What Graphic Novels Should I Read?

Graphic Novels have become a hot topic at conferences and publishing circles. However, this new mode of storytelling seems to be shrouded in mystery. Most of us in the Kidlit community are very familiar with novels and picture books, but we haven’t the slightest clue where to start when it comes to comics.

Hey,wait a second! Is a comic even the same thing as a graphic novel? Well, in some circles the answer is yes, in others no. Indeed, it seems the rules of graphic novels seem to fall down around us rather quickly.

But just a every agent and editor tells us to READ READ READ! I think the same applies to the world of graphic novels. However, the question for most is:

Where Do I Start?

Personally, I’m not a fan of spandex and capes, thus superhero comics have never appealed to me. As a literary writer, I wasn’t sure if there was a place for my kind of stories among the Ka-Pow panels of comic lore. But, boy was I wrong! The following is a short list of graphic novels that really changed the way I see the medium. Hopefully, they might be a jumping off point for you as well. Enjoy the journey down the rabbit hole!

Ingrid’s List of Graphic Novels To Get Your Feet Wet:


American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yan



Blankets by Craig Thompson



Stitches by David Small



Kabuki: Metamorphosis by David Mack



Flight by Kazu Kibuishi



Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi



Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud


Happy Reading Everyone!  

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5 Responses to “What Graphic Novels Should I Read?”

  1. Laura says:

    Thanks for the unusual subject matter, Ingrid. I love the cover for Amulet. Looks like my kind of thing. All the illustrations are probably gorgeous in all of them. Great post!
    — Laura

  2. Ken says:

    great choices all.

    i would also add “asterios polyp” by david mazzucchelli about an architect/professor who loses everything in a fire but gains some perspective on his life.

    “richard stark’s parker: book one ‘the hunter'” adapted from the donald westlake pulp thriller by darwyn cooke. it’s a crime drama but so well told visually and in sequential panels.

    for comic book compilations into trade paperback books form, (pseudo-graphic novels) there’s “unwritten” from dc/vertigo comics. it takes the notion of a ‘harry potter’ type reading phenomenon and turns it on it’s head by supposing that everything that happened is real. sort of like how a.a. milne based the adventures of winnie the pooh on his son, christopher robin’s, childhood.
    also, “fables” (dc/vertigo) where all those characters from fables and lore actually exist and live in a private community in nyc having fled from their homelands because of ‘the adversary’.
    and “y the last man” (dc/vertigo) after some sort of catastrophe kills all the male of the species, he and his female allies must figure out and decide where humankind goes next.

    lots of good stuff out there to read. some have spandex heroes, some not. but there is something for every taste if one seeks it out.

  3. Leka says:

    Hi Ingrid! My favorite is Kabuki but I see you have that on your list already. I actually met David Mack at Comic Con! Super nice guy! He gave me a bunch of free signed sketchbooks.

    I remember seeing a couple of these at the comic book store I go to. I’ll make sure to pick some up next time I stop by.

  4. Laura – The illustrations in Amulet are beautiful!!!

    Leka – I met David Mack at Comic-con too! He’s sooooooooooooooooooooooo nice!

  5. Hooray! It’s always good to see people picking up comics for the first time. (Especially American Born Chinese – downright genius!) There’s a greater variety than most people expect, and the buffet of subject matter gets more colorful every day. :]

    In case you’re itching for more suggestions, I’d recommend Guy Delisle’s travelogues (especially Pyongyang and Shenzhen,) the Aya series by Marguerite Abouet, and Y: The Last Man.

    And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, don’t forget manga! Tons of amazing titles get brought over from Japan all the time. There’s Oishinbo for foodies, Chi’s Sweet Home for cat fans, Black Jack for medical drama junkies, Lovely Complex for romantic comedy aficionados . . . to say nothing of the armloads of fantasy, sci-fi, and action manga out there.

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