The world of graphic novels can be quite intimidating to those looking in from the outside, especially with the many, mostly interrelated movie franchises popping up everywhere. Good thing Free Comic Book Day is coming up, and for new readers, it’s a great way to start your comic book-slash-graphic novel journey.
But if you want something meatier than a single issue sneak peek, we’ve rounded up a couple of graphic novels for you to try if you don’t know where to start. Check out our list below and tell us which ones you’re giving a shot!
Recommended by Duke, Graphic Novel Specialist
The first issues of all the best selling graphic novels from Dark Horse/Image Comics. Consider it a sort of ‘sampler’ to get a taste of the various hot titles these publishers offer.
They’re basically THE starting point for all the different graphic novels. Readers, especially new ones who haven’t found their taste in graphic novels, can experience reading different titles from different authors with different styles, all for the price of one.
The Dark Horse Number Ones collection includes Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way (yes, My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way) and Gabriel Ba, Hellboy in Hell by Mike Mignola, Black Hammer by Jeff Lemire (Old Man Logan, All New Hawkeye) and Dean Ormston, and more.
The Image Firsts Compendium Volumes One and Two include Outcast by Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and Azaceta, The Fade Out by Eisner award winner Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, ODY-C by Eisner award winner Matt Fraction and Christian Ward, and more.
Recommended by Nicole, Marketing
The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen
For those who are into pop culture and mythology (or if you want to try to understand millennials, but good luck with that).
Every ninety years, twelve gods are reincarnated into our earth as humans. The deities wake up to find themselves beautiful, famous, powerful, loved (or hated), and they are to die within two years as part of their Recurrence cycle. A mortal megafan gets thrust into the world of the magic, music, and mystery, and this is where things get messy (and intriguing).
The art is colorful and vibrant that perfectly complements the millennial language and tone that Gillen writes with astounding authenticity. The whole package makes it an easy and relatable read. First published back in 2014 with currently 25 issues out, it would be easy to binge-read should this be your cup of tea.
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman is a story about stories. Pulling from sci-fi, modern horror, romance, and classical and contemporary mythology, Gaiman spins them into an epic tragedy that poignantly examines the power of stories. Following Dream (the anthropomorphic personification of dreams), The Sandman chronicles the Dream King’s struggles with his responsibilities as Lord of the Dreaming, his relationships with his Endless siblings, and coming into terms that change is inevitable.
For those who want to get a feel of the tone, writing, art and storyline before committing to the 10-volume series, I suggest starting with Vol. 3 (Dream Country) or Vol. 6 (Fables and Reflections). These anthologies of short stories carry the essence of Gaiman’s writing and the world he’s created.
Recommended by Jess, Graphic Novel Specialist
Uzumaki is about Kurouzo, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, which happens to be cursed. One Punch Man tells the story of an ordinary man training to become a superhero. And from the makers of Death Note, Bakuman is about two students who collaborate to create bestselling manga that would propel them to success.
I recommend these titles because they are easy to read and introduces us to the different genres of manga — Uzumaki for readers who are into horror, One Punch Man for those who want fast-paced action, and Bakuman for those who like stories of overcoming struggles to achieve their dreams.
Recommended by Hannah, Marketing
X-Men: Days of Future Past by Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and more
A painful read — one issue literally starts with “Everyone Dies” — but definitely worth it. The dystopian future that the mutants try to prevent from happening can also offer a clean slate for their ever-growing world. Readers with movie backgrounds can ease into the graphic novel world with this collection. Another great entry point (also my personal doorway to the X-Men universe) is the Dark Phoenix Saga, which inspired the first three X-Men movies but is way, way, WAY better. (Here’s hoping X-Men 7 doesn’t go down the same path.)
The Fade Out: Act One by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips
This is the first graphic novel I picked up that I knew nothing about. I saw the typewriter and the pink spine, and I was sold. It is a beautiful mix of noir crime and Hollywood’s golden age, a thriller in three acts that will keep you guessing and turning back the pages — one, to comb through for clues, and two, to linger on Sean Phillips’ arresting art.
Snotgirl Volume 1: Green Hair Don’t Care by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Leslie Hung
There are too many reasons I love Snotgirl: 1) It’s a good break from the good vs evil storyline. 2) Its take on the Millennial Reality is too accurate that it borders on the absurd. 3) Despite the abundance of green, it is colorful in every way — the art, the characters, the story. But most of all: It. Is. Hilarious. Through the eyes of Lottie Person, social media star, we see what really goes on behind the scenes and screens of insta-celebs and their perfectly curated lives.
Special mention: Captain America: Civil War (2016) may have appealed to readers and non-readers alike, but reading Civil War is an entirely different experience. The seven-issue series in itself is a roller coaster ride, but trust me when I say that reading all the side stories and seeing everything take place from different points of view is well worth the sleepless nights and huge emotional investment.
