The Best Comics and Graphic Novels

A Listmania! list by Michael 'De Smurführer' Thomsen (Denmark)
The list author says: "This is a list of some of the most enjoyable and important comics and graphic novels. It includes mainstream comics, alternative publishers, US comics, leading UK creators, some French and Japanese stuff.

I've downplayed Alan Moore/Frank Miller-influenced mature readers action/adventure/superhero stuff ("Preacher", "The Walking Dead" etc) a bit because there are so many Amazon lists already focusing on those kinds of books. If you're mainly into superheroes, then this list is probably not for you, unless you're considering branching out a bit.

The list focuses mainly on comics for grown-up readers, but also includes some classic books suitable for all ages (I've placed them at the bottom) .... simply because they can be so fun and enjoyable for older readers too. Also, they're often visually beautiful - modern serious graphic novelists often look to old kids' comics for inspiration, because they haven't got much use for the visual language of superhero comics. Oh yeah, and I've got a soft spot for high-quality funny-animal comics. Like many Europeans I've grown up on a steady dose of Carl Barks' legendary Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge comics."
The Complete Maus, 25th Anniversary Edition
1.  The Complete Maus, 25th Anniversary Edition by Art Spiegelman
The list author says:
  "Spiegelman's harrowing Pulitzer Prize winning holocaust tale. This is the 25th Anniversary hardcover edition. This book (and "Watchmen" and Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns") started the current English language graphic novel boom, although it mostly happened belatedly when their influence started to be felt in the mid 90s, ten years after publication."
$19.77   Used & New from: $15.00
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (380 customer reviews) | 2 customer discussions

Watchmen
2.  Watchmen by Alan Moore
The list author says:
  "Alan Moore's sci-fi/superhero classic. It used to be a 'cult' item, but it has become quite well known after the (flawed) movie was released. One of the greatest stories ever told in any medium. Also notable for its advanced storytelling techniques."
Used & New from: $0.96
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,429 customer reviews) | 35 customer discussions

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The Complete Persepolis
3.  The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
The list author says:
  "Satrapi's memories about growing up in Iran. Now also a great animated film. An important book considering the political sitation in the Middle East. Also, it's funny and enjoyable. The independent publishing house L'Association started a new French graphic novel boom in the mid-90s, and this has been their biggest seller."
$16.96   Used & New from: $4.54
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (213 customer reviews)

Asterios Polyp
4.  Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
The list author says:
  "Mazzucchelli's recent book is an instant classic. Full of serious themes and advanced techniques, yet very readable and accessible."
$22.79   Used & New from: $12.97
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews) | 2 customer discussions

The Contract with God Trilogy: Life on Dropsie Avenue (A Contract With God, A Life Force, Dropsie Avenue)
5.  The Contract with God Trilogy: Life on Dropsie Avenue (A Contract With God, A Life Force, Dropsie Avenue) by Will Eisner
The list author says:
  "Three classic Will Eisner books collected in one volume. Back in the 40s Eisners "Spirit" stories had stunning visuals that were ahead of eveything else in the medium. These stories are from his comeback in the 70s and 80s as a teller of social realist tales from Bronx."
$25.84   Used & New from: $10.00
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

The Rabbi's Cat
6.  The Rabbi's Cat by Joann Sfar
The list author says:
  "Wonderful magical realist fable from leading French writer and artist. Collects 3 French albums in one volume,A great volume 2 is also available. Soon to be an animated motion picture. Sfar's first movie as a director was the Serge Gainsbourg bio-pic "Gainsbourg"."
$11.73   Used & New from: $4.41
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope
7.  Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope by Emmanuel Guibert
The list author says:
  "Brilliantly narrated war memoir. Nothing much happens, but that's sort of the point. A moving autobiographical coming-of-age story about a young American discovering Europe during the war. G.I. Alan Cope may be the most engaging storyteller among the biographical graphic novel narrators on this list."
$16.41   Used & New from: $1.06
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

Epileptic
8.  Epileptic by David B.
The list author says:
  "A stunning book about growing up in a brother who suffers from epilepsy. A central work in the new wave of French comics. The text is simple and accessible - the modernist graphics are advanced and cutting edge. A masterpiece, but it's about severe illness, so it can be heavy going."
$15.70   Used & New from: $7.16
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

From Hell
9.  From Hell by Alan Moore
The list author says:
  "Moore's dark and harrowing Jack the Ripper epic. Mixes social realism and occultism and paints a memorable black and white portrait of Victorian London in the style af David Lynch's "The Elephant Man". The movie version didn't work out too well. Maybe if Lynch had done it instead.... as a four hour movie."
$25.60   Used & New from: $16.01
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews) | 2 customer discussions

