I am fascinated with the genre of graphic novels. Fans of graphic novels are incredibly passionate about their favorite titles, and discussions between fans can quickly lead to intense debates regarding such questions as which titles belong in the genre, how to define the genre or when the genre began.
When I asked friends to recommend titles to ease me into the genre, I was bombarded with suggestions. Inevitably, a debate arose over which titles were best suited for someone who is new to reading graphic novels. I dutifully scoured through the recommendations and discovered that many graphic novels are indeed as interesting and intelligent as the traditional novel.
For a complete list of the titles I browsed through, click here.
What is a graphic novel? Rather than risk a whole new debate by attempting to define it myself, I will instead refer curious minds to Paul Gravett's Graphic Novels: Everything You Need to Know. This book provides an excellent summary of the graphic novel movement with beautiful illustrations from some of the most important titles in the genre.
The Sandman is a gothic deity who wanders in and out of people’s dreams and nightmares, weaving the stories that keep us occupied in our sleep. In the first collection of Neil Gaiman's epic series, The Sandman is held captive and Gaiman brilliantly depicts the horrors of a dreamless world. When The Sandman finally escapes he must recover his stolen tools and reclaim the realm of dreams. Gaiman has an amazing way with words and adding beautifully dark pictures to the mix drew me completely into his world.
In this Pulitzer-Prize winner, Art Spiegelman interviews his father regarding his life during WWII and the Holocaust. Spiegelman’s narration stays true to his father’s voice and I truly felt at times as though I were sitting and listening to the story of the holocaust straight from the mouth of a survivor. The bizarre twist on the story is that the characters are depicted as different animal species, representing the brutality and absurdity that comes when people try to separate each other by nationality, race, or religion.
This is an amazing book that mixes traditional novel chapters with the graphic novel format. The story is at once a critique on the concerns of modern life and an examination of the role superheroes play in the modern psyche. It paints a bleak picture that is just too difficult to turn away from and quickly becomes too compelling to even want to put down. The segments of traditional text chapters make this a perfect segway for people who are just getting used to the graphic novel format.
If you are a fan of 19th-century classics such as Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, this is the perfect graphic novel for you. Most of my favorite books come from that time period and I found myself giddy from all of the references and allusions found in this book. The League is a gathering of Britain’s top fictional heroes from the 19th century. All of the above-mentioned books have characters who appear in this tale, and there are many more surprises waiting.