and powerful visuals by Melinda Gebbie and it takes a fresh look on the classic stories. Be warned though – things start out as graphic and descend into the downright disturbing.
#97 – The Underwater Welder
Underwater Welder is one of those special books that comes along every once in awhile that proves just what the medium is actually capable of. It proves that these aren’t just kids books about supermen who wear their underwear on the outside. Back in 2012, it was good enough to make my best of the year list. It is written by DC golden boy Jeff Lemire that tracks the surreal existential journey of an underwater welder who tries to figure out what happened to his father while on the verge of becoming a father himself.
#98 – Transmetropolitan
Although it didn’t turn up in the golden era of the genre this has become a defining cyberpunk title. Rather than the usual hacker we chart the adventures of a renegade journalist (a clear nod to gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson) as he battles against the corruption of the US President. It’s a tightly written story packed with bright visuals that can introduce a new generation to cyberpunk.
#99 – Serenity: The Sheperd’s Tale
We’re not going to get Firefly back, and at least Serenity closed a few loose ends. One thing that fans were aching to learn was the backstory of Shepherd Book. We know he had ties to the Alliance, and we know that he can take a man down with one punch…but his mysterious past eluded us. This volume finally put to rest the enigma of Book, and spins a great tale for fans.
#100 – Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life
This is very possibly my favourite graphic novel. I was given a copy by a kindly comic store owner who thought I might like it, and the blend of styles, video game tropes and riffing on the emerging hipster subculture instantly grabbed me. The Edgar Wright movie adaptation has turned it into a well known title, but there’s no denying that it’s a unique and ground breaking story, written and drawn by someone with a unique and personal vision rather than trying to fit a niche. Even if you’ve seen the movie a dozen times it’s worth grabbing the six volume collection (also now available in colour!) and discovering the expanded story.
And that is that! We hope you’ve found some new favourite titles from our recommendations. Here at the House we’re going to take a short break from constructing giant lists…for a little while. Coming soon: the 100 Best Female Characters in Pop Culture!