I’ll admit, before January this year I’d never read a graphic novel before. I was 21 and had always said ‘Oh they’re just not for me’ or ‘I just don’t see the appeal’ and occasionally even ‘I just don’t see how they can live up to a proper novel’ but now I will happily admit I was so, so wrong.
It all started with a bit of nostalgia; watching a couple of episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer which I remembered seeing when I was a kid, then I was hooked on that. I devoured the first 3 seasons and then jumped into Angel as well, watching both series in parallel. Buffy ended and I was happy. I felt there was a conclusion and it was good and I still had the final series of Angel to see!
I remember watching the finale of Angel, it was late December and I’d just got back from visiting my parents for Christmas and I was exhausted. I tucked myself up in bed with one of those incredible chocolate puddings that melt in the middle and I prepared to watch the finale, the last episode, everything I’d see so far, the hours and hours and hours of TV I’d watched had been building up to this. As I watched it was Epic. I even found myself crying at a few certain moments and then suddenly THERE WAS A DRAGON and a huge battle was about the start, they were in danger, this was so exciting! And then it ended.
I thought there had to be a mistake so I went back to the info page on Netflix; it was definitely the last episode. IMDB; yep, last episode. What?! This did not make sense. This is not how you end a series. I needed to know what happened next. And that’s when I stumbled upon the graphic novels, Angel: After The Fall, they continued the story almost exactly where the TV series ended. This was exactly what I needed and I immediately bought the first 2 books.
From the moment they arrived I was hooked. They were funny, clever and captured the characters perfectly. The graphics were awesome! They perfectly captured the action and, as someone who loves painting and design, I was in awe of some of the full-page panels. How had I never picked up a graphic novel before? Sure, they’re shorter than a traditional novel but I swear, just as much work goes into one. And it takes a whole different set of skills to write one, the pacing and amount of detail you can include is so different from a traditional novel. Plus, you can’t just tell the reader that a character is sad; you need to show them through very specific word choices and the artist needs to get the facial expression just right – that can be the difference between a characters saying a line super-sarcastically and their (and your) heart breaking.
So for those of you who’ve never ventured into the incredible world of graphic novels before, here’s my list of the best graphic novels to start you off:
For Horror Fans: Bedlam
Bedlam is different from anything I’ve ever read before, and I mean that in a good way. It follows Fillmore Press, a man who used to be one of the craziest and most terrifying serial killers around – Madder Red. The story shows flashbacks to 10 years ago while he was still busy going on gruesome killing rampages, as well as scenes from today where, thanks to an mysterious treatment, he seems to be ‘cured’ and is in fact, helping the police catch other serial killers.
This is not a book you want to give the kids – it’s dark, twisted, violent and often shocking but it’s also fantastically written, full of some great twists and surprises. The characters are all wonderfully intriguing and I swear, you will be hooked.
For Action Fans: Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 8
I could have picked either Buffy or Angel to talk about here but, ultimately, I think the Buffy series just wins out as being my personal favourite. Season 8 continues pretty much where the TV series left things with Buffy living in Scotland in charge of an army of slayers.
It’s packed with awesome action scenes as the team fight of some pretty awesome bad guys of all shapes and species. Plus, the author and artist both manage to capture the characters perfectly, it’s as though they stepped straight out of the TV show!
For Post-Apocalyptic Dystopian Fans: Y: The Last Man
This was one series that really pleasantly surprised me! I picked it up not knowing what to think and within pages I was gripped! Just think about it, what would happen if all the men on Earth suddenly died? That’s what happens in The Last Man except it’s not just people, it’s the males of all mammals on the planet, except two survive; Yorkick and his pet monkey.
This series is a great, fun adventure which shows what happens when women are left to rule the world; political leaders emerge, groups of man-hating Amazons form and some struggle to learn new trades that were previously male-dominated. All the time Yorick has to figure out why did he survive? It’s so exciting, I am absolutely hooked on this series!
For Fans of Fairy Tales and Fantasy: Fables
Fables is, without a doubt, my favourite graphic novel series. Plus it has some awesome spin-offs in the form of Jack of Fables, Cinderella (who’s an awesome spy!) and Fairest. When going into Fables forget everything you ever thought you knew about fairy tales – this series goes right back to their dark roots and tips the Disney-ideals on their head.
When their homelands are invaded by The Adversary, a group of fairytales creatures find a portal and manage to escape though to our world – they’re currently living in New York and trying to hide their true identities from the regular people whilst trying to fight to get their homelands back! It’s so exciting!
So that’s my list of the best graphic novels to begin with! For other notable mentions check out:
- Ghost World
- The Diary of A Teenage Girl
Let me know in the comments, what’s your favourite graphic novel series?