door Eren Can Korkmaz | Junior Content Marketeer
In our last blog we discussed graphic novel adaptations of classic literature books, but the graphic novel genre itself also has books that can be considered classics. Comic book fans will without a doubt be familiar with these titles that are both timeless and had an impact on the genre. But readers who are new to the genre and aren’t sure on where to start with reading graphic novels can pick some of these titles that deserve a spot in everyone’s bookcase.
Alan Moore is one of the most respected and loved writers in the world of comic books, but his masterwork (that was turned into a movie in 2009) remains Watchmen. A critical analysis on comic book heroes and the comic book industry itself. The book is revolutionary because of it’s realistic depiction of a world where superheroes and vigilantes actually exist and why this could be problematic. Set in an alternative timeline where superheroes were legitimized during the ‘40s as an appropriate force for crimefighting, which of course consequences on a political, cutural and social scale. The big philosophical question at the centre of the Watchmen is, ‘who watches the watchmen’. The year is 1985 and tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States of America are rising. America has won the war in Vietnam by using their most powerful superhero, which upsets the Soviet Union. Suddenly, a superhero that’s employed by the US government is murdered, and an infamous vigilantes decides to investigate the murder. What follows is a plot filled with tension and twists that we won’t be spoiling in this blog.
Choosing a Batman novel for this list is not an easy task, since there are so many worth mentioning. There’s a reason why comic books about the world’s greatest detective are so popular, they’re some of the most interesting and exciting. But if we have to choose, then Batman Year One by Frank Miller is a safe choice. This graphic novel tells the origin story of our favourite caped crusader. The story is set in the first year of Batman’s career as a vigilante, as the name implies of course. Things don’t go as well as Bruce Wayne would like, but that only makes for an interesting and thrilling story. Fans of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Batman Begins’ won’t be disappointed with this book, since it was the primary source of inspiration for the script.
An other title worth mentioning is Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke. While Year One tackles the origin story of Batman, Killing Joke gives us the origin story of our most beloved supervillain: The Joker. The story is told from the perspective of The Joker, which makes us empathize with the villain. It also perfectly explains the complex relationship between the Joker and the Batman.
The plot of Maus is a tragic one, because it’s based on real life events. Art Spiegelman’s father was a holocaust survivor, and the book is about the persecution of jews and ethnic minorities during the interbellum and second world war. What separates Maus from other forms of media is that humans are replaced by animals. Jewish people are depicted as mice, Germans as cats, Americans as dogs and Polish people as pigs. The book is popular and critically acclaimed, having won a Pulitzer prize for literature. A heart breaking story about one of the darkest moments in human history.
This is not so much a single graphic novel but rather an entire series with a total of 75 issues collected in four volumes. The Sandman is about the mysterious Morpheus, the personification of dreams and ruler of the dreamworld. Morpheus becomes trapped and imprisoned by a group of cultists, which has lasting impact on the real world. Some people can’t seem to fall asleep, whilst other’s can’t seem to wake up anymore. The Sandman manages to escape after 70 years of imprisonment and sets out to avenge himself and rebuild his realm. But years of imprisonment has also given Morpheus time to reflect on his past deeds and how he will conduct himself in the future. The Sandman started out as a horror novel, but the narrative changed to a dark fantasy in later issues. What makes The Sandman such a great graphic novel is the crossover with other graphic novels. Some of our favourite superheroes and mythological figures make an appearance in the novel. Preludes and Nocturnes is the first of the four volumes and a great start for anyone who wants to read more about the lord of dreams.
And last but not least, From Hell by our beloved Alan Moore. The title of this graphic novel is a reference to the infamous letter by Jack the Ripper, the 19th century serial killer who’s identity still remains a mystery to this day. Moore did a lot of research on the murders and the suspects to write a story that, while having fictitious elements, can be considered a true crime novel. The art style is very eerie and fits with the writing and plot.
So far our recommendations for graphic novels, but of course there are comic books worth reading that haven’t made our list. Checkout our Comics & Graphic Novels section for more books, or visit our bookstore at the Coolsingel. Books ordered on workdays before 16:00 can be delivered the next day as long as they’re in stock, Dutch books ordered before 23:00 on workdays can be delivered the next day. Checkout our FAQ page for more information on our delivery conditions.