Graphic novels make great Holiday gifts. They are fun to read, because they can go into more detail than a normal book. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. This doesn’t necessarily mean graphic novels lead to more creative thinking on the part of the reader, but because graphic novels use words and illustrations to progress through the story this does away with the need to describe visual things using words alone. The meaning of the author and illustrator is much less up to interpretation. Therefore you better understand the experience specifically designed for you by the creators of the graphic novel. If they want you to feel scared, for example, instead of taking an entire page to describe how frightened the characters are and how gloomy and dark the world is, the author can have a single frame in which the world is dark and gloomy with the characters looking scared.
Right now as all of us are hurtling toward trees, decorations, food, family, and yes the holidays it is a good time to look at graphic novels. While the holiday season means many beautiful and wonderful things, it also means presents. It is very likely that you are in search of a present for your “special someone” (probably your child). What would your child love more than a graphic novel, other than a samurai sword? Nothing.
Below you will find a list of the best graphic novels (in my opinion). I have read almost all the tween books, young teen books, and the older teen & adult books. But I am a 16 year old boy, and I wanted this list to include titles that would appeal to a range of ages and interests. So I went to the Villainous Lair comic shop to do some “research”. I stumbled upon a gem there, his name was Aaron. He helped me out and gave me a lot of great suggestions that I would never have found otherwise. I asked him for suggestions for the categories that I wasn’t familiar with. I am not going to lie and say that I didn’t come home with a couple new graphic novels, but I swear I was just doing research.
There is a description after each title. I copied these directly from Amazon.com. Above each individual section is a link. The links take you to a wish list with all of the books from that section.
Board Books List (educational *EXTREMELY CLEAN*)
1. Super Heroes My First Dictionary DC’s beloved Super Heroes introduce children to first words in this super cool pre school visual dictionary.
2. Super Heroes ABC 123 SUPER HEROES ABC 123 will appeal to comic book fan Moms and Dads; lovers of bold, classic art; and their babies, toddlers, and preschoolers
3. My First Batman Book The first book every comic book geek Mom or Dad will want to read to his child! And the first ever touch and feel Batman book.
4. Super Heroes Colors, Shapes, and More! Everybody’s favorite DC super heroes (along with some lesser known characters) teach kids colors, shapes, and more.
7+ to Tweens List: *VERY CLEAN*
1. The Wizard Of OZ When Kansas farm girl Dorothy flies away to the magical Land of Oz, she fatally flattens a Wicked Witch, liberates a Scarecrow and is hailed by the Munchkin people as a great sorceress…but all she really wants to know is: how does she get home?
2. Bone (It really is for all ages though. I still love it!) The BONE adventures tell the story of a young bone boy, Fone Bone, and his two cousins, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone, who are banned from their homeland of Boneville. When the cousins find themselves mysteriously trapped in a wonderful but often terrifying land filled with secrets and danger
3. Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth’s mightiest heroes were unaware of a threat greater than all of them could handle. And on that day, a teleporting puppy scoured the world to assemble a team of animals to fight the foes no single beast could withstand!
Tweens to Young Teens List: *CLEAN*
1. Nimona Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.
2. Bone (All ages remember) The BONE adventures tell the story of a young bone boy, Fone Bone, and his two cousins, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone, who are banned from their homeland of Boneville. When the cousins find themselves mysteriously trapped in a wonderful but often terrifying land filled with secrets and danger
3. Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City until she is suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the all new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm!
4. Secret Coders Welcome to Stately Academy, a school which is just crawling with mysteries to be solved! The founder of the school left many clues and puzzles to challenge his enterprising students. Using their wits and their growing prowess with coding, Hopper and her friend Eni are going to solve the mystery of Stately Academy no matter what it takes!
5. Sisters Raina can’t wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren’t quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she’s also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn’t improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, something doesn’t seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all.
Younger Teen to Older Teen List: *MOSTLY CLEAN*
1. Batman Hush Batman sets out to discover the identity of a mysterious mastermind using the Joker, Riddler, Ra’s al Ghul and the Dark Knight’s other enemies and allies as pawns in a plan to wreak havoc.
3. Planetary Elijah Snow, a hundred year old man, Jakita Wagner, an extremely powerful woman, and The Drummer, a man with the ability to communicate with machines are tasked with tracking down evidence of super human activity, these mystery archaeologists uncover unknown paranormal secrets and histories, such as a World War II supercomputer that can access other universes, a ghostly spirit of vengeance, and a lost island of dying monsters.
4. Teen Titans Tim Drake, Batman’s former sidekick, is back in action when an international organization called Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. seeks to capture, kill or co opt super powered teenagers.
5. Young Avengers Legacy isn’t a dirty word…but it’s an irrelevant one. It’s not important what our parents did. It matters what WE do. Someone has to save the world. You’re someone. Do the math.
6. Boxers Saints China,1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants. Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers commoners trained in kung fu who fight to free China from “foreign devils.” Against all odds, this grass roots rebellion is violently successful. But nothing is simple. Little Bao is fighting for the glory of China, but at what cost? So many are dying, including thousands of “secondary devils” Chinese citizens who have converted to Christianity.