The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 1
10.  The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman
The list author says:
  "Gaiman's fantasy epic in recolored hardcovers - this series is emotionally involving, but it was also called "A comic strip for intellectuals" by Norman Mailer. The complete 1.600 pages of Absolute Sandman is available in four volumes. The series is also available in ten less expensive paperbacks starting with vol 1 "Preludes and Nocturnes" and vol 2 "The Dolls House"."
$76.91   Used & New from: $44.95
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews) | 19 customer discussions

The R. Crumb Coffee Table Art Book (Kitchen Sink Press Book for Back Bay Books)
11.  The R. Crumb Coffee Table Art Book (Kitchen Sink Press Book for Back Bay Books) by R. Crumb
The list author says:
  "A great collection of classic Crumb strips. Crumb's line work is technically among the best ever seen in the medium, and his ideas were central to the cultural landscape of the 60s and 70s. And don't miss Terry Zwigoff's classic documentary "Crumb", available on DVD. It's a work of art in its own right."
$22.43   Used & New from: $14.24
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

Heartbreak Soup (Love & Rockets)
12.  Heartbreak Soup (Love & Rockets) by Gilbert Hernandez
The list author says:
  "First half of Hernandez unforgettable magical realist stories about the small latin american town "Palomar". An alternative American comic book classic, a bit like Gabriel Garcia Maquez mixed with fun "Archie"-comics. The sequel is called "Human Diastrophism". Further stories, about main character Luba's later adventures in the USA, are now available in the hardcover "Luba"."
$15.28   Used & New from: $7.00
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

Buddy Does Seattle: The Complete Buddy Bradley Stories from "Hate" Comics (1990-1994) (Vol. 1)  (Hate)
13.  Buddy Does Seattle: The Complete Buddy Bradley Stories from "Hate" Comics (1990-1994) (Vol. 1) (Hate) by Peter Bagge
The list author says:
  "Peter Bagge's funny 90s punk rock/slacker classic. The second half of the Buddy Bradley saga is collected in "Buddy Does Jersey". But this volume is the one that's essential. This list-maker spent his 20s living pretty much the same messed up life as the characters in Bagge's stories. I wish I'd known better, man!"
$14.77   Used & New from: $6.61
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Ghost World
14.  Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
The list author says:
  "Clowes' modern classic about post-adolescent alienation. It was made into a very good movie. Also available in a "Special Edition" that includes the movie script."
$12.15   Used & New from: $4.69
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)

Building Stories
15.  Building Stories by Chris Ware
The list author says:
  "This graphic novel is a stunning, possibly slightly flawed, tribute to the printed page. It's delivered in a box containing 14 beautiful artifacts in different formats that add up to a 260 page graphic novel. Ware's view of human interaction is perhaps a little bleak, but there are wonderful insights. You need good eyesight to read the smaller booklets."
$30.06   Used & New from: $24.00
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews) | 3 customer discussions

I Never Liked You
16.  I Never Liked You by Chester Brown
The list author says:
  "Great autobiographical book about teenage alienation. Chester Brown is possibly the greatest 'indie' comic artist ever. His David Lynch'ish surrealist masterpiece "Ed The Happy Clown" is FINALLY getting a re-release. However, not everyone might be able to handle the obscene material in that book, so they might possibly prefer this one."
$11.67   Used & New from: $3.98
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

Approximate Continuum Comics
17.  Approximate Continuum Comics by Lewis Trondheim
The list author says:
  "This hilarious autobiographic book is one of the masterpieces that the new French graphic novel boom has produced since the mid 90s. This book is black and white, but it's followed by Trondheim's equally funny "Little Nothings" auto-bio series in glorious color. Trondheim's neurotic persona should appeal to fans of Woody Allen and Larry ("Seinfeld", "Curb Your Enthusiasm") David."
$13.91   Used & New from: $2.01
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

It Was the War of the Trenches
18.  It Was the War of the Trenches by Jacques Tardi
The list author says:
  "Tardi, The grand old man of European mature reader comics is now being translated into English by Fantagraphics. Several volumes available. This one is one of the most acclaimed."
$20.52   Used & New from: $10.37
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

Franquin's Last Laugh
19.  Franquin's Last Laugh by Franquin
The list author says:
  "Franquin is one of the most legendary (mostly) all-ages cartoonists in Europe, his cartooning is better than just about anyones. These hilarious and bleak depression-induced strips were done towards the end of his life. A dark and funny European classic finally in English!"
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Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life
20.  Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust
The list author says:
  "The succes of autobiographical GNs like "Persepolis" has resulted in some so-so similar true-story works being published. But this is the real deal, the compelling memoir of a young punk girl hitchhiking through Italy in the 1980s. The art is loose yet flawless."
$27.68   Used & New from: $13.11
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
21.  Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
The list author says:
  "Acclaimed memoir. It's about family history, literature and homosexuality."
$9.87   Used & New from: $4.00
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (317 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

