Not a comic book fan? If not, what makes you so? For the longest time I shunned comics, never considering them in my literary canon. Since becoming a writer for this website, Sir Hellions has completely changed my mind on the subject. What a lot of non-comic book readers may not realize is that there is literary value in comic books, there is value in another story telling medium and the four selections I have chosen highlight that.
As a general rule I will only be picking titles that are either complete or have a mostly complete story. I will also be picking four titles that are from very different genres to give you more options. This is just a starting point, believe me there is more out there and if you want more recommendations hit up Sir Hellions himself at Twitter under @TeamHellions, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or hit me up at Twitter under @Kristoffrable.
4. Locke & Key from Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodríguez
Are you a fan of horror? If so than you will love this imaginative tale from Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez about the Locke family. After the murder of their father/husband, the Locke family moves to “Keyhouse;” the home that he grew up, to start a new life. Sadly, the old life of Rendell Locke is catching up with his family, and with the discovery of a series of keys that open doors to ideas you never thought possible, this tale will have your heart breaking one moment when in the next it’s being completely ripped out. Buried within this horror tale is an exploration as to how we all deal with death, from adults to children alike, most may not see it for that, but this comic brilliantly pulls it off. Locke & Key has it all and you’ll be dying to get your hands on the latest issues. This series is rapping up in about seven more issues so get started on one of the greatest ongoing comics today!
3. Watchmen from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Some will know this selection from the weak willed movie Zack Snyder directed in 2009. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it didn’t capture the tone of Watchmen as well as the comic did. Granted, Alan Moore is a genius, though in his later years some may rethink the acclamation. Watchmen, at it’s core is an exploration of humanity in the natural world. Who doesn’t think that costumed crime fighters wouldn’t have some scars that they can’t shake. This graphic novel takes that to a whole new level, with groundbreaking additions, like chapters from books that don’t exist, confidential files, and a comic within the comic! This has also been acknowledged as one of the greatest novels of all time by Time Magazine, that’s right NOVELS! You should have read this by now if you haven’t already.
2. The Sandman from Neil Gaiman
This comic series is responsible for the Vertigo line at DC comics. DC is known primarily for it’s superhero comic books like Superman, Green Lantern, and Batman, but when Sandman came along in the 80’s it didn’t really fit the moniker. Since then, ten volumes and a few other subsequent off shoots have been released by Gaiman and co. and all are amazing based on reputation alone. Granted, I’ve only had the opportunity to read the first volume of this series but even there it’s worth it from the start! The story is about Morpheus, the king of dreams, and the tales that involve him, told in an epic way that really expands a readers experience of mythology unfolding before their eyes. Gaiman’s specialty is mythology if you really think about it, explored in other works like American Gods, Anansi Boys, and many of his short stories. It’s Gaimain, and if you don’t know how great he is, this is a good place to jump on board. (P.S. Morpheus’s character name from The Matrix is taken from this character.)
1. Blankets from Craig Thompson
Blankets is a graphic novel that pushes the limits of the medium in ways that are wonderful and relatable to every comic book reader. Granted the autobiographical story of Thompson’s childhood is a remarkable achievement for anyone in comics. It’s roughly 500 plus pages, all written and drawn by Thompson, and it’s story is true to the heart of the reader. Thompson captures adolescent love better than books like Twilight could ever deem possible, taking it beyond stereotypical tropes to capture the heart of the reader and not the mind. This adolescent tale of a young man coming of age, as part of a faith he doesn’t really understand, dealing with emotions he’s trying to rectify is so imaginative with it’s art and ideas that it really challenges the idea of what the modern (auto)biography is. This tale is as tragic as it is heart warming, but truly my babble does not compare to one of the greatest autobiographies you could ever read.