7. Nova Origin The new Human Rocket roars into action! Sam Alexander is a kid bound by the gravity of a small town and a father whose ridiculous, drunken fairy tales about a “Nova Corps” were just another heavy burden. But lucky for Sam, gravity soon won’t even matter and those troubles will be a billion miles away. It’s a boy, a helmet and an intergalactic legacy! As Sam trains with the Guardians of Galaxy’s Gamora and Rocket Raccoon, the helmet leads Nova into intergalactic conflict that will affect the entire Marvel Universe!
8. Atomic Robo Robo faces his greatest foes: a clockwork pyramid, the planet Mars, Stephen Hawking, a parasitic universe, and Nazi super weapons.
Older Teen & Adult List: *CLEAN & NOT CLEAN*
1. Batman The Killing Joke (This book literally defined the Joker for every Batman book, comic, movie, or cartoon was created after. You are not a true Batman fan until you read this book.) Batman must race to stop his arch nemesis before his reign of terror claims two of the Dark Knight’s closest friends. Can he finally put an end to the cycle of bloodlust and lunacy that links these two iconic foes before it leads to its fatal conclusion?
2. Watchmen This graphic novel chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super heroes plagued by all too human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin.
3. The Filth This imaginative series by award winning creator Grant Morrison brings readers heady brew of big ideas, exotic locales, and bizarre action, featuring prosthetically outfitted dolphins in scuba gear and a hard smoking chimpanzee in Kremlin garb.
4. V for Vendetta In a world without political freedom, personal freedom and precious little faith in anything comes a mysterious man in a white porcelain mask who fights political oppressors through terrorism and seemingly absurd acts. It’s a gripping tale of the blurred lines between ideological good and evil.
5. Transmetropolitan Spider ventures into the dangerous Angels 8 district, home of the Transients — humans who have decided to become aliens through cosmetic surgery. But Spider’s interview with the Transients’ leader gets him a scoop he didn’t bargain for. And don’t miss Spider’s first confrontation with the President of the United States . . . in a men’s room.
6. Saga When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.
7. Pretty Deadly Death’s daughter rides the wind on a horse made of smoke and her face bears the skull marks of her father. Her origin story is a tale of retribution as beautifully lush as it is unflinchingly savage.
8. The Sandman: Overtyre From the birth of a galaxy to the moment that Morpheus is captured, The Sandman: Overture will feature cameo appearances by fan favorite characters such as The Corinthian, Merv Pumpkinhead and, of course, the Dream King’s siblings: Death, Desire, Despair, Delirium, Destruction and Destiny.
9. The Wicked + The Divine Gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.
10. Black Science Grant and his team are lost, living ghosts shipwrecked on an infinite ocean of alien worlds, barreling through the long forgotten, ancient, and unimaginable dark realms.
11. The Invisibles Follow the adventures of The Invisibles, a secret organization out to battle against physical and psychic oppression brought upon humanity by the interdemsional alien gods of the Archons of Outer Church!
12. Outcast Kyle Barnes has been plagued by demonic possession all his life and now he needs answers. Unfortunately, what he uncovers along the way could bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it!
13. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns It is ten years after an aging Batman has retired and Gotham City has sunk deeper into decadence and lawlessness. Now as his city needs him most, the Dark Knight returns in a blaze of glory.
14. Musashi Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary samurai, is known throughout the world as a master swordsman, spiritual seeker, and author of the classic Book of Five Rings.
15. The Book of Five Rings This graphic novel version of The Book of Five Rings, the iconic book of confrontation and victory by the famed seventeenth century duelist and undefeated samurai Miyamoto Musashi, illuminates this brilliant manifesto, which has long inspired martial artists and anyone interested in cultivating a strategic mind.
Educational Books List: *Clean*
1. Max Axiom Follow the adventures of Max Axiom as he explains scientific stuff
2. John Sutter and the California Gold Rush Tells the story of the discovery of gold at John Sutter’s mill, and how it changed California. Written in graphic novel format.
3. Hamlet Tells the story of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in graphic novel format.
4. A Midsummer Night’s Dream Tells the story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in graphic novel format.
5. Macbeth Tells the story of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in graphic novel format.
6. The Tempest Tells the story of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in graphic novel format.
7. The Mystery of the Roanoke Colony Written in graphic novel format this book explains the mysterious story of the disappearance of a group of early American colonists.
8. Howtoons – Lurking in the corners of your garage, on the dusty shelves of hardware stores, and in your own trashcan are the tools and ingredients for creating your own adventures. Follow Celine and Tucker as they learn through play with over 50 DIY projects! Challenged to make something “other than trouble,” this brother-and-sister pair use everyday objects to invent toys that readers can build. Combining comics and real-life science and engineering principles, Howtoons are designed to encourage kids to become active participants in the world around them.
Graphic Novels: How to Read Comics List
How To Read Comics
1. Understanding Comics The Invisible Art
2. Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art
A huge thanks goes out to Aaron with the Villainous Lair comic shop. He was awesome. If you live in the So Cal area near Normal Heights (anything but) you have to check out Villainous Lair.