A Zoo In Winter
22.  A Zoo In Winter by Jirō Taniguchi
The list author says:
  "Jiro Taniguchi has sort of become the Haruki Murakami of graphic novels, making a name for himself in Europe with his calm Zen-like manga books for grown-ups. Also recommended: "A Distant Neighborhood""
Used & New from: $50.40
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Beanworld Book 1: Wahoolazuma! (Larry Marder's Beanworld)
23.  Beanworld Book 1: Wahoolazuma! (Larry Marder's Beanworld) by Larry Marder
The list author says:
  "Larry Marder's peculiar comic book myth is now being reprinted and relaunched for a new generation. Trust me, this is unlike anything you've ever read, and I think it's quite deep and philosophical in its own strange way."
$15.19   Used & New from: $0.01
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

The Incal
24.  The Incal by Alejandro Jodorowsky
The list author says:
  "A stunning European sci-fi classic. It's like Star Wars on drugs with added Tarot mysticism and a bit of sex. Recently deceased Moebius was one of the greatest sci-fi illustrators of all time. Written by Aejandro Jodorowsky who directed classic cult movie "El Topo" and the wonderful "Santa Sangre"."
Used & New from: $205.25
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

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Black Hole
25.  Black Hole by Charles Burns
The list author says:
  "Spooky tale of the 70s: teens, sex and disease. Reminiscent of dark movie directors like David Lynch and David Cronenberg. I think I may end up preferring his current trilogy of Tintin/William Burroughs-influenced books (First book: "X'ed Out"), but that work isn't completed yet."
$23.94   Used & New from: $8.75
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

Blankets
26.  Blankets by Craig Thompson
The list author says:
  "cute tale of young adult love. A little too cute and earnest for my taste, but this book is very much loved by a lot of people. Possibly more relevant to Americans than to us heathen Europeans, it speaks to all the teens in the US who grow up in homes with religious values."
$22.68   Used & New from: $10.65
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (307 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

Buddha, Vol. 1: Kapilavastu
27.  Buddha, Vol. 1: Kapilavastu by Osamu Tezuka
The list author says:
  "Osamu Tezuka's manga classic - 3.000 pages, 8 volumes. It's a biographical tale of the life of the Buddha, but with lots of colorful secondary characters. It pretty much works as an all ages adventure tale, although some conservative US parents might not like the occasional semi-nudity. Or the non-Christian worldview, obviously."
$10.19   Used & New from: $3.14
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman
28.  Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman by George Herriman
The list author says:
  "The awe inspiring newspaper strip "Krazy Kat" (begun 1913) marked the point where early comics were closest to being in tune with what was happening in modernist 'serious' art. Picasso was apparently a fan."
Used & New from: $7.98
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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The Complete Peanuts 1961-1962 (Vol. 6)  (The Complete Peanuts)
29.  The Complete Peanuts 1961-1962 (Vol. 6) (The Complete Peanuts) by Charles M. Schulz
The list author says:
  "Strip needs no introduction. These books are gorgeous. Buying all the planned 25 volumes is maybe a little bit extreme - it CAN become repetitive after a while - but the sixties and early seventies strips are essential."
$22.67   Used & New from: $8.34
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews) | 2 customer discussions

Pogo: The Complete Daily & Sunday Comic Strips, Vol. 1: Through the Wild Blue Wonder (v. 1)
30.  Pogo: The Complete Daily & Sunday Comic Strips, Vol. 1: Through the Wild Blue Wonder (v. 1) by Walt Kelly
The list author says:
  "Inventive use of language and stunning funny animal cartooning in this classic 1950s/60s newspaper strip. Now finally being collected in 12 volumes. Later volumes will include more satiric content, including anti-McCarthy'ism that made it a favourite among 1950s hipsters and alternative types."
$27.19   Used & New from: $14.62
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews) | 7 customer discussions

Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip - Book One
31.  Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip - Book One by Tove Jansson
The list author says:
  "Nearly forgotten Tove Jansson Moomin newspaper strip rediscovered in these wonderful volumes. Janssons illustrated Moomin Childrens books have been classics in Europe for generations, but her five years worth of comic strip work is only now getting the attention it deserves. All-ages."
$15.90   Used & New from: $10.00
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
32.  The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
The list author says:
  "The last great newspaper strip. Also a classic lesson in stopping while you're at your best and before your art starts repeating itself."
$103.43   Used & New from: $74.88
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,115 customer reviews) | 22 customer discussions

