I have been thinking about the best graphic novels lately because recently I have been loaning my trades and hard covers to various people at my work. Since only two of them are fans of comic books in general and none of them are rabid comic fans like many of us I have been looking to let them read graphic novels that are not about the cape and tight set.
The books I have been loaning out are the two volumes of Killer by Jacamon and Matz published by Archaia, Parker “the Hunter” adapted by Darwyn Cooke and published by IDW, Mouse Guard Volume One and Two by David Petersen and published by Archaia, I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura published by Image and Criminal Omnibus by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips published under the Icon Banner.
I choose these books because I have read all of them and personally know that the quality of these books is there. The art is strong in each case and the writing is excellent in each case. The idea is that I wanted to let people see what the graphic method of storytelling can be and how it is unconstrained by genres. It does not have to be the doe eyed super sexual Manga style, it does not have to be the super muscle men and overly endowed women of the spandex set and it does not have to be the bloody gore laden adolescent fantasy that Avatar often did. This form can be anything and all of these books stood out as books I could give to various people and let them see what the art form can do.
This caused me to stop and think about what else I could pull together and hand people and I realized that I have a dearth of this type material in my collection. Lee has read much more of the European material where stand alone stories are more common, but so much of what I have you either need to make a huge commitment or accept some of the limitations that may come with the material. Queen and Country is a good example of wonderful stories but the art was inconsistent. I loved that material, but if I’m selling our entertainment form I’m putting my absolute best foot forward.
Making the cut means it could not be super hero and therefore it cut out half of my collection. I have given away a lot of material so that creates part of my problem and I have never read Maus or Contract with God, so I can’t personally recommend those books. Scalped is a great series, but I don’t own the trades and convincing someone to read all the trades is hard. 100 Bullets is 13 trades and is daunting if you put those out for someone to read. The same is true with Fables, Sandman and other books they are so long that people are often afraid to try it out. Look at Strangers in Paradise, I read Volume One (and gave it away) and have yet to read Volume 2. I have the first two volumes of Torpedo on my shelf, but again that is a long series.
So my question is what graphic stories you would use to give to a non comic fan to show them the best of our world. I’m happy with my selections above but I know there has to be more.
My challenge to my fellow blog members is to write a column with their choices and I would hope that some of our readers might add their comments as well.