Recommended by Rovhert, Graphic Novel Specialist
The Goddamned by Jason Aaron
A unique retelling of the Biblical Cain and his struggles after the Garden of Eden, all the way up to the Great Flood.
I recommend this because of the great reimagination of Cain from the Bible. Readers will no doubt be familiar with him, and his adventures are sure to capture attention.
Low by Rick Remender
This book is a post apocalyptic story where the earth’s surface was rendered uninhabitable, forcing everyone to live in the depths of the waters. Eventually, they encounter problems due to limited resources and politics.
I recommend this because of excellent plot twists and captivating art to keep readers hooked.
Seven to Eternity by Rick Remender
This book is about a family shunned by society for their reputation of betraying the community because of pride.
I recommend this because it is a good fantasy-based graphic novel with amazing art to entice readers.
Recommended by Ish, Marketing
Star Wars Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes by Jason Aaron, John Cassaday, Laura Martin
The story takes place right after the explosion of the first Death Star and follows Luke Skywalker’s adventures as he begins his path to becoming a Jedi and a hero. It’s a light read.
With the new Star Wars canon in full swing (we’re right in the middle of Disney’s 5- or 6-movie plan with the franchise), there’s much to be fleshed out in terms of continuity from the first six movies, the Clone Wars and Rebels TV shows, and the new batch of movies. If you’re interested in reading graphic novels that are connected to a much bigger galaxy (far, far away), then you’re in luck.
The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
A compilation of short stories introducing the main character, Dream, as well as other notable characters of the saga. Dream is equal parts amazing and irritating, as he has the ability to awe with his power and wisdom, but can often be immature and selfish (like a big child).
One of the heavyweights in the graphic novel/comic industry is Neil Gaiman, and his Sandman series is considered globally to be one of the must-read graphic novel titles out there. If you want to start reading graphic novels, you will not do much better than Sandman.
Recommended by Ilia, Marketing
Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba
Best savored in one sitting —say, a Sunday afternoon — so you can take a “day trip” with obituary writer Bras de Oliva Domingos as he goes through different stages of his life, from childhood to old age. Each chapter of this 10-issue limited series ends the same way: Bras’ death and a short obituary at the end. Beautifully drawn and colored by twin artist brothers, Daytripper reminds us that the spark of life can be found in its tiniest moments.
Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
One of the best comic series hands down, Y: The Last Man is sci-fi post-apocalyptic thriller that imagines an earth where all human males, save one dude named Yorick, die at the same time. The aftermath is the kind of chaos that makes for a compelling story. Y: The Last Man has everything for everyone — action, mystery, science, romance, conflict of identity, world crises, and family drama. Read it before the TV adaptation by FX hits the small screen.
The Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
Perfect for lit nerds, this is my favorite comic series of all time (so far). Mike Carey and Peter Gross fuse fantasy and reality with Tom Taylor, whose author-father designed his novels’ boy wizard protagonist, Tommy Taylor, after him. Pretty soon, Tom starts manifesting his fictional counterpart’s magical powers as well acquiring his own versions of Tommy’s faithful companions and menacing villains. Through the meta-use of literary references and tropes, The Unwritten maps the geography of the story and how it intersects with “real” life —from the personal to the political to the archetypal. Pick up this series and you’re in for a crazy fun ride across the sea of narrative danger and delight.
Special mentions: Blankets by Craig Thompson. It’s a sad, lovely story about growing up, falling in love, and becoming an adult. And the art is gorgeous. An oldie but goodie: Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale’s Batman: The Long Halloween where you get a mystery every chapter/issue AND get introduced to most of Gotham’s villains. For something light and funny, check out John Allison’s ongoing series about three university roommates Giant Days.
Recommended by Niko, Graphic Novel Specialist
Orange by Ichigo Takano
A series of letters was received by Naho from her past self 10 years ago. At first Naho thought of it as a joke but as soon as the events on the letter started happening in real life, she realized that maybe its time to listen to the letters and let the past alter with her present that will eventually change her future.
Recommended for first time manga readers since the story is very easy to follow and each character has a distinct attitude that is easy to remember. This is the kind of book for people who want second chances in their life.
Assassination Classroom by Yusei Matsui
Kunugigaoka Junior High’s class of rejects commonly known as Class 3-E has been assigned to assassin their new teacher, an octopus like alien who blasted 80% of the moon and is now threatening to destroy the earth on their Graduation Day. Juggling school works and assassinating their teacher, Class 3-E will soon realize that the thing that they need to kill is the only thing that can save them from themselves.
A heart warming read on how far a teacher will go to push their students to realize their full potential.
Join us this weekend for Free Comic Book Day! All D-coded graphic novels and manga will be on sale at 20% off on May 6-7, 2017. Applicable in all branches, including Fully Booked Online (use promo code: FCBD2017)
Interested in any of these titles? Inquire at any Fully Booked branch or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.