Graphic novels are not a genre but a format which can be fictional or non-fictional. Instead of pages of sentences after sentences, story is presented with the help of illustrations and fewer words in a graphic novel. Something similar to graphic novel is comics that we all have read as children. However, comics and graphic novels are not same and the term can definitely not be used as synonyms. If you are looking to read something and don’t want to do too much reading then checkout these best graphic novels.
Palestine is a non-graphic novel by cartoonist, Joe Sacco. The novel was originally published as a comic book. The novel takes us through a whirlwind journey over a period of two months in late 1991/early 1992. The condition of Palestinians during a time of extreme political upheaval has been portrayed beautifully through words and pictures. The novel won American Book Award in 1996.
Satrapi’s immensely popular graphic novel, Persepolis is grasping and relatable. The novel was originally published in French but has been translated into several languages. The English version has been published in two volumes – Persepolis and Persepolis 2. The first book follows her childhood in Iran during the Islamic revolution and the second book explores her adult life. The novel is in fact Marjana Satrapi’s autobiography. The novel was also made into a movie and won 2007 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. This is one of the best graphic novels you must read.
#3 A Contract with God
A contract with God by American cartoonist, Will Eisner, is a collection of four stories. The novel was published in 1978. The graphic novel mainly revolves around the Jewish characters who live in New York city. The first short story based on the title of the graphic novel, a contract with god, is about a religious Jew who looses faith in religion after his adopted daughter dies.
#4 Sin City
This series of graphic novel by Frank Miller is perfect for all those who love crime thrillers. Basin City, popularly as Sin City, is a fictional town in America. The city is mainly inhabited by criminals and has a high crime rate. The town is governed by Roark family for generations who are corrupt and run the city as per their convenience. The graphic novel has been adapted into a movie
#5 Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea
Guy Delisle’s account of his journey to North Korea’s infamous capital Pyongyang is a hidden gem. The novel chronicles is 2 months stay in North Korea as a liaison between a French production house and Korean animation company. The book gives satirical insights into a complete different world that North Korea has built in itself. A country where flower is named after one of its ruler, one of the two countries in the world where Coca Cola does not operate and where there are no disabled and elderly. While you may not want to visit the actual country, this is one way to know more about North Korea.
#6 V for Vendetta
Written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd, V for Vendetta used to be an extremely popular comic strip back in the 90’s. Portraying a dystonia future story of the United Kingdom post a nuclear war and eventual apocalypse, V for Vendetta is totally worth a read.
#7 The Underwater Welder
The Underwater Welder is a graphic novel by Canadian cartoonist, Jeff Lemire. The novel was considered one of best graphic novels in 2012 and explores the relationship between a father and a son. The novel follows the story of an offshore rig worker who is responsible for repairing the the rig. During one of his underwater jobs he meets the ghost of his father and what follows is the crux of the novel.
#8 Diary of Teenage Girl
Considered one of best graphic novels in non-superhero category, Diary of an Teenage Girl is a semi-autobiography book by Phoebe Gloeckner. The novel is about a teenage girl who embarks on a relationship with her mother’s boyfriend. When the girl’s mother finds out about their relationship, she asks the guy to marry her daughter which prompts the girl to run away from her home. The story is disturbing and not a light read.
The only graphic novel to win a Pulitzer prize, Maus is a novel by Art Spielgman. The novel deals with the story of a Polish Jew during Nazi invasion and after surviving the holocaust. The book refers to Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. The graphic novel is a combination of memoir and fiction. Art’s initial idea was to do a novel around African Americans and Ku Klux Klan but then decided to do the story around the holocaust survivors.
These are just some of the top graphic novels. Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns and Walking Dead are some other graphic novels that you should check out.