Graphic novels are more than just comic books. They’re long, full, complete stories that come in beautiful volumes. Each panel is its own work of art, and the storylines they tell can be compelling, heart-wrenching, or just plain awesome. As men, being drawn to graphic novels is basically in our DNA. But despite the rising popularity of graphic novels, they’re not all created equal. Some far outweigh others in terms of story, characters, or creativity. This list encompasses some of the best the world of graphic novels has to offer: 10 Graphic Novels Every Man Should Read.
10.) The Strain
Action. Horror. Betrayal. The Strain is basically a modern retelling of Dracula, with zombies thrown in for good measure. In it, Efraim Goodweather, a doctor with the CDC, strives to stop the spread of a virus that, when contracted, turns the host into a vampire-zombie. The story has a compelling plot and enough tension to keep you turning the pages.
9.) Sin City
If you like cerebral, character-driven stories, Sin City is the type of graphic novel to keep you on your toes. Written as an anthology of interconnected stories, Sin City depicts what’s happening in the lives of different characters in one twisted city. While most of the art is in stark, contrasting black-and-white, pops of color at key moments will catch your attention. Each story in Sin City intertwines, so while each story holds on its own individually, the entire graphic novel holds together as well, outlining Basin City’s happenings.
The thing about Watchmen is that it set the stage for new trends in graphic novels. In Watchmen, for one of the first times ever, superheroes weren’t always the good guys. In fact, it introduced a wide gray area into the superhero scene—a vast array of moral ambiguity we hadn’t seen before. Though that ambiguity is seen more and more in modern superhero portrayals—one just has to see the trailer for Brightburn to understand that—having a handle on the graphic novel that started it all is a must for the modern man.
Kids admire superheroes. We can all connect with the childhood desire to put on a cape and hunt down the bad-guys. But in Kickass, one kid actually does it. As you can imagine, he gets trounced… and then he does it again, and again. In a world without superpowers, Dave Lizewski decides he’s going to be a hero anyway. It’s a tale of perseverance and determination—the perfect inspiration for all men.
6.) From Hell
There’s little more compelling than the tale of Jack the Ripper. It’s one that has chilled us for centuries—the sort of story that you could tell around a campfire and scare even the strongest of adults. So, it’s no wonder that a graphic novel based on the tale has a haunting stay-with-you power to it. In fact, it’s such a compelling graphic novel that it was made into a movie. But let’s be real: The source material is always better than the movie.
5.) the Walking Dead
Everyone has heard of the TV show the Walking Dead, but not everyone knows that it originated as a graphic novel. Not only that, but the show diverged wildly from its source material. You don’t have to love zombies to love this one, either. Believe it or not, the Walking Dead, while set in a zombie apocalypse, is more about people and relationships than anything else. But hey, the zombies are pretty cool, too.
When it comes to telling a tight, compelling story, Neil Gaiman is an absolute master. Many of his works incorporate stories about the eternals—characters like Death and Destiny that will be around far longer than the mortals of this world. Sandman is a series of stories of Dream: The ways that the world uses him and is shaped by him throughout the years. It builds an entire world, the way that only Gaiman can, shaped by eternals and by Dream in particular.
3.) Scott Pilgrim Versus the World
Not all graphic novels have to be serious to be seriously interesting. Scott Pilgrim Versus the World is a graphic novel whose concept is simple yet awesome: What if video games were real life? In it, Scott wants to be with a girl named Ramona Flowers, but in order to do so, he has to defeat her seven evil exes—each of which is the equivalent of a boss fight. If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is—but it’s the kind of ridiculous that keeps you reaching for more.
2.) Atomic Robo
Atomic Robo is action science at its greatest. It follows the adventures of the titular Atomic Robo, created by Nicolai Tessla as the first automated humanoid. Robo’s story beings in the early 1900s and continues into the early 2000s as he fights Nazis, a sentient velociraptor, people from the center of the Earth, and interdimensional horrors. The story jumps around in time, so none of this happens in sequential order, but all of it is awesome.
1.) Y the Last Man
Y the Last Man follows Yoric Brown and his loveable monkey, Ampersand, after an event kills anything with a Y chromosome. Anything, that is, except Yoric and Ampersand. They team up with Agent 355 and Dr. Allison Mann as they traverse the globe searching for a means to bring “man”kind back from the brink of extinction and for Yoric’s erstwhile fiancé, Beth. It’s a tale of politics, feminism in its many forms, and morality, crossing seamlessly between amusement and gravitas in a way that will truly make you feel the weight of the situation.
For a long time, graphic novels and comic books were somehow seen as a lesser form of regular books—as if the stunning artwork that makes them so special instead made them childish somehow. Luckily, in recent years, graphic novels have been getting the recognition they deserve. Hopefully if you’re new to the graphic novel scene—or even if you’re an old hat—this list of 10 graphic novels every man should read has given you inspiration for the next must-read item to track in your reading journal.