Are you looking for a transformative reading experience? Why stick solely with flowery words or only with beautiful pictures when you can get both?
Graphic novels stand above the cut as both literary and artistic masterpieces. However, there are a lot of them to choose from. Are you wondering where you begin with the graphic novel genre?
To help you out, here’s our list of the 20 best graphic novels of all time.
1. The Long Halloween
This is one of the most iconic Batman graphic novels. It tackles a year-long investigation and sees Batman working alongside Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Dent to solve a string of holiday-related murders.
Alan Moore’s Watchmen is one of the pivotal stories that tackles the reality of society dealing with super-powered beings, placed against the backdrop of the Vietnam and Cold Wars. It’s dark, gritty, and philosophical without forgetting to add a bit of knuckle-bearing action.
3. They Called Us Enemy
This graphic novel focuses on the real-life story of actor George Takei, of Star Trek fame. The novel showcases his childhood struggles in World War II as his family gets taken into a camp for Japanese-American residents.
4. Scott Pilgrim
Broken into six volumes, these graphic novels tackle Scott Pilgrim’s journey to stay with Ramona Flowers. However, to continue dating her, he has to defeat her evil exes. If you can’t get enough of one of the funniest and heart-touching graphic novels of all time, you can also check out the amazing movie adaptation!
5. V for Vendetta
Another Alan Moore classic, this graphic novel tells the tale of a man labeled as a terrorist and his attempts to unite the people against a tyrannical government.
6. Y: The Last Man
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where all males died off, Y: The Last Man focuses on the journey Yorick Brown. He is the last living male and must travel to somehow stop mankind’s extinction.
7. Fullmetal Alchemist
There are many timeless graphic novels and not all of them come from the West.
Case in point: Fullmetal Alchemist, a Japanese graphic novel set in a fictional version of industrial-age Europe. The story focuses on two brothers who enlist in the military to find the Philosopher’s Stone, hoping it could restore their bodies and revive their deceased mother.
8. Hellboy: Seed of Destruction
Who would’ve thought that mixing demons and the occult with a World War II setting could become so iconic? That’s exactly what you get with Hellboy, a graphic novel that pits a unique band of “monsters” and their struggles against the Nazi army.
9. Kingdom Come
This is perhaps one of the best superhero graphic novels of all time. It’s set in an Elseworld future where the superheroes of old, such as Superman and Batman, must deal with the fear and hatred the public shows them due to the actions of younger, more violent heroes.
10. Sailor Moon
Not a lot of graphic novels focus on female heroes. Sailor Moon is an excellent exception to this and tells the story of a handful of girls blessed with the power to save the solar system against an intergalactic threat.
Do you want a dark, gritty mix of fantasy and history? You can’t go wrong with Frank Miller’s 300, which tells the tale of King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans who fight against the army of Persia.
12. Hellblazer (John Constantine)
If you’re looking for a story involving exorcisms, ghosts, demons, and one man’s attempt to keep it all together before the chaos eradicates humankind, look no further than Hellblazer. The hero, John Constantine, got his own series after initially appearing in an issue of The Swamp Thing.
Maus centers on the story of creator Art Spiegelman and his father, who was a Polish Jew and a survivor of the World War II Holocaust. The graphic novel emphasizes roles by depicting the Germans as cats and the Jews as mice. This is also the only graphic novel to ever win a Pulitzer Prize.
14. Avengers: Civil War
They say the most powerful enemy is one’s self and that ideology applies here, a graphic novel that depicts Marvel’s greatest superheroes going against each other. Iron Man and Captain America face off due to disagreements about a new law that requires heroes to register and reveal their true identities.
15. Batman: The Killing Joke
If Batman is one of the most iconic heroes of all time, then the Joker ranks as the best villain. This graphic novel, again by legendary writer Alan Moore, reveals a potential origin story for the Crown Prince of Crime.
16. The Walking Dead
There are very few great graphic novels that revolve around zombies and the undead.
The Walking Dead is the best of the bunch because while it does keep the zombies as a major threat, the real focus is on the heroes and their struggles to forge a lasting relationship and a stable community.
Like Maus, Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel and it depicts the life of Marjane Satrapi. Split into two parts, the first part focuses on her childhood journey as she leaves Iran in the midst of the Islamic Revolution. The second part prioritizes her tale as an adult, returning to Iran and later in Paris, France.
18. The Sandman
What happens when you imprison the impersonification of dreams? The Sandman, aka Dream or Morpheus, accidentally gets imprisoned. Now that he is free, this graphic novel explores his adventure through time and space in an attempt to fix the damage done.
Are you looking for a personal tale? Try out Stitches, which depicts the childhood life of author David Small, and his struggles as a cancer patient.
20. Death Note
This graphic novel is an epic on every scale, depicting the battle of two genius detectives against each other. One is a force of good and prefers to remain anonymous throughout the investigation. The other uses a notebook that he can use to kill any criminal he pleases simply by writing their name.
Get the Best Graphic Novels Today
These are some of the best graphic novels you can pick up and read today. From biographical dramas to epic superhero tales, there’s always going to be something that clicks with you. Don’t hesitate to give these novels a try!