The Seven Crystal Balls (The Adventures of Tintin)
33.  The Seven Crystal Balls (The Adventures of Tintin) by Herge
The list author says:
  ""Buy this with sequel "Prisoners of the Sun"!. probably the greatest adventure comic of all time. Very similar to the Indiana Jones movies, but these tales were created back in the 40s"- Pretty dark, but still an all ages classic everywhere except the US."
$9.27   Used & New from: $3.98
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

Usagi Yojimbo, Book 1: The Ronin
34.  Usagi Yojimbo, Book 1: The Ronin by Stan Sakai
The list author says:
  "Usagi Yojimbo is one of the truly great all ages comics. It has much of the depth of a Kurosawa samurai movie, but it's told so kids can enjoy it too. Many volumes available. The first 7 volumes are also available as a 1.200 page "Special Edition" 2 volume hardcover set. The art is still a bit rough in this first volume, but from volume two and onwards it's near flawless."
$15.29   Used & New from: $5.19
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

Robot Dreams
35.  Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
The list author says:
  "pantomime graphic novel about a friendship gone wrong. This heartfelt book is suitable for all ages, but it can be quite harrowing for people with some life experience - it's been known to make grown-up people cry."
$13.33   Used & New from: $1.43
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus (Sibyl-Anne)
36.  Sibyl-Anne vs. Ratticus (Sibyl-Anne) by R. Macherot
The list author says:
  "European funny-animal cartoonist Macherot reached unmatched all-ages heights in this book (and its follow-up volume "Sibyl-Anne and the Honeybees"). Gripping story, with cartooning that's absolutely hilarious. It's like "The Wind in The Willows" done as a stunning Pixar-epic."
$13.83   Used & New from: $0.01
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

The Smurfs Anthology #1
37.  The Smurfs Anthology #1 by Matt. Murray
The list author says:
  "Releasing the classic smurf tales in English in small format has been a succes, so now we get larger 200 page anthologies. Some of the best and funniest all ages comics ever, and "The Smurf King" is just perfect subversive storytelling. Too bad that the Smurfette-story feels dated and sexist. Oh well, at least this story has wonderful artwork."
$16.76   Used & New from: $8.48
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume
38.  Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume by Jeff Smith
The list author says:
  "The concept of fun non-superhero all-ages adventure comics had pretty much been dead in the US for decades, but Jeff Smith's "Bone" has become a bestseller. This is the b/w 1.200 page one volume edition, also available as nine books in color if you want better quality paper."
$29.28   Used & New from: $15.45
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (292 customer reviews) | 5 customer discussions

The TOON Treasury of Classic Children's Comics
39.  The TOON Treasury of Classic Children's Comics by Art Spiegelman
The list author says:
  "Authoritative collection of classic childrens comics from  the 40s and 50s. Includes Carl Barks' "Donald Duck" stories, "Little Lulu" stories, Walt Kelly's "Pogo" and lesser known gems. Some of this stuff is mostly suitable for little kids, but most is fun for all ages.  Edited by Francoise Mouly and "Maus"-creator Art Spiegelman"
$29.17   Used & New from: $10.00
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes
40.  Walt Disney's Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes by Carl Barks
The list author says:
  "In many countries Carl Barks remains very well known and is often cited as the greatest comic book writer/artist of all time. His timeless 1940s/50s Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge stories are now being collected. The longer adventure stories influenced Spielberg's Indiana Jones movies, the hilarious 10 page satiric Duckburg stories clearly influenced the storytelling in the Simpsons."
$22.09   Used & New from: $12.37
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)

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Customer Discussions about products in this list
Discussion Replies Latest Post
Omnibus vs. Absolute 1 Feb 25, 2015
Packaging inconsistency? 3 Feb 25, 2015
Super Weapon in Dr. Manhattan 5 Jan 10, 2014
A question about shipping for those who have ordered BUilding Stories from Amazon... 2 Dec 26, 2013
Is Watchmen appropriate for teens? 10 Oct 26, 2013
Why is Alan Moore not getting any credit? 7 Mar 23, 2013
No ribbon in 2011 reprint? 3 Jan 15, 2013
Age Appropriate 5 Jan 10, 2013
Did 'Watchmen' plagiarize this earlier novel? (*SPOILER!*) 16 Jan 5, 2013
Isn't this just a collection of past work? 2 Nov 11, 2012
kindle edition 1 Feb 18, 2012
Is the 1st volume sold out? 3 Jan 18, 2011
 
   

About this Listmania!

 

Author

Michael 'De Smurführer' Thomsen (Denmark)
Qualifications: Librarian, graphic novel reader since around 1980.
Last updated: 6/19/13
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